Undefeated welterweight world champion Errol Spence Jr. and two-division world champion Lamont Peterson faced off Thursday at the final press conference before they enter the ring Saturday, January 20 in the main event live on SHOWTIME from Barclays Center, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING®, and presented by Premier Boxing Champions.
(Photo credit: Tom Casino/SHOWTIME)
The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and features unbeaten lightweight world champion Robert Easter and former world champion Javier Fortuna, who met face to face for the first time on Thursday.
Competing in SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING PRELIMS on Saturday will be unbeaten light heavyweight Marcus Browne and once-beaten Francy Ntetu, who meet in a 10-round bout, plus undefeated heavyweight Adam Kownacki and once-beaten Iago Kiladze, who step into the ring for a 10-round affair.
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by DiBella Entertainment and TGB Promotions, are priced starting at $50, and are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased at ticketmaster.com, barclayscenter.com, at the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center or by calling 800-745-3000. Group discounts are available by calling 844-BKLYN-GP.
Here is what the participants had to say Thursday from the Dream Hotel Downtown:
ERROL SPENCE JR.
“This fight means everything to me. I still have a chip on my shoulder. I want to be the last man standing. I want to beat the top fighters in my division. Lamont is the one standing in front of me, so it’s fight time.
“I think it’s going to turn into a war. A lot of people have thought this would be an easy fight for me. But if you follow Lamont Peterson, you know this will be tough. He’s always in great shape and has a lot of skills. IT might be a dog fight and that’s what I wanted. He’s the guy who wanted to fight and I said of course. It’s going to be a rugged fight. Later on in the fights, he always gets rough and stands toe-to-toe.
“There might not be a lot of talking and bad blood between us, but you know that the two of us always give a great fight for the fans.
“I had to wait for my title defense and then I had a lot of guys not answer the call for this fight. I have a belt and I still have to call these other guys out. Lamont Peterson answered the call like a real fighter.
“In a perfect world I’d be unifying with Keith Thurman this year. I’m going to fight three times this year though. You don’t get time back. I’m ready to strike now.
“I’m just excited to fight. I like to fight. I can’t wait to be in front of those bright lights in front of the fans. Brooklyn is a great place to fight and my family from the area can come see me live. I can’t wait to display my skills.
“A true champion can’t fight everybody who calls them out, it’s still a business. But a true champion fights other champions, especially when they’re available. You can’t avoid questions and try to delay a fight. You fight the next champion that’s available, that’s what a true champion does.”
“When I got into boxing, I had goals. First I wanted to be a National Champion, then a world champion as a professional, but the ultimate goal is to be in the Hall of Fame. With that being my goal, I wouldn’t put myself in that conversation yet. With wins over a guy like Errol Spence and the other top welterweights, I think I’m right there in it. That’s my goal and I’ll give it my all to get there.
“If you left it to me I’d fight every month. That’s how much I love the sport. I know a victory would help me get in the ring even more often. Sometimes if you lose at the top level, other top guys don’t want to take a chance against you. I can fix all of that this weekend
“I don’t worry about any negativity. My resume is written in the history books. All I can do is respect the opinion of others and work hard to get this win.
“I’m excited and looking forward to the skill level that’s going to be displayed this weekend. It’s going to be a rough fight for sure. But I look forward to the technique and skill level. Defense, offense and transitioning between the two. That’s the part of boxing that I love.
“Errol even taking the Kell Brook fight was impressive to me. Most guys in his position take their time leading up to the first title shot, but he ended up fighting someone in his prime in his country. To will himself to that win was very impressive.
“When you get to the big stages and those big fights, you have to win more than you lose. I think if I can win some big fights these next few years my career will be in a good place.”
“I have no concerns fighting a southpaw. I made my last fight hard, but this time I’m going to use my reach, my feet and my speed to dominate.
“I’m looking for a great performance. This is going to be the best Robert Easter the fans have ever seen. We prepared to dominate this fight.
“Javier Fortuna is an accomplished fighter but I don’t know too much about him. I know what I came to do. I’m a world champion and everyone knows what I bring to the fight game. I won’t leave without my strap.
“I’m ready to fight the best in this sport. I want to become the man at this weight and I know I have to beat the other champions to do that.
“Boxing is all about showing you’re the best and fighting the best. I just want to fight these other champions in my weight class. I’m looking to stay healthy in 2018 and remain on top.”
“I have no excuses on January 20. I hope he doesn’t either. I will be taking that title to the Dominican Republic for my fans. I’ve been dreaming about it and I will take it.
“I have the style and the skills to beat Robert Easter. I know how to make sure his height does not affect me at all. Everyone will see it on fight night.
“I’ve prepared myself very well. I have a plan to win every round. If he’s able to stand there, I’m going to break him down round by round.
“I am fighting for more than just myself and that is why I’ll be successful. I am going to prove that I’m truly one of the top fighters in the sport.
“Robert Easter is a fighter I respect, but I believe I can defeat anyone in front of me. If he takes me lightly, it will go even worse for him. I’ve been training hard to make sure I’m at my absolute best on fight night.
“A win would be great for my country, my fans and my family. Winning this title is everything for me. That’s why I’m here and I will not be stopped.”
DERRICK JAMES, Spence’s Trainer
“I started training Errol about nine years ago but I never really knew just how special he was until about a year or so into our training. I thought Olympics were definitely possible, because I didn’t want to look too far ahead. Now that we’re here, I think he can beat any of the top guys. I want him to be undisputed welterweight champion just like he wants to be.
“I never worry about comparing Errol to other guys in the sport. He’s a hard puncher who breaks ribs and breaks faces. The longer the fight goes, the more pain he inflicts. I’ve never seen anybody who punches that hard.
“I think Lamont knew when he moved up to welterweight that this fight would be a possibility. It’s time for us to go to work because I know Lamont and Barry Hunter are working on a game plan. They have a great team and I know Lamont will be ready for what we bring.”
BARRY HUNTER, Peterson’s Trainer
“We stay in the gym all the time. We didn’t have to deal with the weight monster this camp. Weight issue can really derail a camp leading up to a fight of this magnitude. We didn’t have to deal with any of that.
“There are several different things in Errol’s arsenal that I think we can exploit. Errol will make adjustments though, so I think strategy will be a key in this fight.
“Lamont has always been a coach’s dream. He’s the type of athlete that you would love to coach. He does everything a coach asks of him. He will train until he passes out. All he wants is to work hard and compete.”
LOU DIBELLA, President of DiBella Entertainment
“This is a great night for boxing. The first January date of the year drums up a lot of excitement and we expect a great turnout on Saturday night at Barclays Center. It’s going to be a great crowd and an exciting night from top to bottom
“Errol Spence Jr. is one of the best young fighters in the world testing himself against another great fighter in Lamont Peterson It’s the best fighting the best. Lamont Peterson is a guy with a tremendous resume. If anybody thinks Errol is going to take Lamont lightly, they’re mistaken and he would be too.
“Both of these main event fighters are lucky to have trainers who are real teachers. They are old school and two of the best. Derrick James and Barry Hunter know the game inside and out.
“Robert Easter is a beast, he’s got reach, power and boxing ability. He’s facing a guy in Javier Fortuna who is a confident former world champion. Javier has been talking a big game. He’s talking about knockouts. You want to see a guy come into a fight like this with that kind of confidence.
“This year in boxing is starting out just like last year started, at Barclays Center with a great, even matchup like Badou Jack vs. James DeGale last year.”
STEPHEN ESPINOZA, Executive Vice President & General Manager, SHOWTIME Sports
“In terms of representing the sport, you don’t get any better than Errol Spence Jr. and Lamont Peterson. The professionalism of these guys is unmatched and they represent the best of the sport. I’m proud to have them on the network.
“You can’t play boxing. You have to be dedicated and passionate. Those values are going to be reflected in the ring on Saturday.
“This is a special fight. These are the best in the sport. They’re both top 10 guys. Errol Spence Jr. has grown up on SHOWTIME. He made his pro debut on ShoBox and won his first world title on SHOWTIME. This is Lamont’s eighth appearance on SHOWTIME and he has one of the strongest resumes in the sport.
“Robert Easter and Javier Fortuna is another matchup of top 10 guys. What we’re doing here is special. This isn’t just another network doing boxing, this is the cream of the crop.”
BRETT YORMARK, CEO of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment
“I’m really excited about Saturday night. We’ve been very fortunate to host the first big event of the year. There’s an appetite to get back into the game and we’re happy to be hosting it.
“I want to welcome back Errol and Lamont to Barclays Center. Both have been there before and we’re thrilled to have you back. We’re pleased that Robert has finally decided to take his show to Barclays Center and give the fans a performance. Last time Javier won at Barclays Center he won his world title and we’re happy to have him back.
“We’re going to create something great here in Brooklyn and it continues on Saturday night at Barclays Center.”