Media Conference Call
Transcript: Guerrero - Kirkland - Katsidis
March 24, 2011
(MAR 24) On March 22, 2011, there was a
media conference call made in to the boxers on the April 4, 2011 card
that will take place at the MGM Hotel and Casino, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The conference had the following boxers participate: ROBERT GUERRERO,
MICHAEL KATSIDIS AND JAMES KIRKLAND.
Monica Sears: I just want to, first of all, thank all of
the media for calling in to today's call and as well as our participants
we have Richard Schaefer, the CEO of Golden Boy Promotions on the call,
as well as Robert Guerrero calling in from Las Vegas and Michael
Katsidis, all of the way from Thailand.
Hello, everybody. I'm going to keep my opening remarks very short,
because I really want to thank Michael and his team to be on the phone
here with the time difference in Thailand. It's getting pretty late over
there. We are really excited to have this HBO Pay-Per-View April 9th,
Action Heroes. There are going to be some action heroes on the call here
today, I think you will find they have defined the word action hero
with, of course, Michael Katsidis, Robert Guerrero. We are going to have
afterwards an opportunity to hear from James Kirkland as well, who is
going to be on the call.
The event is sponsored by Tecate, by AT&T, by DeWalt Tools and Tres
Generaciones Tequila, which is a new sponsor, which Golden Boy recently
picked up. It's the leading tequila in Mexico and here in the United
States as well, so we're really happy that they have put their weight
Tickets are priced extremely well, starting at $25 and we really have
made a very good experience with having the tickets priced from $25 to
$350. We have done that recently as well at a show, which we've done
here in Los Angeles with Canelo Álvarez. I think that pricing is
important and we really want to accommodate fight fans with any size of
wallet to really give them an opportunity to see these action heroes
live, in action from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
It's a pleasure now to talk to you about one of the featured bouts, a
co-feature of the card really, Robert Guerrero against Michael Katsidis,
one of the most talked about fights. A lot of fight fans are really
looking forward to this fight. It's going to be all action and with
Michael Katsidis, that's always the case. Michael Katsidis, with a
record of 27 and 3 with 22 knockouts is from Toowoomba, Australia. He's
training in Thailand. He is a former two-time world champion and known
for his exciting back-and-forth fights, including the 2007 Slug Fest
with Czar Amonsot and his 2008 see-saw battle with Joel Casamayor.
He is currently riding a streak of memorable performances, which include
a stoppage of Matador Chavez, a big win over Vicente Escobedo and the
three-round blitz of then undefeated Kevin Mitchell in England. His last
bout he faced a tough fight against the legendary Juan Manuel Márquez.
Katsidis puts the future hall of famer on the canvas before being halted
in the ninth round.
But really, there is only one word to describe Michael Katsidis and that
is excitement. He really brings it to the fight, to the ring. He is
clearly, if you have to define action hero and you would look it up in
the dictionary you would find Michael Katsidis' name right next to it.
It's an honor and a pleasure to introduce to you now from Thailand,
Well, training has been as per usual, Richard. We've been doing the same
thing for a long time now. We come to Thailand approximately a couple of
months before every fight and it's hot and we do the work. I can expect
a very tough night come April.
Great. Maybe a quick question: I'm curious to know, why is it that you
picked Thailand as a training camp?
Well, it's not comfortable in the ring and I think Thailand, of all
places, just gets by, just needs the bare necessities, so it's very
tough and rugged conditions here. There are very few luxuries. If you
can become comfortable in those surroundings, well, I guess you feel a
little bit more at home in the ring, in the fire. So I guess that's
probably the reason why we come here. The other thing is it works, so if
something isn't broken, don't fix it.
Great. Absolutely. Please, Michael, if you could stay on the line, we're
going to open it afterwards for Q&A for the media so they can ask you
It is a pleasure now for me to introduce to you all Robert "The Ghost"
Guerrero with a record of 28-1 from Gilroy, California, who is training
in Las Vegas for this fight. He's a three-time and two-division former
world champion. He's rapidly closing in on another world title shot
after giving up his Junior Lightweight crown in early 2010 to care for
his ill wife, Casey. Now that she has fully recovered, Robert has put
together wins over Roberto Arrieta and the Cuban Legend, Former World
Champion, Joel Casamayor and U.S. Olympian, Vicente Escobedo.
Obviously, he is extremely motivated for this fight. He knows that it's
a difficult fight. He knows what Michael Katsidis brings to the ring and
each one of these two fighters really know that a victory here is going
to open the door for a world title shot most likely in the next fight,
so an extremely important fight.
Robert, I think, for the first time is now training actually in Las
Vegas. Before that he obviously had double duty by training and most
importantly, caring for his wife. An amazing human being, Robert
Guerrero, an amazing fighter and it really is an honor now to turn it
over to Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero.
Thank you, Richard. I really appreciate the kind words. I just want to
thank everybody for coming on and I just want to thank Golden Boy for
making the fight and staying behind me through everything I've been
through and they've always had my back, so I'm real excited about that.
It's going to be a great fight. I'm excited about this fight. I can't
wait until April 9th. This is actually the first time I've been out in
an actual training camp. I mean it's been quite a few years already, so
I think you're going to see a whole different Robert Guerrero this
I'm really, really, really pleased the way training camp is going and
everything is falling into place the way it's supposed to fall into
place. The main, number one thing with my case is being 100% focused.
I'm always in great shape. Just coming out to a training camp and just
staying secluded and doing what I have to do to prepare for a fight, it
is just going to make me that much a better fighter. So we're having a
great camp. I'm excited about this fight. I can't wait to come out and
put on a show for the world and showcase a whole new Robert Guerrero.
Thank you very much, Robert. Two really, truly great people outside of
the ring; Michael Katsidis and Robert and two of the most exciting
fighters inside the ring. It really is a pleasure and an honor to put
this fight together and work with both of them.
Michael, I wanted to start with you. You're just coming off a very tough
fight a few months ago in November against Juan Manuel Márquez. I think
a lot of fighters in your situation might next want to fight somebody
that's more kind of a tune-up fight, but you chose to go right back into
the fire against Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero. Why did you decide to take
Why not? It's for a world title and this is what I'm in the game for.
You want to achieve this as much as you can, so if the opportunity is
there you take it. That's exactly what I do. I fight. This is my job.
This is my living. It's as simple as that. I'm not here for a holiday.
Richard, can you address that? Can you tell me maybe the conversation
you had with Michael that led to him taking this fight with Robert?
Well, Michael is one of those fighters, who always is looking for the
biggest fight and the biggest challenges and that really is, I think,
what defines Michael. When we asked him about Robert Guerrero, he was
immediately on board. He is one of those guys who really doesn't turn
down any fight and the bigger the fight the happier Michael Katsidis is.
Robert, I have a couple of quick questions for you. Robert, first of
all, what did it mean to you to get this award that the Boxing Writers'
Association is going to present to you in a few months the Courage
It's an honor. It's an honor. I really appreciate getting the award.
Everything I had to go through and for the Writers' Association to
recognize what kind of person I am not just in the ring, but outside of
the ring, it's really an honor.
Robert, how is Casey doing?
She is doing great. She just did a year last month on being cancer free
and I couldn't be happier. It takes a huge weight off your shoulders and
makes everything easier to prepare for fights.
One last thing: What do you think about Michael Katsidis and what's it
going to take to beat him?
Michael is a tough fighter. I mean he comes to fight every fight. It's
going to take a lot to beat him. You've got to be well prepared. You've
got to train hard. Everything has to be right throughout the camp, you
know, the food, everything you do. You can't leave no stone unturned and
that's what I'm doing. I'm excited about it, because this is truly a
fan's fight right here where you're going to see two guys go at it and
give it their all.
I have a question. What's the Courage Award?
The Courage Award is an award, which is given by the Boxing Writers of
America to fighters who have basically done special things, which have
shown their courage outside of the ring as well. The fact that Robert
"The Ghost" Guerrero has really given up his world title, has really, in
a way, has totally focused on his wife first and her illness made the
Boxing Writers' Association of America award him this May; I think it's
May 6th; with the Courage Award. That's what that is.
I want to start with a question for Robert. What I'm curious about is
you have been sitting as a mandatory challenger for one of the
lightweight titles now for a little bit and I know you were not able to
get the fight with Márquez. I imagine that has to be a little bit
frustrating. You've won world titles before. You are mandatory, yet
cannot somehow get a world title shot, so now you're taking this fight.
Can you talk about any level of frustration you have about not being
able to get either Márquez himself or a shot at a belt or a vacant belt,
whatever may be the case?
Yes. I mean at first I was a little frustrated trying to get the fight
and it's not there. Richard and Golden Boy, they tried to make a fight.
It didn't happen. It didn't happen. I'm not going to sit and groan and
cry about it or anything. If it happens it happens, but I mean I don't
define my career on one fight and just keep on trucking and moving on.
We got the fight with Michael Katsidis, who is a tough character and he
comes to fight, so it's about making big fights. Unfortunately, Márquez
don't want to take the fight with me. I just leave it at that, so-
Let me maybe just quickly jump in here as well. When Juan Manuel Márquez
actually did his mandatory against Michael Katsidis not too long ago,
and so he does have some time as it relates to his mandatory. However,
the WBO has contacted us a couple of days ago and asked what Márquez'
plans were because obviously he hasn't fought for a while and there are
no announcements or nothing. So they actually are looking at potentially
sanctioning this fight here between Robert and Katsidis for an interim
world title and then, obviously, the winner of that would have to fight
We don't know what Márquez's plan or plans are. I am actually scheduled
to meet with him next week in Mexico and see what he is planning on
doing, but obviously, you're absolutely right, Dan. The winner of this
fight is not only in line for the world title fight, but actually, if
Márquez would decide to move up or do something different, they might
become the WBO Lightweight World Champion.
Robert, one other question I wanted to ask you about: In moving your
training camp to do like an actual training camp away from home, because
you feel more comfortable because of the fact that your wife is doing
much better now, how much more focused does that make you now that
you're away? Because you know you still have your family at home.
Michael has been used to doing that, going off to Thailand and doing his
training camps is nothing unusual for him, but this is a little bit of a
different thing for you in recent fights. How has the change been from
going away from home to a real training camp?
It's been great. It's been great. It's nice to be able to do what you
love and focus on what you love. It makes everything a lot easier to
concentrate and focus on just straight boxing, which when you're at home
and you're doing your training at home you have the kids there. You're
taking them to school or you're picking them up and you're helping the
wife here. Throughout the day, as a fighter, you've got to be straight
boxing or not. I was getting by doing that and it was tough. It was
tough and coming out to a training camp makes everything easy where now
it's just boxing. I can focus, having my meals on time, getting the
running done on time. I don't have to worry about I'm going to help out
at the house. I'm going to help out, pick up the kids or I'm going to
help the wife do this; where I'm able to just relax and rest and be
ready for the next day again to train hard and give it my all. So it
makes things a lot easier.
I'm excited. I'm excited to be out here training in a training camp. It
was long overdue. I needed to get out to a training camp. Unfortunately,
the situation I was in with my wife didn't let me. I'm excited. She's
excited. She knows I love training and I love fighting, so when I come
out to a training camp she knows I'm going to be 100% focused and
everybody does. In the training camp you can just focus, focus on being
Robert, which gym in Vegas are you training at?
I'm training at Pound 4 Pound.
Michael, I've got a question for you. We know that you're coming off the
tough loss against Márquez not that long ago. How long does it take you
to get over a loss like that, to sort of then put it behind you and
start to focus on climbing the ladder again?
That night. The night you lose a fight, you have a fight and you get the
results and then you back up and then you go again. Look, I'm really
happy that this fight here I'm fighting against the number-one in the
world. I was very happy just to hear what Richard just said about the
world title, because rightly so. This is a great thing and I'm going to
be prepared for it.
I wanted to also ask you there were some reports in the media in your
home country in Australia about the fact that you had like a small,
little cut. Some people made it seem like it was a bad cut, several
stitches. Could you just clarify what happened with that situation?
Obviously, you're fighting so it's, I guess, not much of an issue, but I
just wanted to hear your side of what happened with that.
Yes. I was cut. That's the thing-
They said it-
I'm eternally known for that and it was an issue, but it's not now. I'm
right to fight. Of course, if I didn't take the fight based on a cut I
wouldn't sleep at night. I don't think I'd be a happy person at all,
because I fight and what's a cut? A cut's nothing.
How bad was it though? How many stitches did you require?
Well, it was just a cut.
But I mean, Michael, there are different degrees. It could be a bad cut.
It could be just a little nick. I mean how severe was it?
It depends on the person. I mean some people get a small cut and they
don't want to fight-
I mean with you. I mean with this specific injury.
Well, if you're talking about me, I'll fight. It just doesn't- I'll
fight the best. I'm fighting the best now because that's what I want to
do. So nothing is going to stop me doing that. I'm just-
What I think and obviously, when we heard about it, Dan, we were worried
as well and we wanted to make sure that he was clear to fight. Michael
went to the doctor and we got the necessary documents and so on that he
was okay to fight and okay to train. But Michael is right; I mean for
some people a small cut might look like a big cut and I think, knowing
No one questions Michael, because of his heart and desire to fight. I'm
only asking how many stitches did he need in the cut when he got
Yes. It's not ridiculous. I'm not going to go into a fight if the moment
you get tapped the fight is over. I'm not like that, but if there's
something, if there's an injury, if there's any sort of incident like
that nothing is going to stop me like that. I'm not stupid in that
sense, but I am very keen to fight and like I said, this guy is the
number-one guy in the world. Who else is there to fight? Márquez isn't
going to fight ... so he gets off the top, so Márquez can drop his
titles and me and Robert can fight for the title. That's great. It
should be that way.
How many stitches was it?
Was it like two or three stitches, something like that?
I didn't even count. I didn't even count it-... the cut. Get it fixed up
and go from there. I didn't even look at it. Actually, you wouldn't even
think I've been cut to look at it now.
This is for Robert. Can you tell us how important it is to you to win a
third title in a third weight class and if you achieve that goal what it
tells you about yourself as a fighter?
Well, it will actually be my fourth world title, my third in three
different weight classes. It's nice. It's nice to know every weight
class you've been to you've won a world title. You just don't want to
pass up a weight class and not do nothing there and just move on. I want
to come through and try to win a title in every weight class I hit, so
it is very important and I'm excited that I got the opportunity and that
I'm number-one in the world and that the next fight possibly could be
for a world championship. It's motivating. It gets you going and makes
you want to work hard.
How do you feel training and fighting at lightweight as compared to
featherweight and junior lightweight?
I feel great at lightweight. I think I'm really coming into being a
full-fledged lightweight. Just being in camp, eating right, doing
everything right, everything right on time and doing the proper training
to prepare for a fight I feel strong. I feel fast. I feel I'm going to
be super ready for fight night.
One last question: Usually when somebody has won four world titles and
particularly if they've done so over three weight classes, we're talking
about an elite fighter. We're talking about somebody who is rated in the
top ten pound-for-pound. Is that something you ever think about? Is that
the kind of recognition that you'd like to have sooner?
Oh, yes. It would be nice to get all of that recognition, but I let
everything take its course and I put God first and everything after
that. In good time, everything will be there. I'm one of the guys where
I think if you always try to force something that's not there it never
works out, so I'll just keep on doing what I've been doing and fighting
and putting out great fights and winning and everything will be there.
When you look at the pound-for-pound list and you see guys that you've
known for a long time, like Nonito Donaire, who is now like in the top
five of everybody's pound-for-pound list and do you believe that you can
be that good, that you could be rated that high one day?
Oh, yes. Yes. Definitely. I mean if you don't think that you shouldn't
be in boxing. You've got to have the most confidence in yourself and
your ability of getting the job done. I just take my hat off to guys
like Nonito Donaire and other guys where they go out there and give it
their best. They deserve everything that came their way.
I just have a couple of questions for Mr. Guerrero. I know you've been
asked this question about are you coming back into the ring, but I'd
like to ask you to just get a different angle, how smart are you to come
back to fight after taking care of your wife? How smart are you and what
has she told you about getting back into the ring?
I'm real inspired. Seeing what cancer patients go through and how tough
it is for them, I always say they're fighting for their lives and they
don't have a choice. They've got to do the fight. For us fighters it's a
choice. Either you box or you don't. It's our choice. I'm doing what I
love to do, what I've been doing since I was nine-years-old and it's an
honor to get in that ring and enjoy it. I mean you get out there and
enjoy it and cherish every moment you get, because boxing doesn't last
forever. It flies right by you and you've got to enjoy it while it
It's real inspiring to see what they go through and it makes you want to
get out there and appreciate everything and work even more, that much
more because, like I said, you enjoy it. You've got to love doing it.
You want to give it your all.
This is my last question for you: I know the big stage for a lot of
professional boxers, like yourself, fighting in Las Vegas, how excited
are you about fighting in Las Vegas? This will be your third or fourth
fight, I believe.
I'm excited. I'm excited to be fighting on a Pay-Per-View fight, being
in Las Vegas, fighting in front of thousands and thousands of fans and
fighting in front of millions of people around the world. It's very
exciting and you just got to go and appreciate it and put out the best
work you can put.
First of all, I'd like to thank both of you guys for sharing your lives
with us, because you both have overcome a lot, like Richard said,
outside of the ring and bring a lot of excitement into the ring.
Michael, can you shed some light for us on exactly what it has taken for
you emotionally to be involved in the type of fight you were in with
Juan Manuel Márquez and to come right back, given what you've been
through and why you're able to do it? What does it take for an
individual like yourself to do that?
You just have to dig deep. I have a belief that if something doesn't
kill you it only makes you stronger. This is one of those things. If we
can work through that camp, as we did for the Márquez one, it's been a
hell of a lot better working for this camp. I can sleep well at night.
There is no problem. Everything is going very, very well in those
regards. So you just really have to dig deep and when I look inside I
always aim to find more, so I'm motivated for it.
Not to belabor the point, but Dan asked you the question: Where was the
cut and how long ago did it happen?
Was it three weeks ago, I think, a couple of weeks ago.
Where was it?
On my eye.
You want to know which eye? Do you want to go for it?
It doesn't really matter. You're going to see he got it stitched up. It
required a couple of stitches. He provided all of the medical documents
and was cleared to resume training, including sparring. So of course,
he's ready to go. I can appreciate that Michael is a bit hesitant-
-to give details to that and I hope you all can accept that. Thank you.
I do. I just wanted to kind of-because of the fact that he's overcome so
much and he just makes so little of it-I mean that just adds to the kind
of character that he brings to the ring.
That's the kind of warrior he is. As he said before, he's not going to
let a little cut slow him down. That's just the kind of guy he is.
Being, of course, his promoter-
I said I'll be circling to my left. Put it that way.
Let me move on. Each of you, like I said, has overcome a lot. Can you,
Michael, give me a scouting report on Robert and, Robert, also give me a
scouting report on Michael? Just how you think your styles will mesh in
Do you want me to go first?
Sure, Michael, go first.
Did you say how I think-what was it? I didn't hear the question
I wanted to know, both of you have exciting styles. Could you give me a
scouting report on each other and then how you think your styles will
mesh, how you see the fight going in the ring?
Well, I don't know. I fight to fight, so if anything happens during the
fight I don't care what the fight looks like or I don't try to make a
great fight. I don't say, "Look, it's going to be a great fight." I'm
just going to win it. That's what I go in there to do, so I'm not
focused on any of that. I work more on myself. I don't look at who I'm
fighting so much. It is very much in synch when I'm in there, so I work
a lot off that and I guess as a result you have a lot of exciting
fights. But that's where I am with that.
I just think it's going to be a great fight. He comes forward. He comes.
He's tough. He's strong. He puts a lot of pressure and throws a lot of
punches. I think it's going to be a war and it's going to be an exciting
fight. Like I've been saying before, it's going to be a fan's fight
where they're going to get a lot of excitement and a lot of punching.
I'm excited about this fight because it's going to show the world what
kind of fighter I am.
Richard, this question is for you. Obviously, both of these guys have
put it on the line. They're both deserving of a title shot. How close
will the winner be to being a champion? I know you said the WBO might
sanction this, but how close? Would Márquez be stripped? Do you have any
timetable for that?
Well, by the way, I just got word-I mean as we speak I was put a note in
front of me that the WBA as well has a tentative sanction for the vacant
WBA Interim Lightweight title. So obviously, both the WBA and the WBO,
who's champion is Juan Manuel Márquez, would like to know what Márquez's
plans are since nothing has been announced. So it seems like the WBA and
the WBO, it looks like they will be sanctioning this as an interim title
bout with the winner of the fight becoming the mandatory to Márquez in
case Márquez decides to stay at 135 pounds. If, obviously, he would be
moving up in weight then the winner of that fight will become full
I think that I know sometimes people attack the sanctioning
organizations for doing certain things they're doing with vacant titles
and emeritus titles and all of these sorts of titles, but I think in
this particular case you really have two of the best fighters in the
weight class fighting each other. So I'm sure that you would all agree
that this is really, not only is it deserving, but I think it's fitting
that these two guys, these two warriors, these two action heroes are
actually going to fight for a title.
Finally, Richard, I don't know if you can answer this or not, but can
you shed any light on Márquez's contract status?
No, I'm not going to do that. I'm going to be sitting down with Juan
Manuel next week. We did have an exclusive, good faith negotiating
period, which was not honored by Juan Manuel, but I am going to sit down
with him next week and see what can be worked out.
Robert, as a featherweight you were known for your defensive skills.
You're a little more balls out, shall we say, as a lightweight. Have you
ever fought someone who poses so many defensive problems?
No, not at all. Like I said, I'm excited about this. Michael Katsidis,
he's going to come to fight and so am I, so it's going to be a great
I mean is the best defense a good offense or are you going to try to
tame him or what?
You've got to mix everything up. You've got to mix up offense, defense
and it all depends. It all depends. Every fighter is a different fighter
and what works for one fighter doesn't work for another, so styles make
fights and I think my style and Michael Katsidis' style is going to make
a great matchup and you guys are going to be in store for a great fight.
A question for Richard Schaefer: Robert has always had, at least in the
past two or three years, trouble getting the fights he wants and this
Juan Manuel Márquez situation is another indicator of that. What ithe
problem getting Robert the fights you'd like to get him?
Well, first of all, I think when Robert joined us how he has advanced
his career and how he is now appearing on a regular basis on HBO I think
is a big step in Robert's career. I think the big fights, they will
come, because sometimes you just can't force them. You either have to
maneuver yourself into a mandatory position and sometimes it's just
something, which just doesn't happen overnight, but I know that Robert
wants the big fight and I think our track record is pretty good when you
look at putting big fights together.
Look what happened with Juan Manuel Márquez when he was at Top Rank. He
never got any of the big fights. He came to us and we were able to get
him into the big fight. I am sure; I am convinced; I have no doubt that
that is going to be the same with Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero. Look at
Michael Katsidis. Michael Katsidis had many big fights, including most
recently, his fight with Juan Manuel Márquez. Sometimes it takes a
little patience and when you are a very good fighter, like both of these
guys are, very dangerous fighters, then there has to be some extra
incentive for opponents or for some of these other big names to really
go into a fight with somebody as dangerous as Robert "The Ghost"
Guerrero or Michael Katsidis. So it's something, which just happens, but
again, I have no doubt that the big fights will happen for Robert down
Well, does this mean that one problem has been that Robert really hasn't
created the public demand for these big fights?
No. I think he has done that. I mean, again, if you look at since Robert
has been with Golden Boy how he has advanced, how we together as a team
have advanced his career, his visibility, his reputation and given him
the platforms with HBO where he can showcase how good and how exciting
he is, I think it's just a matter of time. I mean things just don't
always happen exactly when you want them and that is true for many
fights. I mean look, Pacquiao and Mayweather hasn't happened yet.
Sometimes fight fans need to learn to have a little patience and things
will happen. I think, again, if you look at the track record over the
past five or six years, how we have delivered constantly big fights, I
have no intentions to stop that and I think with Robert "The Ghost"
Guerrero you have one of the best, young, most exciting fighters in the
world and these fights will come. Just have some patience.
Thank you, everyone. At this time, we're going to transfer over, so we
want to give Robert and Michael a big thank you for calling in today. If
you guys want to make any closing comments before we switch over?
Thank you. No. I think this is a fantastic fight. I'm really excited. I
know fight fans are excited. I really can't wait for the first bell to
ring for this showdown, because I know that both guys-and I think you
all heard that in their comments and in their voices today-both guys
know how important of a fight this is. They will come at their best and
they will give their best, as they always do. I'm really excited about
it. Thank you very much, Robert. Thank you very much, Michael. I'll see
you guys in a couple of weeks in Las Vegas.
All right. Thank you.
James Kirkland: Talking about action heroes, first of all, I
don't remember having had three true action heroes on one call. This is
just amazing. He is truly one of the most exciting guys. When he fights
you just don't even want to blink. You just don't know what's going to
happen and so with James Kirkland coming back about a month ago on the
March 5th card here in Los Angeles with his devastating knockout he was
ready to fight the same night again. Obviously, that doesn't work, so we
had to tell him he's got to wait a couple of weeks so we can find
another opponent, which we did. He fought last Friday another exciting
knockout performance in the second round.
Now here we are. He is ready to be back on an HBO Pay-Per-View. James
Kirkland has a record of 27-0 with 24 knockouts. Originally, from
Austin, Texas and now he resides and trains in Las Vegas. He is really
eager to keep the momentum going. We will be announcing shortly his
opponent. He has been coming down in weight. I think the last fight was
at 162 or so and now we're looking at coming down at 158 for his next
fight and eventually bring him down to the 154 division, where he really
belongs. If everything continues to go as well as it has been since he's
been coming back to have a world title shot sometime later on this year.
It's a pleasure to introduce now to you one of the most exciting, if not
the most exciting fighter today in the sport, James Kirkland.
I want to start this off by letting everybody know God has been good to
me. I give all honors and glory to God right now for giving me this
opportunity, being able to talk to you all and get not a second chance,
but more like a third chance as far as my criminal background. No longer
is that ever going to be a problem again, because I'm not going to let
it take any action in my life any more.
Do you want to make a few comments about your new training camp in Las
Vegas? You moved there. It's now going to be your third fight that
you're training from there. Do you have any comments about that?
I got to let everybody know, man, being with Kenny Adams and with Chris
and starting a new training camp away from my baseline has been
beautiful. Kenny Adams, he knows all of the ropes. He's worked with tons
of world champions and he's just adding. We're putting a package
together as far as with this training to be unstoppable and just working
hard, hitting the gym as much as possible.
Yes, I love to fight, I love the thrill of action, a person wanting to
try to take advantage-what's the word?-try to bring all that he can
bring to you in the ring. I just love a fight and someone wanting to
come in this training camp and being with Kenny Adams and he's giving me
how to sit down all the punches, how to be able to keep my defense to a
certain ability, but not lose my offense at the same time. It's just
nice, man, as far as switching my environment, from being in a negative
environment and then coming to a positive environment as far as
switching friends and changing up my whole lifestyle and eventually
bringing my family down here, it's just wonderful.
Thank you, James. I can tell you that on behalf of all the fight fans
out there and if you follow the blogs and social networks and so on, it
is absolutely amazing, staggering, the kind of interest sports and fight
fans have in your comeback. How the world is really following you and
watching you because they know that you always bring your A game and I
know you will bring it again on April the 9th, and we're excited to have
you on the card.
I'm going to pass it over now to the media again, if you guys have any
questions for James, please go ahead.
James, you've had two fights now in your comeback. They didn't last very
long. I guess one was, I believe, 34 seconds, and the other one was in
the first round. Have you been able to ascertain anything about where
you are in your boxing, based on those two quick, quick fights? Where do
you think you are after like two minutes of work?
Basically, right now, I just give myself just work; I'm focusing on just
getting the work in and being able to bring all my, being able to see
the punches, being able to know what's coming and to be able to adjust
to any type of style. All that stuff is still being taught, I mean, it's
still being, like, you're never going to forget. It's like riding a
bike, but to add to it, to make sure it's there. To be accurate at
everything that you do when you're in the ring and knowing how to
adjust, that's what the process is. Still on the rise, still going, but
as far as being able to get in there and to be able to do what I know
how to do, I'm going to do that any time. It's just that I want to be
able to get the work in. I just need to focus in on the work and I know,
maybe I've got no work in the fight because I'm putting so much pressure
and a lot of emotions into my fight.
I had a sparring partner, you know, he fell out. I just recently picked
a new sparring guy and, you know, I really didn't get a lot of sparring,
but that's basically what we're going to be focusing on for this
training camp come April 9th and just staying busy. So, that's my main
mind frame is just staying busy.
When you had the two fights and you had the brief burst of time in the
ring, not in the gym, but in the actual fight, did you feel like you
were shaking off that rust or were they just over too quick, that you
really couldn't tell anything about it?
Honestly, when people say ring rust and those types of things, when I
was away I was training. I was training just in spar, you know,
different things that you couldn't do, but I still train, I still made
sure that I had some running in, I made sure I had different things in
to where I could be able to either lose weight faster, be able to jump
back into the game as soon as possible. So, when they say ring rust and
the way I feel in the ring, I feel super positive, super strong. I
really feel as strong as I've ever been as far as the speed because the
speed is not all the way there like I would like it to be because of the
excess weight. So, until then I'm going to be at 58, the smallest I've
been since I've been out. And it's easy. I learned a few things as far
as eating right, as far as water weight, the whole nine. Once you learn
that it gives you a better thing of knowledge and everything is easy.
I wanted to ask you one other thing. You probably could talk for hours
about this, but if you could give us a brief look at it, when you went
away you were right on the verge of being in a major world championship
fight. You were going to fight I think it was on the Pacquiao undercard
when he fought Ricky Hatton, a big show and everything was set up very
nicely for you to have some huge fights and some big paydays.
Then you got yourself in trouble and you were out for, what, 18 months I
guess, away in prison, haven't fought, by the time you get in the ring
April 9th, I believe it will be almost about two years roughly to the
day when your last fight took place. How did you deal with that mentally
and what were your feelings like? Oh, my God, I screwed up so bad or
what was it like, just sitting there doing the time thinking about what
might have been?
Basically, man, your dreams are all shattered. You're hurting
physically, you're hurting mentally, spiritually, you're all down;
everything is just like a sore thumb. Everything about you is just gone.
You lose, not just access to the boxing, you lose access to your family.
Your key is your loved ones, people that really care about you, people
that have been backing you up for many years, staying behind you and
people that wish the best for you and then you make a dumb and a
What I have done, it's just like-and then when you're facing time, it's
like, oh, man, you're like how much time am I going to get and you
really don't know. At the same time, I had to stay prayed up. I had to
keep praying to God and just stand positive, try to keep my mind focused
on achieving and if God wants what's best for me, he'll make a great
comeback out of this and that's what happened, man.
I just got blessed and got a 24 month sentence, came home, 18, 19
months, was in the halfway house training. Then there was the fight and
then basically moved out here to Vegas just to set aside foolish things
and it's just like, man, it's time to grow and I got Richard Schaefer's
Golden Boy, I've got the whole Golden Boy Promotion behind me and
positive, positive people, man.
Did you look at it-? Oh, go ahead.
It's like nothing can take me off my stool right now, nothing can take
me off this, what I'm going to do, so the only thing I say, 2011 and
2012 there's going to be so much excitement in boxing. People can only
just hear about it, but just to know that it's going to happen, because
I'm not going to let nothing take me from my dream, I'm not going to let
nothing inspire me to do the wrong thing. It's all positive around me
now; I don't have, not one negative person or anything that's not worth
being around me is not going to be around me.
So, you are now determined to-I guess, like you said I your opening
remarks, this is sort of like your third chance because before the
incident, before you had some previous trouble. That you are determined
to do the right things, not put yourself in a position that's going to
get you in trouble, being surrounded by the right people that aren't
going to cause you trouble. I mean, is that like something you think
about every single day?
Every single day, man, I've got to have a positive mind frame, even
though it feels like, wow, man, why me? But every day I drive to make
this to be a positive thing, you know, as far as being a world champion,
I'm going to be dedicated to that. I know it's going to happen. I just
have to wait my time. I fell off by doing something stupid, and now this
is a positive thing because I'm glad I went through the situation and
got to see everybody for who they were and who was really for Kirkland.
Who was really there for me, who really has the passion for Kirkland to
see me make it and go as a boxer and not just a boxer, but a role model
to the younger people.
Those are the people that have been behind me and everybody showed their
true colors when I went to jail. So now that I'm out. I know everybody
for who they are as far as the people who were around me and it wasn't a
handful of people, one handful of people. So therefore they gave me the
mind frame to say if I don't have not this many people that's going to
stay behind me and really willing to back me up, me leaving shouldn't be
So, me, I just got to go-if I can't get a handful of people, not even a
handful of people, so the best thing for me to do is just to move and
better my horizons. I'm down in Vegas. I've got Kenny Adams, tons of
world champions. He knows what it takes to win and he knows the drive,
he knows the passion that I have and he's willing to teach me things
that I don't know. He's willing to learn things that I do know that he
may know, but coming from a left-handed perspective, we're growing. This
can never get worse; this can only get greater and get better.
Now, one of the guys in your promotional company is Bernard Hopkins, a
senior member of the company, one of the owners, great world champion,
going to the Hall of Fame, had a similar incident back in his earlier
days. He did four and a half years in prison and has come out of prison
and never got in trouble another day in his life and made a ton of money
and won a lot of bouts. Have you ever sought out his advice to talk to
him about his own experiences and to see how he was able to come out,
come back to society and not put himself in that kind of situation ever
I have talked to Bernard Hopkins. This was my first time going to jail,
but like going to my second one, catching this case right here, I talked
to him and he basically just has the same mind frame. That he got the
same attention, for me, is the good thing as far as not just staying
focused on boxing.
As far as the decision I made with my friends as far as making the move
and as far as cutting those people to the side and letting old bad
habits be old things, no longer a habit, but put those things on the
back burner. Put it in the back of your head, no longer going to ever
think about doing again. Those things are no longer a problem, but the
advice that he gave was all positive. It's everything that a man could
want and I'm just coming to the table to let everybody know, man, that
was a poor, poor, careless, dumb decision that I made. I learned from my
actions. I feel that I am a role model. It's just that when you're put
in certain situations you make careless decisions, you go off your gut
and what you think is right, but the right thing is to go the other way.
Well, Dan, I just quickly to mention something here as well, because you
mentioned Bernard Hopkins. After this happened, Bernard actually called
me and he said what he would like to do, sometime hopefully this summer,
he would like to put together a ... fight, some sort of a program, a
session where he can speak to the young fighters. He would like very
much James there as well to share these experiences they went through
and how to learn from that and how those influences- If you're a young
fighter and you suddenly start making money, you're going to have
friends, which you have so many friends and so many hangers-on. And
maybe not so good elements are attaching themselves to you and they're
trying to drag you down.
To basically have Bernard and James in a way mentor some of these young
fighters and tell them how to avoid these kinds of pitfalls and I think
I can very much see James in that role that he can share his experiences
with some of the young fighters. I think James would be terrific in
that, because those who know James Kirkland know what a warm and caring
human being he is and just a wonderful person he is and I am sure that
James has learned and has learned the hard way from these mistakes. I
think it would be great for James to share these experiences with the
I was wondering, with the recent addition of so many new versions of
familiar championship titles becoming available in the sport of
boxing-and by that I'm referring to Super Champions, Diamond Titles,
etc., Interim Belts-do you feel that the status of being a champion has
been or is being diminished in any way? Also what are your championship
goals with that in mind?
Basically, as far as being a champion or wanting to be a champion, all
these different elements want to be this and-I have a desire for boxing
that's unbelievable, to the point that I know that I'm going to make it
because I've got positive people around me. So when it comes down to
being a world champion, hands down I know I'm going to be one.
It's just the drive and then the timing and the right decision and the
fighter, but me, I'm always ready, so when it comes to being a champion,
I'm a true champion because I overcame all the things that I overcame
even in jail, and decisions, the whole package. I just know what it
takes to win and what it takes to be a world champion and so when my
turn comes, my time will come. You know, it's all to my people, but it
will come and I will be champion.
Now, in your last fight you got punched up quite a bit. Was it because
you were trying to figure out the timing still, you know, having been
only your second fight since getting out and being inactive so long or
was it just because the level of opponent, maybe you kind of rest on
your defense a little more and once the opponent starts stepping up your
defense will improve?
Really, to be honest with you, when you have those type of
opponents-it's like a Mayorga. He has a certain style where he doesn't
throw straight punches, the aqua fighters. So when you're fighting those
type of people, they've got the aqua style, it makes you look like
you're off balance. It makes your style, it makes your fight not go as
well as you want it to be.
Because the type of opponent I have, when I fight aqua people and people
that throw behind their backs, they throw backwards, the slap punches,
it makes my fight look like it's not where it's supposed to be. It makes
your timing not adjustable. It makes you, where you get hit with all
careless shots because they're coming from all different angles. So,
like I said, my last performance, it was fairly well. Even though there
was a second round knockout, it was all right in my book, but it was an
all right fight.
Okay, that's pretty much what I was trying to get at is once the level
opponent steps up and you're fighting top ten level guys, I mean is that
part of it, too? You just felt that with this opponent you could kind of
get away with a lot more than when you're fighting top five, top ten
Oh, yeah. When my opponent steps up, not saying that I'm trying to be
careless or less, what's the word, less aware of my opponent's ability
to hit me, that's not the point. It's just that when you get those type
of people that are top ten level guys, those punches are coming fast,
they're coming straight down the pike, you can see it, you can time
them, you can turn, you know what you're doing because you're fighting a
boxer. But when you fight someone that slaps and those from any which
way and angle, you got a problem.
Then, my last question would be, this will be your third fight of the
year, third fight of the month even. Where do you expect to find
yourself by the end of this year? Do you expect to be ready for, like I
said earlier, the top level guys and a legitimate title by then or you
expect by the end of the year to just be getting to that point and how
many times in your mind would you like to see the ring before the end of
Honestly, man, if I could fight- I want to fight every day, but as far
as when it comes to it,-the level that I think I'm going to be on. What
I bring myself into for 2011-I really feel that at the end of 2011, I'll
be either ranked, be the number one in the world or about to fight for a
world title, or if not already have fought for a world title. Because
the training that I'm doing right now, the adjusting and the things that
I have for this fight and the new things that I'm doing, you're going to
be able to see April the 9th, you're going to say, man, this guy right
here, Kirkland, he's already been a remarkable guy, but he really is
ready. He is really a true champion and we need to give it to him.
So, April 9th, just be looking for not just a new Kirkland, but an
experienced Kirkland, one that hasn't lost anything. The ring rust, I'm
trying to find where the rust is at, but I'm all for it, I'm honored and
I just thank Golden Boy and the whole team that are standing behind me
and wishing the best for me.
All right, thank you, everyone. Before we end the call I do want to
mention two people as well, who were really, really instrumental and who
were there for James and that was, of course, his two co-managers,
Cameron Duncan and Michael Miller. Michael Miller did a terrific job and
I really want to thank them as well.
I echo James' sentiments. I think we have a close-knit, great team and
we have one goal. We all work towards that goal. Each one knows what
their position is and what their responsibilities are and that goal, of
course, is to have James Kirkland with his hand raised as the new World
Champion and we know that we all will be working hard towards that goal
and we're really happy, James, that you're back and you're so excited.
Great, thank you, everyone, and I hope to see you all in Las Vegas in a
couple of weeks, MGM Grand, action here April the 9th, HBO Pay-Per-View,
a great, great card. The kind of event you don't want to miss any of the
fights and looking forward to talk to you in the coming weeks. Thank you
so much, bye. Thanks, James.
All right, thank you, God bless.
END OF CALL
"Action Heroes," featuring Morales vs. Maidana in a 12-round junior
welterweight bout, Guerrero vs. Katsidis in a 12-round lightweight
battle, Kirkland vs. TBA in a 10-round middleweight bout and Malignaggi
vs. Cotto in a 10-round welterweight fight is presented by Golden Boy
Promotions in association with Erik Morales' Box Latino and Universum
Box Promotions and sponsored by Cerveza Tecate, AT&T, DeWalt Tools and
Tres Generaciones Tequila. Guerrero vs. Katsidis is presented in
association with Sampson Boxing. The bouts will be produced and
distributed live on HBO Pay-Per-View beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m.
Tickets for "Action Heroes" priced at $350, $250, $150, $75, $50 and $25
are on sale now and available to charge by phone with a major credit
card, call Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000. Tickets also are available
for purchase at mgmgrand.com or ticketmaster.com.
The Morales vs. Maidana pay-per-view telecast, which begins at 9:00 p.m.
ET / 6:00 p.m. PT, has a suggested retail price of $44.95, will be
produced and distributed by HBO Pay-Per-View® and will be available to
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week updates, log on to hbo.com.