CT: You were born in Jamaica. How long did you live there before you moved to the States?
VJ:I moved when I was 11. I came up to the States about '95.
CT: How popular is the sport of boxing in the part of Jamaica where you were born?
VJ: I just grew up watching boxing. There weren't many people who were around actually competing. My father is a huge fan. We used to watch Mike McCallum and Razor Ruddock. I grew up having a lot of memories about boxing coming up.
CT: How do you compare your life in Jamaica to life here in the States?
VJ: Very different. Jamaica was much more relaxed. It was much more just carefree. There wasn't that constant pressure that I have now. People aren't as well off as they are in the States. You can see poverty, but it was a different sense of it there.
CT: In addition to boxing, you also hold a position at a law firm. How long have you been practicing law? Tell us about your career as a lawyer.
VJ: I've been practicing for seven years now. I went to Duke. Graduated in ‘07. I went to a firm in D.C. and worked there for four years, then I transferred to the firm I'm at now, and I've been here about three years. I do acquisitions and security law with multimillion dollar deals so it’s high pressure.
CT: Both boxing and practicing law are time consuming. Describe what its like to balance two professional careers.
VJ: The older and further along I get it gets harder. I'm definitely at the point now where it’s probably the hardest it's gonna get. When you're dealing with the kind of deals we're dealing with, people aren't trying to hear excuses about why they aren't getting done, they just want to get it done. Obviously with boxing you can’t afford to give excuses because if you're missing days in the gym you're getting punched in the face and its gonna hurt after. It's a different kind of hurt, but both of them are very time consuming. I have basically had to adjust my schedule. Whether it be I train really really early in the morning, I have a coach that understands what I'm going through. He understands that it's just what I have to do.
CT: Are there any skills that you have developed in one field that you also utilize in the other?
VJ: Honestly I think there are a lot of things that are transferable. When you're working by yourself in the gym you have to be a self-motivator. You have coaches that will work with you, but at the end of the day you have to get things done yourself. There are lessons that I learn through boxing that are applicable like you're really just as good as your last fight. If you mess something up in a transaction people are not trying to hear that. If you lose a fight people are not trying to hear that. It's not about why you loss, they just care about the fact that you lost. You have to be on your P's and Q's every deal. You have to be on your Ps and Qs every fight. People only remember your last deal or your last fight. Being willing to do the extra work that you need to do, things like that are applicable to both professions.
CT: Your career started with your first professional fight in July 2009. Was your decision to become a professional fighter spontaneous? Was it something you wanted to do for a while?
VJ: Honestly I had no intention of being here. I started and it was gradual. I actually started when I was at a firm as a summer associate after my first year of law school. I just wanted to stay in shape while I was in law school and started going to the gym just for something to do. I started working out and when I did that I started meeting people in the gym. Then I started as an amateur, and won the D.C. Novice Golden Glove. At that point I was 25, so I decided let's see how we do in the pros. So I went to the pros and my coach set up a fight for me and we just kinda kept going from there.
CT: Are there any fighters past or present that have influenced your style or technique?
VJ: There isn't anybody that I really fashion my style after. I like McCallum for the fact that he always attacked the body, you know he was the “The Body Snatcher.” He was the first Jamaican guy that had acclaim when I was coming up. I paid attention to stuff like that but I don't really fashion my style after anybody.
CT: Your next fight is in April. You face a tough opponent in Quantis Graves who is undefeated at 9-0-1 with 4 knockouts. How important is this upcoming match for you?
VJ: Every fight is important. I don't intend to lose again. He's a tough guy, but I want to step up. It doesn't make sense to continue to fight guys who are gonna be walkovers. I need a tough fight to see where I am. He'll be a good test. I know he can box. I know he's got some skills but I want to test myself. I need to see how I stack up and I think this is a good fight.
CT: What do you know about Graves as a fighter?
VJ: I've actually seen a little of him. He actually had a draw against a guy I just beat in my last fight. I actually saw a video of him against that guy. He's a boxer. He had a good amateur career. He's only had ten fights, he has one draw. We’re basically gonna have to do everything I worked out in the gym on fight night. Nothing about him is particularly spectacular he just kinda does everything well.
CT: How do you feel your style matches up against Graves?
VJ: I think my style matches up well. When some guys have been fighting for so long, they get to the point they feel like they start to click. I feel like I'm getting to the point where things are starting to click. I'm not just throwing punches, I'm trying to set things up now and I feel very confident. I think a lot of things are in my favor. I think I'm a tough fight for anybody. So I feel no different about this fight.
CT: You fight in the cruiserweight division so most of the top competition is abroad, particularly Europe. Are you comfortable in your current division?
VJ: I'm staying right at cruiserweight. If I have to go abroad to fight then that's what I'll have to do.
CT: What are you looking to accomplish within the sport of boxing?
VJ: I plan on being cruiserweight champion of the world and use it as a means to show people that if you put your mind to things you can accomplish what you want to accomplish. To be honest, my story is a bit unrealistic. I'm an attorney at a firm who is trying to be cruiserweight champion of the world. I plan on proving everybody wrong and once I do I think it will be something than can help their people accomplish their dreams.
CT: You seem like a very motivated person both inside and outside the ring. What drives you to go after so much? Who are some of your influences outside of boxing?
VJ: I grew up in a household where I saw my mother and father working really hard. If you work hard then you get what you're supposed to get. My father started his own company and I remember being up late at night and helping him get that company off the ground. I remember my mother working two jobs. My family is very important to me, especially my mother. She has kept me level-headed. She has always been my main supporter, and my brother. There is a person at my law firm, one partner in particular, who lets me know that I'm doing well and that he has my back. My coach has never left, even when the hype was gone. I was 13-0 and everybody was talking about me, then I lost and everybody stopped talking. Now we’re irrelevant in the gym again, and he never left. In the different aspects of my life those people are probably the most influential.