UNBEATEN three-division world champion Mikey Garcia and IBF junior-welterweight world champion Sergey Lipinets went face to face Thursday at the final press conference before they square-off Saturday, March 10 live on SHOWTIME from Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio.
Also in attendance Thursday were two-division world champion Rances Barthelemy and Kiryl Relikh, who meet in the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING (10:15 p.m. ET/PT) co-feature in a rematch for the vacant WBA 140-pound world title.
Garcia looks to become a four-division champion, joining future Hall of Famers Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez as the only fighters to capture titles at 126, 130, 135 and 140 pounds, while Barthelemy has a chance to become the only Cuban in history to win titles in three weight divisions.
Thursday’s press conference also featured fighters competing on the SHOWTIME BOXING on SHO EXTREME telecast that will see unbeaten contender Mario Barrios, of San Antonio, take on Eudy Bernardo. The telecast begins at 8 p.m. ET/PT with undefeated Alejandro Luna facing former world title challenger Richard Commey in a 12-round IBF Lightweight Title Eliminator.
Here is what the press conference participants had to say Thursday from Omni La Mansion in San Antonio:
“At the end of my career, this is the fight that will have opened the door for even bigger fights. I plan on moving up and fighting even bigger names. This is the kind of fight that really motivates me and it’s going to be the first of many big fights.
“I’m very focused on Sergey Lipinets. The entire camp I’ve known what’s in front of me. I know he’s hungry and wants to defend his title. He knows what’s in front of him, so I know he’ll be in the best shape possible. Lipinets knows what a win over me will do for his career, and it’s my job to make sure that doesn’t happen.
“I don’t have a specific goal in this sport but I know that I need to win more world titles in more weight classes. I know that at the end of my career I’ll get the credit that I deserve.
“I’m happy to bring this show to a beautiful city like San Antonio and I just want everybody to come out on Saturday. This is a great boxing city and I know they’re going to show up for a great night of boxing. There are lots of candidates for ‘Fight of the Night’ on this card. We’re all hungry and we’re all here to win.”
“I’m very happy for this opportunity. If you’ve followed my career you’ve seen that I never take a shortcut. It meant a lot to win a world title but I’ve really always wanted to fight the best of the best. Mikey gave me that chance and I was eager to take it.
“I have no concerns about my hand at all. My right hand is hungry and it’s going to be eating a lot on Saturday night.
“I’m young, I’m hungry and I have a great team behind me. I’m fast, strong and I have all the confidence I need heading into this fight.”
“I’m very excited to be here in San Antonio fighting for the first time. Everyone knows that the first fight with Relikh was an unbelievable war. People thought it was a close fight, but I’m here to make history and erase any doubt.
“This is going to be a great show with great action all night long. The fight fans here in San Antonio are great and I hope everyone shows up for it.
“Everyone knows that Cubans have a rich tradition in boxing, including one of my trainers, Joel Casamayor. It’s an amazing feat to be able to be the first Cuban to win world titles in three weight classes.
“I always tell the truth and Relikh is a powerful puncher, I won’t take that away from him. I never touched the canvas though, but Relikh did. On Saturday night, I’m going to put him back on the canvas.”
“I’m very happy to have this opportunity again to fight against Barthelemy again. It’s good for me that this time we will be fighting for a world title. I’m very happy for my new team and you will see a new fighter on Saturday.
“I don’t think I lost the first fight, but that’s up to the judges. This time, we will be much better and not leave it in the judges’ hands if we have the opportunity.
“This is boxing so we know anything can happen. Two world class fighters are going for the world title, so of course I’m going to be at my best. This is going to be a fight you cannot miss on Saturday.”
“It’s great to be back home. I’m very excited for the opportunity to show off in front of my people and show them what I’ve been working on.
“I had a great camp out there with Virgil Hunter. I can’t wait to be on this huge card. These fighters up here are champions that I look forward to meeting real soon in the ring.
“It’s going to be an exciting night. I’m young, I’m hungry and I’m a Mexican fighter competing at home in Texas. I hope everyone comes out for a great show.”
“I feel very good about my fight. Training camp went really well and I think I’ve done everything I need to do to win.
“On Saturday, I’m going to get in the ring and take care of the game plan we came up with in the gym. I’m really going to focus on solid defense and pressuring the guy, because I’m in really good shape.
“Barrios is a really good fighter, I know he’s undefeated but if I execute my game plan and focus on what I’ve been working on in the gym I’ll be successful. I want to take him in to deeper waters, to the fourth and fifth rounds, and try to get him on his heels.
“I’ve been working really really hard on good defense and staying low. once I get past the third, fourth and fifth rounds that’s when the fight is really going to start.”
“It feels great to be on this stage. I’ve been doing this since I was nine-years-old so the time is now. I’m ready to take full advantage of this.
“Training camp was great. The only bump we had was the postponement of the fight, but we slowed it down a little bit so we could peak at the right time. I’m ready to go.
“Richard Commey comes from a rich boxing background and those fighters from Ghana are all known for coming forward. I think our styles are really going to clash nicely. The real winner of this fight is going to be the fans.”
“The change to Andre Rozier as my trainer was something I needed and wanted. I’m very happy to be working with one of the best trainers in the country and so far he’s helped me improve in many ways.
“I know that Luna is going to apply pressure and come forward. He’s going to look to throw big right hands, so we’re getting ready for all of that.
“I just have to stick to my game plan and make sure I’m always first. My job is to go in and get the win and convince the judges any way that I can that I’m the better fighter.”
ROBERT GARCIA, Garcia’s Brother & Trainer
“I’ve worked with many Russian and Eastern Europeans fighters before and the one thing about those guys is, they are the most dedicated fighters I’ve ever worked with.
“I know Sergey is in the best shape of his life because a win over Mikey will bring him even bigger fights. We know we’ll have a tough, strong opponent on Saturday night and that’s what we’ve prepared for.”
BUDDY MCGIRT, Lipinets’ Trainer
“You have to wait until Saturday night to see what’s going to happen. After the fight I’ll tell everyone how we got the job done.
“It’s fun to me to be in these kind of fights. Mikey Garcia comes from a great pedigree of fighting. Robert Garcia is a gentleman who’s taken limited fighters and got them to the top. Mikey has a lot of talent so they have their eyes on a lot more world titles, but on Saturday night, you’ll have to wait and watch happens.”
RICHARD SCHAEFER, Chairman & CEO of Ringstar Sports
“For as little as $20 you can be part of a historic night of boxing. This arena is built for boxing so I hope all the local fans come out to witness history being made.
“SHOWTIME has continued to put on the best fights week after week and month after month. They have really become the sole leader in this sport and are a big reason why there has been such a resurgence of boxing in the U.S.
“This fight card has a little bit of everything. There are five Texans fighting on this card, most notably San Antonio’s Mario Barrios, plus emerging stars such as Alejandro Luna and Richard Commey, who are looking to make names for themselves.
“The 140-pound division is on full display Saturday night with Rances Barthelemy and Kiryl Relikh meeting in a world title rematch for a world title. Plus of course we have the historic matchup as Sergey Lipinets defends his title while Mikey Garcia seeks a fourth world title in a weight class.
“These are exciting fighters, big punchers and you will see fireworks Saturday night from Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio.”