Lou DiBella: Thanks, everybody for joining us tonight. I can’t tell you how thrilling it is to be here in Buenos Aires and to see the excitement around Sergio Martinez. When my cab arrived from the airport this morning to the hotel, I saw three buses with Sergio on them, four trucks and about six billboards. He truly is a huge star right now in his homeland and we’re excited to bring this home coming to you on Saturday night.
The event will take place at a Club Atletico Velez Sarsfield. I’d like to thank everybody who works at Club Atletico Velez Sarsfield for their help. Our sponsors Aerolineas Argentina and YPF I’d like to thank them. I’d also like to thank the Secretary of Sports for Argentina and the Argentina Boxing Federation, as well as (Carlos Rodriguez) and everyone from the WBC.
This event will be televised in the United States on HBO. It will be televised live. There is a terrific opening battle between Luis Carlos Abregu, 34-1 with 28 KO’s, and Antoine Decarie, 27-1, 8KO’s for the WBC Silver Title and that should be a terrific competitive fight. I’d like to say a few words first. I’d like to introduce the Senior Vice President of HBO Sports, my friend, Kery Davis.
Kery Davis: Thanks, Lou. I’m really excited. I’m not in Buenos Aires yet, but I will be there tomorrow. We look forward to – anytime Sergio Martinez fights, we look forward to it. He’s one of the best fighters in the world, so it’s always an event when he laces them up and steps into the ring, but this one is really special.
It really represents a home coming for Sergio and it’s something that we at HBO have looked forward to since Sergio’s rise to the top of the middleweight division. This will be our first time televising fights from Argentina. We expect there will be a lively raucous crowd, which always makes for good television, and I’m sure they’re going to be cheering on their hero and Sergio.
Sergio opponent, Martin Murray, is a top middleweight contender and you know, he’s going to be facing tough odds, but you know, he’s used to being in the lion’s den, if you will, because he’s got a great credential going into Germany and fighting the former middleweight champion, Felix Sturm. We really think it is going to be an entertaining fight. Telecast will start actually from Ontario, California where we’ll do a heavyweight fight between two big punchers – Chris Arreola and Bermane Stiverne.
We’ll follow that by doing the under card welt away fight that Lou just referred to between Abregu and Decarie and then we’ll go right to the main event. It’ll be a triple header on HBO. Our start time, again, will be 8:30 Eastern and Pacific, and we look forward to a really exciting event. Thank you, Lou and Sampson for putting it together for us.
Lou DiBella: Thank you, Kery. Thank you, Kery. I’m going to introduce first a few members of the Martin Murray camp and then I’ll introduce Sergio’s camp and then I’ll go through the fighters for a few words. Martin Murray is promoted by Ricky Hatton and he’s here with his manager, Neil Marsh – the loquacious Neil Marsh – who I’ve not had the pleasure of meeting yet. I’m going to start with Neil and let Neil say a few words about his fighter.
Martin Murray is 25-0 with one draw, 11 KO’s, he’s never tasted defeat. I’ve looked at tapes of him and he’s one of the toughest guys in the middleweight division, absolutely deserving of being, not only in the top ten, but probably in the top five or six. He’s a very, very good fighter. That’s one of the reasons why Sergio wanted this fight. Sergio doesn’t shy away from any challenge and Martin Murray presents a real meaningful challenge. Neil, would you like to say a few words about your fighter?
Neil Marsh: Yes. Obviously, I’m Neil and it’s a pleasure to be involved with such a big fight. This is a fantastic opportunity for us. As you know, Martin went to Germany, went into a lion’s den once before, which we believe all was in good standings here in Argentina. We’re fully confident about the task ahead. We believe it’s our time.
Lou DiBella: Thank you, Neil. As many people in boxing have heard over and over again, he’s sung in arenas all over the world, there’s only one Ricky Hatton, and I’d like that one Ricky Hatton to say a few words about his fighting. Ricky?
Ricky Hatton: Hello. Hi, guys. Yes, very much looking forward to this fight. Obviously, there are so many versions of world titles these days, but this is for the real middleweight championship. He’s number 3 pound for pound and I can’t speak any more highly of Sergio Martinez. I remember him from the early days back in England when he was boxing in England against people like Adrian Stone, so he’s really paid his dues and he deserves to be held in such high recognition, which he has obviously held.
Like any good fighter – a good fighter, and that’s exactly what Sergio is – every good fighter’s lane comes to an end sometimes and I believe its Saturday night. There’s always some young, hungry person that comes forward to set the mantle and I believe Martin Murray is the man. He’s been in the lion’s den before against Felix Sturm, put in a performance while he was there and it may have been a little bit too soon for him, but we didn’t. That will hold him in good set for the task ahead.
I’ve seen a change in Martin this week, to be honest with you. He knows if he would have just took the bull by the horns a little bit against Felix Sturm, he may be able to come away with a win. He’s put that light to his game and I’ve seen a nasty Martin Murray this week. He’s come over to Argentina, he’s not overawed by the occasion like you would expect in Argentina when you’re fighting someone as high of a name as Sergio Martinez. He’s reaming with confidence, he’s never looked as sharp and inspired, and he’s got a real nasty streak about him.
You know, again, with Felix Sturm, maybe he should have started a couple rounds earlier. He’s going to put light on Saturday night. He knows he’s got to be aggressive in this fight and I’ve seen a total change in his demeanor this week. The main thing from his promoter in coming out there, all the way to Argentina, I don’t want to see the occasion getting to him or anything like that.
That has certainly not been the case. He just can’t come quick enough for Saturday night, so we’re certainly grateful for sharing the ring with a champion as good as Sergio Martinez. I think every good champion’s ring comes to an end, and I think Sergio’s will be coming to an end on Saturday.
Lou DiBella: Thanks, Ricky. I disagree with you, but thank you very much. I’d like to thank everybody in Team Martinez, particularly (Miguel), for all that they’ve done. Of course, I would be remised if I didn’t allow my partner in this event, he’s representing Sampson Boxing, I’ve said this many times, but he’s one of the great minds in boxing. He’s had years of being Sergio’s advisor and now has been very active in putting this deal together with our partners in Argentina and with the Argentine Government. I’d like to introduce, from Sampson Boxing, Sampson Lewkowicz.
Sampson Lewkowicz: Thank you very much, everyone. Yes, I’m here. Thank you very much to everyone. I really appreciate the opportunity that Lou DiBella allowed me to prove that I’m – that I throw my heart on the boxing as a promoter.
This is going to be the biggest event that I ever did on my own with the help of a new team, as well as mine. How I can say thank you to HBO to make history – not only for HBO, but more for somebody that I like so much and I love so much, like my own son, Sergio Martinez. This is well deserved for him to be on top of the game in this one country of Argentina.
I never forgot – Kerry Davis one day told me, (unintelligible) it happened probably two years ago. I told him it would be a fantasy, and today it’s a reality. Thank you. Thank you to every one of you, and thank you for the prayers, the support and so much. Thank you on behalf of all of the Martinez team. Thank you. God bless you.
Lou DiBella: Thank you, Sampson.
And now to the fighters – I have tremendous respect for this young man. He’s never tasted defeat, I love the way he fights, he’s a high pressure fighter, he’s relentless. I thought he’d beat Felix Sturm, and I know that this is a real challenge. I know that he did not come to Argentina overwhelmed or scared. He came here believing he’s going to win and he’s been telling everyone close to him that he’s going to win. I’m sure he’s going to tell you the same thing right now, Martin Murray.
Martin Murray: Yes.
Lou DiBella: You want to speak your words, Martin?
Martin Murray: Yes. It’s a pleasure to be here fighting Sergio in Argentina.
I’m having a great training camp. Like you just said, I’ve not come over here to lose or to make numbers. I’ve trained out and I’m trained to win. Sergio is a great fighter who I’ve looked up to over the past couple years, but I really think it’s my time. Whatever Sergio brings on Saturday, I’ll be ready for. I’m just looking forward to being involved in a great fight.
Lou DiBella: Thank you, Martin. The next gentleman I’m going to announce is the greatest fighter I have ever promoted.
Not only because he’s a terrific talent, not only because he’s, in my mind, at the top of the pound for pound list, right with Floyd Mayweather, but also because of the type of man he is.
He’s just a good human being, he’s got a great sense of social consciousness, he’s back in his homeland where he’s waited to fight until this moment, until he could pull off this type of event, and this is going to be a great (unintelligible) of people at Club Atletico Velez Sarsfield supporting their hometown hero, supporting the future hall of famer, and it’s my honor to present my fighter, Sergio Gabriel Martinez. Sergio? Oh, and translating for Sergio will be Ricardo Figueroa. Sergio? Ricardo?
Sergio Martinez (translated by Ricardo Figuero)
Sergio Martinez: Good afternoon. How is everyone? Everything is well on his side, better than ever. I am very confident. I know that the expectations are very high, but I am training at a very high level and I am very confident that I am going to have a great fight on Saturday. This Saturday, this fight will end by knock out. My training and my confidence are at the highest level, even higher than the last fight with Chavez and therefore, I predict a knock out this Saturday night.
Diego Zorillo: In Argentina, you’ve become like a folk hero. How do you take all of that into consideration with yourself?
Sergio Martinez: Everything that I’ve been through in my life, you know, has been so overwhelming and hard that the boxing would be actually the lightest of the hardest things that I’ve had to endure in life. That’s how I feel about that.
I’ve had to learn, you know, to deal with changes and the pressures of boxing, but that’s done hand in hand with kind of like how my life has been as far as things being rough and things changing as I’ve evolved as a fighter in my life.
(Diego Zorilla): How do you feel with the irony that you started out as an athlete playing soccer and you played in this particular stadium and now you’re going not only play there, but obviously now fight as a boxer, as a biggest event ever in that stadium. How do you feel about that?
Sergio Martinez: I can honestly tell you that I cannot say how I’m going to feel because I have to be in the ring at the time and after the fight, I’ll be able to answer that with certainty. I’m definitely very excited and I’m looking forward to this, but I’ll be able to answer that question when I step out of the ring.
(Chris Guns): Yes, my first question is for Martin. Martin, you fought all of your fights in Great Britain besides the Felix Sturm fight. Basically, he was past the time and it was almost an even fight according to everybody. What do you think prepares you for taking on this kind of animal in his homeland of Argentina?
Martin Murray: The Felix Sturm fight was a learning experience for me. I learned loads in that fight, loads of things I learned in that fight, that I will be bringing into this fight. The fact that it’s such a big challenge, I know that a performance on Saturday is going to have to be the best performance for me, but it’s a performance that I’m more than capable of doing, and the fact that it’s against such a great fighter and he’s got me up for it.
I like doing the type of fights now where I can do it again, and I will be doing it again on Saturday. Like I said, I’ll be looking forward to putting all of the training to producing and coming out victorious.
(Chris Guns): Sergio earned his name in the sport. A lot of people have him as high up as number two or three in the world. He’s faced everybody, all kinds of styles, from Paul Williams to Kelly Pavlik and he’s been in the big event against Chavez. How do you assess Sergio’s career and how do you feel like is your best plan to beat him? What is the best way to fight Sergio Martinez?
Martin Murray: Obviously, I’ve never fought anybody like Sergio’s style before, but I know all different types of style. That was hard to get an exact guy with Sergio’s style with it being so unique, but we got plenty of different styles of sparring partners, who all did the things that we needed. We’ve had a good training cap. As well as that, I’ve got a great trainer who is always coming up with the right game, has the right tactics. We just think and we know that we’ve got what it takes to beat Martinez.
(Chris Guns): Good luck, Martin. Sergio, it’s been a while since you fought in front of your hometown. What kind of reception have you received?
Sergio Martinez: It’s been amazing, the best that you can imagine possible, landing here and then having the people cheering you. Just the love is very overwhelming and how everyone is treating me right now.
(Chris Guns): I know Lou DiBella thinks highly of Martin Murray, but a lot of people don’t give him much of a shot against you.
Sergio Martinez: Statistics are just, you know, those are just numbers and what peoples’ opinions are, but this is going to be a very tough fight. I am fully aware of that and I would never take any of that for granted. I know how people can predict, but when you get in the ring, it’s a fight. This guy, he deserves to be in the ring with me and I don’t look at any of that stuff, so I’m prepared for a very, very, very tough fight.
(Chris Guns): I hear you and Martin Murray pull an upset, you never know. You can’t really overlook anyone, but if you are successful, what are the chances that your next fight might be against someone like (Genetti Galaskin) or (Peter Quillin), someone who people give a legitimate chance to fight and beat you?
Lou DiBella: I think we’d rather not talk about his next fight before this one. He’s got a pretty big challenge on Saturday night. We’ll worry about his next fight after the fight.
(Chris Guns): Okay, and one more question. You’re not getting any younger Sergio. I haven’t seen any signs of slippage from you, but nobody can decide when is time, unless maybe Bernard Hopkins, you’re talking. How much longer do you see yourself fighting and do you see any changes as you’ve gotten older? Do you see any changes in your skill?
Sergio Martinez: I don’t even think of that kind of stuff right now. I’m focused right now on this fight that is coming up. Maybe after the fight, I’ll talk with my team and as they move with their future plans, I can give a better answer to that, but right now, I don’t think about any of that as age or a time or date. Right now, that’s not even a question in my mind.
(Lem Satterfield): Hey Lou, how you doing? Hello to Lou, Samson, Martin and Sergio.
Martin Murray: How you doing?
Lou DiBella: Hello.
(Lem Satterfield): So listen, Sergio is six, one and one in his last eight fights. Every single one of them has been exciting, he cuts guys up, he knocks them out, he gets up off the canvas and wins, and his last fight was on Pay per View. My question for all three of you – Sergio, Samson and Lou – is he appreciated for who he is and what he is as a fighter?
Lou DiBella: I’ll take the first crack at that one, since it’s all three of us. First of all, you can look at that six, one and one, and it pretty easily could be 8 and 0, because I thought he beat Paul Williams the first time and he certainly beat Kermit Cintron. I think people are getting a treat in getting to see – and I thank HBO for this, because all of his fights since Alex Bunema have been televised by HBO. You’re getting the chance to a see in my mind, one of the greatest middleweights who has ever lived and one of the two great middleweights in the history of Argentina. You can mention them in the same breath at this point. You could mention Sergio Martinez in the same sentence as Carlos Monzon and you’re not doing any injustice to Monzon. That’s how great Sergio is. I think that among the people who know, they know they’re getting the chance to see an all-time great fighter and a future Hall-of-Famer.
Does he get the credit he’s due? Maybe not, but it’s coming more and more, and Saturday night in his homeland, there will be 40,000 plus people filling the stadium to show him the love and respect that he deserves.
Sampson Lewkowicz: Sergio Martinez has jumped the fence to see what’s green on the other side. He’s motivated, he’s a human being and he’s got the heart for the people.
It creates an enigma that people – if he didn’t know about boxing today in Argentina especially, it’s all part of the human being of Sergio Martinez and today, you see the boxer. I believe that it’s an example for many area boxers that you need to get out of that circle to get to the people because at the end of the day, that will make you whatever you are today.
Today, I’m very, very proud to be part of this team with Lou, with Sergio, with (Pablos Samiento), with our assitant Raquel. This is an unbelievable team and I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone and hopefully we continue for one more year, because Sergio promised to his mother that he would not fight at age 40.
(Lem Satterfield): Sergio? Can Sergio answer that question?
Sergio Martinez: : I feel that respect is earned and I was once was in a situation where Murray wis. You have to earn your respect in this game. Everything I have done and everything I have accomplished, I have earned.
(Lozoro Malrose): Sergio, after your last fight, what do you feel you have to improve on and how do you feel with the pressure of fighting in front of your family?
Sergio Martinez: I am very conscious that there are a lot of things that you always have to improve, things with my trainer (Pablo) – we work on many things. I wouldn’t think to say, what are those things that I have to improve on or that I have improved on, but we’re very conscious of that and we continue to work to improve.
Bob Velin: Hey Sergio and Lou, how you doing? Sergio, I guess the obvious question is what does it mean to you to be back fighting in your home country after 11 years, and has it been more of a distraction for you training down there and getting ready for your fight or have people basically, you know, let you do your thing down there?
Sergio Martinez: Of course. When you come home and you’ve worked hard, people show love and appreciate and I have felt that and that receptiveness from the fans and the people, but that has not distracted me whatsoever. The eight weeks of camp have been wonderful, including this last week that we have moved camp here Everything has been great, no distractions. I’m ready to go.
Bob Velin: Question for Lou – what’s it been like to be down there with Sergio and just traveling around with him and did you go to his hometown, and how was that?
Lou DiBella: Actually, I just got in and to be honest, Sergio is laying pretty low this week. He takes – I mean, if you know Sergio, he takes fight week very seriously and it’s usually not a very social week for him. He likes to sort of keep to himself and get into his head for the fight. That’s always been the way and he’s not changing the routine here, even though he’s in Argentina.
For me, it’s been a little bit freaky. I mean, I got off an airplane and the room to get through customs, there was like 5,000 people in it and a couple of thousand recognized me, but I haven’t been here since I was a kid, so it just shows you the star power of Sergio Martinez and what he means in this country.
Like I said, like from my cab to the airport to the hotel, I passed I don’t know how many billboards, how many trucks, how many buses that had Sergio’s image on it. He really is like a rock star here right now and the atmosphere is charged and everyone knows about the fight.
By the terms – you know, I’m going to do some sightseeing in the next few days and get around Buenos Aires a bit and try to check out where Sergio is from, but I don’t expect to see Sergio all that often other than the press conference and the night of the fight, because I’m used to him at this point. His way is to very much keep focused and stay on his own and to himself this week.
(Jorge Javier): Well, Sergio, you know, we know that Argentina is a football crazy country and that’s been the main sport for many years. How do you feel your event will impact, you know, the actual people from your country there to continue to move on and make boxing a stronger, bigger sport, and have fighters such as yourself and other fighters you mentioned, to make them want to become boxers and come to the United States and follow their dreams as a boxer as you have?
Sergio Martinez: I feel that I have done my ground work and my fellow fighters are laying the ground work for boxing to become a much more popular sport, which is in fact popular already, but as I mentioned, it’s not at a level where soccer is, but we’re definitely working hard and laying this ground work. Not only the boxers, but I wants the companies – promoters, etc – to continue to promote and help boxers develop in order for them to become successful and future champions.
(Jorge Javier): I would also like to – this one is for Lou. Lou, with 50,000 people in Argentina, can Murray get a fair shake in a close fight there in Argentina?
Lou DiBella: Yes, I think he can get a fair shake in a close fight, yes. I do. I think he can get a fair shake. Now that being said, 40,000 people screaming for one fighter, you know, that gives that fighter that hometown advantage as far as his motivation and it might affect close rounds, but if Martin Murray wins the clear cut fight, I believe Martin Murray is going to get the decision.
Jim Slater: This is for Martin Murray. How we doing Martin?
Martin Murray: Yes, I’m good, thanks. Are you?
Jim Slater: Yes. I’d just like to ask you – it might sound a bit crazy – but most people think in this country, certainly, all the pressure is on you. Is there a chance in your mind that there’s more pressure on Sergio? As great of a fighter as he is, you know, it’s his homecoming, he wants to please his fans, he’s predicted the knock out. Do you think he might try too hard maybe to put on a show and this could work to our advantage?
Martin Murray: He’s obviously going to win best, just like me, but he’s a very smart fighter. Everything he’s done has worked for months and I can’t see him changing, but he’s, you know, he said he’s going to knock me out, so maybe he’s just trying a bit too hard and he could end up in trouble, but I plan for there to be 12 hard rounds and that’s what I think the fight is going to be.
Jim Slater: Hello, Ricky. Great to speak with you.
Rick Hatton: Hi, mate.
Jim Slater: Just one quick question. I know time is short.
Rick Hatton: Sure.
Jim Slater: Obviously, you’re not the fighter going to this one, you’re the promoter and you’re the advisor to Martin, but have you got that same kind of vibe, that same kind of feeling in your bones that you had entering your fight where you were the big underdog? Have you got that same kind of vibe that the upset is going to happen?
Rick Hatton: Very much so. This is why I went into promoting in the first place. You know, boxing is a passion for me and I was very fortunate through boxing to fulfill my dreams and make a wonderful future for myself and my family and my kids. What I’m doing is I’m helping people such as Martin to fulfill their dreams, you know?
Come Saturday night, I’ll be throwing every punch for Martin, but he has a wonderful chance. He knows he’s an underdog and he knows he’s up against it, but you know, we just feel it’s the right fight at the right time for Martin and although we all have the utmost respect – well I mean, when I boxed, I had the utmost respect for him, but when the bell went, I had to show him no respect. I’m seeing the same from the fighter.
He’s not coming over here to make up the numbers. He’s not coming over to get a sun tan. He’s come over because he barely believes he can beat Sergio. Sometimes when fighters tell you, “Yes, yes, I’m confident and I’m going to win” you can see right past them, but that is not the case for Martin. He’s got that nastiness that he knows he’s going to need to show the fighter and we’re just all jumping out of our skin waiting for Saturday to come.
It’s an exciting time for me as a promoter. I became a world champion and now I’m promoting lads outside winning world titles, so it’s going to be a very, very proud night for me, just like it is for Martin.
Jim Slater: Absolutely, and would this eclipse your win over the great Kostya Tszyu? I mean, you talk about great British away wins. Would this top your win even if Martin can do it?
Rick Hatton: Yes, I might say that, you know, when they mentioned the Kostya fight as one of the best British wins, that was with (unintelligible) – he was number two pound for pound and the best in the division. Sergio is number three pound for pound and the best in the division, but Martin is coming over to Argentina to fight a fermentable champion in his backyard and he’s marking some things off. You know, I think it wouldn’t even have clicked my win against Kostya Tszyu. That’s how big this fight will be for Martin.
Jim Slater: Right, well thanks very much Ricky. Thanks very much, mate. All the best, mate. We’re all pulling for you. Sergio is a great champion and obviously we respect him, but obviously in our pride, pride has to have the last word, and all of that is to Martin Murray.
Lou DiBella: I think that’ll wrap it up. I’d like to thank everybody for joining us. If you’re in Argentina right now, we’ll see you at Club Atletico Velez Sarsfield. If you’re back in the states, tune in on HBO at 8:30 Eastern time to get that Areolla/Steverne fight and then you’ll see Luis Carlos Abregu against Antonin Decarie, and of course, the true middleweight championship of the world, the real middleweight championship of the world, one of the pound for pound greats, Sergio Martinez, and undefeated Martin Murray from Great Britain. Thanks for joining us all and we look forward to this home coming on Saturday night. Take care.
The Martinez-Murray world championship telecast, which begins at 8:30 p.m ET/PT, will be produced and distributed live by HBO. Follow HBO Boxing news at www.hbo.com and at www.facebook.com/hboboxing. Use the hashtag #MartinezMurray to join the conversation on Twitter. For constant updates on the fight, including videos, pictures and articles, visit www.dbe1.com, www.hbo.com or www.maravillavsmurray.com.
A limited number of tickets are still available for purchase through www.tuentrada.com