"It is going to either be a dogfight or it is going to be me chasing the cat."
SHOWTIME’s spectacular tripleheader on Saturday, October 2, will be the first boxing event to take place in the new outdoor Amphitheatre at Caesars Palace, recalling an era of legendary nights of boxing including Sugar Ray Leonard against Thomas Hearns, Larry Holmes against Gerry Cooney, Muhammad Ali against Larry Holmes and Leonard against Marvelous Marvin Hagler at the famed Las Vegas resort. It was also the scene of the Hagler against John “The Beast” Mugabi, SHOWTIME’s first boxing event in March 10, 1986. The telecast will begin at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
In the main event, former World Boxing Organization (WBO) heavyweight champion and current WBO No. 6 contender, Klitschko (42-3, 39 KOs), will make his SHOWTIME debut when he takes on former North American Boxing Federation (NABF) heavyweight champion DaVarryl Williamson (20-2, 17 KOs) in a 10-round heavyweight battle.
Prior to Klitschko-Williamson, SHOWTIME will feature a pair of world championship battles. In the evening’s second televised bout, International Boxing Federation (IBF) Junior Middleweight Champion Verno Phillips (38-9-1, 20 KOs) will make his initial title defense in a rematch against IBF No. 1 contender Kassim Ouma (19-1-1, 13 KOs). Opening the SHOWTIME tripleheader will be IBF No. 1 contender Syd Vanderpool (35-2, 23 KOs) taking on IBF No. 4 contender Jeff Lacy (16-0, 13 KOs) for the vacant IBF super middleweight belt. Gary Shaw Productions, LLC, in association with Caesars Palace will present the event.
Phillips: I am really looking forward to this fight and proving myself. Ouma beat me the first time, but I only had 10 days’ notice for that fight. I plan to shock the world and beat him this time around. A lot has changed since our first fight. I have been around a long time, and this may be my biggest fight ever. I am really looking forward to Oct. 2 and showing the world, and Ouma, what the Verno Phillips of today is all about. I have never had the luxury of having the backing of promoters that a lot of boxers have but here I am, a world champion again, and now that I have the belt again I am going to keep it for a while. Ouma is a good fighter and this is going to be a great fight, just like our last one was, but whether I have to box or slug, I am going to avenge my loss to him and retain my world championship belt. I know that Ouma is confident and thinks he is going to win again, but I am even more confident, am in great shape, and ready to, like I said, shock the world. Question: Verno, without giving away anything, what is the real key to winning the rematch?
Phillips: The main key is that I know Kassim’s style. When I come to Vegas, you will see what my game plan. I am going to teach Ouma. I will show you good boxing. I will give a good show. Question: Syd, what are your thoughts about finally getting another shot at a world title?
Vanderpool: It has been a long time coming, but like Verno, I kind of feel like I have been cut as the underdog here in this championship fight. So I am looking forward to fighting on Showtime and shocking some people and turning some heads. I am looking forward to it.
Question: Jeff, if triumphant, what would it mean to become the first Olympian from the class of 2000 to capture a world title?
Lacy: I feel that Syd is a decent fighter. I am taking my hat off to him. We are going to get into this ring and we are going to fight. I hope he is coming to fight because I am in tremendous shape. I have been training with one of the world’s best southpaws, Winky Wright. As far as me being the first Olympian, it is not a race for me to be the first champion from the 2000 Olympic team. When I turned pro, the goal was to fight for a world title inside of four years. So everything has fallen according to schedule. Everything is on time. Question: (To both boxers) How important is experience in this bout?
Vanderpool: For me, having been in a world championship fight already, looking back on it, I can tell experience was a factor in my not winning that first attempt at the title. So I think it is a huge benefit having been there and done it. I am going to make it happen this time. So for me it plays to my strengths.
Lacy: For me, I feel that it (experience) is going to play to my advantage because I have fought in the Olympics, I have fought many different types of fighters. One of the things that I have is one of the world’s best professionals in the gym that I am working with. I feel like that is going to play to my advantage. It is all about dealing with the pressure and I think I deal with more pressure than he has with me coming into this as a four-year professional. Question: Syd, is fighting a guy like Bernard Hopkins a good experience gainer?
Vanderpool: Definitely. Going 12 rounds with Hopkins helped me learn a lot of different things that I can now bring to my game. A lot has to do with intensity at the next level. So I look to bring that to the dance on Oct. 2.
Question: Jeff, who is the best southpaw that you have fought in the amateurs or at pros, and what was Winky weighing when you guys were sparring?
Lacy: Winky was at 174-175 when we sparred. As for the best southpaw, I have not really met a true southpaw as a pro. But as an amateur, I fought many. I have been in the Olympics and it was all different types of fighters, European fighters. It is not so much that they were southpaws as to being able to deal with their style and them being slick. Question: Jeff, is there any one or two southpaws that stand out in particular?
Lacy: No, the only one that really means the most is Winky Wright. He is the best.
Question: Syd, do you think that your movement is going to be a key in this fight?
Vanderpool: There are going to be many keys to this fight for me and, of course, movement is one of them. Jeff has proven that if you stand in front of him, he has got some power. That is one of the things that I am looking to neutralize.
Question: Syd, is there anything else you would care to share with us?
Vanderpool: Oh yeah. Left hand, the right hook, an uppercut, a jab. I am bringing it all.
Lacy: You will need it. I have it; you are going to need it. Question: Syd, the fight game has been pretty slow lately in Canada. Do you feel a win or even a good performance on Oct. 2 might go a little ways to reviving interest there and, if all goes well, would you like to have at least another fight in Canada before you retire?
Vanderpool: Right now, I am just concentrating on bringing the world title back to Canada. Question: Syd, do you feel that you have a lot of support from your hometown, particularly, when you are fighting?
Vanderpool: Definitely. There is a charter plane coming down to Vegas with about 120 fans on it and there are a couple of bars there that are going to be showing the fight. They are all supporting me and looking forward to watching me raise my hand and put on the belt. Question: Jeff and Syd, what are your predictions?
Lacy: The only thing I can say is it is going to be a great fight. Whatever happens, if I see the knockout comes, if it is the first round or the 12th, I am going to go for it. Until then, it is just going to be a great fight. I am coming to win.
Vanderpool: I just have to agree with him. It is going to be an explosive fight. There are going to be some explosions going on in the ring and one man is going to be standing with his hand raised at the end and that is all that matters.
Question: Syd, today is your 32nd birthday, what are you doing to celebrate?
Vanderpool: Well, I am actually in the gym right now. I just finished training. My celebrating is going to start in about a week and a half with a nice big belt and then take it from there.
Question: Jeff, what does it mean fighting at a place with a fight history like Caesars Palace?
Lacy: It is great to be added to that long list of great champions who have fought at Caesars. Being that this fight is outdoors makes it even better. I am excited. On Oct. 2, I am going to show the fans in the stands (and watching on SHOWTIME) that Jeff Lacy is one of the best world champions around now.
Question: Syd, how do you feel about fighting at Caesars?
Vanderpool: It is exciting. I was just watching Hagler and Leonard the other day. When they announced the fight was going to be outdoors, it was like I get to perform on the same stage and shock the world just like Leonard did back then. It is exciting and I look forward to Oct. 2.
Question: Jeff, do you have any closing comments?
Lacy: I am training extremely hard. I train extremely hard. I am coming to win. It is going to either be a dogfight or it is going to be me chasing the cat. Question: Is this a dream come true for you even though you fought in the Olympics?
Lacy: The dream to come true was making it to the Olympics. This (fighting for a world title) is a goal. This is a goal I set out for myself when turning professional and I am working very hard towards capturing that.
Question: Syd, do you have any closing comments?
Vanderpool: I am just looking forward to the fight and looking forward to showing the fans and the media what Syd Vanderpool is about. As for Jeff Lacy, I hope he brings his ‘A’ game. I hope he has been training hard and is in as good a shape as he says he is because I really want to go out and fight the best in the world and he is one of them. I am looking to put him on my hit list and scratch him off.