By Marc Livitz in Las Vegas: Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin shared the podium on Wednesday for the final press appearance leading up to their middleweight unification showdown in Las Vegas.
The remaining participants in Saturday evening’s ’Supremacy’ fight card took part in a press conference on Thursday afternoon at the MGM Grand to discuss their respective upcoming contests at the T-Mobile Arena. Highlighting the undercard is 2012 USA Olympian Joseph "JoJo" Diaz, who will face new addition Rafael Rivera in a WBC Featherweight title eliminator. Diaz (24-0, 13 KO’s) of South El Monte, California is gradually becoming a mainstay for Golden Boy Promotions, while Rivera (25-0-2, 16 KO’s) is filling in for the injured Jorge Lara. Earlier this week, Lara (29-0-2, 21 KO’s) was forced to pull out of the match-up for reasons that were specifically unspecified, yet various news outlets have indicated a back problem as the cause.
Sharing part of the spotlight on Saturday night will be Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya’s nephew, Diego (19-0, 9 KO’s) of Mexicali, MX. He’ll find a huge task at hand because Randy "El Matador" Caballero will occupy the red corner when the bell rings. The two unbeaten prospects will clash for Caballero’s NABF as well as the vacant NABO super bantamweight titles.
The first contest on Saturday’s pay TV telecast will feature Ryan Martin (19-0, 11 KO’s) of Chattanooga, Tennessee, who will put his WBC Continental Americas lightweight title on the line as he battles Francisco Rojo (19-2, 12 KO’s, Mexico City, D.F., MX) for the vacant WBA Intercontinental lightweight strap. A total of four fights will precede the HBO PPV broadcast, featuring 2012 USA Olympian and Houston, Texas native Marlen Esparza (2-0 in flyweight division) in a six round contest against Aracely Palacios (8-7, 1 KO).
Highlights Listed Below
Eric Gomez, Matchmaker/Promoter, Golden Boy Promotions: "Of course, this is an exciting main event but we’ve put together a big undercard. These kids in the undercard have been working hard and they want to grab your attention and I think they will. We’ll have rising contenders and future champions."
"We’re committed to making the best fights. Our fighters want it and they want to be great. They want to take chances. We want to give everyone the best fights possible."
"We’re extremely lucky to have Rafael Rivera fill in for Jorge Lara. Joseph Diaz is a contender now. He’s no longer a prospect. Rivera took the chance without even asking about money. He’s coming to win."
Bernard Hopkins, Golden Boy Promotions: "Thanks to everyone on all sides. We’re here so the best can fight the best. This is the opportunity to steal some light in your favor before the big fights in your life. We want to not only pay attention to the elite fighters, but also the fighters who are just behind them because they’re thirsty for success."
Tom Loeffler, K2 Promotions: "I couldn’t be more excited to be here today. You can really feel the ’buzz’ in the air. We’re not even at the weigh-in yet and it’s reaching a fever pitch. Whenever you can get two of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the ring, that’s a great thing. The fighters on this undercard know that they have to perform. So many people will be watching."
Joseph Diaz: "I had a great, ten week training camp. I didn’t expect to part of the co-main event. I was so excited for this opportunity. I’m going to go out there and do my best. Jorge Lara was a tough opponent and I want to go out and show everyone that boxing is "sink or swim". We have a young, undefeated fighter in Rafael Rivera. I know he’ll come out with guns hot because he’s getting that exposure as well. He’ll want to do his best."
Note - Rafael Rivera was en route to Las Vegas at the time of Thursday’s presser.
Diego De La Hoya: "This fight is a great opportunity for me and can catapult me closer to a world title shot. I have prepared myself for seven weeks in the best camp of my life. I know that Randy (Caballlero) is prepared and we’re going to steal the night."
Randy Caballero: "Camp was amazing. I feel good, I feel ready and I feel strong. Just to be a part of this card is a dream come true. You won’t want to miss this. September 16 will be a great night from start to finish. This card will help us and everyone’s career is on the line. We’re two undefeated fighters who don’t want to lose. I’ve worked hard and I have way more experience."
Ryan Martin: "Going back to March when I fought in Madison Square Garden to Vegas, which blows that out of the water. I dream of moments like this. I dedicate my life to the sport and to be on a stage like this. All the hard work is already done. Let’s get our names out there and steal the show. I am very grateful to be a part of this event."
Francisco Rojo: "Who doesn’t want to be on a great card like this? I’m very grateful to be part of this. My opponent, Ryan Martin is a tremendous talent and undefeated. He’s never fought a known, Mexican opponent like me and I’m willing to show that Mexican fighters leave it all in the ring. I respect him a lot but his past opponents don’t compare to me."
Marlen Esparza: "I am extremely honored to be part of such an amazing card. I’d like to thank my team who has put in a lot of work. I hope to put on an amazing show. I’ve trained really hard to go six, three minute rounds. I’d also like to say thank you to Gennady Golovkin and Canelo for donating to the efforts to help my hometown of Houston."
2-Time Olympian (UK) Nicola Adams: "I am grateful to make my debut in the States on such an outstanding card. I’m hoping to put on a great a performance and hopefully gain a few more fans from the States."