Dan Goossen/Goossen Tutor Promotions
Camille Estephan/Eye of the Tiger Management
Brian Kweder/Senior Director of Programming
and Acquisitions, ESPN
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.
And I now want to have Chris Arreola say hello and give an opening statement to the press. Chris, you on?
Chris Arreola: Hey, guys. How are you guys doing, man? Well I’m over here in San Diego just straight training and getting ready for this fight. I know Bermane is going to get ready 100% like he always does, and now it’s my time to get ready 100% and put on a good show on May 10th for everybody live out there on ESPN.
Dan Goossen: Thanks, Chris. And we also have his trainer, Henry Ramirez on. Henry, why don’t you just give us a quick overview of how the training’s been going?
Henry Ramirez: How’s everybody doing? May 10th is rapidly approaching, and Chris is down here working like never before, and no doubt in my mind on May 10th he’s going to come out victorious because of the work he’s putting in here.
Dan Goossen: Sounds good. Let’s open it up, Bernie, for any questions for Chris.
Bernie Bahrmasel: Once again I’m going to go back to Dan Rafael, senior boxing writer for ESPN.com. Go ahead, Dan.
Dan Rafael: Chris, question for you: So this fight sort of to me has two things that would be significant for you. One, of course, is to win the vacant title; two, of course, would be to avenge your loss to Bermane Stiverne from a year or so ago. When you think about this fight, which one is most immediately important to you? Is it the title, or is it just the satisfaction of avenging your loss?
Chris Arreola: Well, as far as what’s important to me, because of the kind of person that I am and the character that I – the dude I am, the guy that I’ve grown up being – I hate losing. And the fact that I get to avenge my loss, to me that means the world, but you’ve got to add to it that I’m going to fight for the world title. Now how sweet could that be, man, avenge a loss and win the title at the same time and making history?
It all comes together, and it’s going to be a great night on May 10th. Bermane did what he was supposed to do on the first fight, and this fight now I have to do what I have to do, which means bring the fight to him and put him on his heels.
Dan Rafael: Chris, in the past you’ve had some important fights, not only always won them. I’ve covered some of them. Often times there has been excuses afterwards about you weren’t focused, weren’t in shape – whatever the case may be. Do you feel like this is the last chance that – we’ve heard those comments from you, those excuses from you – that you’ve got to either put up or be quiet after this one?
Chris Arreola: Absolutely, I have to. That’s why I’m over here in San Diego working my butt off, man, no excuses. In the past I would give myself a reason to have an excuse. I wouldn’t show up at the gym; I wouldn’t do what I’m supposed to do as a professional. And times have changed, man. I feel like I’m a mature fighter, I have what it takes between my ears and in my heart and in my balls. Now it’s time for me to let it all hang out at the boxing gym, and really that’s where the fight is won. The fight is won in the gym.
You know, I hate using excuses, I hate doing excuses. The last time, Bermane beat me. I don’t want to say that it wasn’t because I wasn’t in shape or blah, blah, blah, whatever, whatever. He beat me. He was the one that broke my nose. The fact that I wasn’t in shape doesn’t change the fact that he broke my nose. That’s the main thing.
I was still in the fight, and, like I said, I always believe in my punching ability, and I had no quit in me, and I always believed there was a puncher’s chance. But May 10th there are no excuses. There’s not going to be one, “He should’ve done this; he should’ve done that.” I’m doing everything that I’m supposed to do in the gym, and May 10th we’re going to show who is the better man.
Dan Rafael: Henry, can you speak to that, to Chris’s past excuses in losses, but now his saying how dedicated he is in the gym for this fight? You’re seeing him up close. Is he skipping gym sessions, or is everything going the way you want it?
Henry Ramirez: This camp is going according to plan. This is just like the Arizona camp and preparation for the Seth Mitchell. Obviously not comparing Bermane and Mitchell, but just the camps themselves they are exactly the same. Chris is out here busting his behind. I don’t have to sit at the gym to wonder, “Damn, is he going to show up today,” because when I walk downstairs I knock on his door, “Hey its time to go.” It’s pretty regimented.
Chris puts in two and a half to three hours at the gym, and then he does an hour of conditioning in the evenings. So right now he weighs 244 yesterday, and we’re having to slow him down. We’re having him eat a lot just so he can maintain the weight. Optimum fighting weight is about 237, 240 right in that range, and not a doubt in my mind come May 10th that Chris is going to come out victorious, because honestly he’s training like a desperate man right now – a man very desperate.
Dan Rafael: Chris, are you desperate?
Chris Arreola: Absolutely. I’m very desperate. You know, I’ve done a lot of dumb stuff in my life, and it’s time to stop. It’s time to stop the excuses. It’s time for me to man up and handle my responsibilities in more ways than one, in the boxing gym, in my fight, and life in general, man. It’s just time for me to man up and just do what I’m supposed to do as a man – work hard.
Dan Rafael: Alright, Chris, thanks very much. Henry, I appreciate it. Good luck, guys.
Bernie Bahrmasel: Next up for Chris Arreola and Henry Ramirez is Michael Amakor from FightKings.com. Michael, go ahead please.
Michael Amakor: What pains you about your loss to Bermane? Is that one of the biggest losses of your career, and why does that particular one stick?
Chris Arreola: Oh, well it sticks because it was my last loss. That’s one of the main reasons it sticks most. But it’s very simple: I hate losing. I don’t like losing, and especially when I’m the idiot that causes the loss. Yeah, Bermane broke my nose and stuff like that, but I kept trying and trying to win and win the fight, but I couldn’t. Bermane was just a better fire that night, the better-conditioned fighter.
He was able to put combinations together which I wasn’t. I was just looking for that one shot, and that’s one thing that I won’t be making a mistake this time. I’m not going to be looking for just one shot. I’m going to be on him. I’m going to be accumulating punches, and I’m going to make them work every minute of every round. I said it before, and I mean it: I’m going to make him work.
Michael Amakor: Now, you also mentioned a little about the desperation. Why the desperation at this stage of your career?
Chris Arreola: I have two losses, man. This could be my very last shot, and I’m not going to take this shot for granted. I’m not going to screw this shot up. I’m going to make sure that I make it count. I’m going to make every punch count. I’m going to make this fight count, man.
This is a do-or-die fight for me, man, because I said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m not a paycheck fighter. I’m not a fighter that’s going to be a gatekeeper. That’s not me. I don’t want to be in the sport to do that. I’m in the sport to be a champion, not to be a paycheck fighter or a crossroads kind of fight kind of guy.
Michael Amakor: Okay, and my last question: We, the media, we tend to kind of back you into a corner after you lose a fight, but you’ve actually manned up for all these fights and gone the distance. You’ve not been stopped. Would you, now that you have an opportunity, would you blame yourself for those losses, or would you blame your trainer – I hate to put the trainer on the spot – or certain things that couldn’t allow you to get to your full potential? What have you done in this camp that’s different from everything else?
Chris Arreola: My trainer, he’s a complete jerk. No, I can’t stand the guy. But I’m going to say one thing, man, I can never blame him for my loss. I’m a man. You know, I stand when I pee; I don’t sit when I pee. And I take every loss on me. Henry’s at the gym every day waiting on me. Henry was at the gym making sure that I was doing what I was supposed to do, but it was always up to me. It’s always up to me whether I do it or not.
And of course, every loss is my fault. I’m not going to blame Henry. Henry is doing everything he’s supposed to do. Henry watches fights. Henry analyzes things. I’m the one that didn’t do the work. And the difference now is that when we’re in camp there’s only one car key, and that’s Henry’s car, and we go to the gym every day, and I make sure I put in the work every day. Because, like I said, this fight my back is against the wall. I can’t lose this fight. I won’t lose this fight. I have to do it for myself and for my family.
Bernie Bahrmasel: Great. Thanks very much, Chris. Michael, thanks very much for the questions, we appreciate it. Next up we have Sean Crose from Boxing Insider. Go ahead, Sean.
Sean Crose: It’s good talking to you, sir. I have a question for you. Last time you did a great job with Stiverne the first two rounds. I really thought that you were dominating, and it looked like you might win the fight; however, he ended up asserting himself. So, Chris, how do you intend to keep Stiverne from asserting himself this time around?
Chris Arreola: Well, I’ll tell you exactly what happened in that fight. The first two rounds I was doing well. I was making sure that I was on him and that I was fighting my fight. In the third round, I kind of took it off. I went methodical. I started just throwing my punches and that’s the reason I got caught with that stupid right hand, because I threw a lazy jab.
I got lazy in that fight, and that’s the thing that I’ll make sure that I’m not going to let happen. I’ll make sure that I’m the one dictating the pace. I’m the one that’s going to be dictating the fight. And like I said, I’ve got to keep him on his heels, and right now I’m putting in the work in the gym just to make sure that I do that.
Sean Crose: Well, I wish you the best, and thank you very much. I just have one more question for Mr. Goossen. Mr. Goossen, are you there?
Dan Goossen: I’m here.
Sean Crose: I have a question for you. Whoever wins this fight – and I agree, I thought the first fight was a great fight, and I can’t wait to see this next one. And kudos to ESPN, they’re doing a really good thing with this and so are you guys. Having said all that, do you feel Wladimir Klitschko has to be defeated in order for the heavyweight division to be truly be rejuvenated?
Dan Goossen: Look, no matter who holds this heavyweight title, the Klitschkos have deserved to be recognized as the heavyweight champion, and it’ll be the duty of the winner of this fight to go out there and determine the sole heavyweight champion of the world. You can’t take anything away from Wladimir. He’s held that title for eight years, I believe, if Dan Rafael is correct. Vitali is a great champion.
Now, as you know, with the Fight for Peace a lot of that title is a direct reflection on the respect we have for Vitali and what he’s going through in the Ukraine right now. But also, we’ve got heavyweight history, and heavyweight history is going to determine one of these gentlemen to be heavyweight champion. We believe that Chris Arreola is prepared to hold that belt around his weight right now, but Wladimir Klitschko will still be standing there, and they’re big shoes to fill.
Sean Crose: Oh, all respect due. Unfortunately it’s not always entertaining, but they’re some fighters, both of them. There’s no two ways about it.
Dan Goossen: I’ll tell you, I’m looking forward to seeing Wladimir fight on ESPN because I truly believe with the emergence of Stiverne and Arreola fighting for his brothers title Wladimir is going to go out there on ESPN knowing that he’s got a big viewership possibility, and I think he’s going to go out there and try to show his greatness against Leapai.
Sean Crose: Yeah, I do too. I think he really is aiming to please on this one. Listen, if I could just throw one more question I do not want to hold anyone’s time. But Mr. Kweder, if you’re there – and you may not want to answer this – but do you feel HBO and Showtime have dropped the ball with the heavyweight division?
Brian Kweder: No. I think there’s a lot to offer out in the boxing world and each network has their own priorities, and clearly ESPN stepped up because of the value of the heavyweight division. But I wouldn’t characterize it that way.
Sear Crose: Okay, well I wish you all the best. Thank you very much, and I look forward to seeing this fight.
Bernie Bahrmasel: Thanks very much. Once again we’re going to return to Lem Satterfield from Ring Magazine and RingTV.com. Go ahead, Lem.
Lem Satterfield: Chris, the first time I met you was in August of 2006. You were up at Big Bear sparring. I walked in, and I saw you and Hasim Rahman just going at it, and I have to say you were a lot lighter. But Hasim Rahman told me that all the guys that were there that he thought you were going to be the next heavyweight champion. What do you remember about that session, and what does it mean to you now that this is 13 years to the day that Hasim Rahman upset Lennox Lewis to become an American heavyweight champion?
Chris Arreola: Well first of all, that’s an honor, man, because I never knew he said that about me, man, and that’s a big honor to hear that because honestly I was there and I was working, man, and I loved being up there in his training camp, man. That’s the first big training camp I was ever involved in, and I watched him work, and I watched him work real hard. And one thing I do remember is that every time I got in that ring I wanted to make sure I gave him my all, because I didn’t want to go home. I wanted to keep getting those paychecks every week.
But other than that, man, I enjoy boxing. I enjoy fighting. I enjoy the camaraderie that you get in a fight, and especially in a sparring session because after that you just shake hands like nothing happened and just go about your day like you guys are straight friends. Like me and Bermane, I don’t need to badmouth him. He doesn’t need to badmouth me for me, and on May 10th we’re going to come out there like beasts, like we hate each other. But I don’t hate him, and I’m sure he doesn’t hate me.
Lem Satterfield: Just to real quick touch on at what point – I know you were talking about the first two rounds of the last fight, and then you got knocked down in the third round – at what point was your nose broken, and not to make any excuses, but what kind of effect did it have on you?
Chris Arreola: First of all, when he dropped me that right hand shattered my nose. I didn’t know I had that many bones in it, but it was shattered in like four different places. And right after that I’m the kind of fighter that comes forward, that pushes the pace, that tries to dictate the pace, and that day I just couldn’t do that because every time he punched me was so painful. Even if he didn’t hit me that hard, if he hit me in my gloves or just hit me on the top of my head, I could feel my bones in my nose just grind against each other.
I couldn’t breathe out of my nose. I had to keep breathing out of my mouth and it was tough. It was tough in there. It was tough. If you watch the film, there are a couple times that we’re inside in exchanges and you can see my face just grimacing in pain.
Lem Satterfield: Okay. I just have two more questions for you. Stiverne said that obviously you were a known quality. You had some highly televised fights, including the two losses to Adamek and Klitschko. He said he felt like he was the underdog going into the last fight. Was there any element of surprise on your part – I mean, not to take anything away from his performance – but was there any element of underestimating him at all?
Chris Arreola: Not underestimating him, because I knew the kind of fighter he was, and I wasn’t thinking because of his professional career. I always say the amateur career is a very important part of a boxer’s record, and that’s one thing that I looked at. He had extensive amateur experience, international, experience representing this country, and that’s the main thing. The thing that I did is I didn’t underestimate him, but I thought of myself like King Ding-a-Ling, like my crap didn’t stink, and I don’t need to train as hard as he did because my character was just- my God-given talent would just cruise me by the fight or get me by whatever obstacle I would have to overcome.
That’s what happened. I believed too much in myself and my God-given talent instead of putting in the work that I was supposed to put in, because I knew who I was fighting. I knew that the person who I was fighting is a very good fighter, but I just always just thought that my talent was just that much more superior.
Lem Satterfield: How important was it for you to win, to not only beat someone like Seth Mitchell, but to beat him the way you did? Because you have said to me in the past that a lot of the guys that you feel are being promoted as the next, or the next are unproven, and that they should be behind you? How important was it for you to deliver that kind of message, and do you think that the two best guys, or at least the two most proven guys, are in fact fighting for the heavyweight championship on May 10th?
Chris Arreola: Absolutely, we are the two best heavyweights out in the world today. We are. He has a proven record, and so do I. But as far as knocking out, taking out Seth Mitchell, man, that was an honor. I did that for all the boxing fans. I did that for all the true boxers that actually put in the time as a boxer, as an amateur fighter, the ones that actually grind it out and have – I always had just one aspiration, that’s to be a champion. Personally, man, whatever – it is what is with Seth, but I don’t – to me it was a disrespectful kind of thing that they were looking him as the next big thing.
I just had to shut everybody up, and shut everybody up also to make sure that they know that I’m still a heavyweight to be reckoned with. I don’t want to be one of those paycheck fighters, like I said. I didn’t want to be a stepping-stone for somebody. I don’t want to be a name under their belt. That’s not me. That’s not me at all. And I had to make sure. I had to prove myself, especially coming off of a loss like against Stiverne.
And come May 10th, man, I have to redeem myself. I have to redeem myself for my own self, for my honor, for Henry, for my promoter, Dan, for Al, for my family, man. And I’ve got to show everybody, the world, that this Mexican-American is the best heavyweight in the world.
Lem Satterfield: You talked about Seth Mitchell. You looked in incredible shape for that fight. Characterize what you did for that fight and your shape relative to most other fights of your career. I mean, because you looked better than I’ve seen in like a long time.
Chris Arreola: What I did, I just committed myself to boxing. I made sure that I left my house. I took myself out of my own comfort zone, and I was at the gym every day with my mind set on demolishing Seth Mitchell, just like I’m right now – every day I’m at the gym. Every day I’m thinking about my future. Every day I’m thinking about this fight against Bermane Stiverne, because you thought I was in good shape against Mitchell, this is just another different animal going to come on May 10th.
I’m going to be in better shape May 10th than I was for the Seth Mitchell fight. I guarantee you that. I’m putting in the work. You may see a little bit of abs in there, but the main thing is I’m going to be in the best boxing shape that I’ve been in my career.
Lem Satterfield: Thanks, guys. This has been a great call. Good luck on May 10th.
D. Goossen: Thank you, Lem.
Bernie Bahrmasel: Up next, Richard DeOcio from Examiner.com. Go ahead, Richard.
Richard DeOcio:Hey, again. Thanks again for taking my call. I have a question for Brian, if he’s still on the line, and one for Chris. I’ll start with Brian if he’s still around.
Richard DeOcio: Brian, quickly looking at the programming that you’re leading up to this heavyweight fight, you’re having two heavyweight fights in a span of three weeks or so. Is this a one-time commercial programming feature, or will fight fans see more prizefight programming from ESPN?
Brian Kweder: I’m a big believer that you can’t do the same things year after year and expect success, and this was an opportunity that we saw. We took it, and while I can’t promise big fights like this in the future, it certainly opens the door for the possibility down the road.
Richard DeOcio: And my question for Chris, earlier in the call Bermane mentioned that he’s anticipating you to be in the best shape, better shape than the first fight, and if that’s the case he said that’ll bring out the best in him. So if fight fans can expect two fighters in the prime in peak physical condition, ultimately what’s going to be the factor that’s going to allow you to walk away the victor and with the championship belt around your waist?
Chris Arreola: Well the main factor about me, I know in my case that I’m willing to go through hell to win a fight. We don’t know if he is. And that’s what I’m going to do; I’m going to put him through hell to see if he’s willing to finish a fight, hurt, beating, broken this, broken that. That’s what I’m going to do, because everyone sees I’m willing to fight 11 rounds with a broken nose and finish it up and still keep trying, keep pushing, keep pushing, keep grinding to win a fight.
And that’s my X factor. My X factor is my balls, the fact that I’m willing to go through hell to win a fight, and we’re going to see what Bermane is willing to go through.
Richard DeOcio: Thank you very much. A quick follow-up – so with that being said, what you just described there, are you leaning to a prediction? Do you have a vision of how this fight will end?
Chris Arreola: I don’t like the judges, man. My respect goes out to every judge, but I don’t like judges. I don’t like judges at all. I don’t want to see the judge. Maybe after the fight I’ll see him, but I don’t want to hear anybody reading the scorecards. So yeah, I want this fight to end. I want it to end early because they don’t pay me overtime.
I get a flat rate regardless if it ends in the first or the twelfth round, so getting my paycheck after the fight’s over and wrap the belt around my waist and go out to dinner and go to sleep that night comfortably.
Dan Goossen: And you forgot to add in a bonus with a knockout.
Chris Arreola: Oh, shit. There’s a bonus?
Dan Goossen: Well, you’re damn right.
Chris Arreola: Oh, man. If there’s a bonus, then I’m going for the knockout. Come on now.
Dan Goossen: Yeah, another eight week training camp.
Chris Arreola: Oh, man.
Bernie Bahrmasel Richard, thanks very much for the call. We’re going to take one more question, Nick Bellafatto from Pro Boxing Insider. Nick, go ahead please.
Nick Bellafatto: Yeah, how are you doing, Chris? You are you talked about the limiting factors with your broken nose in the first fight. First off, are you training in the Phoenix area to avoid what have been distractions in the past, and are you planning on coming in lighter than the 248 that you came in last time?
Chris Arreola: I’m already lighter than I was for my last fight. I’m 244, 245 right now as we speak. Henry is trying to fatten me up right now. He’s actually pushing me to eat a burrito and a taco. But the thing about it, man, I’m going to be in better shape than I was that fight. That’s absolutely for sure.
I’m more motivated for this fight than I’ve ever been. You know, there are a lot of factors that are factoring into this fight that I have to win. I have to. So I’m working my butt off out here to make that thing happened.
Nick Bellafatto: You were really emotional after the Klitschko fight, and now you have another opportunity before hometown fans to make amends in a big way and capture a heavyweight title. How will that emotion, as well as the emotion of steamrolling Seth Mitchell, play into this fight, or do you have to kind of separate yourself from that emotion to be at your best? What’s your take on that?
Chris Arreola: I can’t separate myself to my emotions, because that’s what gets me through fights. That’s what wins the fights is me, my emotions, my heart. The passion that I have for the sport is what gets me through fights. I need that emotion. I feed off my own emotions. I don’t need no fans. I love the fans. Don’t get me wrong, I love every single fan that comes for me, but they can’t step in the ring for me. Not one of my fans, not one of my trainers, nobody, nobody can step in the ring but me.
So I feed off my own emotions. I feed off my own hunger. I feed off my insecurities because every fighter should have some kind of insecurities when they’re in the ring, because it keeps you out of getting knocked out. I don’t want to be knocked out, so I’m in there trying to knock him out before he tries to knock me out. I feed off that.
And then another thing is, man, I want to give every boxing fan that’s at the Galen Center a great fight, every fan that’s watching on TV a great fight, especially on ESPN, because this is the worldwide network, and everyone’s going to be watching. Buffalo Wild Wings, Yardhouse, every kind of restaurant that has a TV they’re going to be watching this, and it’s going to reach so many homes.
I want them to know that this Mexican-American is a bad mother. You know what I mean? That’s why I fight so hard.
Bernie Bahrmasel: Great. Chris, thanks very much. Nick, thanks very much for the call. Operator, this is going to conclude our Q&A portion of the call. Dan, I’ll go ahead and pass the call back to you please.
D. Goossen Well, not much more to say. I appreciate everyone else getting on the phone. Brian with ESPN, as you can see, that there’s a lot of excitement with the network’s participation, and not only in our fight but in Klitschko’s fight prior to ours. And I mentioned earlier in this call another great line, another byline of this story, is the UFC Galen Center, to be sitting there at the home of the USC Trojans and the history that’s been at that campus throughout these years, and we’re making history having a fight of this magnitude, the heavyweight championship.
From Pat Haden to J.J. McKay to Carl Reed we appreciate all the support and help that they’ve given us there, and we can expect a great, exciting event at the venue that night. Thank you again. We’ll keep you abreast of the week of the media events, and for those of you that don’t know and don’t have your credentials yet, contact Andy Olson or Scott Lockwood at Magna Media to get your credentials. We’re getting a great response from the media. We look forward to seeing everyone there ringside. Thank you again.
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