An excellent weekend of fisticuffs on America’s No. 1 Boxing Network begins with a sensational fight card Friday, March 3, when unbeaten IBF/IBO flyweight champion Vic Darchinyan (24-0, 19 KOs) defends against IBF No. 3 contender Diosdado Gabi (26-2-1, 19 KOs) in the main event on “ShoBox: The New Generation” on SHOWTIME (11 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast). Darchinyan has won six consecutive bouts by knockout. Gabi, who has never been stopped, has won 12 in a row (eight inside of the distance). In the “ShoBox’’ co-feature from Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, Calif., undefeated Anthony Mora (15-0, 10 KOs) faces what could be his toughest test when he meets Rustam Nugaev (15-4, 7 KOs) in a 10-round lightweight bout. The 20th anniversary of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING continues the next night, Saturday, March 4, when talented, undefeated, hard-hitting super middleweight world champions Jeff “Left Hook’’ Lacy (IBF) and Joe Calzaghe (WBO) collide in the most significant unification world title bout in years. Lacy-Calzaghe will air live on SHOWTIME at 9 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast) from Manchester, England.
Begin Opening Statements.
Fenech: We are prepared really well for the fight. We have been here (Los Angeles) for a couple of days sparring and doing pad work, getting ready. We have a lot of respect for our opponent and especially because he has such a great trainer in his corner in Freddie Roach. We know that Freddie does not take anybody into any fight that is not prepared properly. So we have been preparing very well for this. I have made sure that Vic has done a lot of extra work and we are looking forward to the fight. But I am very, very confident I have the hardest punching flyweight in the world and I think Freddie has seen him spar down in the gym so he knows what they are in for. But like I said, he is a great trainer and I know Freddie will have Gabi ready for Darchinyan.
Roach: Gabi is in great shape for the fight. He trained really hard. We had great sparring and we got some big punchers because we know Vic is a very big puncher and a very good champion, and a big favorite going into the fight. But Gabi is in great shape and I feel an upset. Jeff is a great trainer and I respect him. But we are coming to win and it will be exciting and I am sure both fighters are in great shape. There is going to be a lot of action because the small weight divisions throw a lot more punches than the bigger guys.
Darchinyan: Gabi is a good fighter, but I am good and I want to tell Gabi to choose for me a round, any round, I will stop you (him) in any round, any minute.
Gabi: I feel 100 percent and I am happy that I got the opportunity for a fight with a champion. I will work hard to win.
Begin Press Questions.
Question: Vic, what kind of fight do you expect out of Gabi this Friday?
Darchinyan: I know he is a powerful puncher. I expect him to come to me each round.
Question: Vic, what has been your most difficult fight?
Darchinyan: I can say in 24 fights, (Irene) Pacheco was the most difficult fight. He is a good fighter and he is a good body puncher and he is strong.
Question: Gabi, how are you planning to fight Darchinyan? What is your strategy?
Gabi: I will try to do land hard punches and go in as much as possible.
Roach: We respect the champion’s punching power, but I can assure you 100 percent that Gabi is not going to run from him. He is motivated and not afraid of Darchinyan. Gabi is not going to lie down and give up the title without giving it everything he has.
Darchinyan: If he does not run from me, then it will be a first round knockout.
Roach: I am not making any predictions. I am only saying that Gabi will go in there, give 110 percent and he will leave everything in the ring. Whether he wins or not, we will see who the best man is that night.
Question: Jeff and Freddie, where have you been holding your training camps?
Roach: Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, California. This is where he gets the best sparring. He has got a lot of rounds in right now and he is ready for the fight.
Question: Vic, what is your schedule for the next couple days?
Darchinyan: Just sharpening up and making sure that the weight is fine. But we are training – (it is) not a camp. We just train at the same gym with great sparring partners.
Question: Vic, how long have you been in the States?
Darchinyan: We have been here for a couple days now. When the fight comes around, we will have been here for nine days.
Question: Is that good for you as far as getting acclimated?
Darchinyan: We made sure that when we got off the plane the first day that we did not sleep and I am into a good sleeping pattern already.
Question: Gabi, what does this opportunity to fight for a world title mean to you?
Gabi: This is a great, great honor, not only for my family but the whole country because it is really a great honor when you win something like a big fight. This is a big turnabout for my life.
Question: Jeff, you were quoted about a week ago by an Australian paper saying that you were concerned with Vic’s preparation, that he only had about four weeks. Do you still feel that way?
Fenech: The last couple of days here in Los Angeles have been pretty refreshing for me. I thought that he boxed really well. He boxed a guy who was maybe 20 pounds heavier than him and he did six or eight rounds really hard and I was very happy with that. I would have liked a couple of extra weeks, but this fight came about very quickly.
Question: Freddie, how much preparation time have you had for this fight?
Roach: We have been in the gym for two months now. When the fight came about we were excited about it and world title fights do not come everyday. So we jumped on it. It will be a great fight for Gabi and we are definitely ready.
Question: Freddie, do you feel that Gabi’s weight is going to be fine for this fight, and do you feel that he has a decided advantage because of the fact that Darchinyan has not been in a full length training camp?
Roach: I am sure the champion is coming prepared. He is a world champion and he knows what it is about. Gabi was two pounds heavy yesterday, so the weight is not a problem. So we are just tapering off right now and starting to do a little bit less each day until the fight time.
Question: Freddie, you have Gabi and also James Toney now in camp. How difficult is it for you to split time between training them both?
Roach: I am here in the gym from 9 in the morning until 8 at night. So working with Gabi and James is not a problem. I just separate them. We have had great sparring, good punchers like Vic because we know Vic is dangerous. He is heavy-handed and so it is something we have respect for. I just think Gabi is a better boxer and we are going to have to prove that and show that. He is heavy-handed and so it is something we have respect for.
Question: Diosdado, do you feel that your power is being disrespected? Do you think it is something fans are going to see on fight night?
Gabi: I am ready to counter whatever it is that is going to happen there. I have never been scared of any fight that I have had or will have in the future. I am ready.
Question: Jeff, how is Vic’s weight going to be?
Fenech: In the last couple of days, we will take those last couple of pounds off just to make sure that when we get in the ring, we can put that weight back on and be strong again. I have been through the weight gain for a lot of years as has Vic. So we are ready to make the weight and be big and strong when we get back in the ring.
Question: What do you anticipate Vic to be at (weigh) by the time he steps foot in the ring?
Fenech: Well, we are only allowed to be 10 pounds (over), so he will be 10 pounds (over, at 122).
Question: Vic, is it your plan now to fight in the US if you get past Friday night?
Darchinyan: I am perfectly comfortable with my power and America is the best place you can show your power. I am here and I am very happy and I think when I fight here, everyone will love my style.
Question: Vic, is there pressure on you to perform well?
Darchinyan: I am 30 years old and I have been boxing for 23 years. But I am not tired from boxing. I have a lot to show the world now, how I can be better in every fight. I am excited and it is not pressure. I love boxing. I love showing my power so that everyone can see it.
Question: Vic, you seem dead set on the knockout against a guy that has never been knocked out. What if the fight does go the distance and you do not get the knockout?
Darchinyan: No, of course, it will be a knockout, but I can go the distance. I am ready for this fight and I will stop him.
Question: Diosdado, what are your thoughts about the fight being televised in the Philippines?
Gabi: It is no pressure at all. I am happy that they can watch it live and we are going to show them how Filipinos fight, not just by power, but with full determination.
Question: Freddie, are you ready to become the President of the Philippines if your guy wins?
Roach: I am not into politics, but maybe I can be Manny’s (Pacquaio’s) Vice President.
Question: Freddie, did you see some parallels between Gabi and Pacquaio when you saw him the first time?
Roach: Manny is more close-up. Gabi is a better boxer. He just thinks a lot more. Gabi is a hard working kid. He is a dedicated guy and we are going to do the best we can.
Question: Vic, are you looking past this fight for a bigger fight?
Darchinyan: Like I say, every fight is a world title fight. Right now, I am just preparing for this fight. I will be ready and in good shape. I will show them Friday how well I am prepared.
End Press Questions. Begin Closing Statement.
Gabi: I want to thank everybody for giving me this chance to fight and I will try very hard not to fail all those who are hoping for me to win.