Ricky Hatton - Juan Urango Conference Call Transcript - Part I

FRED STERNBURG, BANNER PROMOTIONS: Undefeated two-division world champion Ricky ďHitmanĒ Hatton will be making his Las Vegas debut when he challenges undefeated IBF jr. welterweight champion Juan ďIron TwinĒ Urango on Saturday, January 20 at Paris Las Vegas. It will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 9:45 p.m. East Coast time and at 6:45 p.m. West Coast time. Ricky is going to attempt to regain the title that he previously held before vacating it to win the WBA welterweight title. Ricky, itís a pleasure to welcome you back to the States. Why were you so keen on fighting in Las Vegas and how are you enjoying it so far? ..

RICKY HATTON: All the great fighters fight all the top men in our weight divisions. So itís just a pinnacle for a fighterís career, especially a British fighter, to fight in Las Vegas, more so for the glitzy side of this. Itís absolutely dream serious, a dream come true. Itís the place to be and I know a lot of me fans have been waiting for this chance to see me fight in Vegas for a number of years now. So yeah, I mean Iím very happy to be here, finally got it on and look forward to making a good performance.

FRED STERNBURG: Youíre training at Wayne McCulloughís gym. Howíd that come about and how, I know youíve only been here a few days, but how is training in the desert going so far?

RICKY HATTON: Itís going great. Wayneís been a friend of mine for a number of years. A friend of mine came over about three weeks ago to check out the restaurants and the training facilities and the gym and the hotel and everything and obviously went and had a look at Wayneís gym. And me being a friend of Wayneís for some years, his gym is very, very private and nice. The gym is small, private and all the facilities that we need, so it was nice. All the facilities that we need are there and it was nice to see Wayne McCullough again. So, yeah, training has gone exceptionally well. Iím really enjoying me stay. Itís only been a couple of days but Iím very much enjoying it.

FRED STERNBURG: We also have on the line Juan Urango. I know a lot of people donít know a lot about Juan except that heís an excellent fighter, a terrific world champion, with an outstanding undefeated record. Juan this is your first title defense. Can you tell us how camp is going and how do you feel about making your first world title defense against someone like Ricky Hatton?

JUAN URANGO (Translated): Weíve been training hard for the past almost three months now that weíve been in camp. Weíve been working hard and weíre dedicated. Weíre looking forward to fighting Ricky Hatton. We want to thank you Ricky, and your team, and our promoter for giving us the opportunity to fight you, and weíre looking forward to that. .

CHUCK JOHNSON, USA TODAY: Ricky, how much did your bout against Luis Collazo have to do with your decision to move back to junior welterweight?

RICKY HATTON: Well, it funny really, I mean, I never really was to fight at welterweight in the first place. Like some fights Ė Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is a prime example, he moved up to welterweight. The same with Miguel Cotto he had to move, he couldnít make the light welterweight division no more, but that wasnít the case with me. I was due to fight at junior welterweight. I mean there was a fight with Juan Lazcano. Juan hurt his hands seven or eight weeks before the fight. And we went searching around for obviously a suitable opponent and Luis Collazoís name comes to the forefront and he was the world champion. I want the challenge or fighting for a world title in a new weight class more than anything. I never really had any intention or moving up to welterweight. It was only the position we got put in when we were looking around for suitable opponents and then when Luis Collazo was mentioned I quite liked the idea of becoming a two division world champion, but really I likely will fight as a junior welterweight. I wouldnít have changed it [fighting Colazzo] for the world, because it was a very entertaining fight, which Iím sure my fans would have loved. Normally you have maybe two or three fights to adjust to a new weight division. I had seven or eight weeks to bulk up to the welterweight limit and fought the world champion straight away. He was a Speedy South Paw. Luis Collazo was a lot better fighter than what people gave him credit for actually. I think my preparation was a little on the rough side, because I wasnít used to fighting at welterweight and never wanted to fight at it in the first place. I wouldnít change it for the world but itís great that Iím in the weight division that I always wanted to be in now.

CHUCK JOHNSON: So did you learn anything about moving up to welterweight. Was there a difference? I mean Luis Collazo proved himself to be a tough fighter that night, that day. But did you learn anything about a difference between the weight divisions?

RICKY HATTON: Yeah, because thereís strength and the size factor, but like I said earlier, there are some times you need two or three fights to give you time to bulk up and to grow into a weight division. I wasnít given that look through unfortunately. I think, Iím not saying that Iíve turned my back completely on the welterweight division, because I really want to compete at welterweight again. I would like to do it over a longer period of time when Iím probably eased into the weight division. Now, it sounds, you know, I want easier fights in the weight division, but I think even Floyd Mayweather didnít fight the world champion on his first fight in welterweight and Iím sure that he had more than seven weeks to prepare to do it really. I think if Iíd have given more time to grow into the weight division, I think I could get a lot better performance. But obviously, naturally, junior welterweight is my natural weight. Really, I think it was really a junior welterweight fighting a welterweight word champion really. So the achievement was a wonderful thing for me. And I think, Iím a lot better than that performance and a lot of it has to do with size really. It was a junior welterweight versus a welterweight.

CHUCK JOHNSON: So what do you know about your opponent, Juan Urango?

RICKY HATTON: Heís a very good fighter. He had a good amateur pedigree. He comes to fight. Heís in your face all the time. Heís a good body puncher. Heís my kind of fighter. Heís the type of fighter that you would always put on the TV to watch because he goes for a knockout. Heís not going to take a backwards step which is very similar to me in many ways. His style is to make fights and this canít fail to be an exciting fight, because I donít take a step backward, neither does Juan Urango. Heís unbeaten. I know heís hungry and a lot of people say that theyíve not heard too much about him. But also a lot of people were saying the same thing about me before I beat Kostya Tszyu so I donít look at it that way. I will have my hands full. Heís a very dangerous fighter. Heís a good puncher, good. Those are the fights you want to be involved in because it is a fight, style-wise, that the fans will hopefully walk away from the Paris Las Vegas and feel that they saw some good and exciting fighting, something special.

CHUCK JOHNSON: Iíd like ask Juan. So does he see this opportunity to fight Ricky Hatton as a kind of career breakthrough? I mean if he beats Ricky Hatton does he think this will really bring a surge in his career?

JUAN URANGO: (Translated): Most definitely it is an opportunity that, you know, that has come upon me. First and foremost, (inaudible) at now today and like any other world champion everybodyís got opportunities to become the best by beating the best and I most definitely have those qualities to become that.

DAN RAFAEL, Hey Ricky I wanted to ask you about the title situation in this fight. You were the junior welterweight world champion, you had The Ring (magazine) championship but you havenít fought at the weight in a long time and you had won the welterweight belt against Collazo and Urango went and was able to win the title that you vacated and there are some people in boxing that say youíre still the champion at junior welterweight because youíre coming back to the position. Others would look at him as the title holder. Are you looking at this fight as a title defense of your junior welterweight championship or are you looking at it as Iíve got to go back there and regain my title?

RICKY HATTON: No, Iím looking at it as to go and regain my title. Obviously with Urango achieving a lifelong dream in becoming the world light welterweight champion, it would be very disrespectful for me to turn around and say that I consider myself the champion. I consider myself one of the best, pound for pound, in junior welterweight boxing and I think Iím really putting that mantle on the line rather than saying that I am the light welterweight champion of the world. Although Iíve never lost it in the ring, I mean I vacated it and (inaudible) Juan Urango without that Iíd be going in there with the same mind as a challenger. But hopefully my main aim is to keep climbing the pound for pound rankings. If Juan beats me that means he would take my pound for pound ranking. So I suppose that is the only thing that Iím putting one line, my reputation of being a top pound for pounder. But I think Iíve got to show Juan Urango the respect that he deserves. Heís the world champion and Iím going in there as a challenger. Which pretty much is what Iíve have to do the last couple of fights. It would be nice to hopefully win this title, and keep hold of it for maybe a couple of weeks. It would be nice to defend a title in my next fight rather than challenge for one.

DAN RAFAEL: Ricky, you do still have The Ring (magazine) title. How much stock do you put in that? I know you were very excited and very pleased to receive that when you were first presented it.

RICKY HATTON: Yeah. The Ring belt -- thereís so many versions of titles nowadays and different rankings -- and I think The Ring is the one that everybody respects and everybody acknowledges as the number one -- and most people regard it as the number one title of the division. But at the end of the day, you know my last fight was at welterweight. I havenítí fought at junior welterweight for a while, so Iíve got to really look at this as a challenging one for each title. I still do have The Ring belt but I will only feel that Iím The Ring champion when Iíve beaten Juan Urango.

DAN RAFAEL: Obviously everybody knows that Josť Luis Castillo is on the undercard of the fight against Herman Ngoudjo, and Iím wondering is it at all difficult to focus on the fact that you have a tough guy like Urango in front of you when everybody knows that if you and Josť are both successful in your fights, that the obvious situation is going to be that the two of you fight each other in what would be a much bigger fight down the road?

RICKY HATTON: No, I really only got one person on my mind at the minute. I donít want to look past Juan Urango; though I do look forward to the fight with Castillo. íd love that fight, so would Jose Luis Castillo. Thatís a super fight, a dream fight and knowing that that is in the distance gives me actually incentive to get past Urango, really. You know I use that fight as not taking my eye off of the ball type thing. But I use it as more as an incentive to come through this one. But thereís only one thing on my mind. Juan Urango is a real handful. Heís very, very strong. Heís a big decent puncher. He has a good amateur pedigree. Heís got good boxing skills as well, he comes to fight and thereís no other opponent, as dangerous as Juan. If youíre not on your game, youíll get beat. So Iím 100 percent focused on my opponent. Iíve watched the tapes of him numerous times and I have a visual on how the fight will go. Iíll attack him, Iíll body punch him, Iíll utilize my all-action style, but I have a decent boxing brain as well and after watching the tapes I think Iíve worked Urango out pretty good in my mind and now Iíve just got to go and put it into practice.

DAN RAFAEL: Juan, can you talk about that? Ricky just mentioned about not looking ahead to the Castillo fight. Iím wondering if it is at all in any way motivation for you to know that by winning you would really disrupt what many people are viewing as a major fight later this year between him and Castillo?

JUAN URANGO (Translated): Yes As a professional boxer, I do my work. Itís not only about looking forward. Itís looking at whatís in front of me. Itís not about looking at what the opportunities are coming after fighting Ricky Hatton or not, itís fighting the one in front, Ricky Hatton, and itís about being a professional, the boxing of a good boxing boxer, itís about training hard. Itís about earning the respect and acknowledging the admiration from the fans and from the world.

FRANKLIN MCNEIL, STAR-LEDGER: Ricky, you mentioned in the past Floyd Mayweather, Junior as a possible opponent, but now youíre back at junior welterweight. Is that fight out of the picture as of this time?

RICKY HATTON: Yeah as of this time. Floyd is considered by most as the pound for pound fighter in the world so obviously someone like that is never off your radar. But heís got a big fight with Oscar coming up, a fight at junior middleweight. Also there are a lot of rumors that this may be Floydís last fight. Obviously Iíve got to keep hoping that that fight is the last one.

I have no problem with fighting up at welterweight again. But the only fight Iíll probably look at that might tempt to me to welterweight would be certainly Floyd Mayweather, maybe Miguel Cotto. Iím not soon to be back on the welterweight division even though Iíve made back down to junior welterweight itís just I felt like the last time my opponent, I was due to fight at light welter my opponent pulled out injured and seven to eight weeks before I had seven weeks to grow into a different weight division, which is quite hard, quite tough. I think I could be a better force at welterweight if Iíd given a little bit more time maybe two or three fights to grow into the weight division. But I wasnít given that luxury against Collazo. But no, that fight is still a fight still on me radar. Even though it would be at welterweight, I would still consider moving up to welterweight if we had a little bit more time to prepare accordingly. But I am a natural junior welterweight. Iíll prove that when I the ten-stone mark on the 19th of January. But itís all about putting yourself in the shop window. I have got to put on an exciting performance against Juan Urango. Hopefully win my title back which Iím confident that I can do, and hopefully lead to a fight against Josť Castillo and then if Floyd is still fighting, if he chooses not to retire then that would another fight Iíd love. Itís a fight Iíve always wanted but when people were asking me not so long back do you want to fight Floyd Mayweather. What about the Floyd Mayweather fight? For the last two years Iíve been a terrible court rambling procedure with my former promoter and I switched promotional camps. I signed a deal with HBO. I think that it would be very foolish with so many things going on outside the ring, like signing a deal with HBO, fighting Mayweather straight from the outset, really. I think that would have been what a foolish move with everything that was going on outside of the ring. Obviously you want to get to America first. Have a few fights, feel your feet and then hopefully get the court things out of the way, with my former promoter, which obviously we have been now, and things look more to us. It was just bad timing. But hopefully I can win these next two fights, which obviously is no foregone conclusion, then if Floyd is out and about I would like to think that I could insist on that fight, yeah.

FRANKLIN MCNEIL: I know youíve got to fight Urango and Castillo being your next potential opponent. Do you have any plans should you regain your title? Do you have any plans of unifying the titles in the division?

RICKY HATTON: Thatís always an option. There are some good fighters in the junior welterweight division. But Iím not really bothered about what weight division exactly. I mean Iím bothered about fighting the big names. This is my tenth year as a pro, Iíve had 41 fights and although I feel Iím at me best and Iím right at me prime because Iíve had so many fights and itís my tenth year as a pro Iím looking at maybe three years, two to three years on the outside when I would like to retire. So really itís the most meaningful fights out there and if that means unification fights at junior welterweight or moving up to welterweight, then those are the fights that I want. But obviously if I do move up to welterweight I just need more time to prepare. I was given the seven, eight week period to grow into a higher weight division and I fought the world champion straight away.

He has a tricky southpaw. So it wasnít ideal preparation. I think if I do fight welterweight again it would only be for two names, probably Miguel Cotto or Floyd Mayweather and Iíd just like a little bit more time to grow into that weight division as opposed to seven weeks which I had last time. But I am open to all options. There will be some great fights out there in both weight divisions so weíll have to see.

FRANKLIN MCNEIL: Juan this is your first title defense and everyone is going to be seeing this HBO. Can you tell me, I havenít seen you before so I admit my ignorance, what do you bring to the table, tell me why you are going to win this fight? Is it going to be a straight ahead type fight?

JUAN URANGO: (Translation) I am recognized as a good boxer, as a good power puncher, as a good athlete, and Iím natural. And everything that I have is not mine, itís up above, Godís. Iím very disciplined and Iím doing this make it successful to dedicate it to my country Colombia and to the whole world.

FRANKLIN MCNEIL: Thereís been a lot of talk about as far as Ricky winning, should Ricky win heíll be fighting Castillo. Do you feel insulted at all that thereís already talk about a Castillo/Ricky Hatton fight?

JUAN URANGO: (Translation) Iím a very practical type of person. I understand, and there is no need for me to take anything personal or hold anything against anybody. Iím a professional. Iím disciplined. Iím not an ordinary boxer. Iíve got knowledge. So Iím not going to talk about other people and negotiate out a contract and fight everybody else, but at the end of the day, it is what it is and on January 20, the one who is going to be fighting Ricky Hatton is going to be Juan Urango.

RICKY HATTON: Yeah, I can just put him on. Just one second.

PATRICK KEHOE, This is for Billy Graham. I just had a quick question about Rickyís arm or the injury, even the issue of a little bit of loss of sparring time. Howís that going?

BILLY GRAHAM: The injury was completely blown up out of proportion. The arm was just a little twinge at the beginning of camp. He goes to his physio on a regular basis all the time just for massage to treat the usual various training tenderness.

PATRICK KEHOE: The other question I want to ask you is at age 27, 28, 29 sometimes for some fighters are when some pros start transitioning and stop doing as much sparring in terms of what they might have done when they were 20, 21, 22. Are you encouraging that or how are you and Ricky looking at that right now?

BILLY GRAHAM: Me and Ricky, and all of my fighters I spend a long time but theyíve always done about the same amount of sparring as they do now. It hasnít changed whatsoever. No, that hasnít changed at all. The way we train, has always been the same. Weíve added more things like, you know more modern things like weight training and stuff like that, but as for his boxing training, no. It hasnít changed at all.

PATRICK KEHOE: Ricky, a quick question on how youíre dealing with the weight transition and the maintenance of your weight. Youíve always been known as a really high energy, really hard training guy. Are you sort of doing that or are you trying to temper in more diet, more sophisticated diets or how are you looking at it these days?

RICKY HATTON: Obviously I am very, very big for junior welterweight which obviously that goes without saying with obviously by winning the world title at welterweight, but I mean itís never been, what I would say, easy for me to meet 140, but I have a great team around me. I have a fantastic nutritionist in Kerry Kayes but a very long training camp because unfortunately I only had one fight last year which obviously I normally would like more than that. Iíd like to have at least two maybe three fights, but because of TV dates being put backwards and stuff like that I only had one fight last year. So Iíd had plenty of time to recharge the batteries because I give myself a long training camp. Iíve been about 13 or 14 weeks in camp for this one. So Iíve been able to do, bring the weight down gradually, bring it down correctly, and no, I mean what happened (inaudible) is that I only had one fight in the welterweight division and there was only basically, that was only because of a change in opponent that I had to. I was due to fight at junior welterweight and the opponent got injured, (inaudible) to welterweight. So I only had a seven week period to bulk up if you like. It would have been a lot more difficult for me if I had maybe three fights at welterweight and then decided to move back down. I think that would have made it a damn sight more difficult. But I mean, like I said the seven or eight week period in which I had to bulk up, so probably itís not as hard as many people would expect. If you think about it logically, that makes sense. I only had seven weeks to bulk up to welterweight. So if I had been fight at welterweight for maybe a two-year period or something like that, than it would have been a lot, lot harder I think to get back down. But no, itís not easy, but not a struggle either. I just have to be really careful not to cut any corners in me diet. But yeah, I still get the same volume of punches, you know, high tempo. You can (inaudible) the same that everyoneís used to. I donít think that moving back down to weight is going to deteriorate from the punch resistance, my punch volume or work rate, my conditioning. I donít think it will detract in the slightest.

BRIAN WOLNOUGH, DAILY STAR (UK): How conscious are you of the Americans wanting to see the real Ricky Hatton with you putting on a show from what theyíve seen on television, you know, the all-action style that you have? How conscious are you of wanting or you needing that kind of performance?

RICKY HATTON: Yeah, I think I donít fight like a typical British fighter. My style is probably more towards more of a Mexican type style fighter or an American style fighter and I think with a fight against Kostya Tszyu, me fight with Carlos Maussa and even me fight against Luis Collazo, you know theyíre all wonderful fights to watch, usually very exciting and I think thatís why my reputation is really big over there. And it is, baring that I have only topped the bill once in the United States, still high and I think thatís down to my style of fighting. I canít help thinking this fight will be an exciting fight as well. I mean weíve got the right opponent to make it really something special. Iím expecting some fireworks, some real fireworks. I mean neith of us will be taking a backwards step. Weíll each be taking a big punch to give a big punch and go for the knockout. I certainly donít think anybody on January 20th will be falling asleep. I mean the fans are on the edge of their seats at a Ricky Hatton fight anyway, but bear in mind how exciting it will be to watch my opponent go toe-to-toe with me. I think the fans are in for a winner. And that means a lot to me. You know I donít want anybody to go away from a Ricky Hatton fight and saying that sent us to sleep or that was a load of crap. I want them to come away and feel like they witnessed something special and Iím always in good fights. Juan Urango has a style that is always in a good fight so it canít help but be a fantastic fight. I hope they come out to the occasion. Weíll be in Vegas and everything.

BRIAN WOLNOUGH: Thatís probably why more than 3000 of your fans are coming over to watch.

RICKY HATTON: Yeah, thatís right. I mean. I heard that thereís going to be about 3000 Brits coming over, 3000 British fans which is absolutely fantastic. I mean with all the British fans you already get wonderful support whenever they box you know, people like Frank Bruno, Nassim Hamed, Nigel Benn, and Lennox Lewis boxed over in the United States before, you know they always get fantastic support. And I think now it looks like itís going to be the same. I mean 3000 Brits. Just a couple of weeks after Christmas and New Year is actually very exceptional. But I think itís because of how much they hold me in high regard for my fighting style. I think also they like me for who I am. They feel Iím a genuine down to earth guy that always plugs Manchester to fly the flag type thing. So, yeah, hopefully it will be a great night, not only for me but for British boxing in general. Itís my third consecutive fight that which I have challenged for a different world title. In fact itís the fourth one actually. I beat Tszyu, I beat Maussa, I beat Collazo, and if I could beat Urango that would be four titles. Iím not defending; Iím taking the belts off champions so it would be a huge win for me and a huge achievement.

Article posted on 12.01.2007

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