SHOWTIME QUADRUPLE HEADER BARELY A WEEK AWAY
All eight fighters participating in Showtime's upcoming June 2nd quadrupleheader (9 p.m. ET/PT) from The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., participated in media conference calls on Wednesday and Thursday as they prepare for next weekís bouts.
The card features former world light heavyweight champion Antonio ďMagic ManĒ Tarver (29-6, 20 KOís) facing unbeaten Lateef Kayode (18-0, 14 KOís) in a 12-round cruiserweight fight, former world junior middleweight kingpin Winky Wright (51-5-1, 25 KOís) returning to the ring to meet undefeated Peter Quillin (26-0, 20 KOís) in a middleweight bout, Austin Trout (24-0, 14 KOís) risking his perfect record against Delvin Rodriguez (26-5-3, 14 KOís) and Vusi Malinga (20-3, 12 KOís) facing Leo Santa Cruz (19-0-1, 11 KOís) for the vacant IBF bantamweight title.
Fans can purchase tickets at AXS.com or by phone at 888-9-AXS-TIX (888-929-7849), as well as The Home Depot Center Box Office.
Here are some highlights of what the fighters on both calls had to say:
ďWeíre doing really well. We just finished up some sparring. They said I went 13 rounds, but I thought I went 10. I donít know, but I lost track a long time ago. We feel real good and I have some good guys in there sparring with me. This has been a really, really good camp. Weíre peaking at the right time and the weight is down. I weighed in at around 205. Iím strong and focused. Now itís just about getting some rest and continue meditating on the vision and visualizing how this fight is going to go down and making sure weíre ready for whatever he brings to the table.
ďIím excited to be back and fighting in America. Itís been almost two years now. Iím excited. Itís like, donít call it a comeback. I just want to let the people know Iím still here.Ē
Are you surprised at Kayodeís reaction to your comments while commentating on his fights?
ďFrom an announcerís standpoint, yeah, Iím a little surprised. Iím not paid to stroke anybody or sit behind that desk and promote or market a fighter. Iíve got to see it with my own eyes and tell it how I see it. The way I see it may not be the way your average viewer sees it, but I come from years of experience as one of the most decorated amateurs of our time and Iíve been a very successful professional fighter, so I think I know the game of boxing back and forth. Iíve had one of the best trainers and philosophers since I was 10 years old so Iíve been schooled very well. What I see may not be obvious to the naked eye. I wasnít ever trying to be overly critical of Lateef. Heís a guy who is ranked high across the board and if he wasnít worthy, then I wouldnít be fighting him. Thatís what he needs to understand. Itís not all about him. We all need to go back to the gym every time.
ďYou donít think I didnít work every time to get better? Yeah, you always work to get better and there are always improvements that can be made. What I was telling him were the things that I saw that he could have improved on. Iím not thinking of him being able to hit somebody hard or whatever. Iím looking at the intangibles that you need to be a world-class fighter and he could not understand that. He showed his inexperience and his youth by getting all emotional and out of whack approaching me and confronting me. Right there that tells me that his emotions got the best of him and now heís bit off more than he can chew. So now instead of trying to tell him what I thought he should do to improve, now Iíve got to show him. This is going to be an experience of a lifetime for Lateef and heís going to remember this fight for his lifetime. This is where he is going to be compared and judged for the rest of his career, and if heís adamant about what he says heís going to do, then Iím going to have to show him very early in this fight that Iím not some little boy heís been facing. Iím not one of these kids he can just run up to and bully. You can talk all you want, but you canít bully me because your struggle is nothing compared to my struggle here in America and what Iíve had to overcome to get to where I had to go.
ďI donít care anything about you being from Africa. I respect you because youíre a brother from another (mother), but that donít mean anything to me because my struggles you canít relate to. Iím the fighter I am today because of what I had to overcome, you feel me? Youíve been here five years in America. Iíve been here all my life. I had to go through everything. Thereís no one that gave me anything. Not one thing. I didnít even have a promoter when I started boxing professionally. I was an Olympic bronze medalist. So you have no idea what it feels like to have to beat everybody in front of you to get to where youíre going. Youíre in my way. Iím on to bigger and better things. Iím going for the heavyweight championship and Iím not going to let Lateef Kayode stop me from my destination. So Iím looking forward to June 2 and just like you hear it in my voice, I am fired up because this man has threatened me in so many ways. Coming up to me in the streets and saying, ĎWhat are you going to do?í OK. Thatís all I need to hear. Be man enough to say what youíre going to do and back it up, because when I say something, Iím going to do it. Iím going to defend my title with whatever Iíve got. Iím ready for whatever Lateef Kayode can bring. If he thinks heís going to be the bully in this fight, then heís got another thing coming. If he thinks heís going to bring power to this fight, heís going to find out early that heís got another thing coming. He better have an A, B, C, D plan, because itís going to take more than one game plan to beat me, and just coming with power isnít going to do it, because Iíve felt power punchers before and Iíve knocked them out. Iíve fought bullies before and Iíve knocked them out. Iíve fought the very best in the world and Iíve beat them. So Lateef Kayode has a chance of a lifetime to be a legend for one night, but heís going to have to bring his butt to get it.
ďI havenít taken Lateef Kayode lightly by any stretch of the imagination. Thatís what they need to understand. I take this guy as a serious threat. I know in this fight one punch can change the entire fight and one punch can end a fight, and what Iíve done in training camp is to eliminate any chance of him getting lucky and the only way I can do that is to make sure Iím in the very best shape mentally and physically. I havenít been this tense for a fight in a long time. This feels like it did before some of the biggest fights Iíve had because this guy is strong and has gone on record as saying heís going to knock me out. Heís holding strong to that assumption. I know heís coming in strong to try and hurt me. Thatís just going to make me very strong and very alert and make me very sharp in that ring. Iím going to dial in on this guy and itís going to be tunnel vision. I think this fight is going to show everybody my ability and my skill.
ďThere isnít going to be no running. He doesnít have to worry about that. Iím 43 years old. Iím not trying to run anywhere unless Iím running in preparation for a fight. I donít have to run. I have confidence in my ability and Iím a sharp-shooter. Iím trying to hit that kidney and Iím trying to hit that chin and Iím accurate. So you donít have to worry about me missing. Iím going to be on point. Iím going to beat you down with my defense. Iím going to trust my defense. Iím going to stay in close and Iím going to work. Iím going to work for the knockout. Iím not going to look for the home run. Iím going to put some shots on this guy combination style, something he doesnít know anything about. Weíre going to use our angles and weíre going to out-smart him and then when itís comes down to it, weíre going to show that heís not the only one with muscles in the fight. If I have to hurt this guy, thatís what Iím going to do.
ďI have never been hurt. I can rely on my defense to get me through. My instincts are still intact and my reflexes are there. I trust my defense. My coach tells me all the time we havenít gotten hurt yet, so weíre not going to get hurt until I retire. Thatís my goal to walk away from the game with all my faculties and still have never been knocked down in a fight. Thatís what I pride myself on: never been knocked out, never been stopped. I feel good about June 2. Iím going to turn back the hands of time and youíre going to see a 43-years-young fighter in the there, but youíre not going to know which of us is 43.Ē
ďI have something to prove to everyone and to Antonio Tarver. On June 2, Iím going to show that heís never fought anyone like me. Iím going to prove that all the things he said about me were wrong. First of all, he said all my punches were sloppy and second of all, he said Iím not fighting with any spirit. Every time I fight on ShoBox he says the same thing.
ďI saw him in downtown L.A. and said, ĎWhy do you always says those things about me on ShoBox?í He said heís just doing his job, but when I was doing good and connecting on my punches he just quiets down and says nothing. He only concentrates on my mistakes.
ďIf this fight were in the streets, I know I would win. I come from far away and have struggled all my life.
ďMy prediction is that I think Iím going to knock him out in the fifth round or the sixth round.Ē
Do you view this fight as a crossroads fight to your young career?
ďI donít really have much to lose in this fight. Heís the one who has already lost and Iím undefeated. If I lose this fight there is happiness for me because I fought Antonio Tarver. If I win this fight there is happiness for me. I donít have anything to lose. What I want to do is show people that I am better than him. Heís going to get hurt so bad, so bad. Iím coming for him.Ē
JIMMY WILLIAMS (Tarverís Trainer)
ďIím from the old school. My philosophy is that we donít care what he does. We care about what we do. Antonio is a five-time world champion. Heís a boxer, fighter, puncher, counter-puncher. Skill will beat will. We work smarter, not harder. Weíre not running. Heís punching harder now. Heís ready for anything. I wish the fight was tonight. Heís ready.Ē
FREDDIE ROACH (Kayodeís Trainer)
ďLateefís training really hard to get ready for this fight. Weíre working on a game plan now. I wish Antonio the best of luck and I hope the best man will win.Ē
How do you control the emotions of a young fighter like Lateef?
ďItís definitely a challenge. Heís a young fighter and he gets excited easily. As far as the game plan for this fight, we will keep his head on straight and weíll try and keep him calm. At times he may get a little excited, but excitement makes good fights, so Iím not really worried about it.
ď(Antonio) is a Hall of Famer for sure and we know we have to beat guys like this to get to the top. Weíre training hard and we have a good game plan so weíre going to do our best to beat him. We know weíre in for a tough fight, but thatís what itís all about. I think weíre ready at this point.
ďI donít think experience will be an advantage for him. Whoever controls the fight and pulls it off will be the winner.Ē
ďIím happy to be back. Iím glad I have a formidable opponent. Peter comes to fight and weíre going to show the fans why we do what we do.Ē
What made you decide to come back to the ring now?
ďI wasnít really retired yet. I thought if I wanted to get back in the ring I had to do it and do it now. I just turned 40 so if Iím going to do this I have to do it. Weíre glad to get an opponent like Peter. Iím here to prove that I want to fight the best. Iím not coming back just to fight and get a win, I want to fight the best. I want to be champion. If I canít be champion thereís no reason to do this.Ē
Why was there such a long layoff?
ďFirst of all, there was no one significant that wanted to fight me. I couldnít get any big fights or any fights that meant something. Iím not just taking fights to entertain or taking fights just to fight. I want to fight because I want to be the best. None of the champions wanted to fight and I couldnít get any of them to sign on the dotted line. My legacy is in stone. I would love to fight, but if they donít want to fight forget it. So I had to wait, I did family things and enjoyed life.Ē
How much of the Winky that we remember from 2004 is still there?
ďOh, heís still here. Like I said, tune in on June 2. I have a great opponent that will bring it out of me. I didnít pick a bum to come out and fight, I picked a kid that is undefeated, that is hungry, that wants to prove to the world that heís a great fighter. Heís going to have to do that June 2.Ē
What do you think of Peterís development and how he has come along?
ďI think heís a good fighter. Heís young, hungry, tough and thatís what Iím looking for.Ē
He hasnít fought anyone like you before. How do you think itís going to be different for him on June 2?
ďIíve never fought him and he never fought me, so itís going to be different for both of us. We both got to get in the ring with somebody weíve never seen before or fought before. Like I said, Iím going to be in great shape, heís going to be in great shape and weíll just let the wheel get working and do what we have to do to win.Ē
Do you think he will be prepared to step up to the level that youíve been fighting at?
ďLike he said, I got two hands and he has two hands. When we step in the ring we have to be prepared to do whatever it takes to win. Whoever can adjust and dictate what they want to happen in the fight is going to win the fight. I want to fight the best. I want a title shot. If I donít get a title shot then what Iím doing is not necessary. If youíre not here to win titles and win belts then youíre just doing it for the fun of it.Ē
Has there ever been another fighter who had to take the same route as you Ė fighting in peopleís backyards?
ďMaybe Marvin Hagler. Maybe a lot of people didnít have to take the route that I had to take to get where I got to, but I think taking that route made me a better and stronger fighter. It made me a tougher fighter because I knew that I could win no matter where I was. I didnít have to be home in front of my home crowd.Ē
Who put the fire back in your belly to do this?
ďI just turned 40 and if I want to continue to fight, I need to get out there and do it now and I need to fight the best. Iím not here to take easy fights and easy wins Ė thatís cheating the fans. The fans come to see you fight and they want to see a competitive fight. They donít want you coming in with a bum or some guy you know you can knock out. You have to give the fans who they want to see. I want to fight whoever you want me to fight. Letís do it. I want the title.
ďI know that Iím still in great shape, Iím still in great health and if I want to do this, I believe that I still have the ability to do this. I put in the hard work and put in the training. Training is the hardest part of boxing. The fight night is the easy part, thatís just one night to get in there and do what you do. Itís the training that hurts a lot of fighters. You have to learn how to train smarter and learn how to execute your game plan in the fight.Ē
Did it take some time being used to being back in the gym and preparing for a fight?
ďIt took some getting used to. Anything that is worth having is worth working hard for. I work hard for this.Ē
Did you stay in reasonably good condition while you were off? When you went back to the gym how much did you weigh?
ďIím not going to say I stayed in boxing shape. I wasnít fat, but I wasnít in boxing shape. I may have weighed 185, but I was in shape. It wasnít with a big belly and all that kind of stuff. It was a different kind of shape.
Do you think we need to change our perception of 40-year-olds boxing?
ďDefinitely, the game has evolved. Training is totally different. Fighting is totally different. You have to look at the individual, not how old the individual is and see how they fight. All you can do is watch them fight and see what happens.Ē
ďI think my advantage is Iím just going to be as sharp as I can on June 2. Iím prepared for anything. Iím prepared to fight King Kong if I have to. Thatís what Iíve been training to do. Training is the biggest part of a boxerís fight. I make sure that I have to endure every struggle while Iím in camp so I can see the glory when I step in the ring on June 2.
ďI havenít been the distance in over two years now. My last five fights have been stoppages six rounds or less. Boxing is all about the challenges. And thatís why Winky Wright and I took this fight.
ďI never really said I was going to knock him out. When I say Pluto itís a metaphor for a place that weíve never been to. Heís never fought a fighter like me and Iíve never fought a fighter like him. The fans can expect a fight that theyíve never seen before. Thatís why this fight has been made. Whoís better? This is the challenge. Knockouts come naturally. Iím never going to force the knockout. When I say Pluto, Pluto is a place that heís never been. Now if he happens to see stars then thatís not my problem.Ē
What do you think youíll see from Winky next week?
ďI think weíll see the best of Winky Wright. Iím just super prepared for this fight. Iím ready and Iím not going to expect anything less than him throwing his two hands and I have to be ready for that. The No. 1 thing a fighter has to do is be able to adjust and thatís what Iím going to be able to do on June 2.Ē
Do you expect him to be best opponent youíve ever fought?
ďEvery fight to me is the biggest fight of my career. Right now, Iím thinking this is the biggest fight of my career. As far as his long layoff, I canít necessarily say if thatís going to hurt him or help him. I just know that Iím prepared for a 21-year-old Winky Wright and thatís what Iíve been preparing for. Iíve been preparing for the best Winky Wright, not where heís at right now or his age.Ē
When do you think youíll be ready for a title shot?
ďI hope this fight right here sets me up for a title shot.Ē
How much did moving out to the West Coast help you?
ďI think moving to the West Coast has been a blessing. Itís been a blessing in disguise to be around other champions, be around other guys that want to be champions, be around Freddie Roach with the eye that he has for boxing. Iím very blessed and I donít take any of this for granted.
ďItís going to be a great night of fights and I feel like me and Delvin are going to be the show stealers.Ē
What are the keys to this fight?
ďWe do all the preparation in the gym. We know Delvin is a very high-action, fast-paced fighter, so weíre going to have to take that pace and step it up a notch. We need to keep our combinations moving and our footwork. We need to use our feet. We donít want to stay right in front of him, but we donít want to run either.Ē
Where does Delvin rank as the level of opponent that youíve faced before?
ďI think this is the hardest fight to date that Iíve had in my career. Delvin is a world class fighter. Iíve watched him on TV as a fan and I know the type of challenge thatís coming forward. Thereís no way I can look past a fighter like Delvin. This is the toughest fight of my life.Ē
Have you ever faced anyone like Delvin style-wise?
ďThe thing with Delvin is he doesnít fight the same every fight. He changes his style and he adapts. Heís a smart fighter. I donít think Iíve ever fought anybody that has the diversity that Delvin does. We get ready with a bunch of different styles of sparring partners. In case he wants to box, we work on cutting the ring off. If he wants to bang, we have an idea that we want to do for that. We make our own camp diverse.Ē
Do you think this is the fight where you can break into the mainstream?
ďI definitely hope so. Going around the world and fighting off of TV has taught me a lot of different things, but I need that exposure and I feel like Delvin is the type of fighter to bring out the best in me. I want the world to see the best in me and Iím glad Delvin was able to accept the fight where we can bring out the best in each other and showcase good boxing for the world.Ē
Who would you like to face in the 154-pound division?
ďI want to get the rest of those belts. I feel like there are a lot of belts in my class and to be the true champion, you have to have them all. One of my goals is to be the undisputed champion. Iím looking at Canelo (Alvarez), Iím looking at K9 (Cornelius Bundrage) and, of course, everybody is looking at Floyd (Mayweather), but first I got to get past Delvin to make any of this possible. I look at Delvin as the gatekeeper. Heís the one whoís going to let me in or deny me. I have to get through him to get those other belts.Ē
ďItís going to be a great fight. I have respect for him. Heís an undefeated champion. Iím so hungry for a world title. Heís coming and he knows heís facing a tough opponent and Iím sure heís prepared and so am I. Iíve been waiting years and years for this opportunity. Iíve been through ups and downs in my career and thanks to God Iím here.Ē
What are the keys to this fight?
ďI just got to do what I do. I have to go in there and put my combinations together. I havenít had any problems against lefties.Ē
What will Trout bring to the table to challenge you?
ďI have respect for Austin. Heís a fine champion. Iíve faced a lot of tough opponents, but I think with Austin itís going to be different because he has a lot of skills. Heís not just going to go there and fight just for the heck of it. I know that I have to be very focused. Iím facing someone that I know I canít make any mistakes [against] and I definitely cannot look past him.Ē
Have you ever faced anyone like Austin style-wise?
ďI know that Austin Trout has a lot of experience. He has good movement. Heís always aware of where he is in the ring and that makes a big difference, but I feel very confident about facing a southpaw. For me, Iíve been comfortable every time I faced a southpaw opponent.Ē
What was your reaction when you were offered the opportunity to fight for the world title again?
ďI was very excited. I had to go back to the gym the same day. I think that people who follow my career know what Iíve been through Ė a lot of ups and downs. Iíve been waiting for this opportunity. When we finally got the news that we were fighting Austin Trout it was one of the most exciting things thatís happened to me in a long time.Ē
Who would you like to face in the 154-pound division?
ďThis fight is important to me and Iím excited about it. I donít want to go backwards and I donít want to go sideways Ė I want to go forward. I want to fight the guys that are on top of me and that are better than me. I just want to go forward.Ē
"Itís an important fight for me and Iíve been waiting for this opportunity for a long time. Iím training very well and I think Iím going to take the title.
ďIím coming to the United States (from Johannesburg, South Africa) on Sunday.
ďI didnít know much about Leo Santa Cruz before I found out I would have this fight. I know Iím going to win this fight and Iím very fit. Iíve been waiting for this opportunity for a long time. I think itís my time to win this title.
ďI think the advantage of fighting bigger fights is there. I think because Iíve been training so hard that I deserve to win this fight.
ďI would never underestimate my opponent.Ē
LEO SANTA CRUZ
ďI just want to win this title. Ever since I was a little kid my dream was to have the opportunity to win a world championship. I just started training really hard when I found out I would have this chance and have even hired a strength and conditioning coach. Iím very concentrated on this fight and think Iíll come out victorious on June 2.
ďI donít know much about (Malinga), but I have watched a couple of videos of him. I know he likes to come forward and heís tough. Heís a good fighter and he looks strong and he has a good uppercut. Iíve been learning how to block uppercuts. Iíve been just training here and learning how to fight him.
ďIím going to try and go to the body first and a lot, but if it doesnít work down there then Iíll try and go up because I think he has a weakness that he drops his hands, so Iím going to try and take advantage of that. Iím not going to try and look for the knockout. Iím just going to try and win.
ďI think heís the toughest fighter Iíve faced. I donít think his layoff will affect him. Heís always been in the gym and sparring.Ē
Who were some of your favorite fighters coming up?
ďThere was Julio Cesar Chavez, Oscar De La Hoya, a lot of the Mexican fighters and Manny Pacquiao now.Ē