February 5th, 2011 14:00 EST
Champion Dad Pro Boxer Matt 'Too Smooth' Godfrey on The AP with Judyth Piazza
Since his pro debut May 14, 2004 versus Glen Morgan, Matt "Too Smooth" Godfrey has displayed poise and ring generalship far beyond his age, never more evident than in two early career matches against proven veterans Willie Herring and Jermall "The Truth" Barnes.
Years ago, Matt started boxing at Manfredo`s Gym in Pawtucket (RI) with Peter Manfredo, Jr., former world title challenger and finalist in the original reality television series, The Contender, as well as his current CES stable-mate, 2004 U.S. Olympian Jason Estrada.
A proud, full-blooded Native American (Wampanoug), Godfrey possesses incredibly quick hands and feet, especially for a 200-pounder, in addition to a complete set of sound boxing skills developed during his outstanding amateur career.
Matt had a 194-23 amateur record, capturing six national championships, four open tournaments including the 2004 Everlast U.S. Championships, plus two in the Junior Olympics.
He was a Bronze medal winner at the 2001 Pan-American Games, Silver Medalist in all four of
that year`s national major tournaments - National Golden Gloves, PAL (Police Athletic League), U.S. Championships and U.S. Challenge - and six-time New England Golden Gloves champion.
Godfrey was the second heavyweight alternate on the 2004 U.S. Olympic Boxing Team but he decided to turn pro May 14 (2004), winning a unanimous four-round decision against 1-1 Glen Morgan.
A highly decorated U.S. amateur, Godfrey defeated many of today`s leading contemporary pro boxers such as former WBA middleweight title challenger Randy "The Gentleman Griffin (24-2-3, 12 KOs), heavyweight prospect Chazz "Mensa With Muscles" Witherspoon (26-2, 18 KOs), Devin Vargas (18-1, 13 KOs), Corey "Black Ice" Cummings (17-4, 13 KOs), Leonard "Haitian Sensation" Pierre (18-3, 13 KOs) and John Johnson (12-2, 10 KOs).
In his 2004 pro debut, Godfrey won a 4-round unanimous decision against Glen Morgan in Providence, and in his eighth and ninth pro fights, respectively, Matt won 8 and 10-round decisions against the aforementioned Barnes and Herring, for th vacant WBC USNBC title, in 2005.
Godfrey`s stunning first-round TKO of previously unbeaten NABA title-holder Shaun George (11-0-2) on ESPN2 (May 10, 2006) really put Godfrey on the boxing scene. He followed that with a convincing 12-round unanimous decision (116-112, 116-113, 118-111) against Danny Batchelder (24-2-1) on September 23 Hartford (CT) for the NABA, USNBC and WBC Continental Americas championships.
Godfrey`s most notable and career-defining fight through 2007, though, was a shocking second-round knockout of highly-touted Felix Cora, Jr. (18-1-2) for the , in which Matt completely overwhelmed his talented opponent, before an ESPN2 audience (April 6, 2007) at Foxwoods. Four months later, Godfrey defeated Derrick Brown (13-2-3) by unanimous 10-round decision at Twin River in Rhode Island. Following the fight, Matt relinquished his NABA, WBC Continental Americas & USNBC title belts to give others an opportunity as he concentrated on a major world title fight.
The stage was set for Matt to fight 13-0 Rudolf Kraj in a WBC title elimination bout. Godfrey started out slow and ran out of rounds, losing a 12-round unanimous decision (115-113, 116-113, 117-111) March 8, 2008 to Kraj in Berlin. "I was terribly disappointed with my first loss," he noted, "but I realized that all champions (not named Floyd Mayweather, Jr.) lose at some point. It isn`t the end of the world, as long as you learn from a loss, and I`ve learned a lot. I know what I`m capable of and I just have to put it all together. I still believe I`m the best cruiserweight in the world. I want to fight the top guys, on television, and get back to where I belong."
NABF champion Matt "Too Smooth" Godfrey was anxious to show the boxing world what he has learned from his first pro loss to Kraj. "I went overseas to fight Kraj in his backyard," Godfrey said. "I got through a difficult fight and learned a lot that I hadn`t experienced in my first 16 pro fights. I proved that I can dig down and go 12 hard rounds. I also learned that I have to become a lot meaner and more aggressive. I can`t just rely on my boxing ability, being `Too Smooth,` and just looking good in the ring. I need to bite down, push forward and take the fight away from my opponent - like Vinny Paz did - instead of just boxing around in the ring."
In his following fight, Godfrey showed, stopping highly-rated Emmanuel Nwodo (22-4) in his last fight (Aug. 29, 2008) on ESPN2. Godfrey-Nwodo was named August 2008 Fight of the Month by The Ring magazine.
"Too Smooth" showed to all that, gaining invaluable experience from fighting Kraj, he was even more of a force to be reckoned with in the cruiserweight division, by destroying former USBA champion Emmanuel Nwodo (22-4) in their June 29, 2006 NABF title fight on ESPN from Mohegan Sun. Nwodo floored an off-balanced Matt in the third round but Matt weathered the storm and came back strong, unleashing a barrage of unanswered punches in the fourth round to win by technical knockout.
"I wasn`t hurt from the knockdown in the third - we were exchanging right hands and my glove was just left out there," Godfrey commented after the fight. "We traded punches and he was more hurt than I was but I was the one that happened to lose my balance. Unfortunately for me my glove touched the canvas and I got the knockdown scored against me, but it just goes to show you that I have the heart of a champion being able to come up off of the floor to win by a knockout the very next round, just a typical New England fighter. When we started the third round, I knew it was when my conditioning would kick in. Right from the start I kept pressuring him and pressuring him. Even though I got hit with a few good shots, I knew he would start to slow down and that I would get him.
"After I hurt him, I looked up at the clock and saw that there was a minute and thirty seconds left in the round and knew that I had him. Everybody isn`t sharp for the first three rounds but it is after the fourth and fifth round where you can really see what of a fighter that person really is. I showed you what kind of fighter I am tonight, coming up off from the canvas after the third round and being under pressure, and then to come out in the fourth round and knock the other guy out who has all of the knockouts. I noticed about halfway through the third round when I would put pressure on him, I was able to close the gap because he is a lot taller than me. When he kept me on the outside it made things a little difficult. In some ways in the third when I put pressure on him, I closed that gap and slowed him down. In the fourth round I came out and put on that pressure in close and closed that gap and I got to him. I think I broke his nose in the fourth round with a stiff jab alone. Early on he kept using his distance against me and the only thing that I could do to keep him away from me was to use a really hard stiff jab. Once I started putting the pressure on and landing with the jab is when I busted his nose up. Once I broke it open, every jab I connected with continued to make it worse.
In late 2008, Godfrey became the first Sovereign Nations Boxing Council (SNBC) champion, when he won a dominating 10-round decision against Eddie "The Iron Man" Gutierrez at 4 Bears Casino in New Town, North Dakota. "It was an honor for me to fight for the first Sovereign Nations Boxing Council title, let alone win the first SNBC belt because I am Native American," Godfrey said upon returning to his Providence home. "Finally, Native American boxers have a chance to be recognized and being the first SNBC champion is a huge honor for me."
Godfrey defended his NABF and SNBC crowns against a fellow Native American, previously unbeaten Shawn Hawk (18-0-1), on ESPN from Philadelphia. Matt breezed to his 19th win by 10-round decision (99-91, 97-93, 96-92) and relinquished his SNBC belt after the match out of respect for Hawk, who grew-up on a poor reservation and overcame many obstacles.
In what was supposed to be a "stay busy" bout for Godfrey in September of 2009, in Sacramento, against Michael Simms (20-11-2), Godfrey showed the heart of a champion, picking himself up off the mat in the opening round to win a 10-round split decision (96-93, 95-94, 94-95) against the dangerous Simms, a World amateur champion who defeated present WBA heavyweight champion David Haye in 1999.
In his last action August 21, 2010, Godfrey unsuccessfully challenged WBO cruiserweight champion Marco Huck in Germany, getting stopped (TKO5) for the first time in his pro career.
Godfrey is managed by Bret Hallenbeck and trained by "Iceman" John Scully.
MATT "Too Smooth" GODFREY
Age: 30 Born: January 16, 1981 in Providence, RI
Hometown: Providence, RI
Pro Record: 20-2 (10 KOs) Former NABF, NABA, WBC Continental Americas, SNBC & USNBC Cruiserweight Champion
Photo by Emily Harney