Buddy McGirt -- seen here coaching Paulie Malignaggi -- remembers the late Vernon Forrest as a caring, loving man and father who wanted to end his career on a high note. (via cache.daylife.com)
With the sport of boxing taking such massive hits in July from early, unexpected deaths all around the sport, I do have to say it's been interesting to see how the boxing world has remembered the different fallen warriors. Arturo Gatti is remembered as an electric action star and a fun guy to be around. Alexis Arguello was remembered as a double tough fighter. Vernon Forrest is being remembered as a good man whose life did not revolve around boxing.
Buddy McGirt trained Forrest and Gatti for periods of their career, and worked with Forrest through his last three fights. McGirt mourns the loss of Forrest at The Ring Blog, courtesy Doug Fischer:
"I got a call about 5:30 a.m. in morning and I got up thinking, ‘Who the hell is calling me at this hour,’ but when I saw an Atlanta area code, I thought, ‘That’s not a good sign,’ and then when the person on the other line was crying, I knew I was going to hear more bad news," McGirt told RingTV.com on Sunday. "I’m still in shock, to be truthful."
"I never thought Vernon would die like that," said McGirt, who was Forrest’s head trainer for the fighter’s last four bouts. "He wasn’t a street-type of guy. That’s what hurts so much. He was not one to be out in the streets. He lives out of town (in Atlanta), out in the woods.
"He would hang out and have fun, don’t get me wrong, but he wasn’t out partying and drinking. It’s heartbreaking. No one expected him to die early. No one expected him to die like this."
Buddy also says Forrest had plans for what he wanted to do in his career:
"He called me five days ago about getting back in training," McGirt said. "He wanted to get on the (Floyd Mayweather-Juan Manuel Marquez) Sept. 19 card and asked me if I could start camp on Aug. 1. I was like, ‘Cool, we can do that.’"
"He only wanted to have two more fights before he retired for good, and he wanted to make them count," McGirt said. "He told me he wanted to fight Kelly Pavlik for the middleweight title. He could still make 154 pounds, but he looked like a monster in the gym at 157 and 158 pounds. I thought he would have been great at middleweight."
Pavlik-Forrest had been rumored before, and I thought that was an interesting idea. Vernon came into the sport as a junior welter, but he was huge there and big at 147. He had the body to go to middleweight. I'm not sure how it would've turned out given his age, but it wouldn't have stunned me if had that fight taken place, Vernon Forrest walked out the new middleweight champion, and that's no slight on Pavlik.