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Juan Manuel Lopez, Francisco Vargas, Johan Perez Interview



Kelly Swanson

Thanks, everybody for joining us today on the call. We do have a super undercard to talk about, the undercard for Canelo vs. Lara PPV on Saturday, July 12th. And we have four of the fighters on that card joining us today, along with Oscar De La Hoya, President of Golden Boy Promotions.

Before I get to that just a quick program note that I just got, Showtime’s All Access Canelo vs. Lara, the first segment will be Friday, June 27th at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time and Pacific Time. So just please make note of that. And for this call today we are going to start with the opening Pay-Per-View bout, which is between Johan Perez and Mauricio Herrera.

I’m going to turn it over to Oscar to make the introduction, and then when we’re done with the questions for Perez and Herrera we will then move on to Juan Manuel Lopez and Francisco Vargas. So, Oscar, please.

Oscar De La Hoya

Thank you very much, Kelly. Yes, we are getting closer to the major, major pay-per-view July 12th. And the fighters on the call today are exceptional fighters who I’m really thrilled to be announcing, obviously the main event, you know, Canelo Alvarez vs. Erislandy Lara, which will be a 12-round junior middleweight bout, we have the coming event with the Abner Mares and Jonathan Oquendo from Puerto Rico. Also Juan Manuel Lopez vs. Francisco Vargas, another Puerto Rico- Mexico duel there, which will be really, really exciting. And the opener, which I’m thrilled to be announcing, Johan Perez vs. Mauricio Herrera, that will be a 12-rounder for the WBA Junior Welterweight title.

This event is taking place at MGM Grand, and it is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and Canelo Promotions. And I want to thank the sponsors, Corona and AT&T, thank you for all your activations and all the hard work that you do there. It’s distributed by SHOWTIME PPV, and tickets are on sale. They’re going really fast, obviously an indication of how great this whole card is. Tickets are still available but are going extremely fast.

And I’m really happy to announce, once again, a boxing event being shown across the country in movie theaters. If you haven’t experienced that experience of watching fights on a huge screen amongst friends and other fans and family, it really is quite an experience. And you can go to Fathom Events.com, which you can check your local listings on what movie screens you can watch that event live.

Let me introduce to you right now a fighter who I’m really, really fond of. He hails out of Riverside, California. He’s one of those fighters that he has that Rocky story once again, kind of like his neighbor, Josesito Lopez, he’s a hard worker, we witnessed him against Danny Garcia, which a lot of people, and I think most of the people thought that he won out in Puerto Rico. He’s a tremendous puncher, a great boxer. He is eager to get back in the ring. Obviously, July 12th he’ll be up against another superior boxer puncher in Johan Perez.

But let me introduce to you “El Maestro,” Mauricio “Maestro” Herrera, with a record of 20-4 and 7 KOs, out of Riverside, California. Mauricio, say a few words.

Mauricio Herrera

Hello. I want to say thank you, Oscar. And I want to say thank you to all Golden Boy Promotions, and thank you for giving me all these opportunities having come my way. We are getting ready July 12th. I am, like you said, eager to get back in the ring and I’ve still got unfinished business, I’ve still got to show a lot, and show the fans that I am for real. So I want to thank everybody.

O. De La Hoya

Gracias, Herrera. Also on the call I want to introduce to you, out of Caracas, Venezuela, he returns at 140-pound division, bouncing back from that very tough, difficult fight against Pablo Cesar Cano in 2012. He has a string of wins, including winning the WBA Junior Welterweight title in 2003 against Paul Spadafora, the undefeated Paul Spadafora at the time, also, going up against Kamegai, who is fighting this Saturday, beating Kamegai in a thrilling, exciting fashion.

Johan Perez

Good morning everybody. Thank you for having me here. I’m very happy. I’m already here in the States, looking forward to giving a spectacular performance against Mauricio Herrera and to come out victorious come July 12th.

Q

Mauricio, my first question is for you. You’re not known particularly as a knockout puncher; still, do you feel that you need a knockout in order to get the fights that you feel you deserve? It’s hard sometimes to get the big fights, so do you feel that you need a knockout in this fight in order to get a fight that you deserve?

M. Herrera

I think so. We’ve been thinking about it a lot, and we’re looking for a stoppage, we want to maybe stop Johan if it’s possible. We are going to look to make an exciting fight. I know I can box all day, but I think in this fight I might switch it up at times and I may try to look for a stoppage of some kind. I’m not a real power hitter, but that doesn’t mean I can’t stop a fighter. Anything can happen in there. And, yes, I’m looking, if it’s not a stoppage or knockout, at making it an exciting fight.

Q

That’s good. I heard you talking about stoppage, but what has been involved mentally in totally focusing on Herrera and in putting behind the frustrations of what would have undoubtedly been your greatest career victory had you gotten a victory over Danny Garcia, which surpassed really even the victory over Provodnikov. It would have surpassed that.

M. Herrera

Yes, I’m not totally over it, with Danny Garcia. It was frustrating for a while. But I still think about that fight. It is still frustrating in my head. But I wasn’t surprised at the decision, either. Nobody ever expected me to do that well, so I have the mentality that I just have to keep going, keep going forward and keep proving myself. I think every fight I’ve always had to prove myself. It’s no different today. So, I have a strong mind and a strong character. As you see in my fights, I can take a good punch. I hold all that in, and I think with Johan Perez I think I might just, who knows, let it all out in that fight.

Q

In terms of saying you want to stop Perez, is that possibly kind of a layover from the way you feel about the way the Garcia fight went?

M. Herrera

Yes, I think so. I want to put on exciting fights all the time for the people. I’m never in a boring fight. I am a boxer. I’m not a very, they say a hard puncher, so I sort of follow what my style is. But I know what I can do, and when I’m in great shape I know I can do better things and get that stoppage. So, I’m going to try really hard and give the fans what they want.

Q

My last question for you would be, in terms of the stoppage, the caller before me referenced Perez’s height. How critical is a body attack going to be in a fight like this?

M. Herrera

That’s going to be very important. Being that the people say I don’t hit hard, he’ll find out in there how I punch. But it doesn’t take that hard of a punch when you go to the body. Anybody can go down from a punch. It doesn’t have to be that hard. But a body attack is something we’re working on also. But we can shoot and fire punches and get stoppage as well, so I’m working on a lot of things like that. I think I do very well with tall fighters, and you’re going to see it that night.

Q

Oscar, can you talk about Mauricio’s style a little bit? It’s obviously a throwback style, and I think more in the past that style was appreciated. It may not be as appreciated today. Can you just talk about what he does well, his overall ability?

O. De La Hoya

Well, he does everything well. He can upset you. He can fight you. He can box you. But mentally he’s going to beat you, no matter what it takes. And he’s obviously proved it with Provodnikov, beating him, he’s proved it with Danny Garcia, it was a fight where a lot of people had Herrera winning. So, he’s on a mission, and his style is suited for any fight he’s in, whether he wants to box, whether he wants to brawl, whether he wants to do whatever he wants to do inside that ring. He’s in great shape and I think the fact that he’s on a mission, it just calls for an exciting fighter and an exciting fight come July 12th.

Q

, I’ve just got the one question for you. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about your preparation in training camp and what you’re really working on and focusing on for the upcoming fight.

M. Herrera

Well, we have a couple more weeks of time for this fight. We have enough time to train. What we basically do is we just refine everything, get the jabs faster and stronger, work on the defense more. Of course we’re always working on power, and it’s just being in shape. If I get in top shape I feel I can do anything, and that’s the main part. When I feel good, my body’s strong. I think you can see a little more power from me, and that’s what we’re expecting that night, we’re expecting to be fast, strong, and I want to be right there in the space all night.

Q

Johan, how training is going and what are you really focusing on?

J. Perez

Well, training’s been really good, sparring’s been good. The pads, everything’s been going perfect. I’m working a lot on the jab, defense. My opponent, Mauricio, throws a lot of punches, we’re aware of that, so we’re working on using a lot of jab and countering.

Q

Okay, sounds great. Listen, I just had a question for Johan. Johan, really quick, your height advantage, how do you intend to use it? How do you intend to employ it during the bout? Are you going to use it to jab, or are you going to use it to keep your distance and possibly try to knock Herrera out Tommy Hearns style? What are you planning to do with, wow, what is it, I’d say five good inches of height?

J. Perez

I’m a fighter that works round per round to see what he brings. We’re going to see what he brings. I can work all three distances, in short, mid, and outside. We’re going to see what he brings. But I will tell you this, I’m prepared to win and take the victory home.

Q

Mauricio, normally you are the underdog, you’re always on the B side, but after the performance you had with Danny Garcia it doesn’t seem to be in this case. It seems like you are the fan favorite, and the favorite for the fight. But does that add additional pressure to have you go out and look for the knockout so that you can come out victorious with this fight versus Johan?

M. Herrera

Yes. There’s no pressure, like I said, even with everybody expecting a lot of the Danny Garcia fight. But I’m ready. I’m always ready to give a great fight. I’ve got to fight a smart fight. But I know what the people want to see, and that’s what I’m going to try to give them. But I have to be smart in there. It’s an important fight and I don’t want to give it away, but I do have to take some risks and give a good action fight.

Q

Did you see the fight with Mauricio and Danny? Did it surprise you on his performance? And will Mauricio, is he the fighter that’s going to put you to that next level so that people know who Johan Perez really is?

J. Perez

Well, yes, it surprised me a little bit. I saw Mauricio winning the fight. I think Danny got the decision because obviously he was the local in Puerto Rico. And a victory over him, of course it’s very important because that will show the world who Johan is, and that’s what we’re working for. Most importantly, right now let’s give the fans what they want, a great fight, may the best man win, and I’m looking forward to it.

Q

What did you learn from your fight with Pablo Cesar Cano, your only loss, in Cancun, Mexico? And how will you use that against Mauricio Herrera, who’s an aggressive fighter and he’s coming with a lot of hunger for victory?

J. Perez

I learned a lot. It gave me some experience. Obviously, it ended with an accidentally, the head butt, the injury, but I thought I was clearly going to win the fight. But it gave me experience, and you’ll see that coming up. With Mauricio I know I’m facing a fighter that’s very hungry for victory, but I’m very hungry for glory. I want to become the best 140-pounder in boxing, and that’s what we’re working on, to come out a victory.

O. De La Hoya

Thank you very much. Thank you to all the press for your patience, and thank you for being on the call. The next bout that I’m really excited about to introducing at this moment will be a fight that pits Mexico vs. Puerto Rico, you know, those rivalries are just exciting rivalries that both fighters will be giving it their all. It’s a high stakes match, and we’re really excited to be presenting this fight to you.

He’s made his mark at 130-pounds. He’s coming off some great wins versus Jerry Belmontes and Abner Cotto. He’s ranked No. 2 in the world by the WBO, and obviously facing his toughest fight to date. Let me introduce to you, Francisco “El Bandido” Vargas?

Francisco Vargas

Thank you, Oscar. Thank you very much. I’m here in training camp in Mexico City, very, very focused, and very motivated for the fight. And we’re getting ready.

O. De La Hoya

Thank you. Gracias. And now also I would like to introduce to you the fighting pride of Puerto Rico. He’s undergoing a career reassurgence, with three wins in the last four bouts. He is a fighter who is very exciting, stopping on March 15 Daniel Ponce De Leon in the second round. He’s obviously very confident about a victory come July 12th.

Juan Manuel Lopez

Good afternoon everybody. We’re very happy and motivated to be on this great card, and working really hard to take the victory back to Puerto Rico.

Q

How are you focusing, how are you preparing for this fight for JuanMa? You’re fighting an undefeated fighter. You have a lot more experience.

J. Lopez

I’m very motivated to put on a great performance, a great fight, and obviously looking forward to winning the World Title again, to being a three-time champion. And obviously winning this fight will put me there, so that’s where the focus is.

Q

The same question to Francisco, how are you focused and how are you looking forward to fighting a fighter with so much experience.

F. Vargas

I’m working very hard here in Mexico City in the altitude. I’m very motivated. I know he has tremendous experience and I know that he’s a great fighter. But that’s what we’re working on. We’re working with the sparring partners, working very hard, because I know a victory here will get me ready for the World Title, and that’s what we want.

Q

Obviously you say a victory here will put you in the world title spot, fight for the title. Puerto Rico just recently had Miguel Cotto as a champion, do you want to follow those steps and become champion again?

J. Lopez

Yes, obviously my goal is to become world champion again. I’m very proud of what Miguel has done, gave Puerto Rico a title. And I’m looking forward to doing the same. But for me to do that I have to beat Francisco Vargas, and that’s where my goal is right now, that’s where my focus is, on Francisco Vargas and to beating him.

Q

Francisco, obviously there’s a rivalry between fighters from Mexico and fighters from Puerto Rico. How do you take this?

F. Vargas

Yes. No, definitely, and that gives me an additional motivation. It makes for som great fights in history, Mexico against Puerto Rico, and that gives me that extra motivation. And I know this won’t be an exception. I’m coming with everything, he’s coming with everything, and I’ll tell you what, the fans are the ones that are going to come out very happy.

Q

What does it feel like, what does it mean to be fighting on a big card where Canelo Alvarez is the main event? JuanMa?

J. Lopez

No, it’s obviously a great opportunity. Not everyone gets it, to be on a pay-per-view card of this magnitude. And I’m just very fortunate, I’m very motivated, and I’m grateful.

F. Vargas

Yes, it’s very motivating to be on a card of this magnitude, where millions of people are going to be watching all over the world. And that gives you that extra, because we know they’re going to be watching us, and want to perform.

Q

First, Francisco, how do you see this fight going? It seems as though your strengths are to box, as I don’t think you want to go toe-to-toe.

F. Vargas

I’m working for 12 rounds, working really hard. I know how dangerous he is, and I’m working for the 12 rounds. I’m working for the distance. But we’re going to see what he brings, and we’ll take it round by round.

Q

And a question for JuanMa. I’m trying to get a sense of the supreme satisfaction you must have felt after his last victory over Daniel Ponce De Leon, because at that point it seemed as though virtually everyone was counting you out. We did a poll where only two of 20 voters thought that you had a shot to win. So, I wanted to get a sense from you how great you felt after proving so many people wrong.

J. Lopez

I felt very good. I felt very happy. Unfortunately, boxing is that way, you’re only as good as your last fight, and I was coming off a loss to Mikey Garcia, so a lot of people didn’t give me the opportunity. But I didn’t listen to them. I didn’t listen to any of them. I only listened to my team. And we knew what we had to do, and obviously we came out with a spectacular victory. And that’s what we look forward to doing this coming fight too.

Q

And my last question for him is piggybacking what I just asked him. How rejuvenated is he in the fact that he won convincingly after being on the canvas? And what are his hopes of winning another title?

J. Lopez

Well, obviously the victory did a lot for me in motivating me extra, it gave me that extra push that I needed to show everyone, me personally, that the hard work, yes, he dropped me, I was off balance a little bit, he dropped me, but I got up and I showed my power’s still there and got the victory. And as far as winning another title, yes, of course, that is the goal. And that’s what we’re working on, but obviously first is Francisco Vargas.

Q

The question for JuanMa is, you’re going to be fighting Francisco Vargas, who’s ranked No. 2 in the WBO, and No. 1 is Salido, do you think a victory over Vargas can put you in line to fight for a third time against Salido for the World Title?

J. Lopez

Well, obviously a champion at 130 pounds right now is Mikey Garcia, I don’t know what he’s going to do. It all depends on that. But I’d welcome a third fight with Salido. Salido, I feel I was dominating, I was winning, we had a little problem there, and he got it. But I’m now with a new team, we’re focused, we’re working hard, and, yes, I’d welcome it.

Q

The question is for JuanMa. In boxing terms we say that a lot of the fights are won obviously in the gym, but a lot as well psychologically, and how are you right now mentally, psychologically feeling after the win over Ponce De Leon?

J. Lopez

I’m very confident. This fight, as I said, I mentioned the way it ended, the way I won gave me that extra push in my career, in my life. And I’m very focused and I feel very confident and very hungry to win the World Title once again.

Q

Vargas, How are you preparing to fight a fighter as strong and good as Juan Manuel Lopez? What are you doing?

F. Vargas

I’m preparing myself real strong mentally, physically. I’m working really hard. And we’re getting ready so we can win on the 12th.

Q

JuanMa, you’ve told us what you’ve done and how you felt in the win over Ponce De Leon, but what is it that you did to make that turnaround? You were looking almost at retirement and now all of a sudden there’s a possibility of another world title fight.

J. Lopez

Well, obviously we made a total change. We have a brand new team, and concentrating a lot on conditioning. But most importantly, I’ve matured. I know what I want, I’m working very hard, I’m focused, working hard for my family, for my wife and kids.

Q

The question is for Francisco, obviously going back to JuanMa’s fight with Ponce, do you think it was just a flash that we saw, or if there’s really that power in his hand and that could put you in a lot of danger come July 12th?

F. Vargas

We know JuanMa’s a very strong fighter, he got Ponce and knocked him out. But that doesn’t worry me at all. I’m working really hard. I’m working on my defense. I know what I have to do. This is a different fight, and I know what I’ve got to do so I can come out victorious come the 12th.

Q

The question’s for Francisco, do you see it very close, do you smell it coming up that obviously winning on the 12th you can add your name to the list of the former Olympians that went on to become World Champions and give Mexico another world title?

F. Vargas

Yes, definitely. We’re very happy how things have been working out, how my career’s going. We’ve been working very hard. And obviously we know what the significance of a victory would be here, and then fighting for a World Title to add my name to that list of former Mexican Olympians that went on to win the World Title.

Q

Yes, I just have a question for Oscar. Oscar, do you have any input with your brother, Joel, who manages Francisco? I was just curious when this fight was presented what his thoughts were on Francisco fighting JuanMa, and what your thoughts were on your brother bringing a fight like this to the table?

O. De La Hoya

Well, it was very interesting, because Francisco Vargas is a fighter who has the amateur experience, he’s been stepping up in competition, he’s moving in the right direction, and obviously this is the fight of his career. JuanMa is a fighter who is serious about getting back on track to win that World Title, and it was a fight that he jumped on right away, because, first, the fact that it would be an exciting fight for the fans. And second, because the tradition and the rivalry that has been inside the ring, you know, Mexico, Puerto Rico, makes it that much more compelling. So, he understood the fact that all of Puerto Rico will be watching because of JuanMa, and he understood the fact that all of Mexico will be behind Francisco Vargas. And so it was easy to convince him.

Q

Juan, I have a question for you. Given your name value it seems like any time you want a title shot at this stage of your career you could just pick your opponent and get it. Why would you go after an undefeated fighter like Francisco Vargas?

F. Vargas

No, it’s not as easy as that. Obviously, the organizations require a process. The process is being done. I leave it in the hands of my team. They bring me a fighter, they bring me an opponent, it’s a great opportunity, I take it. I don’t choose my opponents. I leave that to my promoter, my manager. This is a great opportunity and we’re going to take it.

Q

Okay. And I have a question, Robert Diaz, maybe you can answer it, or Oscar. Is this fight actually a sanctioned eliminator, or is it on just the regional titles that are at stake?

Robert Diaz

They’re both putting their titles, they both have titles that are on the stake, and obviously because of the high ranking they will become a big player to fight for the World Title. Obviously, the winner of this fight deserves it. It’s not sanctioned as a title eliminator, no.

O. De La Hoya

I think that’s all, everyone. Thank you. Thank you very much to everybody. We greatly appreciate it. We’ll see you at the Kamegai-Guerrero fight this weekend. If not, then we’re looking forward to all the other calls and activities we have in store for July 12th. Thank you.