Thursday, April 17, 2014

Main Eventers Ready to Go Saturday in DC!

(photo by Julian Burgower)

The boxers competing in the three world title bouts on Saturday April 19 at the DC Armory made their final comments at a press conference today at the Hamilton Hotel in DC.  Here's a report courtesy of my colleague Julian Burgower:

Bernard Hopkins wanted to make something very clear today at the final press conference for his light heavyweight title unification showdown with fellow champion Beibut Shumenov- he is not just fighting for a belt. Hopkins has been fighting for glittery trinkets to hang around his waist since the Kazakh Olympian was a mere 10 years old. What he fights for is legend.

“This is really a defense of my legacy. Yes, belts are nice. They are nice when you are younger because you have to establish that foundation. My foundation has been laid down years ago. And you build off the foundation. You get what you put in most of the time and then you have the time when you have to fight for what you want. So I just want everybody to know that this is an opportunity for me to show that no matter what age, even though age is a factor a lot of ways in sports, but to represent the 40 and up club which is very much alive in the world…to have a fan base with the 40 and up club, boxing fans and non-boxing fans- they are backing me. They’re supporting me. They’re praying for me. So I go and train understanding that it’s not just for me and not just for my family or my bank account or any of the things that I have already achieved almost two decades ago. I ask you to enjoy everything that’s going to take place while
it’s taking place. A lot of times we even take our personal achievements for granted. Relationships, sports, jobs, good friends, good people, good business people, and we don’t really appreciate it until we get treated the opposite way. So I feel like everybody should know that come April 19th, you will be inspired by me.”

“The Alien,” as Hopkins now calls himself, understands that with every fight the storyline backdrops to his age-defying feats. As he discusses all the hard work, training and clean living that keeps his nearly 50 year old mind and body sharp, Hopkins still indicates that he has the outlook of another former middleweight champion, Marvelous Marvin Hagler- WAR.

“The work I’ve put in all these years has already been said. You know about it…what am I going to come up here and tell you? So I have to now tell you how I feel…I don’t get too spiritual when it’s time for war. Once I lay down everything that I train and prayed for I leave it in the back because I understand it’s covered because without work and just praying you’re a fool. One works the other. You can ask and you can be on your knees and you can hope and do all these things but if you don’t go out and put the work in, it’s all talk. And we all know that humans can talk more than they can show and prove. That’s the credibility part that I have. So as I talk and you listen, understand my foundation wasn’t necessarily built in 1988 when I lost my first professional fight. And then went on and went 12 consecutive years of being undefeated and won 20 defenses. By the numbers he [Shumenov] was in pampers. I know he’s
coming to fight. The best in him will bring out the very best in me. I want him to come and to try and win every round. I want him to do this because if he doesn’t do this, then you won’t see the best in me. Now, I will do what I have to do, don’t get me wrong."

Hopkins went on to say that he hopes Shumenov comes to fight because he doesn’t want to be portrayed as a bully due to Shumenov’s short list of fights as a professional and his lack of U.S. exposure.

Switching gears, Hopkins, also questioned previous comments made by Shumenov about willing to lay down his life in the ring.

Shumenov, 14-1 (9), was quick to respond to Hopkins’ doubt of his fighting heart.

“First of all, it’s a great honor fighting you. I have a lot of respect for you. But if you are mistaken if you think I am just fighting a 50 year old fighter. My priority is not about the money. The most important thing I am fighting for is the honor and for the glory. To be the best. To be acknowledged as a great fighter. This is a great opportunity for me and that’s right, I am fighting. I am preparing for this fight like it is my last fight. I am ready to die to get the victory and you will see that. I am a man of my word, so you will see a great fight. For this kind of moment I’ve been dreaming all my life. I was ready to fight at this level for several years. All the hard work and preparation has been done. I am fighting with one the greatest fighters ever, a legend who beat other legends. So, I am ready to show the rest of the world what I am capable of. That I am the best light heavyweight in the world.

Two additional championship bouts are also being featured on the card that is billed as “History at the Capital.” WBO middleweight champion Peter Quillin, 30-0 (22), being challenged by Lukas Konecny, 50-4 (23) and welterweight Paulie Malignaggi, 33-5 (7), looking to capture his third world title against IBF Champion Shawn Porter, 23-0-1 (14).

Lukas Konecny: “I was speaking to peter Quillin before for a few minutes and he is a really good guy. I expect a hard fight but a fair fight. It’s only boxing and I want to win. I have the most experience and I think there will be a confrontation between the European and the U.S. boxing style. Of course the best one will win…I hope it will be me and good luck to both.”

Peter Quillin: “…I want to thank my opponent Lukas just for coming and giving me an opportunity. I’m not asking for a victory, I’m just asking for a fair fight. That’s what it’s all about. That’s why I chose to be a professional fighter- but if we were in the street it would be different. This is an important thing for me to be here with you guys and the many faces that I’ve seen over the years that are still here smiling and that I’m making them smile….all these great people. I just hope that I can keep doing the same thing over and over again. I’m going to defend my title with so much pride, no ego, but just my pride for ways about myself. The hard work and determination. The sacrifice- what got me here is the most important part of boxing for me. It’s my therapy. I go in the gym and I may not have much control outside of the ring of what people say and how people view me but when I’m in that ring I can create and
do whatever I want. Nobody can take that away from me and I won’t let nobody take that away. I’m going to keep defending my belt in the same manner to show that I’m just inspiring people to do better in their life. I’m not telling you to become a professional boxer, I’m just saying just be happy with yourself. Learn to value yourself…thank you for the opportunity to fight here in DC and the athletic commission here who made this such a tremendous card. This is my first time in DC and I’m just so inspired to be here…I think my name is going to be “The Capital Kid.”

Paulie Malignaggi: “I’m very happy to have the team around me from top to bottom that I have now and they’ve allowed me to excel. It’s unbelievable when you can focus on just boxing and the amount of strides and progress that you can make with no other headaches. It’s how I’ve kind of been feeling of late so it’s something to be really thankful for. I know that over the course of the years unfortunately that the viewpoint of the media towards me is more ‘how does this guy keep sticking around?’ as opposed to appreciating what I do. The fact that I have outlasted almost every single fighter that they hyped more than me, that I have been continuing to excel at the highest level of the sport regardless of the naysaying that they do consistently. And again, instead of seeing the qualities in me as a fighter you keep saying ‘how is this guy still around?’ as if it should be a surprise and you are surprised. If you would take the
blinders out your damn eyes you actually see a quality fighter and you’ll understand that quality that I am as a fighter and if you guys were as much of experts as you claim to be you would see the little subtleties and the little improvements that I continue to make every year and he changes to my style year to year. Especially as I’ve got with Eric Brown. But, of course you guys are experts and you guys already see that. I think a chance to win a third world championship against a very hungry world champion- I think Shawn Porter is different than a lot of champions because he’s a champion but I think he remains with that hungry attitude like he’s a challenger. To take away a belt from a guy like that makes it all the more difficult to challenge them because it becomes a game of skill but also a game of will. I think I’ve proven through the years that I have a lot of both and I think that Shawn porter is slowly proving that he has a lot
of both as well. I think this makes it a very intriguing matchup and I think what’s at stake-the championship of the world- the winner is very deserving to get that title. At the days end, we’re both very hungry. I feel that I’m the more talented fighter. Not that Shawn is not talented, but I feel like I’m the more talented fighter. I feel like I’m the more intelligent fighter. Not that Shawn’s not intelligent, but again, I feel like what I have in my back pocket is more than what he has in his pocket….I’ve had a great camp and I’ve heard that Shawn’s had a great camp too from some of the things he’s said so may the best man win Saturday night and become the welterweight champion- I look forward to it.”

Shawn Porter: I’m going to take a different approach. Normally I would come up here and you know I go by the name ‘Showtime’ and I would get the crowd going and wake you all or Bernard and all that. I’m going to be short and I’m going to be to the point…I want to touch on what Mr. Schaeffer said, that it’s not the Porter way (to take an easy voluntary defense opponent). We could have taken any challenger. We could have taken a lessor opponent. I could have fought two more months from now- I just fought in December- but that’s not the Porter way. We work hard. We have high expectations. Team porter has high expectations. At team porter we challenge ourselves…the entire team. We talk day in and day out about the game plan, we send notes to one another every single day. We work extremely hard. We diet together. You know, I lost a lot of weight for this fight and I feel really good right now. The weight’s great…we work
hard. We’re blessed. We understand what position we are in today and we understand what position we are going to be when we get into the ring with Paulie Malignaggi. We’re in a privileged position- we have a world championship belt. We’re privileged to have that belt. We’re going to defend it with honor. We’re going to defend it with everything we have. All the heart, all the will. All the skill. We’re bringing all that to the ring. We know what Paulie is bringing to the ring…it’s going to be a great exciting night of boxing.”

Also attending the event was Marvis Frazier, who presented Hopkins with a plaque in appreciation for his hand in constructing a statue of his father, the late former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier, in their hometown of Philadelphia.  (Note: Marvis Frazier now makes his home in DC.)

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