NEW YORK – Six of the world’s best 154-pound boxers met face-to-face at the Highline Ballroom in Manhattan on Thursday at the final press conference for this Saturday’s world championship tripleheader live on SHOWTIME.
The Premier Boxing Champions event taking place at Barclays Center, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING®, features five fighters ranked in the top 10 – and four in the top five – in one of boxing’s deepest divisions. The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast begins at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT and is headlined by WBA Super Welterweight World Champion Erislandy “The American Dream” Lara making the sixth defense of his title against undefeated contender Terrell Gausha.
In the co-feature, WBC Super Welterweight Champion Jermell “Iron Man” Charlo will defend his title against fellow unbeaten No. 1 contender Erickson “Hammer” Lubin. IBF Junior Middleweight Champion “Swift” Jarrett Hurd makes the first defense of his title against former world champion Austin “No Doubt” Trout in the televised opener.
Tickets to the event are on sale now and start at $50 (not including applicable fees). Tickets can be purchased at ticketmaster.com, barclayscenter.com or by calling 800-745-3000. Tickets can also be purchased at the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center. Group discounts are available by calling 844-BKLYN-GP.
Here’s what the fighters had to say on Thursday:
“On Oct.14, I will show why I’m the No. 1 fighter in the division.
“Just another day at work; another day at the office for me. I have to do what I have to do and be a smart boxer to win this fight. I’m going to have to show a little bit of everything: show my boxing, and show my power. He will see a little bit of everything on Saturday night.
“Absolutely I want to unify. That’s what I’m here for – to win all the belts. After this fight, hopefully one of these young guns will step up to the plate and fight me.
“I will show everybody I’m the best in the 154-pound division, and I’m here for a long time. It’s very important to bring this world title back to the people of Houston. There’s been a lot of tragedy in Houston, and I hope with this win it brings just a little bit of joy to my fans and people going through a hard time.”
“This is going to be my best performance to date and I look to be sharp and focused. I love the competition and the tough challenges, and I look to be at point on Saturday night.
“It’s time for the young guys and Olympians like me, Errol Spence and Rau’Shee Warren to take over. It’s our time.
“I’ve got a huge support system in Cleveland and my mom has a busload of people coming to see me. To have fans like that come and support you makes you want to dig down deep and get that win.”
“We had a strong camp with my sparring partners in Dallas. We know who’s below us. This young guy here [Lubin] has a big fight coming up. I already know what I have to do. They got to be the ones that try and figure out a game plan. Try and come up with a ‘Plan B’ or ‘Plan A.’ You got a lot of hype man, a lot of people around you buzzing. They keep you going, they keep you rowdy. That’s good. We clap too, we love it. We enjoy it. But Saturday night, the fight that I thought should have been the main event of the card is going to be the one that steals the show. We did this before, we will do it again.
“I’m undefeated, he’s undefeated. Regardless of if he has the same amount of fights that I have, he’s hungry. He’s been running his mouth a lot lately. That has a lot to do with the reason why my team gets rowdy. We get rowdy and that’s the kind of energy we feed off of. When you continue to do what you do, I just got to back it up in the ring and I can’t worry about what my opponent says and what his team says, because nobody has to fight but us.
“Let’s get in there and get comfortable in the ring. Hopefully I make him pay for the mistakes he’s making right now.
“It’s so important for me to bring a world title back to Houston. I told my brother [Jermall] that I’m competing with one of his knockouts against an undefeated fighter. It’s not about the world title because my city needs it. My family needs it. My son loves it. Therefore, I’ve got my life on the line.”
“I’m very excited. I’m very confident, I had a great training camp and I’m just ready to go on Saturday.
“I hear it a lot, that I’m younger and he’s more experienced. It doesn’t really get to me, I know it is a huge step up because I’m fighting for the WBC title, not because of my opponent. I’ve seen everything in the ring. I’ve seen all types of fighters through training, fighting and through amateurs so this is definitely a big step up when it comes to me fighting for the WBC title.
“This definitely should have been the main event, but you got an experienced guy like Lara in the main event, which I don’t complain about. I know I got to go in there and take care of business. We’re both young. I’m not even in my prime yet. I’m ready to capture this title and I’m hungrier than ever and I know he’s hungry. He’s fairly young and we’re both undefeated and we both have a huge entourage. We’re just backed up by a lot of people and we got hype behind us. We’re ready to see who’s the hype and who’s the real deal.
“Orlando hasn’t had a champion in a very long time, or maybe never. This means everything. I’ll be a big, huge inspiration to Orlando. I am already a huge inspiration to Orlando. I can’t wait to bring it back to Orlando to give more people hope to go out there and do something positive.”
“I’m feeling great. I’m right on weight. Like I said, this is the fight I’ve been waiting for and that I’ve wanted, so I’m ready to fight.
“I really want to go out here and make a statement and be the first to stop Austin Trout and send him into retirement.
“Here’s the thing, in my last four televised fights I’ve never possessed the same style. Austin Trout doesn’t know what style I’m coming out with in this fight. I never look the same in any of my fights so he can say that he prepared for a toe-to-toe matchup and that he prepared for me moving around, but he doesn’t know what I’m bringing to the table. I’ve got a couple tricks up my sleeve.
“[My height] is going to be a big factor because he’s going to try and move around and box from the outside, but I’m the taller, longer guy. So, it’s going to be hard for him to stay on the outside, let alone stay on the inside, which he isn’t going to want to do either because I’m the bigger guy. It’s going to play a big factor and make it more difficult than he thinks.
“They say it’s easier to become a champion than to defend a belt. Right now, this is my chance to defend my title and bring it back home. I can’t wait to represent.”
“When I become champion on Saturday night I will continue to represent this game with class and dignity. I know this sounds like a campaign speech, but the beautiful part about it is that I don’t need your votes. I don’t need anyone to vote me in. I get to go in there and take it with my two hands. I have the faith that I can do it, but we all know faith without works is dead. But I’ve put in the work. So, I have faith in the work behind me. My experience is just the icing on top to go in there and become the two-time world champion and stake the claim as the best 154-pounder in this game.
“Honestly, I didn’t see a big frame up there, I just saw a tall guy. His shoulders look lean and his arms look lean. Either he’s sucking down for weight, or he’s just a little guy in a big, tall man’s body.
“He’s right in saying the fight isn’t going to go the distance, but it’s funny because he’s not going to be the one doing the knocking out. You know this man isn’t going to last 12 rounds.
“I’m going to drown this kid. We’re taking him into deep waters. He’s never been there. This is unchartered territory for him.
“Two-time Trout. I like that. I need that belt in order to solidify my legacy.”
LOU DiBELLA, CEO of DiBella Entertainment
“This is as good as it gets in boxing. We hope to have as many regular boxing fans in that room as we possibly can. You can get a great seat for the price of what you pay for a Pay-Per-View telecast. This quality of boxing has been emblematic of SHOWTIME’s boxing program in the last few years.”
STEPHEN ESPINOZA, Executive Vice President/General Manager of SHOWTIME Sports
“This event will be the 25th boxing event at Barclays Center in five years. I need to recognize Barclays Center and their staff because there are not that many venues supporting and contributing to this sport the way Barclays Center is. More than half of those shows have been on SHOWTIME as we’ve done 12, and two have been on CBS.
“We’ve set a very high bar with those events. Fighters know and promoters know – everyone knows that when you fight on SHOWTIME at Barclays Center it’s a big and exciting night in boxing.
“Fight fans sometimes complain that having multiple belts or multiple champions is complicated and confusing. But in this division, it’s not. I’ll make it really simple: these guys up here are the best guys in the division. That’s it. Who’s at No. 1 and who’s the best? I can’t tell you. But it’s one of these six guys. So, this coming Saturday you will see the best in the division, and they’ll be fighting each other.”