Full Final Press Conference Before The Big HBO Show This Weekend
Featuring Cintron, Reid, Juarez, Raheem, Diaz and Sim; Plus Interviews!
Article posted on 16.07.2004
15.07.04 - By Carlos Kalinchuk - Photo Gallery - This afternoon in front of half a dozen or more TV cameraís and a large host of press contingency at the Reliant Arena in Houston Texas, HBO in association with Miller Brewing Company did their last major press conference before this Saturdays huge fight card here in Houston Texas. Main Eventsí Carl Moretti emceed the event as all six major combatants and their trainers (or team members) were brought up one at a time to give their insight to Saturdays Mega-Card.
Carl Moretti opened by sayingÖ
ďThe reason these fights are getting so much attention from the fans and the media is that each one of these fighters is willing to take a step up and take a major risk in their careers. This is also the first time in history HBO has featured three major bouts of this caliber without being a pay per view event so this is a major and historical event.Ē
The first fight team that was introduced was Kermit Cintron and his Manager and trainer Marshall Kaufman. Marshall had this to sayÖ
ďItís a pleasure to be here and be fighting for HBO and the great crowd here in Houston and the great fans. Kermitís prepared and heís up for this tough fight and sees this as a major opportunity and weíre looking forward to the challenge. When Carl Moretti called us up and asked us if we wanted Teddy Reid we said, ďTo be the best you have to beat one of the best.Ē And in our opinion Teddy Reid is one of the best so we wanted to step up to the challenge and show them that weíre one of the best. So we appreciate this chance and thank you very much.Ē
Kermit Cintron followed.
ďI want to thank Main Events and HBO for making this fight happen and for being on HBO and giving me the chance to fight for a world title. Teddy Reid is a good fighter but weíre ready and we will show that Saturday night when we win. Thank you.Ē
After Reidís Manager took the mic Teddy Reid followed by sayingÖ
ďIíve waited so long for a fight on HBO but here we are and Iím ready and I expect to have my hand raised in the end as the Champion. Thank you.Ē
Moretti next introduced Raheemsí Manager Tony Holden.
ďMost people have asked me why a 1996 Olympian like Zahir Raheem would come into Juarezís backyard and fight but when Carl offered it to us we said, ďanywhere, anyplace and anytime weíll be there.Ē We do have a lot of respect for Rocky though and he took a hard road in his career and heís earned it and he deserves everything he has. But one thing you are going to see this Saturday night is one of the most naturally talented fighters Iíve ever come across in my career. Youíre going to see the best of a very very gifted athlete in Zahir Raheem and heís going to put on a show and heís going to be HBOís leading star after Saturday. But as a promoter, would you please come over here Carl Moretti (Tony puts his arm around Moretti whoís with Main Events and promotes Rocky Juarez). I give Carl, the biggest credit in the world for allowing us to make this fight. But one of us is going to come out excited and one of us is going to come out heart-broken and in advance Carl I have to say, Iím sorry (Laughs). I next want to introduce a wonderful role model and fighter Zahir Raheem.Ē
ďI want to thank HBO and Carl Moretti but Iím going to tell him after he gets fired for making all these match-ups weíll make sure he has a job with us. Iím in the best shape of my life and Iím ready for him and I promise, heíll feel my power Saturday night (applause).Ē
ďIíll keep my job (smiles).Ē
Carl next introduced Rockyís Trainer Ray Ontiveros
ďIf Rocky isnít ready now, heíll never be ready. As far as Zahirís comments, talk is cheap and on Saturday weíll show why Rocky is the better fighter!Ē
ďI want thank HBO and my management at Main Events and Zahir for taking this fight but for Zahir, like Ray said, ĎTalk is cheap.í Iím in the best shape of my life and we prepared really hard and Iím ready. We brought in fighters and we are ready for this Saturday and like I said before Zahir, may the best man win-thank you (applause).Ē
Moretti introduced Diazís co-trainer Willie Savanah.
ďThank you everybody for coming out. Iíve been in this business for over thirty years but Iíve never seen any card this good. I mean Iíve seen championship cards and have had my fighters be a part of them but nothing compares to this and Iím so happy my kid, Juan Diaz has a chance to be a part of this. I think in all the years Iíve known him, heís never missed 10 days straight of training ever! And heís been with me since he was 8 years old. But heís ready and heís worked hard all his life to get to this point. I want to thank Lavka Sim for coming here and making this fight. We know this is going to be a great fight and Sim is coming to fight ďBUTĒ Juan is in the best shape of his career. Thank you.Ē
ďI want to thank Rocky and the fans of Houston and everyone whoís followed my career. I remember when I first walked into the gym as a chubby little fat kid. I was eight years old and I weighed 110lbs and now Iím fighting for the World Title! So I want to thank my promoter and the fans of Houston and everywhere for all their support. Thank you (Big Applause!).
Moretti next introduced Joe Goosen, Lavka Sims manager/promoter.
ďSomething that is very unusual in this business and many people donít realize but we have four promoters on this stage representing various fighters and in my 20+ years in this business this is unbelievable. Itís not only the fighters that are going after each other but itís the promoters too who when they can agree, it creates a lot more opportunity for the fighters. I also tip my hat to Main Events for making this fight because in the end, the fans will win and so will the fighters. We want to tip our caps to the fans for their support after the fight. We expect a huge crowd and we are very happy to be here. I now want to introduce the WBA Lightweight Champion of the World, Lavka Sim with his interpreter (applause). We brought him all the way from Mongolia and you should have seen the donkey we had to use to get him over here (laughs).Ē
Moretti next introduced Lavka Sim. Sim had a translator that was somewhat difficult to understand as well but she tried.
ďWeíre very thankful to the people who made this fight happen and the people here in the United States for being so kind. America is a great place and we are thankful to the people at HBO for making this fight happen and we will see you all there this Saturday night. Thank you (applause).Ē
Next Carl Moretti allowed the fighters to gather to take photos and then fighters were allowed to speak with the media. Eastside Boxing had an opportunity to speak with Cintron, Raheem, and Juarez. This is what they had to say.
Eastside Boxing: How exciting is it to be featured on such a dynamic card?
Kermit Cintron: Iím really excited to be fighting for a World Title for the WBO. I canít wait and on July 17th, Iím going to show everyone what Iíve got!Ē
Eastside Boxing: How have the people in Houston treated you?
Kermit Cintron: Itís great. The people are nice but itís hot here!
Eastside Boxing: Not any worse than Puerto Rico though right?
Kermit Cintron: Well itís about the same (smiles).
Eastside Boxing: If you win impressively will you be looking for an immediate title fight with one of the other major titleholders?
Kermit Cintron: After I win this fight, hopefully we get some good fights lined up and then weíll see. What happens after this is that we just go from here.
Eastside Boxing: Howís the weight for tomorrow?
Kermit Cintron: Man, Iím on weight right now so Iím just ready to get it on.
Eastside Boxing: Any closing comments?
Kermit Cintron: Watch Kermit Cintron on HBO!
Eastside next spoke with the very excited and supremely confident Zahir Raheem.
Zahir Raheem: My weight is good. Iím feeling good. Itís not going to go twelve rounds. I can guarantee you that!
Eastside Boxing: How do you feel about fighting in Rockyís backyard?
Zahir Raheem: I will feel the way Houston letís me feel. But if I donít plan on going 12 rounds, how will they feel?
Eastside Boxing: You mentioned not going 12 rounds. Youíre known more as a boxer with great footwork and the ability to box. Is there any indication that youíll be known as a puncher now?
Zahir Raheem: Youíre going to see (smiles)! Youíre going to see my brother (smiles!).
Eastside Boxing: As far as training have you had anybody thatís prepared you for Rockyís style?
Zahir Raheem: Oh yes-very much. Iíve had several sparring partners. Iíve had Barry Good and he is a 3-time ex-champion and you know his height and so everything went fabulous and it just went good and I feel good.
Eastside Boxing: Rocky has been a notorious slow starter and Joe Morales took advantage of that in the last fight and knocked him down in the second round. Do you have any game plan to capitalize on his slow start?
Zahir Raheem: No I donít. Iím just going to capitalize on his mistakes because styles make fights. I know heís been watching all my tapes and saying, ďOh Iím going to capitalize on this but Iím not going to do the same things I did in those fights because heís a different fighter. Even when he fights me heís going to change many of the things heís done in previous fights so Iím going to just react off natural instinct and that is the bottom line.
Eastside Boxing: This is for the number one spot in the IBF and the winner will be in line for a fight with Marquez. Are you looking past this fight towards Marquez?
Zahir Raheem: No. Never. I never look past anyone. I had thought about fighting Marquez and Pacquiao and possibly any big name fighters and Iím just going to focus on the job at hand and thatís Rocky Juarez.
Eastside Boxing: Why do people know more about Rocky than you?
Zahir Raheem: You have to remember that people only remember heroes and they donít remember soldiers. They look at Rocky as a hero because he won a Silver medal in the 2000 Olympic games and in 96í I didnít medal and all my comrades have ventured off to win world titles but now Iím here. But he earned it. No one gave him his spot. He fought and no one gave him anything and Iím here to stake my claim.
Eastside Boxing: Is this a showcase for you as well as Rocky being that this is a fight on HBO?
Zahir Raheem: Oh very much! HBO has never had a fighter come out and look tremendous and not bring them back! Never. So this is a crossroads fight for both of us.
Eastside Boxing: And your shape for this fight?
Zahir Raheem: Oh man, Iím ready physically, spiritually, and mentally.
Eastside Boxing: When I spoke with Rocky he said that he had seen your style before and that he had seen it in the amateurs and it would only be a matter of time before he figured it out in the ring. What are your comments to that?
Zahir Raheem: Well of course but he got knocked out but a guy who fights similar to me-Clarence Vinson. Clarence Vinson beat him but he ran from him because he knew he couldnít beat him so he moved up weight classes so he wouldnít have to face him. The guy was elusive but Iím not just quick and elusive, I can change and Iíve got my man strength in me and Iím a lot more grounded. Iím going to sit there and bang with him and Iím going to see where his head is. Iím going to test his chin. Joe Morales did but he couldnít punch but Iím going to test his chin. Iím not going to run but Iím going to be elusive and quick and Saturday night itís going to show!
Eastside Boxing: When I saw you on Showtime a few years back I thought you were a diamond in the rough. What kind of statement is it going to be for you to win and win big?
Zahir Raheem: Itís going to be all I dreamed of. This is what I waited for man. This is my shot on HBO and Iíve been trying to get fights like these for so long now over the last three years and so I plan to take full advantage of it. From here on out, my goal is to put the boxing game in the culver clutch and not let it out!
Eastside Boxing: Since the union of yourself and Tony Holden (your manager/promoter) how productive has it been for your career?
Zahir Raheem: Oh very much man! Me and my promoter Tony Holden have a relationship man that goes beyond promoter and fighter. So that in itself, gives me confidence that someone has ďmy back.Ē So itís beyond that, it goes beyond titles and heís a good friend of mine.
Eastside Boxing: Any closing comments? What do you want to tell the world?
Zahir Raheem: Zahir Raheem is here to stay and Iím coming all the way up to 47- HAHA!
Eastside Boxing: (BIG LAUGHS). Good luck on Saturday man.
Zahir Raheem: Youíre welcome.
Rocky Juarez stayed until the very end while many had already left the conference and so he was kind of enough to sit down with us and share his thoughts about this Saturday.
Rocky Juarez: As far as the slow starts, we have worked on everything. As far as him starting off fast and me starting off fast, thatís what I plan to do. I plan on getting my fight going from the first round and start breaking him down because as anybody knows, Rocky Juarez is a lot tougher in the later rounds.
Eastside Boxing: Zahir Raheem has openly expressed that this fight will not go the distance. Whether he wins or loses by knockout. You are known for becoming stronger in the later rounds and more accurate with your punches. Do you have any predictions as to what type this is going to turn into?
Rocky Juarez: This is going to be a chess game fight. Heís going to box and heís going to be aggressive. Iím going to box and Iím going to be aggressive. Itís a matter of who imposes their will. Since the last fight I fought before the Olympic finals where I lost, I always told myself mentally and in my heart, that I just had to come out and fight the best that I can fight and do everything that I can do in the ring, and Iíll come out with a victory. Thatís how I had my 68-win streak and to this day, I still donít feel that I lost that Gold Medal match. I still donít feel I lost that fight and I havenít lost a fight professionally for that reason, I go in there fighting 110% and if I do that nothing will go wrong. And thatís what I look forward to doing this coming Saturday.
Eastside Boxing: Four years ago you were asked that out of all the styles out there, who would you compare yourself to? Then you said Felix Trinidad because of the accuracy and how hard you punch. Now that four years have past, whom would you say you most resemble?
Rocky Juarez: In four years as a professional you learn a lot. I actually think Iíve learned more in my last two fights where I havenít looked impressive against Hector Velasquez and Joe Morales. From the Hector Velasquez fight I went back and watched it and I learned what a veteran does which is hold, hit inside and be a little dirty at times. From the Joe Morales fight I learned I could fall on my butt and get right back up. I think Iíve been through it all now. I still consider myself to have a Felix Trinidad style. I still feel Iím very accurate. I feel Iím getting a lot stronger and Iím working on a lot of things.
Eastside Boxing: Looking at some of the dispositions of some of the fighters, you have so say that some have changed for this particular card. We see Juan Diaz whoís suddenly very comfortable in front of a mic and Zahir Raheem bouncing off the walls with energy. Your temperament has continued to remain the same by all outward appearances. Do you ever try to read a boxer with how they behave?
Rocky Juarez: I believe Zahir is worried but excited at the same time. It can be good or it can be bad. I try to stayÖwith me know one will know nor will the ever know. So I could tell you right now Iím nervous but Iím ready but all the talk and talk him and his camp does, only benefits me more because it works as an incentive for me to show that, ďhey, I do have more to prove!Ē Iím here to fight and I didnít win 20 fights in a row for nothing. I didnít win a silver medal for nothing. No matter how I fight, there will always be people who donít give me the proper credit for my style. For the fact that Iím a slow starter and I donít throw too many punches but until they step in the ring, they find out, Rocky isnít so easy to hit. Rocky can punch and Rocky can pick them apart.
Eastside Boxing: The impact of the fight being in Houston versus somewhere else means what to you? Iím sure people have asked you that question often but what does it mean to you?
Rocky Juarez: I never put ďdownĒ Houston. Iím always grateful to be fighting here but you put me anywhere and Iím going to give it my all. Regardless if itís here in Houston or on a ranch! I come out to win! The best thing out of it is having my friends and family ďseeĒ me win. I try not to think of it but when my family and friends are here to witness a victory and I come out with my hand raised, thereís no other feeling like it.
Eastside Boxing: Any last comments?
Rocky Juarez: Iím definitely looking forward to this Saturday. For Juan, and me itís our biggest fight to date. I want all the fans to come out and give us their support and thatís all I can ask.
Eastside Boxing: Thank you.
Rocky Juarez: Youíre welcome.
Carlos ďStiff-jabĒ Kalinchuk
Contributing Writer & Photographer
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