THERE were two press conferences in Las Vegas, in the space of two hours, for the two fight cards in the city on Saturday night.
First up, at the MGM Grand, was Golden Boy’s offering.
A host of fighters lined up to thank Oscar De La Hoya, Al Haymon and God – though not in that order.
Amir Khan countered that he had fans in St Louis who had contacted him via social media and added: “Come Saturday we’re going to put a great fight on. We both have speed, explosiveness, power, we have everything, I just need to keep calm and give the fans what they want. Devon Alexander comes to fight. I am not looking past this. I will stick to my game plan and listen to my corner.”
In the co-feature, Leonard Bundu faces Keith Thurman with the Sierra Leone-born, Italy-based Italian a stark underdog.
“I’m here for some respect,” he said. “I’m 40 years of age but do I look it? I know it’s a hard fight but I’m ready.”
Thurman, never at a loss for words, countered saying: “I’m exciting. I come to fight. I’m looking for tough challengers.”
He then said he’d would have preferred to be fighting Khan or Alexander although he is relishing taking on another undefeated fighter.
“Show up, get your popcorn, get your beer and hold your pee because if you don’t you might just miss it,” he joked.
Aside from some pleasantries, not a lot else happened and so, after a brisk walk to The Cosmopolitan the second presser soon began.
Irish light-heavy Seanie Monaghan opened proceedings, sounding confident and focused.
“I did all the hard work I could do. I’m more than ready to do my job this weekend,” he said, ahead of his WBC Continental Americas title fight with Hungary’s Daniel Regi.
Mikael Zewski, the ticket-selling Quebec welterweight whom Bob Arum referred to as “a force soon to be heard from in boxing” spoke with ambition.
“I haven’t fought in Vegas for a year so I’m very happy to be here,” he said.
“I feel I’m ready for anyone in the welterweight division and I will use this fight to show people I’m something else. I’m 25-0 and I’m ready for bigger things. Don’t blink on Saturday night.”
Top Rank light-welterweight Jose Ramirez said he had been training at the Wild Card with Freddie Roach and Marvin Simodio while former Roach charge, Jose Benavidez stars in a landmark bout that officially marks a thaw in the Cold War as the Top Rank youngster goes in with Golden Boy Promotions fighter Mauricio Herrera.
Benavidez, who has been training at Big Bear, said: “Saturday night you’re going to see a new champion. I’m ready to rock and roll.”
Oscar De La Hoya was waving the promotional flag for his fighter, moments after hosting the press conference at the MGM Grand for his Golden Boy show on the same night.
“Mauricio Herrera is a fighter who when he fought [Ruslan] Provodnikov and beat him he went up against probably the best 140-pounder in the division [Danny Garcia] and a poll said 95 per cent of the voters said Mauricio won that fight hands down. He’s a throwback, crafty and experienced.
“This is a great fight. This is what boxing should be.”
Herrera admitted: “Benavidez is a tough kid, young and hungry. I’m hungry too. I went through hell to get where I’m at.”
Introducing the fight for the vacant WBO middleweight title, between Matt Korobov and Andy Lee, Arum affectionately recalled promoting greats of the weight class including Carlos Monzon, Marvin Hagler, James Toney and Roy Jones.
Lee’s promoter, Lou DiBella, was absent but Lee seemed happy enough in the spotlight.
“I’m prepared to become middleweight champion,” he said. “Almost 10 years to the day I first visited Las Vegas to watch a heavyweight title fight and now here I am 10 years on fighting for the world middleweight championship.”
Korobov said flatly: “I’ve been waiting for this moment and I’m so ready and happy to get this shot at the title. There will be a great fight for me, for us, for Top Rank.”
“Tim is a very respectful boxer, very strong and we hope to have a good fight,” said Chaves. “We had an unfair defeat against [Brandon] Rios so we hope for a better fight this time. Good luck to Timothy, we will have a good fight and may the best man win.”
Introducing Bradley, Arum staked his man’s claim for a career in broadcasting when he retires.
The Palm Springs battler thanked his team for their work and their support, then he thanked the media.
“If you wrote good things about me, thank you. If you wrote bad things about me, thank you. I love you.”
He celebrated the coming together of Golden Boy and Top Rank, too.
“It’s great that the promoters in the boxing world are finally settling their differences. I’m happy and excited to see it. Diego is a tremendous fighter. We all know this guy can really fight.but this is a great card. I’m excited to see the undercard fights while I’m in the dressing room waiting to fight.”
Top Rank have sold out the arena, and on the same night they have a sold out show in Philadelphia featuring Jessie Hart and Felix Verdejo.