Matt Remillard was released from prison on November 28, 2016 and, as he counted down the long nights and interminable days until his release, he’d get butterflies, then switch to excitement mode, and then his mind would drift to a place of uncertainty. Will I be accepted when I get out? I have to get a job, get earning…Will someone take a chance on me, hire an ex-con? Boxing, how much do I have left? I know or I think I know. Am I in good enough shape?
We did a pretty deep dive into the Connecticut-based boxer, who went to lock-up for assault, did six years and had to re-enter the world and the fight life after a lengthy spell.
We thought it would be right to check back in, see how he’s acclimating to life outside.
“Has it been better, worse or different than I expected it would be to get back into shape? I don’t think I expected to be in bad shape. I got released at 11 a.m. Later that day, I sparred 12 rounds with six different guys, so, then and there, that solidified I was in shape. I don’t think making it back to where I was was as hard as I thought it would be.” No, ring rust hasn’t messed with him overtly, he said.
Massive motivation helps the push. “I want to release memories from the Mikey Garcia fight. I don’t think the world got to see the real me. Moving forward, in each fight, I have to make a statement. People expect a certain level, especially if you’re trying to hit TV, so, each fight, I’m needing to make a statement. Nowadays people, with all the pay-per-view letdowns, yes, you have people bringing the excitement back to boxing, with Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia, Errol Spence but, with the (Floyd) Mayweather (Jr.)-(Manny) Pacquiao letdown…and, with a lot of the professionals, it’s just get the ‘W.’ It’s a business. I want to make sure fans get a good fight, make sure, if they spend $60, they get their money’s worth. I fight for the fans. I go back (Micky) Ward- (Arturo) Gatti; that’s exactly what I want to bring to the ring.”
On Saturday, at Foxwoods Resort, in Mashantucket, Connecticut, Remillard (25-1, 14 knockouts. His lone loss, to Mikey Garcia, in 2011, was a 10th round stoppage) tops the DiBella Entertainment card, meeting Yardley Armenta Cruz in a 130 pound showdown.
“Cruz, I saw him fight at Mikey Garcia’s last fight, versus Adrien Broner, versus Billy Dib. He’s tall, lanky…It’s my first fight back to 130 and I want to see how that feels. I’m slowly getting more comfortable in my body. Cruz comes to fight. He’s from California. It seems like he’s not afraid of anybody.”
Figuring out his body, his proper fighting weight, has been a particular focus for Remillard. “When I first got out, I was eating normal food, healthier foods. I made 135 so easy but it seems 130 is more natural for me. My body is adapting, getting better, getting back in top shape. I thought I would be having trouble making 135. I’d settle at 140, tops…As summer came, the weight just flew off of me. Now, it’s fall and chillier. We’ll see if I can keep to 130.”
He saw Alantez Fox pack on 20 or so pounds, after weigh-in, against Demetrius Andrade, so Remillard wants to be able to also re-hydrate and get leverage in that manner, as many other fighters do. “At 135, I wouldn’t be able to put back the weight. At 135, on fight night, I don’t think I’d be any bigger. I could have made 130 three weeks ago. In my mind, I could make 126, which is fascinating.”
He talked about his re-debut, last April, against Agustine Mauras. “April 1, it was ironic because my pro debut came (that same day) in April 2005. There was a lot going through my mind. Now I’m more excited; now I’m anxious-slash-excited. I want to fight one more time (after Saturday), end with a bang, and, if I do or don’t, it’s been an awesome ride. I’m looking forward to what next year brings.”
Part of the “awesome ride” has been his appreciation that he’s been working to pay bills. He works 9-to-5 as a low voltage electrician apprentice, at SystemOne, LLC in Southington, Connecticut. He lauds the bossman, the guy who gave a guy a chance. “There’s not many people out there like that…The team I’m with, it’s like a family. They never judged me, from day one.”
No, he hasn’t run into any of the people who were on the other side in court, so there’s been no drama from that perspective, he told me. “I have no bad words for anyone, no worries, just trying to live my life. There’s nothing I can do to change the past. I can only change my future. Having good people to support you helps. No, I have no bad dreams, flashbacks to my time inside. I keep in touch with a small group, some of my best friends. We keep each other in check. That’s what friends are for. But I lost a lot of friends; you see true colors. I keep in touch with about five guys. It keeps me in line. Most are out. One guy is getting out this year. That’ll be awesome.”
So, can Remillard offer a prediction? “I will be trying Saturday at Foxwoods to come to impress the fans, give the fans their money’s worth…and then I’m looking to bigger and better things. I think next year is a solid time, toward the end of the year, to try to land a title shot. It’s a tough business. It’s all about negotiating, trying to get ranked, move up that ladder. But it’s great to see all the support I’ve gotten. It went by so fast! I fight and, the next day, I want to do it again! I have a whole new drive!”
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On the cover this month: Mikey Garcia
Source:: The Ring – Boxing