Spinks vs Karmazin: Conference Call Quotes
22.06.06 - A different day of the month – the second Saturday of the month – and the telecast will begin an hour later, but otherwise it will be business as usual as the 20th anniversary celebration of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING continues on July 8 (10 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast). In an excellent main event, Roman “Made in Hell’’ Karmazin defends his International Boxing Federation (IBF) junior middleweight title against former undisputed world welterweight champion Cory “The Next Generation” Spinks. The 154-pound world title fight is promoted by Don King Productions and will take place at Savvis Center in St. Louis, Missouri. In a terrific rematch of streaking, talented cruiserweights in the July 8 co-feature, Steve Cunningham will face Guillermo Jones for the title vacated earlier this year when O'Neil Bell was stripped by the IBF.
Article posted on 23.06.2006
Question: What are your thoughts going into this fight and fighting at home after losing the undisputed welterweight championship in St. Louis in your last start?
Spinks: My mind is clear. I know what happened last time and I have none of those distractions now. So I am going into the fight totally focused.
Question: Do you think you made some mistakes as far as dealing with the things that are required when you are fighting in your hometown?
Spinks: No, it was not that at all. It was personal issues of life, things that people go through. But I have that handled, so I have no distractions.
Begin Press Questions.
Question: Cory, this is your first fight in more than a year and you are also moving up in weight. Why not a tune-up before this (world title) fight?
Spinks: I look at myself as a world-class fighter. This is not something I had to learn. This is a gift. I am a boxer and it is just my talent.
Question: Will fighting at 154 hinder you in any way or will it enhance your skills?
Spinks: Well, it will, but I will do what it takes to win. This is a gift, so I can fight any way and any style I want.
Question: Do you feel any pressure to win this in front of your hometown fans?
Spinks: In a way, I do. I know I sent my fans home last time with a bad taste in their mouths, but I have corrected those mistakes that I made. They will be going home with a good taste in their mouths.
Question: How difficult was it for you to get over not only losing the undisputed title in your hometown in front of all those people, but in pretty heartbreaking fashion – getting knocked out? How long did it take you to recover from that?
Spinks: It took me awhile. I had to collect myself. But I think I needed the time off. It made me get back to what Cory Spinks was doing, and that is being focused and always being ready. I needed that time off to be with my daughter and everything, so I can come back to the game fresh.
Question: So are you saying that the little longer than a year off was by design or were there times where you thought you might have a fight and things just could not work out with dates and opponents?
Spinks: Well, things happened. Everybody goes through things and then it dragged on a little longer than we expected. But I am back now and I am ready to go.
Question: What kind of things are you talking about? At one point, you had signed with another promoter and then you came back with Don (King). Can you talk about what happened with that?
Spinks: We did have a problem, but things happened. We just decided to stay with Don and proceed on.
Question: A perception of your second fight with Judah is that you put too much attention on the dancing in the ring and the rappers and the whole bit. What happened and what were those distractions? How are they not going to affect you again still fighting in your hometown?
Spinks: That was not a distraction. If you see me box, I do that all the time. This is another part of my repertoire. I know how to dance. And it does not waste any energy. That was not a distraction. It was personal problems in life that had my mind elsewhere, plus the weight loss. I lost too much weight and it had me weak, I did not have any energy. So things happen.
Question: What was the reason that you have sat out so long?
Spinks: Well, problems that people go through. I think I needed that time to collect myself. The loss did hurt, but I also needed time to spend with my family because I never did get a break and sometimes it can get tiring. But some people always need that time to collect themselves.
Question: What did you learn about Karmazin after watching his fight against Ouma?
Spinks: He is a hard worker. I cannot take that from him and he beat Ouma convincingly to me. What I plan to do, you will see the night of the fight.
Question: Where are you doing the training?
Spinks: Don King’s training camp in Orwell, Ohio.
Question: What do you know about Karmazin and how do you plan to fight him? What do you have to do differently this time around?
Spinks: People are just going to see what the plan is the night of the fight. But he is a good boxer and he is good at what he does. You have to be ready.
Question: Did you just come to the point that you just could not make 147 pounds and be strong anymore?
Spinks: That is what happened.
Question: You looked strong in your first fight with Zab and you looked strong against Miguel Angel Gonzalez but do you think your age caught up with you in the rematch and you were unable to make it and be as strong as you needed to be?
Spinks: The Gonzales fight, I had a little bit of a problem but I found the will and the way to do it. I was planning a career move up to 154 after that fight, but things happened and I heard the fight could possibly be in my hometown and I just wanted to do what it took to bring it to St. Louis.
Question: Going up to 154 from 147, what are you walking around at right now?
Spinks: Right now, I am pulling weight. I am 155.
Question: Who are you sparring with to get you ready for Karmazin?
Spinks: We have our own team, so we have real good workers. Trust me, I am ready.
Question: Did you see anything in Karmazin that you think could (take advantage of) and cause him troubles in this match-up?
Spinks: People will see the night of the fight. Not to take anything from Karmazin. He is good at what he does. But you have to be very prepared to be ready for what he brings.
Question: Is Roman Karmazin the biggest opponent that you have fought in your career?
Spinks: Well, I cannot judge that right now. I will just have to see and that is like a question that you would comment on after the fight.
Question: With the move up in weight, is it true that you have retained your speed, but you are hitting harder?
Spinks: Yes, it is true. I am stronger. I am very strong. I just feel great.
Question: I hear champions like you say all the time, “I fought the fight at a weight I should not have fought at.” Does this sort of sneak up on you, the idea of meeting a certain weight and having a certain physical strength and endurance and then you go into the fight and it just does not happen? Or do you know during training and you sort of say to yourself, “I’m a professional, I signed a contract, I’ve got to go through with it,” How did it happen for you?
Spinks: We did know there were some problems making 147. My manager wanted to call it off. It was me. I just had to bring this to my hometown to show them. It was always a dream to defend a world title in St. Louis and when I got that opportunity, I just had to do it. It was a long lost dream of mine, defending the world title in St. Louis.
Question: How do you feel about that situation now? Financially, it was a great move.
Spinks: I cannot really think of that because, of course, I went into the fight wanting to win but things happened and I just did not have the energy in the later rounds to pull it off. But you learn from your mistakes and that is definitely what I have done. I just promised my mom before she passed that that would happen.
Question: Was the choice to fight again in your hometown in the same arena intentional? If so, what was the reasoning behind that choice?
Cunningham: That is the biggest arena in town, so that is the only arena that would be able to hold an event like that. So it was not really a whole bunch of selections in terms of arenas in St. Louis.
Question: What about the mental aspect and having to go back to the place where you just lost your last fight?
Cunningham: No, that is not any big deal. We went back to Italy when we got robbed over there the first time and fought in the same arena and brought the world title back. So that is what we are going to do on this one.
Question: You guys want to go back to St. Louis. You want to rectify that, right?
Cunningham: For sure. It is all about redemption for us. We are coming back home, Cory was not right. Everybody knows that was not the Cory Spinks that everybody knows. That was not the Cory Spinks at 100 percent after having a big weight loss problem and personal issues going on. So he has been off for a while and the time off was good. The 154 is real good. He is eating good. He is ready to go.
Question: Kevin, Cory was reticent to speak about Roman. I am sure you have broken down some tapes. Can you tell us what your feeling is on him as a boxer?
Cunningham: We have studied the tapes of Ouma and Holmes and after really studying the tape and breaking it down, my master strategist, Kenny Adams, and me, got a real good game plan. He does a lot of things very good. He does pretty much everything good. But he does nothing great. So that is my analysis of Roman Karmazin. He is a solid fighter, good fighter, well conditioned, but he is nothing special.
Question: And your feeling is Cory will be great again now that he has moved up to 154?
Cunningham: Cory is going to be the “exciting, extra slick, special, fast, with a lot more power” Cory on July 8
Question: So you see no speed loss in the increase in weight?
Cunningham: No, we just added some power.
Question: After the Zab Judah fight, a lot of writers seemed to turn on you a little bit. Do you feel like you are going to be the underdog in this fight?
Spinks: Yes, of course. It motivates me more to go in there and prove them wrong.
Question: Not looking past Roman by any means, but would you fight Zab Judah again at Madison Square Garden?
Spinks: Man, I am not even worried about Zab. That is going backwards.
Question: You alluded to some personal problems. Those are all behind you now and you have dissolved your marriage, is that correct?
Question: What does it feel like now going back to your hometown fresh?
Spinks: It feels great. I never felt better. I am so excited to go back because I know I am always ripe. I had a tremendous training camp.
Question: Would you speak directly to those 22,370 people who showed up the first time and all the people watching on SHOWTIME, especially the people in St. Louis, and express to them how you feel about them and their support and how you want them to come out for you in the fight?
Spinks: I want to tell all my fans that the Cory Spinks that they have known and loved is back. He is faster; he is stronger and ready to put on a show for them. I am feeling so good coming back home this time, so focused. I am just ready to get it on.
Question: Kevin, can you speak to that issue of St. Louis and what you guys want to do there?
Cunningham: Yes, basically, we want to bring the world title back to St. Louis where we feel it rightfully belongs. It was a historic night. We just did not close the deal and we got some unfinished business in St. Louis. On July 8, we are going to take care of that unfinished business and give them the Cory that they all grew to know in the past – one of the most exciting fighters, one of the most skillful fighters in boxing. After a 15 month layoff, he is coming back, moving up in weight, fighting the best 154 pounder in the world, and after he beats this guy I want to see what the critics and the experts do, see if they will be forcing a fight with De La Hoya or Mayweather with Spinks. What Cory is doing is fighting the best 154-pounder in the world. So there is no way any other fights should be made at 154 without including Spinks after July 8.
Cunningham and Spinks Closing Comments.
Cunningham: I just want to tell all the fans in St. Louis to make sure you get your ticket. Do not wait until the last minute because Cory is going to put on a spectacular performance. You want to see this fight. Being in St. Louis, you have an opportunity to see it live so get on down to the Savvis Center and get your tickets because it is going to be an explosion on July 8.
Karmazin joins the call now.
Question: What are your thoughts going in and defending in the challenger’s hometown?
Karmazin: I feel great. There is not much of a concern about going into somebody else’s hometown. I have done it throughout my entire career. I have defended titles in other people’s backyards and with other people’s judges and other people’s fans. So I do not have any particular feelings about going into St. Louis. It is only more motivation for me to train harder and show everybody, including fans that may not be rooting for me, that I am the best in the world.
Question: Where are you in training now?
Trainer: We are training in Hollywood, Calif., at the Wild Card Gym.
Question: What do you know about Cory Spinks and what are you going to do? Do you have to do anything differently to deal with Spinks’ mobility and speed?
Karmazin: No, I just plan on fighting my fight and going to work like I always do. Once we get in that ring, I will see how things pan out and react accordingly.
Question: What did the victory over Ouma do for your confidence?
Karmazin: I have always been confident and beating Oma did not necessarily change my confidence. I am out to prove things to the so-called experts and so once I beat Spinks, hopefully any doubters that still exist will no longer exist. That is part of the motivation. I know it is tougher to defend the title than it is to get a title, so that has motivated me to work harder and prepare even stronger for this fight than I did for the Ouma fight.
Question: You won the title in an excellent performance against Ouma. Why the long layoff without capitalizing on such a good performance?
Karmazin: It has been very frustrating and it is really a question that needs to be asked of my promoter. We have been ready and training for a fight for a long time I wanted to come back as soon as possible. There were a lot of fights and a lot of boxers that I was willing to fight that for one reason or another turned us down, and fights that did not happen and fell through. But that is something that is out of my control. It is frustrating. I have to learn to deal with it. It is part of the business. But if it were up to me, I would certainly be fighting more often and the biggest names in boxing.
Question: So is it almost better to not have had that title shot?
Karmazin: Well, to be clear, winning the world title was the purpose of my life and my lifelong dream. So I would never give that up. But winning the title may be part of the reason why I have been suffering for about a year.
Question: You are ranked as the No. 1 154-pound boxer in the world in one of the top boxing media’s ratings. What is it like to be ranked ahead of Shane Mosley, Oscar De La Hoya and Fernando Vargas. Are you happy about that and do you feel like you have gained the respect for your?
Karmazin: It is a pleasure and I feel good that I am being recognized as the top junior middleweight in the division. Anybody that considers me the best in my class, I agree and I will do everything I can to prove them right.
Question: When you were fighting Ouma and you saw De La Hoya watching the fight, did you have any extra incentive?
Karmazin: Well, if you watched the fight closely, you will see on at least two occasions when I was on the ropes, I was winking to De La Hoya who was sitting there with Shane Mosley It definitely brought me pleasure to see the shock in his eyes when he saw me dismantling his investments. But as far as any extra incentive or any hard feelings, I did not have any extra incentive to beat that particular fighter. I was there to win a world title and it did not really matter who was in my way. What happened in the past is in the past. He is making future decisions and he made it pretty clear after the fight when we saw each other that I am too big a risk for him and he will probably not be getting in the ring with me any time soon. The fact that Mosley and De La Hoya were both sitting ringside during that fight did definitely give me more motivation because these are guys in my weight class and these are guys that I consider myself in the same category with. Similar how when I go to St. Louis and I am within the walls of Cory Spinks’ hometown; that is something that fuels me and burns the fire and allows me to perform at the highest level. My entire life, my entire career I have been trying to prove to everybody that I am better than everybody else and nobody believed me. Step by step, fight by fight, I went through whatever was thrown at me in Russia and whatever was thrown at me in Europe and I specifically came to the United States to prove everybody wrong – that I am just as good if not better than everybody else. So the fact that we are going to be in St. Louis and it is Spinks’ hometown and he will have his people there, and everyone will be on his side whether it is the public, possibly the judges, whoever it may be, is just more of a motivational factor. It is more of a motivation to prove everybody wrong; to show them something that they do not believe is true.
Question: Why did you choose to train in California?
Karmazin: I chose California – if you have ever been to St. Petersburg (Russia), it is pretty cold. So the weather in California is pretty good. But mainly Los Angeles was what I knew when I was training for the De La Hoya fight and I came out there. The fight was canceled about a month beforehand. I did not have my trainers or anybody with me in my camp because it was right around Sept.11 and I had a choice between coming to train in Los Angeles or come and train in New York at that time, and I chose Los Angeles. So when I came back a couple of years ago, I knew Los Angeles and so I have chosen to stay out here.
Question: Are you just using Freddie Roach’s gym? Is Freddie coaching you at all?
Karmazin: I am using Freddie’s gym and we have a very good relationship. Freddie has been very instrumental in preparing me and giving his advice with his opinions and comments, so he has been very helpful in that respect.
Question: Are there any plans for him to travel to St. Louis?
Karmazin: We are hoping to. We have certainly extended him the invitation and are sincerely hoping that he will be able to come out.
Question: Are you concerned about losing a close decision, or if the fight goes to the scorecard, do you feel you will get a fair shake?
Karmazin: I am perfectly aware that that may be the case. I cannot concern myself with it right now. But I know that if it is a close fight, the odds are against me that I will get the decision. I do not have a lot of optimism that I will.
Question: So how do you keep it from being a close fight?
Karmazin: As my late trainer said in Russia, once we get into that ring we will figure things out and make sure it is not a close fight.
Question: Is Cory the slickest boxer you have ever faced and does that concern you?
Karmazin: I have seen him on tape and I cannot wait to see him in the ring to see if what I saw on the tape is the same as what I will see in the ring. In the past, I have had a lot of great sparring partners and I have experienced a lot of slick boxers in Russia. He very well could be the slickest boxer I have ever faced, but I really will not know that until I get in the ring.
Question: How do you describe your style and what are you going to offer to counter those strengths?
Karmazin: I have a varied style and I think the United States has not seen everything I have to offer. We probably will not bring him the fight like Mayorga did and we plan to box him as well. The offering will be a lot of different styles that he will not be able to deal with.
Question: He lost his last fight by TKO to Zab Judah in front of his hometown fans, which had to be humiliating for him. He is really going to have something to prove in this fight. How do you think that is all going to factor in?
Karmazin: Well, I do not doubt that he is much more serious and focused for this fight, and I am sure he has got something to prove. Based on his last performance, any professional would have something to prove. But that last performance, that last knockout, that is something that does not go away and that is something that, as humiliating as it was, it is something you cannot erase a year and a half later or for the rest of your life. That is something that is going to be in the back of his head and that is why I think he made a mistake by taking this fight with me because he is not going to be able to erase that memory.
Question: He has been inactive for over a year, and you have been inactive for almost a year. Do you think that ring rust will be a factor?
Karmazin: Well, I guess the interesting part is we are kind of in the same boat as far as layoffs go, so I think it will show in the ring who deals with it more. I have been in training for quite a few months now. All I have been thinking about is defending my title. He has got other things to think about and he is going to have other things to think about that night. So any problems – ring rust, the last knockout, anything else – that is his problem.
Question: Do you think that the current wave of fighters from Russia and the former Soviet Republic doing well on the professional level, particularly in the heavyweight division, might actually get some of the fans to start to pay a little bit more attention to you?
Karmazin: I do not want to upset any Americans or American fans, and I love being in this country, but the fact of the matter is – and I kind of started this wave – this wave is going to continue to keep going. I predict that in the next five years, former Soviet Union boxers could take up half of the belts in boxing. I think with the fall of the Soviet Union, we are now starting to see these waves coming through of a great school of boxing, great training and program that will take over the world boxing scene. It is mainly because we have always had a great amateur program, which for the most part was only seen in the Olympics, but is now being seen, at the professional level.
Question: Do you want to make a prediction for this fight?
Karmazin: I am going to win the fight and I am going to do everything I can, whenever I can, at any point in that fight to win that fight. I have got an entire country behind me, plus three kids. So I have got no choice.
Question: You guys mentioned that you are training at Freddie Roach’s gym. Being there, has that added any new dimensions to your fighting style? Who are some of the sparring partners you have been working with?
Karmazin: I have been there for a little while, so I can say that I have observed other fighters. My style is my style and I have always had my way of doing business in the ring. I might have picked up a few fine points that I appreciated. But even the recent program that I have undergone, like strength training and training program, I have actually picked up from Russian boxers, former amateur champions and other boxers from Russia that have helped me become stronger and quicker and more prepared for this fight than I have ever been in a fight in the past. As far as sparring partners goes, I do not like revealing names, but I have had a nice variety of sparring partners, different styles from different countries and one young kid who is an amateur, but has been giving me some great looks from a boxer’s point of view. So I feel I have definitely benefited from that particular gym as well as the training program that I have instituted from my own country.
Question: Do you feel that Cory Spinks is taking this fight too lightly? If so, do you feel you have the power to stop him by knockout?
Karmazin: I do not think he is taking it lightly. I told him at our initial press conference, and I still believe it, that I think he is making a mistake. I think he is making a bad career decision. I think he could have stayed at 147 and still become champion for many years to come. As far as whether I feel I have the strength to knock him out, I never look for a knockout, but if the opening happens, then I will not hesitate to finish the job and I certainly feel I have the strength to do so.
Closing Comment by Karmazin.
Karmazin: I wish everyone good health, good fortune and good luck, and mainly, if you are a fan of boxing, that you become a fan of the art of boxing because it really is an art and a wonderful sport. I intend to show the world what a great art it is.
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