Liakhovich, Briggs, Diaz, Angula conference call quotes!


Liakhovich, Briggs, Diaz, Angula conference call quotes!

The 20-year anniversary celebration of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING continues with an exciting world championship doubleheader on Saturday, Nov. 4, when Sergei “White Wolf” Liakhovich (23-1, 14 KOs) defends his WBO heavyweight title against Shannon “The Cannon’’ Briggs (47-4-1, 41 KOs) and WBA lightweight champion Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz (30-0, 15 KOs) risks his crown against Fernando “La Fiera” Angulo (18-3, 12 KOs). The Don King Productions-promoted twinbill will air on SHOWTIME at 9 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast) from Chase Field in Phoenix, Ariz.


Question:                Sergei, how is your training is going?

Liakhovich:        Everything is great. Camp is great. It is everything we asked.

Question:                You are about to face Shannon Briggs who says he is looking to perfect the art of the one-punch knockout. Tell us a little bit about how you plan to meet that strategy?

Liakhovich:        I will have many surprises for him and we will see (them) in the ring. It seems like he thinks he will knock me out in the first round. Bring him in. We will see.

Question:                Shannon, do you have any opening comments?

Briggs:                       Well, sure baby. I am chilling. I am ready to fight. I am happier than a mother! I am so happy, I cannot wait. I cannot wait.

Begin Press Questions.


Question:                Shannon, there have been reports about some changes that you made in your training and where you train. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Briggs:                       We brought in Chuck MacGregor.  Chuck is a guy who I have known a long time and for many years. Actually, a few years back, I tried to get Chuck to train me but at the time he was training quite a few other guys.  So he did not have the time and I understood that, so it did not work out. Then it just happened to be that we were fighting here in Phoenix and we thought that Chuck would be great to add to the team, so it worked out perfectly. It is great. He used to train this guy, he knows how this guy fights. He knows his personality. So I think it is great, man. I am looking forward to being WBO heavyweight champion Nov. 4 and just being a happy man, going on the shows -- Letterman, Leno -- and really making it happen. But yes, it actually brings some prestige and some life back to boxing; with these dead champions we have got right now, we need it, man.

Question:                Shannon, are you still with Jeff Mayweather because there were reports about that as well?

Briggs:                       Yes, Jeff is on the team. He is still part of my camp. Jeff is a friend, always for life. Rumors are just that -- rumors. Jeff and the whole gang are here.

Question:                Sergei, what do you make of this?  Does any of it affect what you are going to do?

Liakhovich:        Actually, I like what he did. By bring Chuck in, he will play right into my advantage. We are happy to hear about that addition to his team.

Question:                Why is this going to work to your advantage?

Liakhovich:        Well, basically, we read reports that Chuck is supposed to be the expert trainer that knows me. I have a message: Chuck knows nothing about me. In one year, I have changed quite a bit and I am now with a great trainer, Kenny Weldon. What you are going to see in the ring is something that Chuck has no idea about. So they are just fooling themselves by bringing. But I understand Shannon Briggs needs to feel that way because he is fighting the best champion out there and it is kind of a scary walk out there. He talks the talk. He has a big mouth. I have major plans, you know, basically (knocking him into) the second row.

Question:                Sergei, how did you and Kenny get together and what has he brought to your team?

Liakhovich:        After I lost my first fight, I had a partner and his ex-manager was Jim Thomas, who was also working with Evander Holyfield at the time, and Ken Weldon was involved with Evander. Basically, Jim Thomas brought up the issue with Kenny. Kenny had seen me and liked what he had seen. He said, ‘He’s got tremendous potential and I would love to train him.’ Also, Holyfield told Kenny, ‘This is a kid to watch for; he can fight.’ So Jim Thomas brought in Kenny Weldon and the rest is history -- we have been with him ever since.

Question:                You say "ever since." How long has this been now?

Liakhovich:        After I lost the fight in Atlantic City to Mo Harris, we had Kenny take on the duties of trainer. About seven or eight fights.

Question:                Sergei, what has Kenny perhaps taught you that maybe Chuck did not?

Liakhovich:        He basically teaches me how to think in the ring and he is a great fundamentalist.

Question:                Shannon, you thought you had a fight with Wladimir Klitschko but it fell through. Did all the waiting give you extra motivation or are you just focused on this fight?

Briggs:                       I am focused on the fact that I am fighting this guy and that is it. I am not really looking past this. But of course, there is the imagination that runs with itself and says, ‘OK, knock this guy off, get the next guy, and keep knocking these guys off.’ But I am just focused on Liakhovich right now and I am looking forward to November 4.

Question:                Shannon, in your estimation, who is the best current heavyweight champion?

Briggs:                       I guess you would have to say Sergei. It is really like a tie because, ostensibly, Wladimir is much stronger and more dangerous as far as having  one-punch power -- he can get you out of there with one punch. Sergei is a different type of boxer; he mixes punches up differently. With Wladimir, all you have to worry about is like pretty much a decent job, a strong right hand, and trying to hook up with a jab. Other than that, I mean, like I said, I am focused on this fight and I am looking forward to it.

Question:                Shannon, will durability be more of an issue against Sergei than it would have versus Wladimir?

Briggs:                       I do not know, really, because they both show me that they have it in them. So I am looking forward to bringing it out.

Question:                Sergei, obviously Shannon is going to come right at you. Do you sense that you are going to meet him head on or are you going to give him some time to get winded and then attack? What is your rough estimation of how things are going to play out?

Liakhovich:        If Shannon jumps right on me, it will make it a very short night for Shannon. So basically, talk to Shannon how far he wants to go. It is up to him.

Question:                Sergei, you have compiled a more than decent record with some impressive wins against some top-ranked competition, but as far as knockout artists go, Briggs seems to be the biggest test of your career so far. Would you agree with that?

Liakhovich:        No. I won the title against the toughest champion out there, Lamon Brewster, and he is by far the toughest puncher. So Shannon Briggs does not qualify in the equation as calling him the top dog. We will put you over the top. Just wait until November 4.

Question:                Sergei, how can you win while avoiding the knockout power of Briggs?

Liakhovich:        I know he is going to come swinging and I know he is going to try and throw a lot of hard punches, but he needs to think about every time he swings, he is going to get hit. So basically, that is what I plan on doing. You will see on Nov. 4 how nice it is going to be.

Question:                Shannon, what is the key to your invincibility over your 11-fight winning streak?

Briggs:                       Focus. My career has had its ups and downs. I was gifted with talent and I excelled as an amateur. I was on the USA team. So I always did well; I was blessed. So with maturity comes wisdom and the fact that I realize I am not a kid anymore. I cannot get by without running, or sparring, and just take fights. I had to come to the realization that I am older and that it takes hard work and that is what it took in the last couple years.  I just really dedicated myself to training, to learning how to train. I had never done any of the stuff that I am doing now, so I feel great. I feel more confident than I ever felt in my entire life, as a person, as a man – I just feel great.

Question:                Shannon, how important is it to you to get a knockout?

Briggs:                       It is just as important as it was in every fight. I love the knockout.  He can say what he wants about, ‘Oh, yeah, come to him and this is going to happen.’ Who cares? That is what the people want. They want blood, they want to see his head decapitated, so that is what I am coming for. I am looking forward to it. I am training. I am in the best shape of my life physically and mentally. This is destiny. It is how it is supposed to be. It has nothing to do with him. This is beyond him. I feel good. I am just looking forward to fulfilling my prophecy, the destiny. We are having a good time with this. I could not be happier.

Question:                Shannon, how do plan to overcome the champion’s strength?

Briggs:                       I am dedicated.  Just brute force and determination. I have no doubt in my mind that it is not going to go right on my night. That in itself is something that Shannon Briggs never had. You can look at all my fights and all my knockouts and say, wow, how could he not be confident, he has knocked out so many guys? That is just talent and lucky. But now, to have the truth and belief in myself, and know I can go out there and run 10 miles, or know I can go out there and spar 12-15 rounds a day, of know I could hit the bag. This is stuff I never did before. I was winning, but just on pure talent, not experience. Put the dedication, the hard work, the wisdom, the maturity and now you have something real in your hands.

Question:                Shannon, what is it like to know you have a chance to wipe out all the hype about no American-born heavyweight champion and be the first to do that?

Briggs:                       This is it, I could be the man, I am appreciative, I am happy. I just thank God and everybody who played a piece in this puzzle. I was fighting everywhere, anywhere for free. So now I am fighting for the heavyweight championship of the world. This is a great opportunity for me and it is a great opportunity for boxing. Shannon Briggs as heavyweight champion of the world is a beautiful thing. It can definitely bring a lot of people back to the sport. I am ugly, but I am funny. That is my motto. So I am looking forward to bringing some life back to this sport, and a lot of people having a good time and enjoying and seeing what they want.  They want knockouts.

Question:                Shannon, could you go into it a bit further about the fact that all the heavyweight champions are now Russian or from that part of the world?

Briggs:                       I think it is a couple things. I think a lot of kids in America; the black kids, they are playing other sports – basketball, football, and other things, rapping, hip-hop. So to them, why make money getting hit when ‘I can go out there and make it in other ways?’ You do not have those big lucrative contract guarantees in boxing. You have all these unscrupulous managers and promoters, so people are not dying to become a professional boxer. It is just a real tough business. It is just a real tough game physically and mentally. So you do not have a bunch of guys jumping out the window to say, ‘You know what? I am going to be a professional boxer.’ Also, the amateur program here, it is not as crazy as how it was years ago, and again, (not as) lucrative and attractive for kids to be in it. Then you look at the Soviet Union, when it was I guess the Soviet Union, they have always had a strong amateur program and stuck behind it. So I guess it kind of came to a head here with all these guys coming from the Soviet Union. And they can fight. They are holding their own in their craft; they are good at what they do. So it has worked itself out. But now it is time to clean up this mess, so that is what I am here for.

Question:                Shannon, is there more pressure on you or any American who now challenges for a world heavyweight title?

Briggs:                       If you let it. I guess people can point the finger and say it is up to you. But it has nothing to do with that. It is just the fact that I am here in this destiny and in this time and this is what it is supposed to be. It was written this way; this is how it was supposed to be. I was born December 4, 1971.  I weighed 3 pounds at birth; my mom had me premature. So here I am now, 270 pounds, 34 years later and about to be 35. So it is like all my life has been turbulent ups and downs, and no I am going to rectify it. I am going to get everything right. I am going to set everything straight Nov. 4.

Question:                Sergei, you mentioned that your objective is to unify the heavyweight championship. Are you convinced that is ever going to be done, and if you remain champion, how will you go about making sure that happens?

Liakhovich:        Well, first of all, I will focus on this fight. Then after this fight, I want to fight Klitschko.  After this fight, we will see.

Question:                Shannon, how important is it for there to be one heavyweight champion? Do you think that is a necessity?

Briggs:                       We definitely need it. People do not know who these champions are. They do not know who Liakhovich is, Valuev, Klitschko. They do not care. These guys are not personable, these guys are not marketable. They are ugly. They get on my nerves. I am sick and tired of them. Everybody wants to see a champion they can identify with and they can talk to. I am here to just clean up this mess.

Question:                If you happen to win the championship, Shannon, why would they identify with you?

Briggs:                       I am American. I am a black American.

Question:                You are talking about here in this country, then?

Briggs:                       Yes, sir, in this country.

Question:                It is a world championship, though. Do you think the world can identify with you?

Briggs:                       Yes. The world can identify with one champ, (especially) an English-speaking heavyweight champ. No offense to these guys in that way. I am not trying to be rude in that way. I just think these guys are not pushed by their managers. They knock me and say, listen, Shannon Briggs is just known for being famous. But what is wrong with that? I am out there doing what I have to do to make a living and propel my name and the sport at the same time.

Question:                Shannon, it seems you have succeeded at times in getting underneath Sergei's skin.  Is that your strategy to bait him into a punch-out because you think it benefits you?

Briggs:                       Yes, and that is fine with me. If you want to box, that is fine. You cannot outbox me. If you want to slug, let us slug. I am determined. My whole thing is that I am just hungry for that opportunity. A hungry man is a dangerous man and I am willing to die. I am willing to be put in a suit in a box Nov. 5 if I do not win. If I am willing to put everything on the line, that is how important this is to me, my family. You know, for me, this is it.

Opening Statements Begin for Juan Diaz and Fernando Angulo.


Angulo:                      I am feeling very well and strong. I am preparing as I expected to prepare. We have been training in Los Angeles and training to win.  That is my plan. 

Question:                Fernando, tell us a little bit about your upbringing.   It is a very unusual story.

Angulo:                      My childhood is what I would consider a bit embarrassing. I did grow up fairly close to the Ecuadorian Amazon and it was very, very close to the jungle.  When I was approximately seven years of age, I had to leave my parents.  They were abusive. I would stay away for a period of two years in the jungle and then come back to my hometown and stay there for about three months. During the time that I would return I would stay with people in the town.  They were always very hospitable and very generous and would allow me to stay in their homes.  In return for food and a roof over my head, I would do small jobs of picking coffee or picking cacao. So my beginnings were very humble and very difficult.

Question:                Fernando, there is no shame in that.  We do not pick our parents.  But when you spent this year or two in the rain forest, did you see people? Were you foraging for yourself? Or did you hook up with other people?  What happened to you out there?

Angulo:                      I am from a town that is right at the edge of the jungle, so I grew up very much accustomed to a jungle. To me, it was not a new experience. I have done farming. When I would go into the very inner parts, I was alone. The times that I would come out, people would help me. I would have to beg for food on the street. I would be walking around with just some shorts, a tee shirt, barefoot, and in the cold. Sometimes I would sleep in the street in the city alone. Sometimes people would give me a home. Sometimes when I went into the jungle, I would sleep there alone and survive on my own natural instincts and what I knew from growing up.  When I became an amateur at the age of 16 is when my life changed a bit.

Question:                Juan, do you have some opening comments?

Diaz:                               Yes, my story is not that emotional and not that hard. I have much respect for Mr. Angulo for surviving all of that and being where he is at now. I was born in the United States, went back to Mexico and then my parents came back here. They worked hard to give both my brother and I a good education, and now I am at the University of Houston, a world champion. I can say that they were very, very successful on what they tried and set out to accomplish, which is for my brother and I to have a better future. And now I just want to thank all the fans all around the United States who supported me and who did not have any doubt that I would be where I am at now.

Question:                Juan, how has the balance been at the university along with training for this fight?

Diaz:                               It has been a little tough.

Question:                Are you going to classes full-time?

Diaz:                               No, that is part-time. Four classes is full-time; three is part-time. So I started doing three classes, but all the training I have been doing recently has got me down to one class only, so no matter how hard it gets, I have to only take one class.  That is all I am going to take. But I am going to continue going because I know that staying in school is what keeps me motivated and keeps me winning.

Begin Press Questions.


Question:                Fernando, you have not fought since December. Diaz looks like he is going to be your toughest opponent. How you are preparing and what are your plans against him?

Angulo:                      My strategy is to train very hard and train consistently. I am in excellent condition. I do regard my opponent to be one who is always in good condition, a guy who throws a lot of punches, to be a very strong fighter. But I am confident that I am in excellent condition and because of my conditioning and training, I will be taking the title to Ecuador.

Question:                Juan, have you seen any tape of Fernando, and how are you going to approach him?

Diaz:                               I have seen film on him. He is a very strong puncher. If I was to compare him to somebody, I would say he is kind of like a (Ricardo) Mayorga type of fighter. He is real strong and he is a little awkward.  Those are the most dangerous fighters to fight, so I have got to be on my best night and be real, real focused in order to fight and beat Angulo.

Question:                Juan, would you agree that he looked like he was in phenomenal condition at the press conference?

Diaz:                               Yes, yes. I know that from my previous fights that all the fights that I fight, they come in great shape because they obviously want to become champions of the world.

Question:                They want what you have?

Diaz:                               Yes, and that is why they are not going to lose that opportunity or waste it.

Question:                Juan, what does it mean to you to be fighting now for (new promoter) Don King?

Diaz:                               It is a very exciting time for me because I remember back in the day when I was eight years old and my favorite fighter was Julio Cesar Chavez and I used to see Don King get up in the ring with him and those Pay-Per-View shows. Now I look back and I think back and I see myself, he is going to be stepping in the ring with me. It is just amazing how far along I have come through my professional boxing career. It is just very exciting to be in this position and to be fighting such a spectacular fight.

Question:                Juan, is there any distraction that you have tried to tender a contract beyond just this one-fight deal and it has not come to pass yet? Does that bother you at all?

Diaz:                               Well, no, it does not bother me at all because I have my manager who is taking care of that, and he is the businessman and I am the fighter. So whatever happens is going to happen, and if it works out, fine.  If not, then both the promoter and us will move along with what we have to do. So I am just focused on staying champion on Nov..

Question:                Fernando, what do you have to say to those who think you are way out of your league in this match against Diaz?

Angulo:                      First and foremost, Juan Diaz is not superior to me.  He is the champion, but I have all the class and the qualities to be a champion, and I will demonstrate this by fighting and beating the champion.  I am very hungry and I have very, very strong desires to become champion.

Question:                Fernando, will you admit that, on paper, Diaz is the best opponent you have faced?

Angulo:                      On paper, Juan Diaz is the champion.  Therefore, since I am fighting for that title, he is the best opponent I have faced. But I have had many tough fights, none have been for the title, but they have been difficult. I expect this to be a very difficult fight, but it is difficult not just because I am facing the champion, but I feel I am also fighting the judges. I know my mind must be clear. I must have a positive mindset, but I am comfortable because I am completely prepared.  I invite all the fans to watch this fight on SHOWTIME so that they can witness how good a fighter and opponent I am.

Question:                Fernando, how will you overcome the experience advantage your opponent has?

Angulo:                      In terms of the experience, I do not want to provide any details but on Nov. 4 you will see how I will deal with Juan's experience. I am a quiet boxer; I am not one to talk much. But I will demonstrate that I am more than capable of dealing with Diaz's experience.

Question:                Juan, when do you think you will be able to set up an opportunity to pick up another title and how important is it to you to become the undisputed lightweight champion?

Diaz:                               It is very important for me to unify the division, but right now I am not thinking ahead. I have a date with Angulo on the 4th, and that is the only thing that I am concentrating on. I never plan or look ahead because unexpected things happen all the time, not just in boxing but in our lives. So I prepare myself mentally, physically, and everything that I can try to do so that I win on Nov. 4. Then, I will talk about some possible unification bouts.

Question:                Juan, you have beaten so many quality fighters as a professional. Is there anyone in the division that you think is going to be able to challenge you down the line?

Diaz:                               There are a lot of fighters that are really dangerous. You have seen fighters who are coming from losing records and they beat top, top opponents. So any fighter that steps in there is a threat to you, and right now anybody that steps through that ring, I see them as a big threat. But as far as me wanting to fight other fighters, the fight that I would really love would be against the new WBC champion, Joel Casamayor, or Jesus Chavez, who is another champ.

Question:                Juan, do you think that Fernando is overmatched here? True, he is a threat like anybody, but do you think your record stands far above his?

Diaz:                               I do not see him as undermatched because a lot of the experts have been proven wrong so many times, and champions themselves have proven themselves wrong. So those are the kinds of things that keep me motivated and training hard. You cannot take this guy lightly.

Question:                Fernando, what is the name of the town that you grew up in and how big was it? And does anybody in that town know that you will be fighting or where that you will be fighting for a world title on Nov. 4?

Angulo:                      The town that I grew up in, actually, the city is quite large with millions, but I grew up in a very small part by the edge, right by the jungle.  So it was not highly populated.

Question:                How many people live there?

Angulo:                      It is a province that at this time certainly has a population in the millions, but when I was growing up, it was a very, very small, small town.

Question:                How many amateur fights did you have?

Angulo:                      I had 25 amateur fights, and I lost five of them. I did not stay as an amateur for very long because I did not like it. I became an amateur only for the purpose of eventually becoming a professional.

Question:                You started when you were 16, correct?

Angulo:                      Yes.

Question:                Are there people in this small area near the jungle that knew you? Do they actually know you are fighting?

Angulo:                      Actually, I have been very quiet about the fight because I have been very focused. I am sure that now that there are newspapers that people might know about it, but personally, I am not aware of anyone who is aware that I will be fighting. I am totally concentrated, and my goal for more than seven years has been to fight for a world championship. I have not spoken to anybody from my hometown, and so my personal knowledge is that they do not know anything.

Question:                If you were to win, would you go back to Ecuador? I understand you live in Venezuela now, but would you want to go back there and visit?

Angulo:                      I would love to return. I am living in Venezuela presently.  That is where I have been developing myself professionally as a fighter. I have been away from Ecuador for the last five years approximately, but I am Ecuadorian from the root and from the heart, so I plan to first return to Venezuela immediately after the fight, with the title, and then go to Ecuador and spend a vacation there, because I miss it.

Question:                You are training in Los Angeles with Venezuelan trainers, right?

Angulo:                      Yes.

Question:                Juan, there is a lot of talk about the heavyweights and how nobody cares about them anymore. Are you a fan of the heavyweights?

Diaz:                               A little bit. I watched a couple of fights. One of the real, real exciting fights I watched was between James Toney and Samuel Peter.

Question:                Juan, as a fighter, what would the solution be to bring more interest, more people back to the heavyweight division?  What would you like to see?

Diaz:                               I think it is because we have a lot of Russian champions and a lot of the people, they want to see some American champions. For example, they see somebody growing up, coming fresh from the Olympics and starting their career, like Shannon Briggs was saying earlier, they can kind of relate to them because they see them grow up in front of their faces on TV.  A lot of the Russian champions, they come overseas, and next thing you know, they are champions, so the people do not really know too much about them or what they are about.

Question:                Would you like to see an American heavyweight champion?

Diaz:                               I think that everybody around the world deserves a chance to fight for the championship, to become champion. So I feel that whoever trains hard, then I am all for that guy no matter where he is from, what color he is. I am for whoever has trained hard and wants it.

Question:                What did you think of Casamayor in his winning effort against Diego Corrales?

Diaz:                               I thought he looked a lot better than he did in this last fight. He looked stronger. He looked like he was in great shape. I am just hoping that we can make that fight happen after Nov.  4 or sometime after that.