Barrera-Pacquiao; Leija-Mena Full Press Conference Coverage; Murad Muhammed Says Pacquiao Told Him "Bring On Barrera!"
14.11.03 - Carlos “Stiff-jab” Kalinchuk: Today in San Antonio, Oscar DelaHoya of Golden Boy Promotions and Murad Muhammed kicked off this weekend’s Main Event between “The Baby Faced Assassin” Marco Antonio Barrera and Manny “The Destroyer” Pacquiao at the La Villita Assembly Hall with a Press Conference. The Press Conference was open to the public and the turnout was a good as well as loud. “Jesse” James Leija’s Manager, Lester Bedford emceed the event. The Mariachi’s were in full force as they played when Oscar and Marco were introduced and made their way to the podium. On hand were the main and co-main event fighters. They each took their opportunities on the mike and gave their insight on Saturdays fight.
Oscar Had this to say about the Fernando Mena and “Jesse” James Leija fight: “When we put this fight together between Fernando Mena 17-4-2 and “Jesse” James Leija 44-6-2 we weren’t looking for a pushover opponent for Leija. We weren’t looking for somebody that he was just going to walk right through. We looked and found a legitimate opponent, a tough opponent that was going to be here and ready to fight and be well prepared. He’s (Fernando) trained hard and he wants to derail “Jesse” James Leija’s plans to become World Champion again. It’s going to be a really, really good fight and without further or due I introduce from Durango, Mexico, Fernando Mena.” Applause.
Fernando Mena on this Saturdays fight with Leija. “I want to thank all of you for being here and I want to thank Oscar DelaHoya with Golden Boy Promotions. I’m happy. I want to thank Don Chargin (DelaHoya Matchmaker) for making the fight. It’s an honor to fight on this card alongside these great champions. I also want to thank Mr. Leija for making this fight with us but inside the ring, he’s going to find out it’s over for him.” Of course a chorus of boos and awes rang throughout the crowd at the mention of toppling San Antonio’s “Jesse” James Leija. He closed by saying, “I plan on taking full advantage of this opportunity-thank you.”
When Oscar took the mike again he had this to say about Leija before he introduced him. “He’s sacrificed many weeks away from his family to train hard for this fight because he knows he’s in against a tough opponent! And he does want to become World Champion again for you guys. He wants to conquer and be Champion again at 140 lbs. So without further or due, I want to introduce to you, your own ‘Jesse’ James Leija.” The crowd erupted in cheers and applause.
“Jesse” James Leija on this Saturdays fight; “First of all, Oscar was right. Six weeks away, training with a new trainer that I added to the team, whom I used to train with-Ronnie Shields. He used to train me many years ago in 91-92. I see a huge difference, and now I look so good I can maybe fight Oscar again (Laughs). Remember I said maybe (big laughs). I’ve seen this guy (Mena) fight against Joe Hutchinson though, and he’s tough. He’s just a fighter that doesn’t quit and I’m really excited about the fight. I have the greatest promoter in the world and I think Saturday night, with my new guys behind me, I can’t be stopped. I’ve never lost in Texas and I don’t plan to do it Saturday night and may the best man win. Thank you very much!” Applause.
When Murad Muhammed stepped to the mic, the real fun started and for one moment I thought it was Sunday and I had missed church! In a Pastor like tone Muhammed said, “What we have here is the will of God. And I’m not ashamed to say this, this is the first time in some 30 odd years of my promoting that the promoter gets accolades.” (Moments before HBO Programming Manager Kerry Davis had applauded both Oscar’s ring and Promotional exploits on HBO Latino). “Harry-Kerry Davis to give a promoter that much credit it makes it kind of hard to be up here. Because we promoters deserve it! And I’m going to tell you, that I’ve told the future stars of what’s happening here because this is something that I find that with the great talents I’ve had like with Larry Holmes, Razor Rudduck and Roy Jones Jr…I say to them ‘stay in the sport!’ Who could be better than to have fighters like Oscar, who has done everything you asked him to do, to come back and lend his expertise to the sport to lift up other athletes. And for that I want to thank Oscar for taking boxing into his hands and making it better for other fighters and the sport. Let’s give Oscar a round of applause.” Applause.
“The story of Manny Pacquiao is a great one. When I found this young man, Manny Pacquiao. It was after most promoters rejected him. And when I knew that I had the next World Champ, is when he decided to take on the proper training. Because all that knew him knew he could go the distance and all of you know his trainer because he is versatile. He’s trained the Heavyweights, the middleweights and the lighter weights and you name it-he knows how to teach them to win! My mentor (like the trainer I’m going to introduce) also was Eddie Futch. We used to talk many times by phone. And another reason I admired Eddie was there was some certain ingredient, why Muhammed Ali could not dominate Eddie Futch’s fighters! It was amazing how he could teach! It was amazing how he taught Green! It was amazing how he could teach Mike Jones! Ladies and Gentleman before I introduce you to Manny Pacquiao, he’s a legend in his own right, a former Champion and trainer of many fighters. And he’s known as the great trainer of Ohio, ladies and gentleman would you please put your hands together and welcome Mr. (Freddie) Roach.” Applause.
Freddie Roach on the fight:“We are prepared for one great fighter in Marco Antonio Barrera. He’s the greatest Featherweight in the World today. For Manny to come of age, he needs to win here Saturday so don’t miss this one it’s going to be a great fight!” Applause.
When Murad took the mic again, he launched into another pastor-like narrative. “Let’s look at boxing a few years back. There was something that happened to me a few years back. I called my wife to tell her I was coming home. I was telling her what time I was coming home and she said ‘I’m watching the fight!’ And she hung up on me! I called her back and I said stop playing, I want to give you my flight number. She said, ‘Call me back! I’m watching the fight!’ And she hung up on me again! I said to myself-what is this lady doing?! I came home and it was Kennedy Mckinney versus Barrera. Barrera’s credibility jumped to the ceiling because Kennedy was known as “The King.”
*At this moment someone shouted from the crowd, ‘And Barrera turned him into a Queen!’
The crowd erupted in laughter as Murad continued. “I decided to take on the man that walks. Then I decided to put Barrera on my Pay per view card with Roy Jones Jr. and I found the appeal in Venezuela. I looked all over Venezuela to see if he was (really) qualified. And when I went into the gym and saw him (Barrera)-(I said to myself)-HE WAS QUALIFIED. Barrera’s taught fighters how to beat Southpaws. He’s very intellectual. All of you might not know this but in Mexico, he’s an attorney at law. So he’s very smart and a very skillful athlete. But in the boxing world, all you need to have to get the money (the revenue) is to beat these types of fighters. Just like Leon Spinks when he beat Muhammed Ali. You have to beat these types of fighters. You have to cross that goal line in order to become a great fighter. When I signed him his manager said to me, ‘What can you do different than anyone else?’ I said, I do miracles.”
Murad later when onto to state that Pacquiao told him “That is my dream Murad (to be Champion). Bring me Barrera!” If you know anything about athletes, the first thing that Oscar will tell you…when a fighter wants to fight someone, you go get them, because if you do not, you have a discouraged fighter. So ladies and gentleman, this man is a King in his own country. In the Philippines they love him! They say he’s one of the greatest fighters that came from their country. This man is not just here to win, but to become an asset to his country! And ‘Yes’ we are in the backyard of Barrera, and my Latino brothers are going to be rooting for Barrera to win the fight. When you do that, it’s a two edged sword. But just like the greats like Oscar DelaHoya, Roy Jones Jr., Muhammed Ali, ‘Smokin’ Joe Frazier, and Larry Holmes-they don’t give a damn! They don’t care where they’re fighting. There’s one thing about my Latino brothers is that if you beat their Heros, you’ve just gained a full nation of people! So we come here to upset Barrera! Because we’re coming here to prove that we are the best in our field. And I’ve handled the best, Laporte, Gomez, Cordoza, Smoke Gainer…you name them, I’ve had them. You may not be able to tell but I bet you can…but I believe I’ve got the man to cross the goal. Ladies and gentleman I introduce to you the IBF Champion of the World, and next champion, Manny Pacquiao!”
In his best English, a very cordial Manny Pacquiao had this to say, “Thank you. First of all I’m grateful for getting the chance to fight. I’m thankful to all of you who support me. I’d like to thank HBO and Golden Boy Promotions. This will be a good fight and I’m ready. He’s a good fighter. Barrera is a tough fighter and I’m looking forward to the fight. Thank you.”
In his surprisingly good English, Marco Barrera took the mike and said, “I’m going to speak in English because I’m learning a new language (Smiles). I want to say thank you to Oscar and all the people of San Antonio. Manny Pacquiao is a very good fighter. He is strong and he has power. This is my first show with Oscar and I invite all the people to come to the fight. I’m ready because this fight is very important for me. It’s the first time I fight with Golden Boy Promotions. It’s going to be a good show and a great fight so come out or watch-thank you.”
Oscar closed the show by saying “I want to thank the people of San Antonio. Thank you for your support. It’s going to be a great show. We a featuring many great Latino fighters and the main event is going to be real emotional so don’t miss out. There are still tickets available for as low as $25. They start at $25 so support boxing and support your fighters and come to the show. There will be a lot of awesome fights so don’t miss out. Thank you.”
All photos © Carlos Kalinchuk
Carlos “Stiff-jab” Kalinchuk
Contributing Writer and Photographer
Article posted on 13.11.2003
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