Bernie Bahrmasel: Welcome, and thanks to the media from around the globe for joining us on this international media conference call for Fight for Peace: Heavyweight History, featuring the World Boxing Council heavyweight championship between the two top-rated contenders, Bermane “B. Ware” Stiverne, and Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola set for Saturday, May 10th at the USC Galen Center on the campus of the University of Southern California in downtown Los Angeles and telecast live on ESPN.
At this time, it is my pleasure to turn over to the call to Mr. Dan Goossen of Goossen Tutor Promotions.
Dan Goossen: Well thanks, Bernie. It looked like you stole my script. I don’t know how in the hell you did that, and now I’ve got nothing to say. But welcome to everybody with the media, appreciate you getting on this early time, and we’re getting closer and closer, a lot of good fights coming up in the next few weeks in our sport. And I think, quite frankly, our heavyweight fight for the WBC heavyweight championship stands up on top. You’ve got two great heavyweights that are willing to go toe-to-toe to bring back the excitement that has been stagnant for many years since Mike Tyson.
However, we’ve got to be realistic here and Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko have been great, great champions. It’s just we need to bring that title back to the United States and keep it out here. One of the other facets of this promotion and something that I think is right there side-by-side of having this heavyweight championship competed at the USC Galen Center out here in Los Angeles is the emergence of the worldwide leader in sports in ESPN stepping up to the plate and making this a reality to bring this fight to the millions and millions of viewers they have on ESPN in this special primetime Saturday night.
And one of the key people on this is Brian Kweder of ESPN. I wanted to introduce him and let him say a few words. Brian, you’ve got it.
Brian Kweder: Thanks, Dan. We at ESPN were thrilled to get the call from Dan regarding this heavyweight world-title fight. We’re happy to be airing it on ESPN. We definitely appreciate that Dan and Don King saw the value of providing this fight to the wide masses of ESPN’s audience, which reaches 98 million homes, and also on ESPN Deportes and via broadband on WatchESPN.
ESPN has a long history of carrying world-class fights through our Friday Night Fights series, but we’re definitely stepping up our game a bit here with this fight. We also feel like we’re capturing the heavyweight division like no one has in a long time by showing the Wladimir Klitschko/Alex Leapai fight on Saturday, April 26th. That fight will be used to help drive folks to the May 10th fight as well between Chris Arreola and Bermane Stiverne.
The two fights together working in tandem really do a great job of painting the entire heavyweight picture as it stands today in boxing, and here at ESPN we’re real excited about the heavyweight division because there’s a lot of up and coming young fighters and some established fighters who are really making a name for themselves like Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola and several other high-profile American heavyweights coming up through the pipeline.
The other reason we jumped on this fight was because of the historical significance of it. Obviously, Chris Arreola if he were to win the fight would become the first fighter of Mexican descent to win the heavyweight championship, and Bermane Stiverne would be the first fighter of Haitian descent to win the heavyweight championship, so we have that story line as well.
I just wanted to express my gratitude to Dan Goossen and Don King for all the work they’re doing to make this a great fight, and we look forward to broadcasting it on Saturday, May 10th on ESPN, ESPN Deportes, and WatchESPN. Thanks, Dan.
Dan Goossen: Well, thank you very much, Brian. I’ve got to tell you, and for all you guys out there and ladies that are writing about this and covering it, hopefully you’re excited as I am just listening to Brian speak about having 98 million home out there. I just think that’s tremendous for our sport, bring a lot more eyeballs and attention to not only to boxing but to this heavyweight division which I think is greatly needed.
So, Brian, and I know from the production end we’re going to have Matt Sandulli bringing in a great, great broadcast for the viewers around the globe along with Steven McDonald who you probably have seen on a lot of the press releases, head of PR over at ESPN and spearheading it for this boxing event. But again, I think it says a lot having not only Wladimir fighting on ESPN but then coming out with this heavyweight championship fight, and we know it’s going to be a great fight between two deserving top contenders.
Speaking of that, we’ve got Bermane Stiverne on the phone with us right now along with his manager Camille Estephan. And Camille and Bermane have been a joy to work with. I know that he’s been training out of Las Vegas, Nevada out of Floyd Mayweather’s Gym, and for those of you that live out in that area we will be doing something with Bermane on an open workout next week.
We’ll get you more information on that, but I’d like to have Bermane say a few words and give a hello to the media out there. Bermane?
Bermane Stiverne: Hi guys. I’m just happy to be a part of this. Personally to me it’s a long time coming. I’ve been patient for quite a while. I’m just happy to be able to fight for the title. Obviously I believe that I will be crowned the heavyweight champion. Basically, I’m just happy. I’m just happy that ESPN was able to jump on board and surprise everybody, and I just want to thank ESPN, DKP, Dan Goossen, Brian from ESPN, Camille, my team, everybody. So I’m ready to go.
I’m to the point where I don’t want to be in the gym anymore. I’m ready to go. I’m ready to go right away. So to me it’s a great opportunity to, like Dan said, about the 90-plus million people that will attempt to watch the fight. This is great coverage, and who better to do it than ESPN? So I’m really looking forward to making history and bringing the title back to America and also being the first Haitian to be heavyweight champion of the world.
Dan Goossen: Thank you, Bermane. Now we’ll open it up for any questions you might have for Bermane or his manager, Camille, who’s also on the phone, as I mentioned, or for ESPN and Brian Kweder.
Bernie Bahrmasel: Our first question comes from Dan Rafael senior boxing writer from ESPN.com. Dan, go ahead please
Dan Rafael: Thank you, Bernie. Hello guys. Bermane, I have a question for you about this fight. After you beat Chris last year you were supposed to fight Vitali Klitschko, the reigning titleholder at the time. He retired. My question for you is, is there any sense of disappointment that you’re not fighting Klitschko for the title and that you have to fight Chris in a rematch, or are you just as happy to be fighting a rematch with Chris because the ultimate goal is to get the belt?
B. Stiverne: Right. I mean, to me personally it wasn’t about whom I was going to fight. I knew I was going to fight for the title, but I just didn’t know who would win, and to me honestly I’m just happy to fight for the title. You don’t have a lot of heavyweights that even fight for the title. Some heavyweights have been there for 20, 25 years and never fought for the title, and I’m thankful and grateful to be able to do so.
So I’m really happy about being able to fight for the title. I mean, it didn’t matter who; it was just I wanted to fight for the title and have that chance to become a champion.
Dan Rafael: Bermane, did you feel a little bit jerked around by Vitali though because they had the purse bid scheduled a few times; then said he got injured? It got put off. It got delayed by the WBC. And you know, that’s valuable time from you where you’ve been sitting there mandatory for a long time, and then he retired, and then first it had to go through the process all over again to get this fight with you and Chris set up.
Was there any sense of frustration during that period of time while you were unsure whether Vitali would fight you or what was going to happen? I guess this is going back maybe about, whatever, five, six months ago.
Bermane Stiverne: I wouldn’t say disappointed; I think it was a lack of respect because I believe that he knew what he was going to do. So he pretty much took his time, and he was babysitting the title so to speak. But it didn’t really frustrate me because I knew somehow one day I would be fighting for the title, and I also knew that nobody could take that away from me.
I just didn’t know who would win, but I never got frustrated. I just felt that at a point I was being disrespected. But we’re here today, so all that is in the past, so I’m happy about the outcome and how it was going to happen was how it was going to happen.
Dan Rafael: That’s great. Now I’ve just got one more question for you. So you’re fighting Chris again; you beat him – well I guess it was last April. You did so rather handily on the scorecards. You knocked him down. You broke his nose. It was a good fight, but you definitely were the clear winner.
My question is then do you think that do you have to change anything up, or do you think you can go to the same sort of plan and just do basically what you did the last time since you already have a clear 12-round win against him in your first matchup? How will this one be any different for you if at all?
Bermane Stiverne: Different as whatever I did in the first fight I would do it better, way better. I’m not going in the ring with that – with my last performance, so we’re getting ready for a new type of Arreola. So whatever Arreola shows up on May 10th, I’ll be able to handle that. And to be honest, I think this fight I think Chris will be in shape. That’s his excuse.
But I believe that Chris is going to bring the best out of me. That’s how I see it. The more in shape that he is, the more trouble he’s going to be in.
Dan Rafael: Alright, Bermane. Thank you very much. I wish you good luck on the fight, appreciate it.
Bernie Bahrmasel: Dan, thanks very much for joining us. Next up from the boxing capital of the world, Las Vegas, Steve Carp from the Las Vegas Review Journal. Go ahead, Steve.
Steve Carp: Two questions: one, have you thought about how winning the heavyweight title will change her life?
Bermane Stiverne: Sometimes it’s kind of scary when you think about all these great heavyweights that had the title, and I’m to the point where it’s like, wow, I’ll be able to put my hands on the title that Tyson had and Ali and Lennox Lewis. So I mean, it’s just I don’t know. It’s just a dream that’s in front of me, and just all I got to do is go and grab it. But it feels good. I just don’t know. I’m working hard for this. I’m putting everything I’ve got to this, a lot of sacrifices that half the people I know wouldn’t do.
I mean you’re talking about literally turning my back on my loved ones and kids and not being able to see them for a couple months. I’ve been gone since December, and this is the only way I do it. This is the only way I know how to do it is to leave and go to camp and kind of like be in my little cave mentally and physically. So I put a lot on the line – not a lot. I put everything I’ve got on the line for this, and it will pay off. I believe it will pay off, and this is where I’m at with it.
Steve Carp: And one other question: training at Floyd’s Gym and you see the work he puts in on a daily basis I’m wondering how much of that rubs off on you or motivates you when you see not only Floyd but his other fighters and I’m just wondering if any of that has kind of rubbed off on you and motivated you?
Bermane Stiverne: Of course. Well, I am one of the original members, the first member of the gym, and I pretty much changed my way of training in my career when I moved to – when I went to that gym and saw Floyd training. There’s something that you got to see with your own eyes from a man that has everything that he wants in the world, and basically he trains like he’s still poor, like he’s still hungry. I’m very grateful to be around him, to be able to see him training. To me it’s just a plus to be around these type of individuals and to see – to be able to see one of the best, or the best, fighter in my era.
Steve Carp: Very good, thanks.
Bernie Bahrmasel: Next up joining us from Germany, Steven Joergens from Sports Bild. Go ahead, Steven.
Steven Joergens: Good morning, gentlemen. Bermane, I was wondering in your career, three-year plan, after this fight do you think about – when you win, do you want to go after Wladimir Klitschko – because he’s considered the best at the moment – as fast as possible to get after him, and how do you like your chances in a fight with him?
Bermane Stiverne: Well, right now this is not something that’s on my mind right now. My focus is on Chris Arreola and the title. Obviously this is something that me and my team and manager would look at, but right now this is not something that I’m personally thinking about right now.
Steven Joergens: One quick follow-up: What would you say what is the state of the heavyweights in North America at the moment after all those years of Klitschko holding the title, and what can you bring to give it a shot into the arm?
Bermane Stiverne: Oh, the state of the heavyweight division right now is – or will be back May 10th. I believe that I am going to bring the excitement back. I believe that I am in my prime right now, and, like I said, I’m looking forward to May 10th because this is going to be a great fight, not only for me or for Chris, but it’s going to be a good fight for the fans, and we’ll be able to honor the sport on ESPN and be able to bring that excitement that was missed, that all the fans missed for so long.
Like Dan Goossen said, not since Mike Tyson or Lennox has there been too much excitement in that division. So I’m looking forward to bringing that back.
Steven Joergens: Okay, thank you very much.
Bernie Bahrmasel: Thank you, Steven, for joining us. Next up from Ring Magazine and RingTV.com, Lem Satterfield. Go ahead, Lem.
Lem Satterfield: Dan, are you there?
Dan Goossen: I’m here.
Elm Satterfield: Chris Arreola and actually Bermane, when I talked to Bermane in Las Vegas at one point, he said that some of the so-called younger fighters, some of the guys that are being touted out there, really aren’t as good as they are. Bermane pretty much predicted that Chris was going to do to Seth Mitchell what he ended up doing. Can you characterize these two guys as the two best guys, and do you think the right guys are fighting, and why do you think the right two guys are fighting for the vacant heavyweight title?
Dan Goossen: Well, I think they’ve been tried and tested, whereas the other young fighters you really don’t know how good someone is until they fight someone that we know is good. So Chris obviously has had that distinction, and then Bermane got a taste of it in April of last year. So those are the obstacles that anyone that we’re going to put a tag on being real contenders have to go through before they can become real contenders.
Lem Satterfield: Dan, one more question for you: Any significance do you see to the fact that this conference call is taking place 13 years ago to the day that Hasim Rahman beat Lennox Lewis, knocked him out on April 22, 2001 and brought the championship back to the United States?
Dam Goossen: Well, obviously Bernie must have relayed our inner-office conversation about that because we specifically targeted that date.
Lem Satterfield: Why?
Dan Goossen: Because we knew you’d ask about it, Lem.
Lem Satterfield: Okay. Bermane, I have a couple questions for you. How are you doing?
Bermane Stiverne: Good.
Lem Satterfield: First of all, how long have you lived in Las Vegas?
Bermane Stiverne: I’ve lived in Vegas ten years.
Lem Satterfield: And how long have you been going to Mayweather’s gym?
Bermane Stiverne: Since it opened in 2007 I believe.
Lem Satterfield: Alright, and in terms of your having been out of the ring – and Dan Rafael made a reference to you having to wait on Klitschko – it’s almost been a year since you fought Chris Arreola. What have you done to prevent yourself from getting rusty, from getting stale? I know you said you worked out. Can you characterize what you’ve done in the last year to be ready for this?
Bermane Stiverne: I mean, I’m a professional athlete, so I always make sure that I’m doing something, whether it’s running or – it can be basketball. I remember after the last fight I had with Chris last April, maybe for the next four or five months I went back to Florida, and I was on a basketball league for about three or four months. So it could be different things, and I’m still in the gym.
I just keep myself busy and so I don’t get out of shape. Like I tell you, man, I’m a professional athlete. So I have to be in some type of shape even when I’m off-season or if I’m not fighting.
Lem Satterfield: Okay. My last question for you is, as Dan Goossen made a reference, Chris Arreola was kind of a known quantity if not a proven quantity having fought Klitschko and Thomas Adamek before having faced you. Yet a lot of people I thought – and I don’t know if you heard this – felt like your one loss, they bring that up.
Were you the underdog going into that fight – correct me if I’m wrong – and also did you feel like you showed what you’re capable of against a known quantity when you fought Chris and beat him like you did?
Bermane Stiverne: Yeah, to me I didn’t feel like I was the underdog, but I knew I was. Whether you talk about the fans or the media, Arreola was a big favorite, a huge favorite. And listen, I’ve been watching Arreola for so long I knew – and I know still today – that Arreola is tailor-made for me. I have the style, and I’m able to be smart in the ring and do certain things that he can’t do. So to me I just have to prove to whoever thought that it was impossible for me to win the fight, go out there and beat him.
Bernie Bahrmasel: Lem, thank you very much for joining us. We’re going to take one more question for Bermane Stiverne from Eddie Goldman, No Holds Barred. Go ahead, Eddie.
Eddie Goldman: Thank you very much. Hello, Bermane. I have a question, but this has really been a long time coming. You’ve been fighting for a long time, and, as you know, people counted you out. Really until perhaps the Arreola fight and maybe the Ray Austin fight people weren’t giving you a lot of respect. How did you mentally stay on course and stay confident that you were going to be able to get a heavyweight title shot as you’re getting now?
Bermane Stiverne: Well, believing what I can do. I knew what I could do in the ring, so people that didn’t know me obviously would judge me from the fight with Austin, which I didn’t look too good. But I always believed in myself and believed in my skills, so no matter what people said about me I never doubted myself.
Bernie Bahrmasel: I’m going to turn it over now back to Dan Goossen of Goossen Tutor Promotions. Go ahead, Dan.
D. Goossen: Thank you, Bernie and Bermane and Camille. I know you didn’t get any questions asked, but I’m sure you’ll be doing a lot of talking next week or the week of the event, but thank you for being on.