WHY did you link up with Al Haymon?
It surprised a lot of people but I think it was a great move for me and the team. I think that he’s the man to open doors for us. He started Premier Boxing, a new thing, a new format, it’s just getting off the ground really but he’s got a lot of the top boxers around, he’s got a lot of the good fighters around my weight division which opens the doors for big massive fights.
Leo Santa Cruz?
Santa Cruz, Abner Mares, Gary Russell Jnr, those sort of names.
How much are you looking forward to boxing in the States?
It’ll be good to get well known and recognized out there. Obviously, with the Irish-American contingent, when I’m boxing in the States from now on East Coast would probably be my preferred place but it was to do with TV time and this was the only matinee show they had which links in with a good time in the UK. This is only slot they had for it. That’s why we’re in Texas. But it’s a good opportunity for me. There’s going to be a strong Mexican contingent of supporters there and they’ll be hoping that I get beat, probably, most of them, and I’m looking to try and win them over at the end of it. You see how they react to someone like [Gennady] Golovkin. They appreciate good fighters.
I’m hoping that can happen for me. It’s important to go out not just for a win but for a statement. Make a real statement there. Terrestrial [television] in America is huge.
I’m not taking this guy lightly but the big fights that I want are the more recognisable names. [Scott] Quigg, Santa Cruz, Mares, all these guys and Rigo [Guillermo Rigondeaux]. They’re the fights that I want.
So is the plan Santa Cruz and eventually Rigondeaux?
We have a plan. I want to unify the division. I want to be the top dog at super-bantamweight. But at the minute it’s just about taking one fight at a time and looking good in the States. That’s where boxing’s at its biggest.
What are you expecting the atmosphere to be like in El Paso?
It’ll be pro Alejandro Gonzales. I want to sway their opinion and turn them round.
I’m going to go out and put on a show. It may be that I get booed out of the place, I don’t know how they’re going to react to me. But I’m ready for whatever.
Once you silence the crowd that’s when you know you’ve got their man in trouble.
Do you feel the pressure when you box in Belfast?
I think there’s always pressure on me. I think I perform best under pressure. There’s a bit of pressure on me here because of the new deal with Haymon, boxing on a big platform in the US. There’ll be pressure here but it won’t be the same type of pressure.
What do you think of Alejandro Gonzalez?
I’ve seen bits of him, there’s not a lot [to see]. He’s tall, he’s rangy. He’s a good jab. He throws well to the body, a good left hook. He’s a good fighter. He’s got a good pedigree, he’s hungry and I think he believes that he can win. Which makes him dangerous. But I don’t think he’s come up against anyone like me, or anyone close to me and that will be the telling difference.
Do you like that Scott Quigg is fighting one of your former opponents, in Kiko Martinez, because it keeps your fight with him alive?
It does. I’m kind of past that. It doesn’t really bother me. Obviously I would love to fight Quigg and I would love that fight to happen. If Kiko beats Quigg, it’s not going to upset me… People are asking me, ‘You most be hoping that Quigg beats him, to keep the fight alive.’ But I’ve got big fights on the horizon. It doesn’t have to be Scott Quigg. Obviously I’d like to fight him to prove a point.
I want to, don’t need to.
Let’s say that Scott Quigg is unlikely to be an opponent in the near future and that Santa Cruz is a fight for 2016, if you fight a third time this year, is there anyone you would particularly like to fight?
I’d like to fight Quigg next, that’s the truth… If you rule Quigg and Santa Cruz out, Rigo’s the man. I think he’s got some sort of contract disagreement at the minute.
I would love to fight Rigondeaux. I think I’m the only man in the division that can beat him. I don’t think anyone else gets close to him. That’s a fight that I’m keen for.
He’s a hell of a fighter. He can be hurt but he’s got great powers of recovery. If you look through his career as a pro he’s been dropped by [Roberto] Marroquin, he’s been dropped by [Ricardo] Cordoba, [Nonito] Donaire put him down and this [Hisashi] Amagasa, he dropped him quite heavily. He can be hit, he can be hurt and he’s never been hit by anyone who can punch as hard as me.
I really admire his skills, I love watching him. But I think I’m the only man in the super-bantamweight division that can beat him.
How would you fight him?
I would have to get on him. I’d have to go in with a mentality whatever he’s going to hit me with, I’m just going to walk through and you’re going to have to take some shots because he’s so accurate. He picks his shots well. You would need to rough him up. You would need to get close to him and see how he is after six rounds fighting at a high pace.
It would be a mistake for me to try and outbox him… Rigo’s a master boxer and I think you need to get on him from the start. You may be a few rounds behind at the halfway point. But that’s when it’s going to get tough for him.