We are ten days away from arguably the most historic fight we have seen in many a year. Two 2-time Olympic Gold Medalists facing off for the first time professionally, at the highest level, in a world championship fight. It will be Saturday, December 9 at the Theater at Madison Square Garden, which has been sold out for nearly two months. It and it will be televised live on ESPN at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT. There will be a four-bout telecast that will end up with the grand finale of a great night of boxing, Lomachenko vs. Rigondeaux. The entire card will stream live on the ESPN App., beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET / 4:30 p.m. PT
MICHAEL YORMARK (President & Chief of Branding & Strategy, Roc Nation): Thank you and good afternoon everybody. We are equally excited about this incredible night of boxing. On behalf of Guillermo as well as Roc Nation, we want to thank Top Rank; we want to thank ESPN; and all of the organizations that have been involved in making this event what it will be on December 9. I’m joined today by Dino Duva who heads up Roc Nation Boxing and would like for him to talk about the bout.
DINO DUVA (Head of Boxing, Roc Nation): Thank you and just to echo what Michael said we are just extremely proud and excited to be part of this great historic fight. It’s a pleasure doing business with Bob and Top Rank and everyone on their team and obviously ESPN who is the leader in sports around the world to be a part of this historic event as a boxing fan I can’t wait to see this fight. We are very excited for Rigo, amongst everything. Rigo has had a historic legendary career as an Olympic fighter and now as a professional and this is a fight that he’s been waiting for his entire career, to bring him not just to the top of the pound-for-pound list, where he has always been, to bring him the exposure and the accolades as one of the most popular fighters in the world that he’s so deserving of. But he’s never had the chance to get there. This is the fight that’s going to bring him over that hump. We congratulate Lomachenko – he’s a great fighter – we think he’s stepped up a little too much in this fight, but it’s going to be a great match. We are just really proud to be a part of this historic event.
GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX: I’m very happy that everything has been put in place. I started on ESPN so I am very happy that this fight is taking place there and I would like to thank Roc Nation and Top Rank for putting it together. I have been anticipating this fight for a long time and now everything is concrete and the fight is on its way.
Lomachenko said yesterday that if Rigondeaux wants to win he will have to come straight at me. What do you think of that?
GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX: Let him think what he wants. We are going to do what we need to do. We have our game plan.
What was the thought process to move up two divisions to make this fight happen? Did you think about staying at 122?
GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX: I went up to 130 because it was the only way I could get this fight made. I would rather it have been at a lower weight, but I want to show the world that I can do it by moving up two weight classes.
There are not many fighters in history that have been on par with Guillermo’s amateur career – does you view Lomachenko as an equal?
GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX: He is a great boxer and he has a lot of qualities and he is also an Olympic Champion, multiple times, so he’s got a lot of talent, yes.
How do you feel about that fact that most people are looking at mostly your amateur backgrounds when talking about the fight? After all, it is the first time that two-time Olympic Gold Medal winners are going to fight each other.
GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX: Yes, it is the first time in history that two multiple Olympic champions are going to fight each other, face each other off, and it is going to be a very good fight. It’s going to be a great fight for the fans and it’s going to be a great historical fight that fans will forever look back on.
Since fighting Drian Francisco in 2015, you have only had two fights that lasted a total of three rounds. Are you concerned about any kind of rust because of the way you fight it is so much about his timing and quickness?
GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX: No, not at all. I can assure you 100% that I am at 100% and I am going to show the world what I have been preparing for.
Do you think that eight pounds is too much to give up?
GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX: No, not at all. If this is what it takes to fight the big fights then you guys are going to see on December 9 if I am ready or not.
What other champions would you like to face ideally?
GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX: I am tired of saying, ‘don’t talk to me about Santa Cruz, don’t talk to me about Frampton’ – I have already said I want to fight these guys. Ask them if they want to fight – anybody, any time, but I am tired of saying that. Ask them who they want too fight because they don’t want to fight me.
Considering you are jumping two weight classes how will you rate your power?
GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX: I feel stronger than ever and I am going to do it and do it right. Moving up has had no negative effect whatsoever on my speed or power.
What about the WBA and the 122 lb. title – do you have any comments on that?
GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX: Not right now. At this time we are concentrating on this fight and we can worry about that when it’s over.
DINO DUVA: Just so everyone knows, we are actually still working with the WBA to reconsider their resolution and position on this. I am hopeful and confident they will do the right thing and allow Rigo to make his decision after the fight. It is not a closed subject yet.
Do you expect this fight to go the distance and do you worry that some of the subtle moves that you do will go unnoticed by the judges?
GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX: It is going to be a massacre. People should anticipate a massacre. Absolutely – not at all, I am not worried at all. I will just go in there and do my job.
Is there added pressure to make this fight exciting?
GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX: The one that has to worry is Lomachenko. I am fine and I will do what I need to do when I get in the ring. I don’t worry too much what people think. I have my power every time I step in the ring.
Do you think you will knock him out?
GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX: I don’t look for a knockout. It just happens. It’s unpredictable.
You beat Donaire, The Ring Fighter of the Year, and never really received the proper respect for that and here you are five years later. How do you feel about that?
GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX: I don’t spend too much time thinking about that. I do my job and I do it well. I leave all that other stuff to the people that handle that. I’ve gone through a lot of adversity in my life as it is. I just take care of what I need to do in the ring.
Do you feel motivated to beat a Top Rank fighter after leaving Top Rank?
GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX: Even if it is the Son of God, I don’t care. I fight whoever I need to fight.
Are you worried about getting a fair shake from the judges?
GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX: Absolutely not – forget about that – I don’t think about that. I just do what I think I need to do.
What is the key to this fight?
GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX: I’ve got to do my job and I have to win convincingly so they can’t rob me.
This is the second time they have tried to strip you. Does it make you look at belts differently?
GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX: I leave the sanctioning negotiations and all the tough negotiating to Dino. He’s the one that handles that. I don’t let that affect my fighting or my training for the fight. Give the belt to anyone. Dino will then find a way for me to get it back in the ring.
How long have you wanted to fight Lomachenko?
GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX: I wanted to fight him when he was at 126. And we tried and we tried and we tried and he wouldn’t step in the ring with me. Now he is at 130 and wants to step in the ring with me because he believes now he has the advantage over me.
Most pundits have you as an underdog in this fight. If you win would you regard it as your greatest victory?
GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX: There are a lot of things that are more important to me in my professional career, however, this would be a big feat and let the world see who is the best pound-for-pound boxer.
What would the other greater things in career be?
GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX: It is my way of thinking that there will be a lot of greater things that will come my way after this fight – yes a lot of things. This win will be a great thing for my career but I have had a lot of great victories in the past and this will be one more to add to my great victories, but there will be better tings to come once I get past him.
Do you think this fight will go 12 rounds?
GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX: It could finish before or it could finish after.
So do you think you will stop him?
GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX: Lomachenko and forty more like him.
Who are the other fighters that you think could be bigger wins than Lomachenko?
GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX: I will need two more fights in my career to retire. I will fight Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder. I will go into heavyweight. I am willing to fight anyone in the world.
Lomachenko said the only reason you are taking this fight is because you are older now and want to get a big payday and retire.
GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX: That’s fine – let him think that way.
Does it make you mad?
ALEX BORNOTE (Rigondeaux Manager): I’ll answer that for him. Yes, of course it makes him mad. All he’s ever done, if anyone asks him who he wants to fight? He’ll fight anyone and he’ll fight everybody. The only reason he doesn’t fight more is because no one wants to fight him for whatever reason that may be. He wants to fight a lot more people before his career is over.
Lomachenko also feels that you both are the same size, except he may be a little taller.
GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX: Yes more or less we are almost right there.
MICHAEL YORMARK: Once again I would like to thank all of the media and ESPN and everybody on the call here today and especially Top Rank for giving us this opportunity. Obviously it’s an exciting fight it’s going to be a great night of boxing. We look forward to seeing everybody in New York City next Saturday night.
DINO DUVA: The only think I would like to say in closing, to all the media, thank you for joining us. When Rigo beats Lomachenko all I ask is that you give him the credit he deserves. He’s been knocked around a lot and a lot of it has been undeserving. When he beats Lomachenko, please, give him the credit he deserves, because he is one of the all time greats. When he performs on December 9, give him what he deserves. That’s all I ask.
GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX: Thank you for putting this event together – all the promoters and ESPN and all of the fans, so stay tuned and wait to see what you’re going to see on December 9.
ALEX BORNOTE: This is the fight the fans want to see and he has to go up two weight classes to do it. It’s the only way the fight was going to happen and it’s great for boxing, and see you there next week.
EGIS KLIMAS (Lomachenko Manager): Yes we have been on the line for ten minutes listening to that bull shit.
BOB ARUM: I had to watch my blood pressure so I didn’t listen.
Bob, this is your 30th promotion at The Garden, dating back to Muhammad Ali vs. Oscar Bonavena (December 7, 1970), and it’s a big one…
BOB ARUM: This is a conference call with the greatest fighter since Muhammad Ali. A guy that I can’t wait to see in a historic fight that has never happened before – in each corner a fighter having two Gold Medals. This is an historic battle and it’s going to be one of many historic battles for Vasyl Lomachenko who I have said from the beginning he is the best fighter I have seen since the early Muhammad Ali.
VASYL LOMACHENKO: I would like to thank everyone who is participating in this call. This is the first time I am going to be talking in two months about the fight. Yesterday was my media workout day and I am very happy to talk to the media about this bout.
You said yesterday that if Rigondeaux wants to win he will have to come straight at me. Do you think Rigondeaux is going to do that?
VASYL LOMACHENKO: No, I don’t think he’s going to be doing that. He has never done that in his whole career. When he goes forward he falls down in the ring. I don’t think he’s going to be doing that.
Can you respond to Rigondeaux’s comment saying you wouldn’t fight him at featherweight?
VASYL LOMACHENKO: We all can’t believe in that nonsense. There is a video of one of the reporters asking him ‘would you like to fight Vasyl Lomachenko?’ when he was at 126. He said to the reporter “wait a second, what weight am I fighting?’ and the reporter said 122 and he said ‘well what kind of questions do we have? I am at 122.’ It is on video on YouTube - anybody can find it. It’s not the truth.
How do you feel about the two greatest amateurs in the history of the sport fighting against each other?
VASYL LOMACHENKO: Yes, I agree that it is a historical bout, it is an interesting bout and most importantly it is an interesting bout for me. A lot of time was spent to make this bout. For awhile it was never happening and finally it happened. It is very, very interesting and all of the boxing fans wanted to see the bout and finally we can deliver it.
Rigondeaux is known for his defense – how do you break through it?
VASYL LOMACHENKO: Yes of course I have a plan in my head, a picture of what I am going to do but I don’t think it would be too smart to talk about it right now. I think it is better one time to see than 100 times to say.
Are you worried that Rigondeaux may go in there and stink it out?
BOB ARUM: Let me give you my expert opinion because I’ve been around the sport for a lot of years. What you are looking at here are two different schools of boxing. The Cuban and the Eastern European. The Eastern European, let me start with Vasyl Lomachenko – he is very technically proficient and very good and when he is fighting he is very defensive minded, looks for an opening, but always with the goal in mind, not only to win a points victory but also to hurt, or knockout or make his opponent quit. Watch every one of his fights – it’s always designed, very crowd pleasing because it gives the crowd – the crowd gets into it – because he is looking to destroy his opponent. That’s pretty much the Eastern European style. The Cuban style is different, they pile up points then they stink you out till the end of the fight because all they care about is winning the fight on points. So in this fight, Vasyl will not allow Rigondeaux to pile up points, so Rigondeaux, to win the fight, will have to be more aggressive than he wants to be. When you watch Rigondeaux fight you will see a fantastic fighter who is aggressive, piles up points and then stinks you out by just coasting to victory. That’s the Cuban style – just win, brother. Win by the points -- a different style form the Easter European. I think this is going to be a very, very good fight, a very interesting fight because Rigondeaux is not going to be able to gut out a big lead on points on Vasyl, therefore he will have to fight the entire fight as long as it goes to win a victory.
BOB ARUM: Rigondeaux is a very, very good fighter. He is one of the best fighters that I have seen. He is a terrific fighter. You can’t let him pile up points because then he will coast and stink you out. Vasyl is no only a great fighter – he is the best fighter since the young Muhammad Ali. He will not seed the ground early, therefore Rigondeaux will have to fight the entire fight in order to win and therefore I see a very, very exciting fight and you are going to see the best of these guys.
When Bob Arum calls you the best fighter since the young Muhammad Ali does that put added pressure on you?
VASYL LOMACHENKO: I am hearing from Mr. Arum saying these things about me for almost two years. It doesn’t put pressure on my any more – it used to but no more.
How long did you know this fight would be next and how did that factor into your Twitter war?
EGIS KLIMAS: We were fooling around with Twitter - the people that run Rigondeaux’s twitter, they were very aggressive abut the fight. To tell you the truth, I never believed the fight was going to happen until I got the phone call from Bob telling me “the deal is done, I have a signed contract, so let’s get ready for the fight.” That was the only time I knew the fight was going to happen.
Orlando Salido is also fighting December 9. Should you both be successful, do you think a revenge fight with him would be next?
VASYL LOMACHENKO: Yes, sure but I don’t think he’s going to fight me because he already found, to him, a good excuse. He’s been saying, “I don’t need this bout. Lomachenko needs this bout. So because Lomachenko needs this bout you need to pay me good money.” That is just his excuse and Salido is nobody now.
Do you have any plans to fight above 130 pounds?
VASYL LOMACHENKO: I already said that I am ready to fight at 130 or 135, but that is not my job. Whoever is going to be put in front of me I will fight. It is not my job to organize the bouts. It is not my job to choose opponents. My promoters organize the bouts and whoever they put in front of me I am ready to fight at 130 or 135. I never passed on any of the bouts and I never passed on any of the opponents.
You recently said, “I am going to squash him.“ Will you be satisfied with anything other than a knockout?
VASYL LOMACHENKO: I said I am going to walk through him like a tank. They are two different things. I am going to walk through him like a tank and knock him out. They are two different impressions. I am like every single fighter – going into the ring I have in my mind ‘finish the bout before all the rounds are over and to get the victory before that. There is a good possibility that the fight will end before the twelfth round. I am not promising to knock him out but I am promising to squash him.