Fighters competing on Saturday’s SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING tripleheader, headlined by four-division champion Adrien Broner battling two-division champion Jessie Vargas, went face-to-face Thursday at a press conference in Brooklyn before they enter the ring this Saturday, April 21 at Barclays Center, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING™, in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions.
(Photo credit: Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME)
Live coverage on SHOWTIME begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and also features undefeated former world champion Jermall Charlo clashing with once-beaten Hugo Centeno, Jr. for the interim 160-pound world title and former champions Gervonta “Tank” Davis and Jesus Cuellar as they square off for the vacant WBA 130-pound Super World Championship.
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by Mayweather Promotions, DiBella Entertainment and TGB Promotions, start at $50 and can be purchased at ticketmaster.com, barclayscenter.com or by calling 800-745-3000. Tickets can also be purchased at the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center. Group discounts are available by calling 844-BKLYN-GP.
Also in attendance Thursday was popular local fighter and unbeaten contender Heather “The Heat” Hardy, who takes on Paola Torres in undercard action Saturday night.
Here is what the press conference participants had to say Thursday from Barclays Center in Brooklyn:
“I’m just ready to fight. I’m not worried about Jessie. This is a very important fight for my career. I know that Jessie trained hard to beat me. This is a win that could take either of us to the next level. I’m ready to fight right now and get after it.
“When he stepped up and fought Tim Bradley and Manny Pacquiao, he lost. I’m a four-time world champion so I don’t want to hear anything about my losses. Jessie Vargas is not as good as those guys I lost to.
“I hope I get credit when I beat Jessie Vargas. I hope I get the credit I deserve. People want me to lose and go away, but guess what? I worked harder than ever for this fight. I’m not losing to Jessie Vargas. I’m a four-time world champion and soon to be five-time world champion this year.
“I’m still one of the best fighters of this era. When I’m done with my career, I will be one of the best to ever lace up a pair of boxing gloves. I just can’t wait to give everyone something to remember on Saturday.
“Being with Kevin Cunningham in camp changed a lot. It took a while to get used to it. This is the first camp I’ve done since I was kid with a new coach. There were no distractions down at camp. It was all work, no play.
“I’m on a different level than him. I’m going to prove it on Saturday. I don’t worry about any of the negativity that surrounds my name. I’m just ready to go put on a show.
“I’m taking over this year. It all starts with Jessie Vargas on Saturday night. I’m going to be myself, and put on a great show.”
“Everything in training camp has gone fantastically. I can’t wait for this fight. This isn’t a game. I’m here to win and I plan to do that. This is going to be action.
“I’ve seen the mistakes Broner has made in the past. I have to come out and worry about my performance though. I’m versatile and I’ll do what I have to do. We’re both former world champions but at the end of the day there will only be one winner, and It’s going to be me.
“I think I have an advantage being the taller and stronger fighter. I’m a full grown welterweight. I’m ready for victory.
“We both bring experience and we’re both talented guys. We are definitely going to give the fans entertainment on Saturday night. I’m in a great part of my career because I haven’t received that much punishment. I’m a two-division world champion for a reason.
“My weight has been on point this camp. My nutritionist has done a great job and I’m going to be perfect on the scale tomorrow. My whole team has been perfect and it’s going to lead to the best Jessie Vargas you’ve ever seen on Saturday.
“Saturday night is going to be a great show. It’s a great card and then main event will be all fireworks. Come out and enjoy a great night of boxing and see me get the win.”
“I’m looking to make a statement on Saturday night. I’ve been training hard since my last fight. I promised my fans something they’ll remember from this fight. You’ll have to wait and see.
“Once you step in front of me, it’s a fight. I put my life on the line each time. I’m just looking forward to even bigger things that are in front of me. I’m giving the fans something special to take home from my performance.
“I feel really good right now. It was another one of those camps that I was able to start early and get in the gym early. I can do whatever you need to do in the ring. I’m ready to make this fight all fireworks.
“I do a lot of good things in camp to make myself feel stronger. It was a little tough with the delay, but nothing that I couldn’t work through. I’m on weight right now this far out. I have a great team that’s helped me get there.
“I’m focused on what I have going on. Hugo thinks I’m overlooking him but that’s not happening at all. I want to take him out and make a statement that I’m ready for the big names in the division.
“We’re going to turn Brooklyn up. I want to really make a statement. No matter how I’m feeling throughout the fight, we’re going to make it rock.”
HUGO CENTENO JR.
“I feel like I’m being overlooked. I haven’t been able to make myself a household name by being on these platforms. Come April 21, I’m going to make my name known.
“The rib injury was tough to take at first. We were very close to the end, but once I resumed training, I was already in phenomenal condition. It took me to another level and now I’m in the best condition of my life.
“I feel perfect right now heading into this fight. We had great sparring in camp and I’m ready to step into the ring.
“Even just being in this position shows people that I’ve earned my way here. No one has handed me anything. This is one of the hardest divisions in the world and I’m here for a reason. This fight means the world to me. It’s been 20 years of hard work coming together Saturday.
“I know Charlo is coming to fight, and I’m definitely coming to fight. No matter what the strategy or style is, I’m going to be ready for whatever comes my way.
“I expect him to come out strong. We know he’s looking for a knockout. But I think if he doesn’t have the opportunity, it will come down to who is the smarter fighter.”
“Saturday night you can expect an action packed fight. I know Cuellar is going to come to fight. I’m definitely coming to fight. I’m ready to pick up where I left off, as a champion again.
“I had a lot of distractions last camp that led to me missing weight. From that day forward I was focused on getting back to a world title shot. I let people down when I lost the title on the scale, but now I’m more focused.
“It was great being in camp in Florida instead of back home in Baltimore. This way it’s only boxing that I’m worried about each day. I’m eating right and really just 100 percent focused on boxing. It was a great move and it’ll show on Saturday.
“I have the skills and the charisma to be at the top of the sport. I just need the right opponents, but I’m not going to rush it. I have to make smart decisions in this sport to get where I want. I want to continue to put on great performances.
“I believe this fight is going to put me back on the map as one of the youngest rising stars in boxing. I believe I have the skills to do that.
“I’ve been training so hard with Adrien in camp. We’ve been pushing each other and I just want to be able to look back at this fight and be able to say this was one of my best performances. I want to show that I have the skills and ability to take over the sport of boxing.”
“I understand that Davis is a great opponent, but inside the ring, it will just be the two of us, going toe-to-toe. I know that it’s going to be a great fight.
“This is going to be all action. Expect to see a war with me raising my hand at the end of the night. I’m going to do whatever it takes.
“The plan is to go out there and win that belt. We’ve had great training and sparring to get us in this position. My coaches worked really hard to get me ready.
“This fight is very important for me. I want to become a two-division world champion and I have the chance I’ve waited for on Saturday night.
“I think I made the right decision to take some time away from boxing. Now I’m back stronger than ever. I feel great and everyone will see that on Saturday night.
“We have a game plan and we’re going to execute that. I’m going to be aggressive like I always am, but also show some new things that I’ve worked on.
“I’m ready to go 12 rounds if necessary, but If I have the opportunity early for a knockout, I’m going to take it. I’m here to give it my all and win this fight, that’s it.”
“There’s really nothing like fighting at home. As exciting as it was to be in the cage, this is like being in my backyard.
“This is always a dream to box at Barclays Center and there’s nothing like being here in front of my people. I hope that my opponent trained hard because I’m ready to brawl.
“I’m really excited to be back working on my boxing skills. I can’t wait to give my fans a great show. They know I always give it my all and leave it in the ring. I’m going to give my fans their money’s worth.”
LEONARD ELLERBE, CEO of Mayweather Promotions
“On Saturday night we have the biggest and baddest boxing card in the entire sport. It will be a great event right here in front of the passionate Brooklyn boxing fans.
“The main event has the four-division champion Broner taking on the two-division champion Vargas, in a fight that means a great deal to both fighters.
“Plus Jermall Charlo facing Hugo Centeno in a great middleweight fight to look to establish themselves as contenders in the star-studded middleweight class.
“The opener of our telecast will have a rising superstar in boxing in Gervonta Davis, battling former world champion Jesus Cuellar in an entertaining world title fight. This is what boxing is all about. It’s big time boxing here in Brooklyn.”
LOU DIBELLA, President of DiBella Entertainment
“This is a great fight card. That’s why tickets are selling. There are a lot of up-and-coming stars on this dais. It was put together to be great televised boxing, and that’s why we’ll have a full room on Saturday.
“Barclays Center truly is the home of big-time boxing. This is the venue with the most dedication to a regular boxing program and you see that with the great fights coming here month after month.
“This card is stacked from top to bottom. The off-television undercard is sensational and features a load of undefeated talent. Heather Hardy will make her return after two consecutive matches in the cage to step back into the ring on this show. We’re here to offer fans the best we can all night long.
“The first televised bout of the night has Gervonta Davis, one of the rising young stars of the sport, going for his second world title. He’s fighting a former world champion in Jesus Cuellar, who’s an accomplished guy in his own right. Gervonta has his hands full, but he’s going to have a lot of fans up from Maryland supporting him Saturday.
“There’s a lot of action and controversy in the middleweight division. Jermall Charlo might be the hardest puncher in that division. Him and his brother might be the most accomplished twins in the history of boxing already. He’s got a tough matchup because Hugo Centeno Jr. is also a terrific young fighter with power and great boxing ability. He has star potential if he can overcome this obstacle against Charlo.
“Adrien Broner is a terrifically skilled boxer, who has star power and brings a lot of attention. You don’t have to be loved by everybody, you have to have people want to see you. A lot of people want to see Adrien Broner. They’re going to see him in a tough fight on Saturday night. Jessie Vargas is already a two-time world champion, who’s had a terrific career and will arguably be the bigger and stronger guy on Saturday. Adrien knows that everything is on the line on Saturday night.”
STEPHEN ESPINOZA, President Sports & Events Programming, Showtime Sports Inc.
“SHOWTIME Boxing is in the midst of an unprecedented run. It has been meaningful fight after meaningful fight.
“Back in January we made an unprecedented announcement of 11 events this first part of the year. I’m not sure any network has done that many events this year.
“Barclays Center, like SHOWTIME, has become home to the most meaningful fights in the sport. This isn’t happening by accident. This is an intentional strategy. It’s a plan to promote and elevate the sport and its’ fighters to heights we haven’t seen before. We’ve put real effort into elevating this sport.
“Saturday’s stacked card has three must-see matchups. These are star fighters versus star battles. There are no ‘no-names’ in this. All six fighters here have headlined fights. These fights are as good as any card that I can remember.”
BRETT YORMARK, CEO of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment
“I’m excited about Saturday night’s fights. It’s packed from top to bottom and should be a great night of BROOKLYN BOXING. It’s a great tripleheader and in many respects this defines Brooklyn boxing. Evenly matched fights, the biggest stars in the sport, some established and some on the rise. You have a bit of everything this weekend
“We are so thrilled to have Heather Hardy back at Barclays Center on Saturday after a few fights in MMA. She’s a boxer and we can’t wait to have her here this weekend.
“A big thank you for everyone who has helped establish BROOKLYN BOXING and been partners with us here in Brooklyn. Everyone involved continues to elevate the sport and we’re looking forward to seeing you on Saturday night. Tickets are moving and this could be one of the biggest fights we’ve ever had at Barclays Center.”