Lee Samuels: On behalf of Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank, welcome to the Antonio Margarito – Joel Casamayor media conference call. Antonio Margarito wants to make a statement – that he’s back. He’s got a big fight November 10 on “Fast and the Furious,” which features Miguel Cotto against Sugar Shane Mosley, Saturday, November 10, at Madison Square Garden, live on HBO Pay Per View. Antonio Margarito’s scheduled to fight Golden Johnson; it’s really a big fight. — a 12 round fight in the welterweight boxing division..
Antonio’s very excited for this fight. At this time I’d like to turn it over to Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum.
Bob Arum: It’s not usual in the sport of boxing that an outstanding – truly outstanding main event is joined with such terrific undercard matches as will take place on November 10.
Antonio Margarito, who’s here with us now, is a fearsome welterweight champion. He lost his title at least in the eyes of the judges on a very close decision earlier this year to Paul Williams.
But he’s a crowd pleasing favorite, a terrific fighter, and we’re putting him on this card for a reason. He’s fighting Golden Johnson who’s on a winning streak and is a former NABF welterweight champion.
And if Antonio comes through in this fight he’s certainly right in line to fight the winner of the Cotto-Mosley fight – the main event on the card.
So it’s a pleasure to turn this over to Antonio Margarito.
Antonio Margarito: I just want to tell everyone that I will be ready for this fight. I’m very happy to be included in this big show and I’m looking forward to fighting and getting a victory.
Q: How have the fans reacted to your loss to Paul Williams? How have they been treating you?
Margarito The fans have been great to me. They know (unintelligible) pressure to win the fight; I won the fight – they’ve been very supportive. And I think also Bob Arum has shown he believes in me by putting me on this big card and fighting on this important November 10 card.
In Golden Johnson I see a guy who likes to fight. I see a guy that comes to you and will be great – it will be great for me; it’ll be a great fight. There’s no other place for me to go but getting me a win and I need to get a win and that’s what I expect to do with the great preparation, the great training (unintelligible) that I had. I expect to come out a winner.
Q: In looking back at the fight with Paul Williams I know it was a very close fight; a very good fight. Do you believe that you started too slow and gave away too many of those early rounds you know, didn’t get into your rhythm until maybe midway through the fight and do you regret that?
Margarito: Yes, without a doubt, very regretful the way I started so slow. After watching the tape I noticed how slow I started. The guy was throwing punches that were not effective; they were just a lot of punches.
So all I have to do is do the same thing – come out from the first bell on and then start throwing punches no matter where they land or how they land.
Q: Do you think you won the fight or do you acknowledge that, you know, even though it was a really good fight and close fight that Paul Williams was just a little bit better than you on that night?
Margarito: Yea, at the time when I was fighting the fight I thought I was doing very well and I thought I was well ahead in the fight. But once I saw it on tape I can see where people would say, you know, maybe, you know, the first few rounds I lost because he was throwing a lot of punches; not that he was doing any damage with them but he was throwing a lot of punches.
And I can see where the judges would be impressed by that and I got into a hole which I didn’t know I was in. I can see why he did (unintelligible) think he would win the fight. I have no problem with that.
Q: Okay and also I’d like to know obviously you’ve got Golden Johnson in front of you on November the tenth. But I wonder it’s got to be in your mind that you are one of the favorites to get a shot at the winner, Cotto or Mosley.
I know you were supposed to fight Miguel Cotto and opted to take the Paul Williams fight instead.
How much do you think about the prospect of a big, big fight winner with the winner of a main event and if that is motivation or distraction?
Margarito: I’m very motivated. I’m very motivated knowing that if I win this fight, what’s out there for me. I know there’s a title fight waiting for me out there. So yes, I’m going to go real hard.
Q: Bob Arum mentioned that you’re up for the winner of the Cotto-Mosley fight. Are you interested in getting even with Paul Williams? I would think that would be a goal of yours.
Margarito: Without a doubt that’s something that I hope to do one day; fight him again. It would be up to Bob. Whomever he puts in front of me that’s who I’m going to fight. And if he thinks that’s who I should fight next I have no problem with that.
He had won the big fight and I would like to fight Paul Williams down the road.
Q: You chose Paul Williams over the Cotto fight before. What was your reason at that time?
Margarito: Well, the main factor for me was the title. I earned my title in the ring and I didn’t want to lose it like that. I had to fight this guy with my mandatory and I know I had to fight him to keep my title.
And maybe I should have gone straight to Cotto. There’s nothing I can do about it now
I was very confident I could beat Paul Williams. Things didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. But I’m right back in track so I’m looking forward to this fight and then fighting the winner and maybe Paul Williams down the road.
Q: What did you learn from that fight against Paul Williams that you can now do better?
Margarito: You always learn from every fight. It’s always different things to learn from every fight. I now know that I have to start fast, that I have to throw a lot of punches, and that’s what I intend to do in my next fight.
Q: They talk about you fighting Cotto or Mosley. Is your preference either guy which one would you like to fight?
Margarito: I don’t really think about that. I just hope that the winners give me the opportunity to fight.
I know that Golden Johnson’s going to be a tough fight. I know I have to get through that first, get the win, and then get the opportunity – I don’t care whoever wins, that’s who I want to fight.
Q: Bob, I’ve been noticing lately whether it’s just Top Rank or whether you’ve been co-promoting with Golden Boy that some of your last cards have actually had some pretty good undercards. And that’s something that we have seen relatively in the early nineties (unintelligible) and we actually had some pretty good undercard fights. And it’s something that has been missing in the last few years.
So lately I’ve been noticing that you guys have been trying to – whether it’s inadvertently or on purpose try to put some strong undercards. Is that something we can expect from you to continue in the future?
Bob Arum: Yes, it’s certainly on purpose; not an accident. Because the reasoning – at least with Richard Schafer and me – was people are spending money to watch boxing. Now they’re paying to see the main event. But they’re paying and therefore everything that’s presented to them should be quality.
And that means every fight that’s on the card that’s shown on the telecast has to be and should be a quality fight. And I think if all promoters endeavor to do that the business of boxing would be a lot better.
And it’s only fair – it’s only smart business if you want people to continue to pay money to watch an event on television. They’re there for three hours, three and a half hours, entertain them with the best possible boxing for those three hours.
Now some people say that we learned this from the UFC because as much as I dislike that mixed martial art that they show at least you can’t tell every fight seems like it’s the same as the other fights. In other words there’s no fall off – particular fall off in the fights. There may be fall off in name value but not in the competition.
And that’s what – that’s helped them build a franchise. And I think boxing – at least as far as Golden Boy and ourselves are concerned – see that as a way to encourage more customers.
Q: Antonio what do you know about Golden and what kind of a fight are you expecting.
Margarito: I’ve seen about three videos of him. I’ve seen the fight that he had with Shane [Mosley.] I saw the fight that he had with Hernandez, Freddy Hernandez, and I saw his last fight.
And it looked to me that he likes to come to fight. He wants to win just like I do. And I think that will be a great fight because we’ll both be coming at each other; be an entertaining fight. And I think the fans are going to enjoy our fight.
Q: His style is different than Paul Williams. Do you think that Golden’s style fits you a little better?
Margarito: Without a doubt. I think our styles will match up a lot better than I did with Paul Williams. Paul Williams was just throwing a lot of punches – pitty patting punches not really hard. But I think Golden’s going to stand his ground and he’s going to throw hard punches and I expect that from him.
Q: Do you respect Golden? It’s not just a tune up for you?
Margarito: No. I would never get into a fight or expect an easy fight. I never underestimate anyone or anything in the ring. In the ring anything can happen. He wants to win just like I want to win – he wants to win.
And no, I’m surely going to be ready for him. It’s a big fight for me and I need to win it.
Q: The last time we saw you out here in the East Coast you had – we knew you were coming in with some injuries when you fought Joshua Clottey. How do you feel for this one? Are you hurt? I know you had the wrist injury after the fight. How do you feel now?
Margarito It’s feeling great. I haven’t hurt myself. My wrist has been real well. I was a little hesitant about my wrist going into the Williams fight. But I came out great and I feel good. It’s been a real good training camp; no injuries, nothing.
Q: You had a hard time getting anybody to fight you for awhile there. You think the loss will actually help you get more fights than the fights that you want?
Margarito: Yes. Obviously it has been difficult for me to get the fights that I want. Maybe there’s a silver lining after this loss and I will get more opportunities, more fights, now that everybody thinks maybe I’m beatable. Maybe I will get those opportunities that I’ve been seeking.
Q: Mr. Arum, you had said that Margarito’s in line to face the winner of the Cotto-Mosley fight.
Q: Not to say that, you know pending a victorious outcome on Cotto’s part, not to say that the Cotto-Margarito fight wouldn’t be a great fight because it would. But I think the boxing public would be looking to see if maybe, you know, Cotto would fight Floyd Mayweather…
Arum: Well I think the question should be phrased differently. Would Floyd Mayweather, the dancing star, fight Miguel Cotto or Shane Mosley? And I think the answer there would generally be in the negative.
Mayweather’s only fighting guys he can beat. Mayweather never would fight Margarito, you know that. He won’t fight Mosley – you know that. He won’t fight Cotto. So forget Floyd Mayweather.
Floyd Mayweather has a choice. He’s made an awful lot of money and he can take the $100 bills and keep throwing them away to the public in night clubs. That’s his choice.
Q: Before you fought Paul Williams you were the WBO welterweight champion for quite awhile. Are you disappointed that you didn’t get an immediate rematch or an immediate opportunity to fight Paul Williams again?
Margarito: You know, it’s up to Paul. If Paul wants me to do the rematch with him I guess that’s what we’ll do. But right now we’re talking about November 10, getting a big victory, looking good, and then go see what we can do about fighting the winner.
Paul Williams will be there down the road and I’m sure if Paul wants to make a fight we’ll make that fight.
Q: How much do you know Golden Johnson? Is there anything about Golden Johnson that you think will be challenging or to a certain extent do you think Golden Johnson poses any type of threat to you?
Margarito: I don’t think it’s an easy fight by any means. I think his experience is going to be key. I know he knows how to take care of himself in the ring. And we’re going to have to work real hard for the victory.
But there’s no doubt in my mind that I’m going to beat him.
Q: Will you be paying attention to the fight between Shane Mosley and Miguel Cotto? And who do you think wins and why?
Margarito: I really have no choice. I’m going to watch the fight with interest. I hope it’s a good fight. And whoever wins I just hope they give me the opportunity. It doesn’t matter to me which one of those two guys win as long as I get the opportunity to fight them next.
The only thing I guess I would have a choice would be if Cotto wins because that’s always been the greater rivalry has been fights between Mexicans and Puerto Ricans. And I think in Mexico and Puerto Rico and everywhere else it’s be something that people would expect to be a great fight.
END OF MARGARITO CALL
JOEL CASAMAYOR CONFERENCE CALL
David Itskowitch: We’re excited that Joel Casamayor will be making his debut as a Golden Boy fighter on this amazing undercard of an amazing pay per view show. I think top to bottom this is one of the best shows in a long, long time.
Joel is going to be defending his Ring magazine and WBC interim lightweight championship titles against Jose Armando Santa Cruz which is an up-to-his- neck fight; it’s going to be a tough fight for Joel.
But Joel is ready for the fight. He’s been out of the ring for a little while but he’s excited to get back. And I will turn it over to Joel now for some opening statements. So everyone here’s Joel Casamayor from Miami, Florida by way of Cuba.
Joel Casamayor: First of all I want to thank the media for being here and taking the time out to spend with me. I’m pleased to be with Golden Boy Promotions. It’s my first fight out with them and (unintelligible) I want to prove to them they made the right choice by signing me.
I haven’t fought in a year but I feel great; and come November 10 we’ll put a nice show on.
Q: Joel, I understand you’re back training with Joe Goossen. Can you just explain how that reunion came about and how things have been going with Joe? And also what exactly was the cause for the separation in the first place since obviously they had made such a good team for such a long time?
Casamayor: First of all Joe Goossen is a great trainer. Joe and I have a lot of history together. We’ve won world titles together. We split up after the first Corrales fight. There was a problem with my management team; they basically wanted me to go train in a camp and Joe couldn’t leave his family.
So it wasn’t an ugly break up between us. We never had a problem. And basically it came time where I had been off for a year and I needed a lot of hard work, a lot of hard sparring. And I could only think of one guy that who could get me back on the ball — Joe Goossen.
So I think in the next two, three years we’re going to make a lot of history and we’re going to win a couple more world titles together and hopefully retire together happily.
Q: Joel, there’s a lot of stuff that goes on in boxing with politics and titles being stripped away. And obviously you had the recognition as the real and one and only true lightweight champion after you defeated Diego [Corrales] in your third fight together. The belts kind of got stripped away from you; you still have The Ring magazine title.
Does it bother you that even though people like myself and many other fans consider you to be the true one and only lightweight champion that there are other members of the media and also fighters out there who have various sanctioning organization titles that ignore you because you don’t have one of the main sanctioning body titles and don’t refer to you as champion?
Casamayor: Since I was a kid in Cuba I’ve been fighting the best (unintelligible) I won the Olympic gold medal in ‘92. In ’96 I was supposed to repeat. I left – I came to America to fight the best. That’s all I’ve done in my career; I’ve fought a lot of great fighters including Corrales, [Jose Luis] Castillo, [Acelino] Freitas when he was the real Freitas. Campbell – I beat [Nate] Campbell, I pushed him back. I ran a lot of guys out the ring.
You know what? I understand why these guys don’t want to fight me because I don’t have a belt. But you know what? I feel like (unintelligible) is the leverage (unintelligible) title for The Ring magazine belt and I’m a warrior. It doesn’t matter who they put in front of me, you know what I’m saying?
And for whoever has doubts November 10, they can tune in and watch the pay-per-view. It’s going to be a great show. We’ve got a great event and tune in and I can show you guys who the real lightweight champion is, without question.
Q: Joel my question is recently two Cuban fighters got held up at the PanAm games; they were going to try to defect or maybe they weren’t going to try to defect. Either way they got transported back to Cuba from the recent PanAm games.
Having gone through this process yourself how do you feel about what happened to these guys and do you have any sense of what their life is going to be like back now in Cuba?
Casamayor: First of all I don’t feel like the guys basically were setting up – they didn’t do the right thing for them. And that’s basically what happened. They got caught over in Brazil which worked with Cuba. This is a bad situation for the kids because now their careers are basically over; two kids who had a good future.
And I think when you make a decision like that you’ve got to make the decision and go. You know what I’m saying? Like I did in Mexico in ’06 when we made our decision, we crossed over and met with the head of Mexico when we crossed over. You have a decision you’ve got to make within seconds. It’s not something you can wait a week or two weeks. Because once you get sent back, your life is over and that’s basically where they’re at right now at this point in their life.
Q: Joel, this is your second appearance at The Garden. How do you feel about fighting in New York City at Madison Square Garden, formerly the ‘Mecca of Boxing;’ so much history there?
How do you feel about The Garden and fighting in New York City?
Casamayor: I’m very happy. It’s the house that’s happening. I feel a kinship with it since one of the top champions, Kid Gavilan, who was a Cuban, was very famous for fighting at Madison Square Garden along with a lot of other (unintelligible). It’s just a pleasure to be able to lace my gloves up and lace my boots up there and go to war.
My first fight at The Garden, against Kid Diamond, I thought I won; that got a draw. But you know what? Everyone’s got their opinion. And I feel like I owe The Garden (unintelligible) and come November 10 I’m going to put on a great show. You know what I’m saying? Just keep showing the world who the best 135-pounder is in the world.
Q: What kind of a problem can Santa Cruz present to you? And what have you done to prepare for Santa Cruz?
Casamamayor: Armando Santa Cruz is a good fighter. I sparred with him for the first Corrales fight and the third Corrales fight; he was one of my main sparring partners. So we know each other pretty well. But that’s sparring and once that headgear comes off and the punches come on, there’s a difference.
To be honest with you I do what I do every fight to get in great shape, I work my butt off and you know what? Once I step in the ring I want to fight; that’s all I want to do. And to be honest with you when you fight against me you’ve got to prepare for me – I don’t have to prepare for you, you know what I’m saying?
I’m going to do everything possible to make sure I leave that ring with my titles.
Q: Both Julio and Juan Diaz said that they offered fights to you and they were both turned down. My question is what happened? What stopped you from taking those fights?
Casamayor: (laughing) Where were those contracts? When was that ever brought up? I don’t know anything about that. Everybody knows Joel Casamayor backs down from no one.
Everybody knows I’m a warrior; I’ve never backed down from anyone. After I beat Corrales in our first fight I gave him a rematch five months later. I’m not afraid of anyone. Joel Casamayor is going to be scared of Juan and Julio?
That’s disrespectful to me. If Julio or Juan Diaz can be so certain about that then let them sign the contract and let’s fight. There’s nothing to talk about.
Q: Joel, I would like to know what influenced you to sign with Golden Boy. And now that you’re with Golden Boy Promotions do you think it’ll be a lot easier now to get fights?
Casamayor: 100%. They’ve been getting big fights for everybody. That’s one of the main reasons I came and signed with them. I know Oscar’s a good guy and Eric and David and everybody at Golden Boy are great people.
And they understand the type of fighter I am and basically this whole year that I’ve been held back in my career that’s made me feel like after this fight I’ve got to prove myself to them and they’ve got to prove themselves to me.
Next year they’ve got to put a big fighter in front of me and I promise I’m not going to lose it.
Q: Now as far as Jose Armando Santa Cruz goes, he fought David Diaz for the title a year ago. And Santa Cruz was ahead on the scorecards and he was winning the fight up until he got cornered.
Among the elite at they 135 pound division where do you rank Santa Cruz? Do you look at him kind of like the gatekeeper of the division or…
Casamayor: The kid to me he’s top guy – top-ten in the lightweight division. He was beating David Diaz easy. I think the kid might be a better fighter than David Diaz. People get lucky shots in the kid might be – to be honest with you might be better than any of the Diaz’s. He’s a very lanky guy; he’s tall, he got a good jab. He’s a strong kid.
He’s got a suspect chin but let me tell you one thing, when he steps into the ring November 10 he won’t be in there with David Diaz or anybody else. He’ll be in there with Joel Casamayor, the great Cuban, and he’s going to have to step up to the plate if he wants to beat me.
Cuban fighters are the best fighters in the world. They’ve proved that at the Olympic games. And I know the Olympics are different from fighting in the pros, but I mean when you go then you take ten of 11 fights or 12 of the 13 fights, I mean you’ve got to prove that you’re the best.
And no doubt in my mind. If Cuba was to ever open up these kids would come over here and dominate. There’s no doubt in my mind.
Q: Basically you laughed at the fact that either one of the Diaz’s had offered you a fight.
And in the past you’ve complained about not getting some of the big fights. You’re winding down your career. Over the next couple of years more than likely you’re going to retire. Do you think maybe you’re going to have to leave the 135 pound division – maybe go up to 140 to get those last few really big high profile fights that you want before you retire?
Casamayor: I’m the type of warrior that it doesn’t matter what it takes. I want to be in a big fight and that’s the type of stage I perform best in. And if it takes my moving up to 140, or maybe welterweight, it doesn’t matter. I’m that type of level of fighter, that type of caliber where I could beat anybody in the world from 135 to 145. I mean it doesn’t matter.
But I feel like there are enough big fights at 135 where I could probably –Pacquiao is a name I’ve been throwing up and (unintelligible) Juan. And (unintelligible) but I mean there’s (unintelligible) I know he probably don’t want no piece of me either.
But like I say if I’ve got to move up past 135 I’ll do it. It’s no problem.
Q: And my other question was going to have to be with Pacquiao because there has been a lot of rumors that, you know, you just said yourself that you’ve been throwing that name out a lot.
A year ago when I had interviewed you before your last Corrales fight, you had told me that you wanted to fight with Pacquiao.
Is there any type of bad blood between you guys – something that happened, you know, outside of boxing that makes you want to fight Pacquiao so bad?
Casamayor: No bad blood. The bad blood is people are saying he’s the best pound for pound fighter around my division – the junior lightweight division. I say hold up there, I’m the best pound for pound fighter around any one of these weight classes.
And I just want to prove to the world that – Pacquiao is a good fighter, he’s a strong guy. He throws a lot of punches but there’s a class B and a class A and I’m that class A. I want to prove that to the world because everyone feels like Pacquiao is a killer and I feel like it’d be easy work for me. That’s the reason (unintelligible) ducking and hiding.
Q: Because of all the politics in boxing it’s been about a year since you’ve been in the ring and that last fight with the late Diego Corrales.
What you’ve been doing over the past year both to stay in shape and what fights you thought might have come up? And also the preparation leading up to this fight with Santa Cruz?
Casamayor: To be honest with you outside of not fighting it was a great year. I spent a lot of time with my family, I rested my body. I had a (unintelligible) to get a fight in Panama; it didn’t come through. I basically – I was going to wait around for the Juan Diaz fight. He didn’t want to fight. He took Freitas.
I’m willing to fight either one of them; they didn’t want to make that happen. So basically for that year I mean I sat out. I was in Miami with my family just resting with my kids. My body rested good. Like I said I feel good – better.
And basically we left ten weeks ago to start training for Santa Cruz who you know is a rough guy. He’s a top-rated fighter. It was the first name Eric Gomez threw at me and I accepted it no problem.
As I always say I’m not afraid to fight anybody. I want the best. I prepared hard doing what I always do – I came back with Joe Goossen and started work.
Q: Santa Cruz has fought twice this year although not on the very top level. Do you think there’s going to be any problem with ring rust for having not fought in about a year?
Casamayor: I feel stronger than ever and I’m ready to fight. I’ve been waiting a year to fight. And once the bell rings I feel like the rust is going to leave my body because I’ve got that type of superior ability where I can be able to move and make things happen, and get into the fight real early and take it from there.
Q: Last thing related to a point that was made earlier. Do you think from the boxing media and just the general sports media that you’re getting the respect that you deserve because the only official losses that you have on your record – the split decisions and the one decision to Freitas really could have gone the other way? In other words it’s conceivable that you could still be undefeated at this point.
But do you think everybody recognizes that at this stage?
Casamayor: It hurts. When you beat the best you are the best. That’s the way I’ve been, and that’s the way I feel. I beat the late great Diego Corrales about a year ago. I haven’t been rewarded for it.
Speaking on those three losses I feel like I won all three fights. They were three close fights but you know what? You can’t cry about it. You’ve got to move forward. Now I’m with a big company like de la Hoya and they’re pushing behind me and I don’t think things like that will happen.
But let me tell you I’m really, really disappointed that I haven’t been getting the respect I deserve. In my heart I know I’m undefeated. There are a lot of people and a lot of fans and a lot of media who also feel I’m undefeated.
And like I said I can’t look back on the past.
All I can do is look forward to November 10, put on a great showing, and after that, hopefully come next year we’ve got a huge fight. Hopefully it’s Pacquiao, hopefully it’s Juan Diaz. It doesn’t matter.
Q: Joel, do you view your next fight against Santa Cruz can be just as dangerous as an opponent as let’s say maybe a Manny Pacquiao or a Juan Diaz perhaps?
Casamayor: Basically Santa Cruz is a great fighter. He’s a top contender. He’s got things that Diaz and Pacquiao don’t like — the tall frame and long arms. He throws a lot of punches. Santa Cruz might be better than both of them.
I’m going to make easy work of him because that’s what I do.
Q: Your reaction to Juan Diaz’s momentum in recent months beating Freitas and Julio Diaz in consecutive fights. Is he the man to beat at 135?
Casamayor: No way. No way. I’m the guy to beat at 135 pounds – it’s me. Freitas, you know, he had a year off. He’s (unintelligible) title (unintelligible). Juan Diaz made him quit; same thing with Julio. These are two different type of caliber fighters.
I mean look at their records. Look at the (unintelligible), look at the people he’s fought. I’m the real champion like I said in a lot of magazines I’m the true lightweight champion and…I’m the guy to beat at 135 pounds and if he beats me then he’s the guy at 135 pounds. But until someone steps in the ring and beats me I’m the man.