In boxing, most of the hype goes to the champions and highly touted prospects that have the blueprint to success laid out for them. In each division, there are a handful of young hopefuls who are carefully moved through the ranks in hopes of one day reaching the top. There always comes the point in a prospects career where his team needs to see what he is made of . During this time management usually finds a battle tested journeyman or fading ex-champions who knows how to “go-rounds”. Most of the time, the youngster will get the win but occasionally, these “stepping stones” or “grinders” as I like to call them pull off the upset and get everybody up in arms.
Without all of the glamour and glitz, Clarence “Sonny Bono” Taylor has carved a niche as a guy who will travel the country, taking the tough fight as the underdog against up and coming prospects, the local tough guys and established veterans who are looking to jump to the next level. His resume includes some of the better names in the business . While his 12 – 11 record may not impress, he always gives a crowd pleasing performance and is more than capable of pulling off the upset on any given night.
It hasn’t been an easy road for the Wilmington Delaware native but things are starting to look up. In August of 2006 he got his first bit of national exposure when he beat Philly tough guy Jose Medina live on ESPN in El Macho’s home turf, The New Alhambra. Before that fight he lost a highly disputed decision against his former stablemate Larry Marks live on CN8. Most recently, after a hard days work on the construction site, Bono hopped on a plane to Kansas City to take on David Medina for the minor league version of the WBC Super Welterweight Title. Bono dominated the young upstart, blowing away the champ scoring 4 knockdowns over three lopsided rounds.
Bono took the time to speak with us to talk about his role in boxing, winning his first title and how he almost didn’t make it here in the first place.
Philly Keith: Congrats on the win, tell me about the fight.
Sonny Bono: Thanks, man it was a long time coming, I went down to Kansas City and did what I always do. I came to fight and now I am the WBC USNBC Super Welterweight champion. I give Medina all the credit in the world because he opened the door for me and gave me the opportunity.
PK: You have a rep as the road warrior who is always taking on the tough fighters & undefeated prospects. Do you think the win changes things or make the road a little easier for you?
SB: Me and my manager talked about it and we decided we gotta take what anyone gives us, if it’s the tough fights so be it, if it’s a walk in the park then I got a bonus for that night. I am going to keep taking everyone on, no question. If you look at my record you see a lot of losses. Those early losses and even the wins were really my amateur career. I didn’t fight as an amateur, I jumped right in as a pro and there were some things I had to learn. When I am in John Doe’s backyard guess what the result is gonna be. I hope John Doe got his game up, I’m taking it over.
PK: Anyone in particular you want to fight?
SB: Right now I’m looking at Verno Phillips, a rematch with Giovanni Lorenzo or someone like that. I feel that is where my level is right now. I know kids like Ishe,. Sechew Powell, I will even go as far as to say Mosley gonna come with the blah blah blah, but guess what, I been waitin for ya’ll already. I have been waiting on you Sechew Powel, that will be another W on my list. I ain’t talking cocky but they are my meal ticket. The guys like Judah, Winky and them; they are still looking past me. When they see me, they better run.
PK: So when someone calls to fight Sonny Bono, what are they getting themselves into in your words?
SB: Ha, I don’t even know what they are in for, you can expect the unexpected. I surprise myself when it is time to my fight, it will be very exciting like back in the day with Tyson, don’t get out of your seat cause you might miss something. It might go 1 or might go 10. Like when I fought Bronco McKart, I dropped him in the 1st, real quick. I give him all the credit in the world too, the fight lasted all 8 rounds. That was an opportunity fight for me and I did some impressive things against him. Its real man, it about the conditioning and I showed I can last in there.
PK: From looking at your record, it looks like your career got off to a late start, how did you get into boxing in the first place?
SB: Boxing was a family thing; we went to the gym a couple of times. I would watch the fights with my mom and I was into it. But then when I was 9, my mom got shot in the face. I stopped going to the gym because I had to cater to my mom, I was like ain’t never letting something like that happen to my mom again so I focused on my mom. You have your ups and down in life, I went to the streets and didn’t come back to boxing. Soon after I went to the pen. I got back into boxing when I was about 29 and it’s a great hobby for me now. I am a full time carpenter but I can beat people up, and get paid for it, and not get locked up! I take this serious, it’s real. I call boxing my get out of jail free pass.
PK: Where did the nickname Sonny Bono come from?
SB: My athleticism got me that name; I played in a flag football league before the boxing. Kansas City has a quarterback name Steve Bono back in the day and he was aiight, I didn’t play quarterback though, I played D end and I was aiight. We were in the championship game and we needed an interception and in the huddle I was like “yo, I got the interception”. I got it too, when I picked it off someone in the stands screamed “Yeah Bono that’s what’s up”. Then they started calling me sonny bono and it just stuck. I thought it was cool and I decided my ring name is sonny bono and now they announce me as Clarence “Sonnnnnnny Boonnnnnooooo” Taylor! One day I’m gonna go meet Cher
PK: Are you from Wilmington originally?
SB: Oh yeah, born and raised in Wilmington, right down there on broom street. I was born in Wilmington Hospital, now they have condominiums where I was born at. They know Sonny Bono all over Delaware.
PK: What gym are you from?
SB: I been working out of two gyms, William Hicks Anderson Center which has a youth program that I socialize with, and also Elsmere gym which is Dave & Nick Tiberi’s gym. Dave fought James Toney back in the day and should have won. I get good work there and represented it when I went to KC.
PK: What do you think of some of the up and comers fighting at junior middleweight?
SB: I’ll put it to you like this. Look at my resume then look at dudes like Ant Thompson, Ishe Smith to name a few. Now they have been in with some aiight guy but no blood guts wars or been through the struggle. When they were in the Olympics, I was in the pen. They turned pro with $20 – $30 thou bonuses and I came out with stone cold nothing. When you get hit with some shit, it’s all about how you react. They ain’t ever felt that yet and they know what I bring. John Duddy turned us down; Duva turned me down 3 days after I won the belt. Shit, I think that’s when you want to fight the champ, when he is still coo-coo for coco puffs after his big win. David Medina, I give him all the respect in the world. He gave me my opportunity; put my foot in the door. I ain’t saying I turned the corner just yet. When I do they are gonna be like “who’s that” and I’ll be like “Yo it’s Sonny”.
PK: Now that you have a belt, what do you want to come out of all this?
SB: What I would really like is to have an outdoor fight. When I watched the fights with my mom and them back in the day they had outside fights in Vegas or NY or whatever but they don’t really do that anymore. Since I got the belt, I’d like to have a nice outside fight at the Blue Rock’s stadium, sometime in like August or September when it’s hot! I been on the road for like 3 years and never had the chance to fight in my hometown. I know I can sell it out because everyone in Delaware wants to see the boy fight.
I want to be able to sit at the table with my entire family for dinner all at once, not have to go run around to see them all scattered. We haven’t all ate together yet, I want my family to bless a meal at the table all together.
PK: You have done a lot of traveling and seen a lot as your time as a pro. What was the best or most memorable fight for you so far in your career?
SB: It’s 4/14/07 when I won the belt. It is the same day that Bernard Hopkins snatched the belts from Keith Holmes in New York back in like ‘01. I remember him telling me if I can make it to NY to watch the fight then I am on his team. Bernard motivates me, sometimes I run into him sometimes when we are getting our cars washed or something. He always tells me I’m always hearing about you and you are making me proud. This is my first belt of many; I’m looking for another opportunity.
PK: Are you working with any promoters rght now?
SB: We would like some promoters to call us just like you gave us the call. I guess they don’t understand, if a promoter gives me the opportunity, I guarantee they won’t move me until something goes wrong. Everyone in DE wants to see the boy do his thing!
PK: Anything you would like to add as we close here?
SB: Just want to let everyone know that I am always ready. I hear a lot of guys say I am going to the mountains or woods to train or something but its all about the mindset. You going there to train or going to do something else? Not many people would have been able to rebound from the shit I have been through. I am here to stay and looking to get paid. Thanks for the call, this is gonna be the first interview of many cause I am getting more titles!
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