By Derek Bonnett: Ray Alcorta manages streaking lightweight contender Urbano Antillon, 25-0 (18), and is confident his charge will find victory this Friday night at The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Antillon’s opponent will be Tyrone Harris, who is a seasoned 23-4 (15).
Alcorta has worked very closely in the sport of boxing and recently spent some time with Freddie Roach as he prepared Manny Pacquiao for his upcoming clash with Ricky Hatton. He’s also got his nose deep into the lightweight division as he works toward moving Antillon into position for his first world championship fight.
Judging by the number of exclamation points in this interview, it is easy to see that Alcorta is a jubilant man when it comes to the sport of boxing. This is what he had to say about Antillon’s upcoming bout, some other lightweights, the boxing year so far, and this year’s super fight: Pacquiao-Hatton.
DB: Ray, as Urbano Antillon’s manager, tell us a little about your expectations for his upcoming bout with Tyrone Harris on May 1.
RA: I expect Urbano to walk Harris down and score a mid to late round stoppage. Urbano had a great training camp and had some of the best sparring possible: Manny [Pacquiao]! No one is overlooking Harris; we all know he has had plenty of time to prepare for this fight, but I think Urbano has reached another level.
DB: Describe your plight in maneuvering Antillon to the top of the lightweight picture and some of the difficulties you’ve faced in handling a world class contender.
JG: I’ve always tried to keep Urbano ready for whoever we thought he would get his title shot against. My first fight with Urbano was against Wilson Alcorro. We felt we would get a shot at Manny, so I wanted him to fight with southpaws. We actually fought three in a row, something that you rarely see. But now Urbano has earned the right to fight any champion out there. He is ranked very high by every organization. Because of the mix of southpaw and orthodox fighters he has faced, he will be ready, in my opinion, for anyone out there.
DB: A couple of weeks back Edwin Valero and Rolando Reyes scored pretty significant victories in the lightweight division on PPV (Antonio Pitalua and Julio Diaz respectively). Where do these wins place them in relation to Urbano at 135 pounds?
RA: Urbano and I were actually at those fights. I know everyone on that card is a possible opponent, so I wanted Urbano to be there. Rolando scored a great KO out of nowhere. I believe he was behind on all cards. He showed great patience and power, but I don’t see Rolando as a possible opponent right now. We are looking for a title shot at this time, nothing less. After Urbano wins a title, Rolando would definitely fit in as a challenger to the title.
Valero might of actually been a possibility for July 25. He is an impressive fighter. Unfortunately for him, he is a champion no one really knows, yet. The suspensions barring him from fighting in CA, NY, and NJ, etc. really affect him and whoever he fights. Less money in the pot! My job is to get the best fights with the best purses possible for Urbano. Once Urbano gets a title, and Valero’s suspensions are lifted, a unification would almost definitely take place.
DB: You’ve probably heard some of the rumors across the internet about a proposed Mayweather-Juan Manuel Marquez bout. How serious do you take the talk about this fight happening? If it did come off is it a legit fight or a mismatch?
RA: I think it’s a bad move for JMM. He is impatient for that big fight and is getting desperate.
I think we can all agree, Manny is the fight for both of them if Manny beats Hatton. From what I hear, the Mayweather fight is almost a done deal. And in my opinion, it’s a mismatch. JMM is too small for Mayweather. Unlike Oscar-Manny, Mayweather is not a shot fighter.
DB: Are you working with any other fighters right now that you feel can reach the world class level? Tell us about them?
RA: I also work with Jesus Soto Karass. He is actually one of my favorite fighters. No matter who we match him up against, he makes it a war! When I first started working with him, he had lost three fights in a row. Now he is # 2 in the WBC and #4 in the WBO. Karass should be fighting in June, with a title shot in the near future.
DB: Ray, as a manager, have you looked at other people in your position and say, "Man, they just aren’t handling that boxer the way that I would." Give us an example of how you approach your job and what really counts in your business.
RA: Touchy subject. Call me and I will answer this question [off the record].
DB: 2009 has had an excellent start to the year boxing-wise. As of now, who/what are your leading candidates for Fighter of the Year, KO of the Year, Fight o the Year?
RA: Great year so far! Fighter of the year so far, Juan Manuel Marquez. Went in to Juan Diaz’s home and KO’d him. Very impressive! KO of the year so far for me is Brian Viloria’s KO of Solis. To see a little guy like that KO someone with one shot! That was a perfect shot! Marquez-Diaz Fight of the Year, so far... The way Marquez broke down Diaz, Hall of Famer at work!! One of the best of all time!
DB: The big fight on everyone’s mind right now is Manny Pacquiao versus Ricky Hatton. Size up this fight and give us your pick.
RA: Manny-Hatton.... I like Manny in this fight. But I do not see Hatton getting blown out in three rounds like Freddie says. I see Manny slowly busting up Hatton and stopping him on cuts late. Hatton is still the bigger guy, but Manny throws too many punches from odd angles! I know Floyd thinks he’s the best trainer of all time, but even he can’t prepare Hatton for what he’s going to be up against in the ring. I was able to see Manny sparring, and he is absolutely ready for this fight. I think 140 is the perfect weight for him.