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Iran Blade Barkley Interview: On The Comeback Trail of Life

By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent

*Photo Credit: Robert Brizel

In a recent Real Combat Media interview exclusive ringside, former World Middleweight, Super Middleweight and Light Heavyweight champion Iran ‘The Blade’ Barkley talked comeback, the ring, and more. Barkley, age 54, won 43 bouts, lost 19 and drew one, with 27 knockouts. He is best remembered for beating Thomas ‘Hitman’ Hearns twice, and defeating former world heavyweight champion Gerrie Coetzee in a minor world title bout.

Real Combat Media: “Word. Is it true you are considering a return to the ring??

Iran Barkley: “It could be in Europe. Over here in the United States I would have to fight down south somewhere. It would be for six rounds. A lot of people don’t believe I can do it. I believe I can. Boxing comes quite naturally to me.”

Real Combat Media: “You have frequently stated your disagreements with Bob Arum.”

Iran Barkley: “Bob Arum owes me money. In 1995 and 1997, he did not tell me the contract (we had) was over, and Top Rank was using me. I made that organization (Top Rank) lose a couple of million dollars over Tommy (Hearns when I beat him). Arum is not man enough to face me, and sit down and talk to me.”

Real Combat Media: “You are serious about returning to the ring? Didn’t you write a book about your boxing career so you would not have to fight again?”

Iran Barkley: “I will fight anywhere today they will pay me. I wrote a book on my life story, and I am trying to get my book published. I need a new publisher.”

Real Combat Media: “Are you currently licensed to box? Are your medical exams up-to-date and approved with the New York State Athletic Commission?”

Iran Barkley: “I have a license to box from New York State and a Federal license from ABC Boxing, but New York won’t let me fight (here).”

Real Combat Media: “Where will you fight next, if you do fight again professionally?”

Iran Barkley: “If possible, I am gonna go South first and get me some wins. Then, everyone will know I’m back on the boxing scene. Everyone says (to me) don’t do this, and don’t do that, which won’t pay my bills. Big George Foreman came back at age 38, and Bob Arum gave him a shot. I would fight at cruiserweight (200 pounds or less). Right now I weigh 210 pounds, and if I go down in weight, I think from 185 to 200 pounds, I’ll (then) go lower.”

Real Combat Media: “Are you in the gym training everyday? You look and sound good.”

Iran Barkley: “I’ve had ten years of good rest, and now I’m working my weight off.”

Real Combat Media: “You are going back nearly two decades ago when you refer to Bob Arum. How much money is the disputed figure claim to you have with Top Rank? You never took Top Rank to court, which in the sports world means a different type of battle.”

Iran Barkley: “Bob Arum still owes me money. In 1997 and 1998, he still used me when my contract was over, and he owes me two million dollars. I’m not the type to take any legal action and take him to court. Just because he’s 83 years old, I’ll still make him accountable. He needs to sit down and talk to me. Bob needs to sit down, and talk to me like a man.”

Reader’s Note: Bob Arum’s Top Rank and Floyd Mayweather’s Mayweather Promotions are co-promoting the HBO and Showtime televised Floyd Mayweather Jr. versus Manny Pacquiao welterweight title unification super fight at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, on May 2, 2015, which may break all sports revenue records for a single sporting event.

Real Combat Media: “You lost your last six bouts and won only one of your last nine bouts (1-8-1) as a heavyweight. Do you agree the heavyweight division was a mistake for you?”

Iran Barkley: “No. In my prime, I could fight at heavyweight. I fought former WBA Heavyweight champion Beat Gerrie Coetzee (a tenth round stoppage in a scheduled 12 rounder) and won the WBB World Boxing Board version of the world heavyweight title. I fought a number of bouts at heavyweight and super heavyweight.” (as Barkley categorizes them)

Real Combat Media: “Bob Arum is the true gentleman of boxing. Isn’t there any way you could still work out your dispute with Top Rank?”

Iran Barkley: “It’s a shame. Bob Arum and I go back to when my stablemate, (the late) Davey Moore, knocked out Tadashi Mihara.”

Real Combat Media: “You mentioned at the start of our interview you were considering fighting next in Europe. Why Europe? Do you think they would be more open to your proposed comeback?”

Iran Barkley: “I’ll be interested to going to Europe where the right money is. They got the money (the right dollar amount), I’m going. I want to satisfy myself. I walked away from the game. Bob Arum put a stop to the game for me.”

Real Combat Media: “Iran, the ring charity organizations have helped you, and in turn, you have expressed a desire to help your fellow boxing friends, even Bob Arum.”

Iran Barkley: “Sure, I understand where he’s coming from. I wish I had the money (I feel I was owed), I’d help him. That’s what you do to help your fellow fighters. Something like that (down and out former fighters), you gotta help (them).”

Real Combat Media: “You are presently dealing with an ongoing tragedy in the Barkley family.”

Iran Barkley: “Yes. My niece, Nicole Barkley, 29 years old, is in a coma. Nicole went to Einstein Hospital in the Bronx for a stomach infection, and it turned to this. Right now, I’m saying she’s gonna get better, but it is all up to God. I need to help her now financially, in order to for her life support machines to keep running. That’s why I want to keep fighting. I need one or two more fights to help my comatose niece financially.”

Real Combat Media: “Matt Farrago and Ring 10 helped you a great deal when you were down and out, at a time when you needed help the most.”

Iran Barkley: “Ring 10 helped me when I got into financial problems. I want to help others as well. I’m also a part of Ring 8.”

Real Combat Media: “You were recently hospitalized. What was the cause?”

Iran Barkley: “I went into the hospital with a bleeding ulcer. I’m fine now. When I was in the hospital, I completed all tests, to show the New York State Athletic Commission I am still healthy and strong.”

Real Combat Media: “Despite that setback, you still feel you are ready to fight again?”

Iran Barkley: “Boxing is my job, my livelihood. I had to take ten years off to work myself back into proper physical condition. I recently had a bout offer in Florida, but I turned it down because it was not sanctioned by the Florida Athletic Commission.”

Real Combat Media: “Can you clarify the fight between you and Sugar Ray Leonard, and why it never happened after you fought Roberto Duran for your World Middleweight title in New Jersey?” (Duran won a 12 round split decision after knocking Barkley down)

Iran Barkley: “Bob Arum is upset at me because I knocked out Tommy Hearns (the first time we fought, and he was) Bob Arum’s cash flow. Arum owes me a lot. I’m very bitter about that money (I felt I earned) . Arum told me after the Roberto Duran fight, you are going to fight Sugar Ray Leonard. Ray told me I hit too hard. Given a choice between me and Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Ray told me would rather fight Hagler. They saved Hagler for Sugar Ray. Ray did not have to fight Hagler, he already had all the money he needed. Ray felt they should only give him the fights for the big money, not me, and it happened (Hagler versus Leonard, a 12 round international world title super fight) just like that.”




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