Malik Scott, not that long ago, was at a weird station in his life. Inactive because of nagging biceps and calf ruptures, complicated by managerial entanglements, Scott was a bloated, round-belly-hanging-over-the-belt, jolly 290 pounds. He was in a state of “happy depression.”
It didn’t take him long to snap out of it. One look at the success of his American heavyweight contemporaries and seeing them on TV changed everything. The undefeated Philadelphia native got back to the gym as soon as he was healthy, at the end of 2011, with the mission of getting back into the mix.
A strong 2012 has placed Scott (35-0, 12 knockouts), now based in Southern California, in position for the opportunity of his career: an NBC Sports Net-televised show against rising Ukranian heavyweight Vyacheslav Glazkov (14-0, 10 KOs) in a scheduled 10-round bout this Saturday at the Paramount Theatre, in Huntington, N.Y.
Scott vows he won’t “quit” against Glazkov as Tor Hamer did in their Dec. 22 bout on the Tomasz Adamek-Steve Cunningham undercard.
The rangy 6-foot-4 American has taken an arduous, fat-burning road to arrive here. He has plunged too much into himself, done too much growing up to squander the chance.
From Dec. 13, 2008, when a 255-pound Scott nibbled his way to a mundane eight-round decision over Raphael Butler to Feb. 18, 2012, when a svelte 225-pound Scott renewed his career with an eight-round decision over Kendrick Releford, Scott had been inactive.
He’s 32. The time is now. He realizes his career better start moving or it won’t move forward at all.
“The time off tested me,” Scott told RingTV.com. “There wasn’t a lot of sleep going on. I was 290 pounds; I really got up there. A lot of it was me frustrated with myself and the game. You never want to a point a finger at yourself. Things happen in life and I had no one is to blame but myself—and I blame me. That’s the worst situation. When it’s just you sitting alone and saying you messed up, and this is bad, that’s bad.
“I used to sit there and feel sorry from myself. Something had to be done. At the time, I would say there was some depression going on. When you get up to 290 pounds, I was having some happy depression, you can say. I had good people around me that always treated me like I was the heavyweight champion of the world. Then I see Chazz Witherspoon and Chris Arreola, everyone I came up with, doing great and on TV. Everyone was doing great except me. Everyone was God and was I just a peasant. That’s the feel of it.”
Scott said Arreola was particularly motivating to him. Both are part of the Goossen Tutor promotional stable and when Scott saw Arreola’s body shape literally transform, he decided something had to be done about his own terrible condition. It didn’t even involve boxing. Scott was more determined to become healthier.
He began running again. He said the hell with boxing. It was more important to be there for his children, an eight-year-old son and five-month-old daughter, than anything the sport could do for him at the time.
“I’ve done a lot of growing up; hands-down, I believe, [Glazkov] is the biggest fight of my life,” Scott said. “I know what’s going on and why they want to fight me. I’m supposed to be another notch in [Glazkov’s] belt. I’m supposed to be the guy put in to lose. I’m coming there to ruin this guy and shake his apple cart.
“I won’t quit like Tor Hammer—and he’s not passionate about boxing. There was a time I wasn’t as passionate about boxing—but I’m not Tor Hammer. This guy is going to have to lay me down. I’m going right at this guy and going to see what he has. I’m going to shock a few people. Some of these Europeans, like Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko, or Tyson Fury, are special. There’s no doubt about that. But this kid isn’t special like they are. We’re going to see what he has and my plans are to bring that out.”
Helping Scott toward that goal is renowned trainer Jesse Reid, who’s been working in Scott’s corner during his last three fights—all in 2012. Reid is getting an inspired, healthy version of Scott. Scott has had issues with biceps tears. His right bicep tore and curled up in his arm in December 2010 while sparring. Doctors told Scott he would never fight again.
Still, Scott underwent surgery to stable the bicep back and put himself through rigorous rehab to return in February 2012.
“Malik is in a great spot right now,” Reid said. “I think he’s really focused for this fight and I really feel he’s going to do extremely well. Malik has made an amazing change in his life. When he first came to me, he told me he couldn’t be 260, 270 pounds and we have him down to 225, 230. He’s always had ability and this Russian will bring the best out of Malik. I’ve taken a little different technique with Malik.”
Reid pushed Scott to win exchanges and begin taking chances. He has Scott sitting down more on his punches. He’s stressed to Scott that the great heavyweights were fighters first, and they only boxed when they had to. Under Reid, Scott stopped Bowie Tupou, then 22-1, in the eighth round his last time out in September 2012.
Reid points out that though Scott isn’t a devastating puncher, he is a clean puncher. He had to break that sparring partner mentality that he wasn’t in there to close out opponents.
“We’re going to see a real, complete fighter in this fight,” Reid promised. “We’re going to really see Malik reach down and dig and see how skilled he is against this Russian kid.”
There’s a chance those tuning in will see something else, that something Scott in the past was reluctant to reveal. He’s always teased fans by showing crumbs of his ability.
“There is a sense of urgency this time,” Scott said. “I know what I have to do. I have to make a move or get off the pot. I’m 32 and it’s my time now. I’m going in there and I have to be willing to put it all out on the line. I’m looking to put on a hell of a performance.”
Photo / Albert L. Ortega-Getty Images