Alejandro “Terra” Garcia defends his World Boxing Association super welterweight title against local favorite and former world welterweight champ Jose Antonio Rivera Saturday, May 6, 2006, on SHOWTIME (9 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast). The 12-round title bout will be promoted by Don King Productions and originate from the DCU Center at Worcester, Mass.
Begin Opening Comments.
Garcia: I would like to thank SHOWTIME for giving me this opportunity and thank the press that has joined us on this call. I am training in Tijuana. I am feeling great and I am ready for the fight.
Rivera: This is a tremendous opportunity for me. Again, I want to take the time to thank God. I want to thank SHOWTIME. Not many opportunities come like this when you fight for a world championship twice in your hometown. I want to also thank Garcia for stepping up to the plate and being a real champion in defending his title in my hometown. I look forward to a great fight.
Question: Terra, do you have any reservations about defending against such a popular challenger like Rivera in his hometown?
Garcia: I have been training really hard. I feel ready to go to the fight no matter where it is. A champion should fight anyplace. It does not matter where it is.
Question: Jose, is there added pressure on fighting in your hometown?
Rivera: This is an exciting fight and an exciting time for me. Every time you fight in your hometown, the atmosphere adds just more to the excitement already going on. It is just exciting to be able to fight in front of my fans and in front of my family with them rooting and cheering you on. It just gives you that extra boost and adrenaline rush. But as far as added pressure, I do not feel I have any added pressure coming into the fight.
Question: Alejandro, why did you take this fight in Jose’s hometown since you are the one who is the champion and you are the one defending the title?
Garcia: Like I say, it does not matter where a champion has to go to fight. He just goes and fights. Right now, a lot of people know me already, but I want more people to know me so that I can be welcome to fight in many places. I will fight anywhere.
Question: Alejandro, are you going in there with something special in mind so that people will really remember you from this night?
Garcia: I do not have anything special for this fight. I prepare well for all my fights. I always give 110 percent. I will go in and try to win by knockout because I always go forward. So if he comes forward, the fight will end by knockout.
Question: Jose, how do stay sharp?
Rivera: The way I stay sharp is by staying in the gym. I live clean. I do not abuse my body and I am constantly in shape. That way, when I get the call that a fight opportunity comes up, I am ready to go.
Question: Jose, how are the injuries? Are you fully confident they are healed?
Rivera: Thank God, the injuries are healed up and I am looking forward to May 6.
Question: Jose, is there anything special you want to do being featured on SHOWTIME and in front of your hometown fans?
Rivera: I will not say that I want to do anything special, but I want to put on a special performance. I want to fight like I have never fought before in this fight and give the maximum that I am able to give and then some. I want to put on a great performance because I want to keep fighting on SHOWTIME.
Question: Jose, you said after your fight with Luis Collazo that making 147 pounds was just too hard so you moved up to 154. Can you explain that? Did you feel like your strength had been tapped a little bit?
Rivera: I have to honestly say that I was not proud of my performance in the Collazo fight. But the one thing I was proud of is that when I go into a fight, no matter how I feel, I am going to give 100 percent. That is what you will get from me. I had to lose 25 pounds to get down to 147. A fighter of my weight and height and stature, that is too much weight to be losing and I depleted myself. Making 154, I am going to be healthier and stronger.
Question: Alejandro, your styles are almost the same. Do you think that will help you?
Garcia: I have been training a lot. I know that he is a fighter that comes forward. I like to come forward too. I have been doing a lot of sparring and I think no matter what, the fight is going to be a (slugfest). I think I am a little bit stronger than him and I will win by knockout.
Question: Jose, do you feel that by moving to 154 you may lose some of your power?
Rivera: No, not at all. I think moving to 154 is going to help me. Come May 6, people are going to see that. Previously, in my career, I moved up to 154 because I had an opportunity to fight Fernando Vargas, but then I got injured getting ready for that fight and required surgery. I stayed at 154 for a while, but I had to lift weights and take supplements to be up in that weight class. Now, I have to work to get to 154. I think I am healthier and stronger and I feel great.
Question: Terra, do you feel bad that you did not win by knockout in your last fight?
Garcia: I did not feel bad. No matter what, I am prepared just to win. It does not matter if it is by knockout or a decision. I may not have knocked out that opponent, but I did win an easy decision. It was not even close. I was very happy with my fight.
Question: Terra, if you had not injured your left hand, do you think you would have knocked him out?
Garcia: I give a lot of respect to Luca Messa because he is a really strong fighter. He came to fight. He was sure that he was going to win. So I did not feel bad for not knocking him out, and I cannot tell if I would have knocked him out if I had not injured my hand because you never know that. I give him a lot of credit.
Question: Would you say he is the hardest punching fighter at your weight?
Garcia: I really do not know. What I know is I have knocked out all of my opponents except for one. That is all I can say.
Question: Jose, you have had some turmoil in your camp recently. Is that all settled now and how are things for this fight?
Rivera: The turmoil is pretty much settled for now. Now, I can concentrate on the fight, not that I was not concentrating on the fight before. My attorneys were taking care of that matter. It is just my ex-manager filed suit in court because he felt that he was entitled to 33 1/3 percent of my purses for the rest of my career after I let him go, after 11 1/2 years of service, last August. But for the most part, that is handled. The judge denied his motion, thank God. I am just moving forward.
Question: Do you have a new manager now?
Rivera: I am managing myself right now and it has been that way since last August.
Question: Jose, how do you feel about coming back from a year layoff and getting a hard title fight in a weight division that is one division up?
Rivera: It is a great challenge. Those are the things that I look forward to. I love the fact I am fighting for a world championship. I love the fact I am fighting a powerfully strong fighter like Terra Garcia. I love the fact that it is on SHOWTIME and I love the fact that people do not think I can win. Those are the things I get up for.
Question: Jose, would you have preferred to have a tune-up fight since you have only had two fights in the last three and a half years, or does it matter?
Rivera: I think, honestly, I would have preferred to have a tune-up fight before a fight of this magnitude. But when this fight came along, I mean, I had to take it. So I am just going with the opportunities that are given to me.
Question: Jose, your last fight was one of the best fights of the year but unfortunately was not televised. How does it feel that this fight will be on SHOWTIME?
Rivera: It feels great. It was like finally getting a little bit of recognition for all the years of hard work that I have put into this game. I have been fighting for 14 years as a professional and to finally get this opportunity makes me feel great and excited. I look forward to putting on a great performance.
Question: Alejandro, what was it like for you to come back after your defeat to Simms? Do you feel you need to avenge that loss or do you still feel full of confidence?
Garcia: This is business and I do not take that loss personal. Business is business. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. But I think from now on, it will not be easy to beat me because I am very focused on what I am doing. That loss helped me a lot in my career.
Question: Terra, do you feel that it was fair the way you lost to Simms?
Garcia: I do not think it was (cheating). I just listened to (did) what the referee told me. This is boxing. It was my mistake to drop my hands and he took advantage. (But) that is the past. What I did not like is that he never gave me a rematch even knowing how he beat me, because he knows that I can beat him anytime. He is not a better fighter than I am.
Question: Terra, do you feel that loss has prevented you from being mentioned with the more well-known boxers in the division?
Garcia: I think that loss drove my career (down) for a time, but I think now I have the chance again. That was the first time I fought on television and I lost. In boxing, that happens. I am just thankful for the opportunity that I am getting now and I will come back now and show who I am.
Question: Jose, you have been inactive for a year and you changed your camp. How does this affect you or help you during your training?
Rivera: The changes I did in my camp were because I think it was better for my future in boxing. I have been training a lot and I feel really great for this fight.
Question: Alejandro, you know that Jose is a really great person, but I do not know if people really know that you are too, that you went to college in computer programming. How do you feel that people know who you really are?
Garcia: I think it is great that I got the opportunity to go to college and that helped me a lot. I have a great team that always talks to me straight and I know they are straight to me always because I went to college and I really learned something other than boxing. I love boxing because you have to be very focused for it and that is what I like. It helped me a lot to go to college too.
Question: Alejandro, you went to Tijuana Technical School. Was that high school or a collegiate experience?
Garcia: That is where I studied computers at the Tijuana Technology Center.
Question: How long did you attend?
Garcia: I was supposed to finish in four years. I finished in six because of mixing boxing and studying.
Question: Jose, your dream is to catapult yourself back into the middle of the champions. Not looking back Terra, but would your overall goal be to face him and then to face marquis fighters in the sport?
Rivera: I am not looking past Garcia at all, but definitely it is my dream to capture the super welterweight championship because that in itself will catapult me back into the big picture, facing one of those big names. All I need to do is focus on the Garcia fight and the rest will handle itself.
Question: Terra, not looking past Jose, who will provide a stiff challenge, but do you have aspirations to face those marquis fighters too?
Garcia: Right now, I do not think about anybody else. I just think of the opponent. When I am done with this one, then I will sit down with my trainers and my promoter and they will decide what is next.
Question: Terra, do you think that your punching power matches up with anybody in the division?
Garcia: I do not really know who I can compare to, but if anyone has a question about it, just jump into the ring with me.
Rivera: Again, I just want to thank Don King and SHOWTIME for this opportunity and I want to thank Garcia for giving me an opportunity at his belt. I look forward to putting on a great performance for everybody and becoming another world champion.
Garcia: I thank everybody for being here. I thank SHOWTIME and Don for giving me the opportunity again to keep fighting. I thank Jose for fighting me. Do not miss the fight because this is going to be a great fight. It is