By Marc Livitz: Mexican boxing legend Juan Manuel Marquez and undefeated light welterweight Brandon Rios participated in separate conference calls today from Mexico City and Oxnard, California, respectively. The two fighters will co-headline a split-site Pay-Per-View telecast on April 14th.
Marquez (53(39)-6-1) will be facing Ukrainian Serhiy Fedchenko (30(13)-1) at the newly built Arena de Mexico in Mexico City, DF, Mexico and Rios (29(22)-0-1) will be squaring off against Cuban fighter Richard Abril (17(8)-2-1) at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Also featured on the card will be a ten round lightweight bout between Mercito Gesta of the Philippines and Colombian fighter Oscar Cuero in addition to a ten round junior welterweight contest featuring Denver, Colorado native Mike Alvarado and Mauricio Herrera of Riverside, California.
The call’s main administrator, Fred Sternburg (Sternburg Communications) opened the call with a very positive note. “Hi everyone and thanks for joining us today. We have for the boxing fans an event so big that it’s being held in two countries. Juan Manuel’s fight will be the first ever sporting event in Arena de Mexico and he will be fighting for the vacant WBO junior welterweight championship. We’re also excited to have the Brandon Rios versus Richard Abril bout live from Mandalay Bay (Las Vegas).”
Throughout the phone call, there were many questions asked of Marquez concerning his last bout. His highly controversial loss to Manny Pacquiao was a hot topic this afternoon, although Marquez did his best to deflect the memory of last November and reassure all involved that his focus was clearly on the foe he will be facing in his hometown of Mexico City next weekend.
Top Rank Promotions CEO Bob Arum seemed equally pleased with the upcoming evening’s fight card, which he felt will be one to remember. Said Arum, “We are very excited about his card for Mexico and Las Vegas. Juan Manuel Marquez is one of the finest in the world. Many felt that he did enough to beat Pacquiao, but that’s just how boxing goes at times. Hopefully he’s on the path now to fight Manny again later in the year. Of course, Brandon Rios is a very exciting fighter and he is facing Richard Abril. We’re very pleased that fans will be able to see a great night of boxing highlighted by the legendary Marquez.”
The Mexico City fighter will be 39 in August, yet Arum felt that in the case of “Dinamita” Marquez, age was indeed not a factor.
“You must understand that he’s a serious man and he takes boxing very seriously. He doesn’t get out of shape. He doesn’t take time off and I think that may be the difference between he and other fighters”, said the Las Vegas based promoter.
As for the aforementioned loss to Pacquiao, Arum stated, “Juan Manuel is a true professional and you know what he’s about. He knows that all of the complaining that we’ve heard over the past several months won’t change the result. You must pick yourself up and continue your career. I feel the best is yet to come.”
One of the most pleasing aspects of the phone conference was Marquez’s proficiency in English, the language in which he conducted the entirety of the interview. He was asked the same question in regard to his age and his noteworthy longevity in the sport. Juan Manuel replied, “It’s been my training and conditioning. I like to fight smart and I like everything about the sport.”
The first question concerning Pacquiao was then delivered. Marquez feels the same as many observers do. “Everyone knows I want to fight Manny again, but the most important thing right now is April 14th. I did consider retirement because I trained very hard. I feel that I won the fight and of course I felt very angry. I want another fight and I came back for that. I have a tough fight on the 14th. I think I won the fight (versus Pacquiao), but I want to demonstrate in the ring why I think I won and then get a rematch.”
Marquez then stated as before that he is only thinking of his fight with Fedchenko in ten days time and not of a possible future showdown with Brandon Rios.
Bob Arum has been involved in professional boxing for the better part of forty years and he has seen his fair share of greats. However, has he seen many boxers who seem almost obsessed with another contest with an equally matched adversary? He was asked such a question and answered promptly. “All the great fighters are like that, but they know that they must concentrate on the task at hand even though they have aspirations to fight the best. All you can do is your best and get yourself into the best shape possible. The great fighters are all professionals and they all feel the importance of the task at hand.”
The April 14th event at the newly constructed Arena de Mexico will showcase the first fight for Marquez in the Mexican capital in nearly eighteen years. Juan Manuel shared his anticipation of the event and the excitement that he felt.
“After 18 years, I am back in Mexico City and I’m very happy to come back home. I am excited to fight here and I have a great opponent.”
“Dinamita” further acknowledged that although he knew relatively little of his Ukrainian foe, that he would not in any way take the challenge lightly. Said Marquez, ““Fedchenko has a difficult style and he’s a dangerous fighter. I’m confident and I know that in the ring anything can happen. He’s coming to Mexico to win.”
Should Marquez win on April 14th, many will no doubt seek to match Marquez with Manny Pacquiao for a fourth time, provided the Filipino champion secures a triumph over undefeated American Timothy Bradley on June 9 in Las Vegas. Of course, much of the world clamors to see what perhaps would be the most anticipated fight of the last twenty years, Manny Pacquiao versus Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Bob Arum let his thoughts be known on the immediate future.
“I have to be realistic about this. I don’t think Floyd Mayweather will be available in the fall (Mayweather begins a 90 day jail term on June 1). Manny has a very tough fight with (Tim) Bradley. Juan Manuel Marquez deserves a rematch and I think that I would focus on that.”
Marquez quickly concurred with Arum when he stated, “Bradley is a tough fight. He (Pacquiao) can’t look past him.”
Shortly after Juan Manuel and his team signed off, the conference call switched over to Brandon Rios and his group. The undefeated lightweight from Oxnard, California indicated that his training camp has been a success, although he admitted that he like Marquez did not know a great deal of his opponent.
“My training has been going well and I am feeling great. As for Abril I can say that I haven’t seen much video of him, but I am sure that he’s a tough contender.”
Rios was originally set to face undefeated Cuban sensation Yuriorkis Gamboa (21(16)-0) in a fight that many felt would be one to remember. However, Gamboa failed to appear at separate conferences to promote the event in his adopted hometown of Miami and once more in Los Angeles. Contractual issues later surfaced. Into the drama entered Richard Abril. Dressed in a tuxedo, Abril appeared at one of the press conferences and openly challenged Rios. Brandon clearly remembers the first meeting between the two and the heated exchange which ensued. He further explained why a switch in opponents was of no concern to him.
“Gamboa didn’t show up. Suddenly, some guy started talking loudly at me. I thought he was just another person. He was wore a tuxedo and I didn’t know who he was. He pushed me and said that I was no champion. I haven’t forgotten about it. As far as getting another person to fight, it’s not too hard. I love to fight and I’m a warrior. I train to be ready all the time for whoever they put in front of me. I don’t care if it’s Abril, Gamboa or Mike Tyson. Gamboa called me out and so I showed up in his backyard (Miami). He was nowhere to be found. He acted like a coward.”
Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios last fought in December in New York City’s Madison Square Garden as part of the undercard of the rematch between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito. The weight issues concerning Rios were well documented in the lead up to his bout with Englishman John Murray. Despite multiple attempts, Brandon was unable to make the 135 pound weight limit and was subsequently stripped of his WBA World lightweight title. The California fighter assured that through the help of a newly hired nutritionist his weight problems were not a source of anxiety.
“We hired a nutritionist. The weight came off fast. I feel good and I feel strong. I’m ready to rock and roll on the 14th and let the world know that I haven’t gone anywhere. The biggest difference has been eating right. I am feeling better as we get closer to the fight and the weigh-in.”
Rios spoke highly of the legendary fighter with whom he is sharing the headlines for the April 14th night of boxing.
“There’s only a few that can do what he (Marquez) does. He’s a great counter puncher, boxer and a solid technician. I respect everything he does and he’s very likeable. He’ll show the world that he’s not old.”
April 4, 2012