MONROEVILLE, Pa. (April 17, 2014) – It turns out promoter Mike Tyson can stir the pot almost as much as heavyweight champ Mike Tyson. Almost.
Tyson seemed right at home in his new role as promoter Thursday as he guided his Iron Mike Productions fighters through the final press conference and weigh-in for tomorrow’s ShoBox: The New Generation event.
Friday’s tripleheader airs live on SHOWTIME®, home of 16 of Tyson’s last 18 fights, at 10:45 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast) from the Monroeville Convention Center in Monroeville, Pa., located outside of the Pittsburgh.
Tyson egged on his fighters, enticed trash talking and did his best to create some controversy during the presser before the official weigh-in. In other words, typical Tyson.
“Listen, I don’t want to hear you guys talk about respect for each other,’’ Tyson said. “I want to hear what you guys are going to do to each other tomorrow night. I want to hear that you’re going to knock him out.
“Don’t worry about making weight. Listen, we’re only talking about a few pounds here. I fought as a heavyweight and it didn’t matter. This is boxing. We’re here to see some people beat each other up tomorrow. Weight doesn’t matter; we’re here to watch you fight.
“I’m excited to have such a great card and exciting event for my return to SHOWTIME. We’re a very young organization but we’re moving pretty fast.”
Hard-hitting Cuban lightweight Alexei “The Hurricane” Collado (18-0, 16 KOs), of Miami, Fla., weighed in at 131.6 pounds for his 10-round main event showdown with Pittsburgh-area crowd favorite “Lightning” Rod Salka (18-3, 3 KOs), who tipped the scales at 132.6 pounds.
Undefeated southpaw and Olympic gold medalist Felix Diaz (14-0, 8 KOs), of Oxnard, Calif., by way of Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic, measured 139.6 pounds while Emmanuel Lartey (15-1-1, 7 KOs), of Brooklyn by way of Ghana, weighed in at 142.7 pounds for their eight-round junior welterweight bout.
Local favorite and war veteran Sammy Vasquez, Jr. (13-0, 9 KOs), of Monesson, Pa., weighed in at 146.8 pounds for his eight-round welterweight showdown with fellow unbeaten Juan “The Beast” Rodriguez, Jr. (11-0, 5 KOs), of Union City, N.J., who tipped the scale at 148 pounds.
Here’s what the fighters had to say during Thursday’s events.
“I think he’s the toughest fighter I’ve faced, but we’re looking at this more as an opportunity than a challenge.
“My career has changed since I moved to Miami to train. I now have all the opportunity in the world. Fighting on SHOWTIME opens the door even more. Now all I have to do is win.
“I’m ready for anyone in this division. I let my team make the opportunities, I just handle the fighting. But I think I’m getting close to a title shot.
“We’re looking for the best fight of my career. I’m looking to make a statement and knock this guy out. A win is a win – we’ll take a decision – but we’d love a knockout.
“I’m not concerned about the judges or fighting in his hometown. I’m coming in with confidence. I’ve fought in Cuba, Ireland, the U.S. I’ll fight anywhere. If you win every round then there is no way the judges can take that away from you.
“It’s going to be a good, hard fight. We took a tough opponent – he’s smart, fast and strong.”
“I can’t wait to get in the ring. This is a job; I’m here to fight. That’s all that matters.
“We have 10 rounds or less to finish this fight. Why wouldn’t I want to knock him out? It’s 10 rounds or less for a reason. We’ll see tomorrow when we get in the ring.
“We’ve been doing this for a long time in Pittsburgh. You know what we’re about. I look forward to showing it in the ring.
“I’m relying on everyone from Pittsburgh to cheer me on. Once we get in the ring I won’t have to do any more talking.
“If I win this fight I’m going to fly to California for the (Omar) Figueroa-(Jerry) Belmontes fight. I want the winner of that. If they can’t make that happen then I’ll fight anyone with a big name. That’s what I’m ready for.
“I’m sick of being the guy that people build their fighters up against. I’m looking for a signature win to make myself viable in this division.
“People know I looked good against (Ricardo) Alvarez. I need to look good in this fight and get my big shot.
“I love fighting guys that come forward. I think Figueroa would be perfect for me. If you put me in there with that guy it’s going to be an exciting fight.
“I’m not looking past Collado. This guy is tough – he comes forward and comes to fight. But if I come out throwing 80 or 90 punches a round it’s going to tough to beat me.”
“I guarantee an exciting fight and a victory. I didn’t come here to lose.
“I went to Oxnard, Calif., to train with Robert Garcia and he’s done a hell of a job getting me ready.
“My outlook has always been the same and my style is the same. But Robert has improved my conditioning. I’m more well-rounded. My game has always been about reflexes and being quick, but training up there has made me a better fighter.
“He’s faced a few guys that might be tougher than me on paper. But at the same time I’m going to show why I’m the undefeated fighter.”
“This opportunity is everything. I wouldn’t mess this up for anything in the world. I’m here to win. I know Diaz is undefeated but I’m not anything or anybody to look past.
“I’m ready. I’ll fight this guy anywhere, anytime. I’m here to fight and I’m here to win.
“He not the toughest guy I’ve faced. I fought Kaizer Mabuza, who got a shot at a title, and I beat him. I think Diaz is between him and (Errol) Spence as far as talent. He may be tough, but tomorrow will be my day.
“His record doesn’t impress me. Olympics is Olympics, professional is professional. I went to Commonwealth games and was the captain of the Ghana team. I have a good amateur record as well. So I’m not afraid of him or his resume.
“I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for a very long time and I just didn’t get a chance. People always took me as an opponent but I always proved myself. This is the right time for me to prove who I really am.”
SAMMY VASQUEZ, JR.:
“He’s coming into my town and messing with what I represent. My record speaks for itself. It’s not me going to sleep. It’s time for him to lay down.
“I’m here to handle business. I’m happy that we get to do this in Pittsburgh and we get to showcase this city and our skills to the world.
“I’m excited for the opportunity. To be on TV is a great experience. I’ve been on AFN (American Forces Network) before and that was great, but this is a whole different level.
“I have family in Texas, Florida, California, and now they can all watch my fight on SHOWTIME.
“Bringing a nationally televised fight to my town is a big deal. I’ve trained hard. Everyone knows who I am here – that statement has been made – but I’m looking to show the rest of the country what I have.
“I respect every fighter that steps in there with me. My job is to get him out of there. I’ll set him up with the shots and take care of business. I’m the first undefeated fighter he’s faced so he’s looking to make a statement as well.
“I think I’ve definitely faced the tougher opponents.
“I’ve already received some messages from friends over in Afghanistan that they’re going to watch my fight on AFN. It means a lot to have my fellow veterans and active military supporting me overseas.”
JUAN RODRIGUEZ, JR.:
“We have two undefeated fighters both putting their records on the line early in their career. It’s going to be a show. We didn’t come here to lose and I know he didn’t come here to lose. But we’re here to put him to sleep.
“We will just beat him up really bad, abuse him. Even though sometimes the judges don’t agree, we can abuse him and have fun with him if we don’t knock him out.
“It’s a step up for both of us. We’re both equal fighters. I don’t think he has an advantage over me. He’s only fought one other fighter with an undefeated record so I’m not worried. It’s a step up for both of us.
“I’m looking to show the world out there what I’m really about. I’m looking to make a statement to my Puerto Rican fan base and everyone out there. I want to show them my skills and talent.
“It’s time for the beast to be unleashed.”
Barry Tompkins will call the ShoBox action from ringside with Steve Farhood and former world champion Raul Marquez serving as expert analysts. The executive producer is Gordon Hall with Richard Gaughan producing and Rick Phillips directing.