World champions Erislandy Lara and Jarrett Hurd went face-to-face Thursday at the final press conference for their 154-pound world title unification this Saturday, April 7 live on SHOWTIME® from Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions.
WBA Champion Lara and IBF Champion Hurd will meet for just the sixth unification bout in division history in a fight that will help define the future of the 154-pound class. The winner of Lara-Hurd will join Hall of Famers Terry Norris, Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya and Winky Wright, as well as Canelo Alvarez, as the only fighters to unify 154-pound titles.
Thursday’s press conference also featured IBF Super Middleweight World Champion Caleb Truax and former champion James DeGale, who meet in an immediate rematch of what was the near-universal upset of the year in 2017. In the opening bout of the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® telecast at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT, super welterweight contenders Julian Williams and Nathaniel Gallimore will face off in an IBF 154-pound world title eliminator.
Tickets for the show, which is promoted by TGB Promotions and Mayweather Promotions, are on sale now and available by visiting AXS.com or the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas Box Office.
Here is what the press conference participants had to say Thursday from Vanity Nightclub at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas:
“Everyone knows I love to fight his style. I’ve fought better and taller fighters than him and you’ve seen me dominate them. It’s going to be nothing different on Saturday night.
“I want him to come forward. That’s what I’m prepared for. I’m going to give him a lesson on Saturday night.
“I have to give Hurd credit for taking the fight. It’s been hard to get fighters in the ring with me. There’s no need to talk because on Saturday we will find out everything we need to know.
“Everyone here talking from Hurd’s team can’t get in the ring with him. It’s different once you’re in the ring with me. You’ve never been in a big fight. We’ll find out what you have Saturday night. Right now, you’re all talk.
“I’m absolutely ready for this fight. This is going to be a great battle for the fans on SHOWTIME. I’m excited to get in the ring and finally unify the decision. I’m preparing to make history.
“I haven’t watched much video on Hurd, but as we saw from the Trout fight, he’s very hittable. Come Saturday night, he better have worked on some defense or it won’t last very long.
“I don’t want to hear anything about Jermell Charlo, because Jarrett Hurd is the one who stepped up. On Sunday, Charlo can sign the contract and we can get ready to rumble.”
“Lara has been the longest reigning champion and he was on top when I first turned pro. We’ve studied him a lot. I didn’t get into this sport to be anything but number one. Lara is the top guy, but after Saturday night, it’s going to be me.
“It’s been a great training camp. We’re well prepared. This is the fight I’ve been asking for. After I beat Tony Harrison, Erislandy Lara had some words on Twitter for me. So I’ve wanted the fight since then. Somebody has to pay for that.
“This fight is coming at the right time for me because my confidence is very high right now. He’s a little older so I’ll be the younger and fresher fighter. I just feel like it’s my time. I’m going to be relentless. I’m not stopping until I get what I want.
“Lara is a veteran with a lot of experience. He knows how to win rounds and he can make you look bad no matter how good you are. I’m going to use my own awkward style and do what I do best.
“With my power and skill set, I can stop any fighter in the division. That definitely includes Erislandy Lara.
“Lara has great discipline in his game plan. No matter if he’s up on the cards or down or anything, he’s not going to switch it up. It’s hard to break a fighter when they’re disciplined like that. We have a plan for everything though and we’re confident that we’ll come up with something that will get us the victory.
“Lara is a guy who can’t take pressure fighters well. I have some of the best pressure in the game. I’m younger, stronger, taller and longer. He’s not going to be able to run for 12 rounds.
“Nobody wanted to fight this guy. I stepped up to the table because I know what I can do. He’s living the ‘American Dream’, but my dream has just begun. Saturday night I’m going to show you why nobody can survive 12 rounds with Jarrett Hurd. There’s a storm coming.”
“I’m honored to be here with these great fighters and back on SHOWTIME. Training camp was perfect for this fight. This is the longest camp I’ve had in my career and the most focused I’ve been.
“I just want to go out there and silence people who said it was a fluke the first time I won. I want to prove that I belong at the top of the division. I’m going to put on a good show for the fans and retain my title.
“We’ve had four months to prepare for James DeGale. Normally I have six to eight weeks, so it was nice to have a drawn out and specific training camp. We really focused on the conditioning and making sure I’m reaching my peak.
“I’ve been through a lot in this sport. I’ve fought top guys in big fights but it finally came together last December. It meant a lot to me and now I’m prepared to put on an even better performance. I know DeGale is going to be hungry so I have to be ready for him.
“I had a great camp this fight. I knew we were going to have a rematch so I was right back in the gym in a couple of weeks. My trainer put together a great plan to help me improve and prepare for what DeGale is going to improve on. I’ll be ready for him to be 100 percent.
“I just want to get to Saturday night and put on another great performance to retain my belt. I’m going to give it my all to bring that belt back home to Minnesota.”
“My last performance was horrendous. It was shocking and embarrassing. I’m not going to make excuses about my shoulder and what went wrong. On Saturday night, I will be a two-time world champion. I promise you that.
“I’ve boxed at the top level my whole life and put on some good performances. I know what was wrong with me and why I performed how I did in the first fight. I’m going to put it to rest when I become a world champion again.
“It’s been a long, difficult training camp. I had a gray cloud above my head the last couple of months, but I’m ready to go become a world champion again on Saturday.
“This time has turned me into a beast. I’ve had to take everything even more seriously than before. I might have gotten a bit complacent being a champion those last few years. I’ve locked myself down and I’m ready to go.
“I would say 90 percent of the loss was because of what I didn’t do. I looked past him. I came back too quick from the injury, but he still had to get in there and take my belt. There’s no disrespect to Caleb, but I’ve fought the very best of the division and come out on top. The real James DeGale will be back on Saturday.
“It’s going to be a dominant performance on Saturday. If I don’t beat Truax and beat him easily I can’t get to the level that I want. I know that’s what is coming. No excuses.”
“We had a really good camp. I didn’t want to get into the trash talk this camp. He’s a solid fighter and I don’t underestimate anyone. But he seems like a bully. You can’t bully me. He’s obsessed with me on social media. I just have to focus on what he can do as a fighter.
“He’s a nobody who wants some attention. I’m going to give him lots of attention on Saturday night. I’m going to shut this guy up.
“He’s going to lose every single round and probably get stopped late. Every time he gets pushed he loses, gets a draw or gets knocked down. I’m drowning him in deep waters.
“I’m calm right now but also anxious to show everyone what I have. I know I’m a world class fighter, I just have to go do it. I’m making sure I stay patient right now.
“He lost to a journeyman, got a draw with a journeyman and got dropped by a journeyman. There’s nothing else to say. I’m taking him out on Saturday.”
“Saturday night is judgment day and it starts with ‘J-Pebbles’. It’s going to be a night to remember for me.
“It’s going to be a spectacular fight. I’m going to demolish him in grand fashion. He’s never faced anyone like me before. When I touch him, it’s over.
“You better worry about what’s going to happen to you on Saturday night. It’s going to be nasty. This fight is going to show everyone who I am in this division.
“I had the best training camp of my entire career. We covered all the bases. Saturday night I’m going to wipe the smile off his face. You think Charlo hits hard? You’re going to see on Saturday night.
“This opportunity is huge. The division is mine for the taking. I study my opponents and I stalk them in the ring. Everyone will see what’s going to happen on Saturday.”
LEONARD ELLERBE, CEO of Mayweather Promotions
“This is a great card from top to bottom. We have none other than the longest reigning 154-pound world champion, Erislandy Lara, taking on one of the toughest tests of his career in the very exciting, young and hungry world champion Jarrett Hurd.
“The co-main event is another important fight with a rematch featuring Caleb Truax, who will be looking to hold on to the belt he took from James DeGale last year, while DeGale will look to get back to where he was before they met last December.
“The show opens up with a high-octane 154-pound title eliminator with Julian Williams and Nathaniel Gallimore. This is the fight that could really steal the show. The winner of this fight will no doubt have their eye on the winner of Saturday’s main event.
“These are some of the best fights that can be made in each weight class. We can’t wait for everyone to see these fighters put it all on the line on Saturday night.”