By Sylvana Ambrosanio


"It’s going to be a hot year for my team and I. June 8th, I will be making another big statement win with Hitz Boxing. Boxing, for me it’s the one place anyone can go, and you’re not judged on about everything else in your life that’s gone on. When you get in the ring, people can only judge you on how you work in there, on your heart and determination, on how bad you want it. When I get in the ring I know all eyes are on me, nothing else matters except what happens in that ring." Check out what Chicago's prospect has to say in an exclusive one on one interview

SA: Hey Mike, thanks for talking to today, how are you?

MJ: I’m doing great, can’t complain. Right now I’m just in the gym and staying busy.

SA: When will we see you back in the ring?

MJ: I’m actually in training camp for my next fight, June 8th at the Horseshoe Casino in Indiana, with Hitz Boxing.

SA: Anyone you have an eye on?

MJ: Right now I don’t really have my eye on anyone. I’m letting my team make all the right moves for me, and get me the right fights. If I had to pick, I guess it would be one of the main title holders, see how I match up against them. But that day will come, for now, just going to keep on climbing the ranks.

SA: How about we start off with where your ring name “Hollywood” came from?

MJ: (laughs) yeah that’s a popular question. Well, that started out from one of my best friends, and training partners, Don ‘DA BOMB’ George. I was first coming in the gym, I was like 20 years old. Coming in, looking on my cell, looking in the mirrors, and he was like, “oh there’s Hollywood”. The name pretty much stuck, and overnight the name became Hollywood. Was a little funny at first, but fits me well. I like it.

SA: Let’s go back to the beginning. What got you involved in boxing?

MJ: Well my Grandfather who just recently passed away - he was the one who always had boxing around the family. He boxed when he was younger, in the army. He’s always been a fan of boxing, so the family would get together to watch the big fights on T.V. When I was done playing football at my college, I needed something to get into. Boxing was always something I wanted to get into, and boom, I started boxing. Got in the gym with Don and his father, my trainer, and it’s been going good for us.

SA: What is it about stepping in the ring that you like so much?

MJ: I love it. For me it’s the one place anyone can go, and you’re not judged on about everything else in your life that’s gone on. When you get in the ring, people can only judge you on how you work in there, on your heart and determination, on how bad you want it. When I get in the ring I know all eyes are on me, nothing else matters except what happens in that ring. I go in there with a lot of intensity and energy, and I get that rush.

SA: How has boxing changed or influenced your life and how has it changed you mentally and physically?

MJ: Boxing has influenced my life in a few ways. I’d say it’s matured me more, and it’s made me be more responsible about myself and my actions. Especially since I’ve turned pro a few years ago, I’ve definitely changed my life some. Boxing is something that you have to live and take serious, and I’ve moulded the way I live my life about boxing and getting better.

SA: So how does your family feel about you pursuing a career in pro boxing?

MJ: My family is behind me 100%, I’ve gone to college, and I have a good Union job that pays well. They understand that this is something I love to do, something I take pride in, and they want to see me do my best. They love to come out and support.

SA: Can you tell us about your amateur journey up to where you turned pro?

MJ: My amateur career was a lot of fun. I came up quick in the amateur ranks and was fighting good open fighters early, fought all the top guys in my area, won some lost some. I fought in all the tournaments around me, and got a lot of good experience. I’d say my favorite memory was my 3rd fight, a hot summer day. Fight was outside and had all my friends and family there. Knocked the guy out cold in the first round. That will be forever one of my favorite memories.

SA: How did you know it was the right time to turn pro?

MJ: We were in the amateurs for 3 years, fighting everyone, fighting in all the tourneys, and getting good experience. We had the opportunity to turn pro, and after my team and I talked about it being the right time for the move, we did it. Haven’t looked back since, and have been on a hot road to success.

SA: You turned pro in 2010 against Cleo Rice, winning by way of TKO. How important is it to win in such emphatic style on your debut into the pro game?

MJ: I think it’s important, to come in and make a splash into the pro ranks. It’s all about winning, but winning with style, is what people want to see. My debut was fun, I remember being anxious, excited, and ready to put on a show. I probably could have settled down a little once I got in there. Every punch I threw was a knockout punch, and got him out in 1. A fun experience.

SA: You are friends with Don George who experienced a controversial decision at his last fight. What are your thoughts on it?

MJ: Yeah, it was very tough on all of us, and he puts everything into his fights, and he was pretty down as you can imagine. He landed all the big shots, controlled most of if not all of the fight, and was always the aggressor. I honestly didn’t think it was close, I had him winning 7 rounds to 3.

SA: How about your training experience with Don, and how has training with Don “DA BOMB” George helped improve you?

MJ: Don is great in the gym, he’s always there to help push me that extra inch and make me better, and he always has on eye on me. Training with Don, and his father, our trainer, is great for me. They have been through the highs, and lows of the sport together so they know how to handle me the right way. Don is world class, and I think he is a big reason why my talents have been getting better and better with every fight.

SA: How important is sparring for you and how much research do you do in the run up to a fight about your future opponent?

MJ: Sparring is very important. We always spar 2-3 times a week, getting ready for our fights. We work on the things we have to, to get better, and visualize our next opponent, and they things they bring to the table.

SA: You are Chicago’s number 1 prospect. What do you feel are your greatest assets and how do you take advantage of them?

MJ: For me it’s always working hard. I know I’m not the fastest, or the hardest puncher out there. So I know I have to always be working hard to be more than ready. I’m an athlete, with my movement, I have an outside game, and an inside game, I think I have a decent jab, so I like to work off of it. So I take advantage of pumping my jab and picking my openings.

SA: What do you feel you bring to the table and makes you special and stand out from the rest?

MJ: I think that my style, and the way I bring energy and excitement to the ring is something that makes me stand out. I bring a lot of intensity in there, and you can tell by the way I’m throwing my punches, and putting them together.

SA: You have now had 10 pro fights. What would you say is the biggest lesson you have learnt so far? What do you feel you could improve on?

MJ: The biggest lesson I’d say is to not get over excited in there and try to just kill the guy. I’ve learnt to sit back a little more and pick the right shots, look for the openings and see what works. It’s helped me to be a better fighter.

SA: Who do you think is the most technically gifted boxer?

MJ: Mayweather and Andre Ward. Mayweather keeps showing everyone why he is the best pound for pound fighter, with his speed and power. He is always technically sound to the T. He is very gifted. Andre Ward is a young champion and he continues to show great skill. He walked through the super 6. When he fought Chad Dawson, he showed great skill against a south paw, and made it look easy!

SA: So for those who are not familiar with you, why don’t you tell us about yourself and life outside of the ring. What other interests do you have?

Well, I am a local 63 Union Ironworker. I am from Chicago, lived in the suburbs while growing up, and currently live in Chicago. Have a big family, where we are all close and get together a lot. I have a younger brother Julian, 22, and a younger Sister Lexi, who is 12. I have a girlfriend, Tiphany. I like to go out a lot with all my friends. I am part of a Flag Football Team, Windy City Hammer, A.K.A Bobble City. And just like to get out and relax with my buds when I’m not in training, just go out and be a regular 25 year old and have fun. Live it up. I’m a fan of a lot of food, I love food. My favorite foods are Pizza, Italian, Spanish, BBQ, a lot of seafood, and I’ve become a fan of sushi. I listen to a lot of different music. Like when I run my playlist can go from, The blues Brothers, to Drake, to Billy Joel, to Chief Keef, and to Biggie Smalls. My music is all over the place, ha! I read a lot of Magazines, the newspaper, but to many books, I’ve read Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis, which was great. I’m a huge fan of the 80’s and 90’s, so I love The Goonies, The Nina Turtles Movies, The Blues Brothers, Back to the Future trilogy, and I like Bad boys, I and II.

SA: What do people not know about you?

MJ: What people don’t know about me, a lot of people don’t know that I have pet turtles, which I’ve had for like 10 plus years. People know I’m Colombian, but don’t know I’m Swiss and Austrian.

SA: What would you like to have achieved by the end of year?

MJ: By the end of the year I’d hope to be around 15-0, be in contention for some type of T.V fight somewhere. And I hope to have my name be spoken about by the big boxing people and writers.

SA: What kind of legacy would you like to leave in the boxing world?

MJ: I’d love to be someone that the fans of boxing will always remember, as someone who went in there and always tried to put on a show, gave it my all, and was a warrior. I’d like to leave a good legacy that my fans and I can look back on, and be proud about.

SA: Do you have a message to your fans, supporters and our readers?

MJ: Just be ready for a good rest of 2013. It’s going to be a hot year for my team and I. June 8th, I will be making another big statement win with Hitz Boxing. And Donovan George will also be fighting in June on ESPN. So keep and eye out, and get ready for a show!