We have a terrific card coming up this Saturday at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas, which will be televised Live on HBO® beginning at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT. The telecast will open up with the two top-rated contenders — both undefeated — in the junior middleweight division fighting for the vacant WBO title and coincidentally they are both former U.S. Olympians – Vanes “The Nightmare” Martirosyan taking on Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade; that will be followed by Nonito and Vic in their rematch; and the telecast will conclude with Roman “Rocky” Martinez defending his WBO junior lightweight title against former WBO featherweight champion, the undefeated Mikey Garcia. Robert Garcia will have his hands full Saturday night as he will be working the corners for both Donaire and Garcia.
Immediately following the HBO tripleheader telecast will be the premiere of episode one of HBO Sports’ four-part all-access series “24/7: PACQUIAO/RIOS.”
On the call today, with multiple world championship belts between them, we have Fighter of the Year Nonito Donaire and Trainer of the Year Robert Garcia; as well as former two-division world champion Vic Darchinyan and his manager Frank Espinoza; and Hall of Fame Promoter Bob Arum on the call to talk about the show as well.
BOB ARUM: Thank you very much and I am delighted to be on this call with Nonito and Vic. Talking about what should be a great fight and this fight is just one of three special fights that HBO will be bringing to the public. HBO really has had a run of great fights which continues on Saturday which I think is unprecedented in the history of boxing; one great fight after another, week after week, and now we have three more on November 9. I think people will have trouble deciding which of the three is the greater fight. But I know Nonito and Vic will be performing at the highest level and it will be a very entertaining fight.
VIC DARCHINYAN: Yes, I would like to say thank you to Bob Arum. I have been waiting for this fight for six years. I trained good for this fight and I am very prepared. I have prepared like I always have – I give hundreds and hundreds of hours in the gym. I want to show everyone what I can do in the ring. I don’t only have power. I have skills and I can’t wait to show the people. It doesn’t matter how old I am. There are many fighters older than I, like Martinez, Marquez and Hopkins. I am very prepared and I can’t wait to come and show excitement and when they see the fight they will know what I am talking about. I am sure that Nonito has prepared good, too and everyone will see the best of me and the best of Nonito.
NONITO DONAIRE: Everything is going great and I want to thank the promoters and HBO for making this fight happen. I am very prepared for this fight. I know Vic is a very dangerous opponent and one I can’t overlook. Age does not matter when you have power. It’s been a great camp and everyone has been very supportive. Like Vic said, we are going to bring our best and it is going to be very exciting for the fans and I am looking forward to it.
Nonito, the knockout against Vic six years ago put you on the map. Does that fight mean anything as you prepare for the rematch?
NONITO DONAIRE: No, to me, I don’t really look back. I only look forward – to this fight. We have grown so much since six years ago in 2007. We are looking forward to everything in terms of style and power. We can go back and get a little reference to that fight in 2007 but he will be a lot different when he shows up on Saturday.
Do you go back to look at the video of that 2007 fight?
NONITO DONAIRE: Definitely. I make reference to how my style compared to his style. It is one of the keys. Everyone has to have it. We are looking for that style in this fight but we are not counting on how the fight was in 2007.
VIC DARCHINYAN: In 2007 there was the punch. I jumped and Nonito got me with the left hook. It was the only knockdown in my life – amateur or professional. Never been knocked down. I jumped up right away. If I take a couple of seconds on the floor to recover, maybe it would be a different outcome, you know? I had no experience with a knockdown. Now it is good – I have experience with it. I want to say to everyone I have been waiting six years. It was my mistake and I have good skills and I have power and I will not make the mistake again.
You are working with your father again?
NONITO DONAIRE: Yes, it has been great having my father around. I am getting back to the old me – a smarter me – not just someone getting ready to brawl. And that is something we are trying to get back. He doesn’t have a title in the corner. He holds the mitts for me in the gym and he is involved with everyone putting the game plan together. He is just a guy that is in the corner.
What were the reasons to have your dad in the corner?
NONITO DONAIRE: Things happen for a reason and when we had our baby I realized my dad was always there, so I wanted to reach out. Coincidentally, it was the Darchinyan fight and we got it settled and it just worked out – I thought why don’t we just make it happen and I’m glad that things happened the way they did.
Nonito, you mentioned motivation was a problem for the Rigondeaux fight? Has this become a problem for you?
NONITO DONAIRE: It was just a matter of me searching. Now my son is here and my dad is here working with me and we’ve been working together really well. We are training well together and the motivation is definitely coming back.
NONITO DONAIRE: I just realized that, hey, this is where I want to be. I want to box. The fight with Arce, I thought I was pretty much done after the fight. Then after the loss I realized that I want to be in this game for as long as I can. I want to be in the boxing world. I love the boxing world. I love the boxing scene. This is where I want to be.
Do you feel as if you have been chosen to fight Donaire?
VIC DARCHINYAN: Yes, I feel as though I have been chosen. I think he was exposed in his loss to Rigondeaux. He had a good year and was voted Fighter of the Year, but inside me I know – personally he is a good guy, but about skills and power – he should not be pound-for-pound. I want to show all the people that what happened six years ago, three months after that I became world champion – I beat [Federico] Catubay, [Jorge] Arce, [Tomas] Rojas – all of them. I beat them all. I will prove it. I will stalk him. It is not about him. It is about me. I have more skills and I have more power. If I am motivated against someone – all of my title fights – I am getting prepared for me. I am not getting prepared for my opponent. I am getting prepared for myself. I have prepared mentally. I know everything that he is going to do and I know everything that I am going to do. I just want to come and demolish him, that’s what I want. He can say he’s ready for me but I want to prove I have been ready for this fight for a long time. I am very motivated.
VIC DARCHINYAN: I am very motivated for this fight because I lost to him. I know that if I took a couple seconds to recover then return to ring, the referee would not have stopped it and my corner not jump up, I believe I would have defeated him in that fight. Now I want to come and expose him and show all the world that I can not only beat him, but beat him easy and show all the world how good I am.
Is this the kind of fight you want – a guy that will come to you and fight?
NONITO DONAIRE: For me, I don’t really care who it is inside that ring. I will fight whoever they put in front of me. I just have to learn to adjust in every matter. I just kind of dwindled down as the years went while winning all the fights. So now I am just getting back into it. It doesn’t matter – it could be anybody. I am very excited for the fight and trying to bring that youth mentality back in. With me, I am always ready for anything and anyone.
The first fight put you in the drivers seat and him in the back seat and he is very motivated. Does that excite you?
NONITO DONAIRE: Definitely – someone who is going inside that ring giving it his all brings an excitement because you know they worked hard for it and put dedication into it. Same for me, I work hard. I’m not the kind of guy that talks about it like that, I just say, let’s do it in the ring.
Did you think about putting this fight in San Antonio?
BOB ARUM: Yes, but there was no availability so we moved it down the street to Corpus Christi. We always consider San Antonio for any terrific card because it is such a great fight town and it has great arenas. The Spurs were playing and the Alamodome was taken. We wanted to keep it in that area and Corpus Christi is about 90 minutes away from San Antonio and we are happy to do the fight in Corpus Christi, which by the way, just like San Antonio, it is a beautiful city.
Vic, did you make a mistake in the first fight?
VIC DARCHINYAN: Before the fight I was champion and I I made six defenses, five by knockout. I wasn’t using my skills. I wasn’t trying to use my skills. I was just using my power and in the fourth round, he can fight. I was being patient and working with my opponent for a couple of rounds then going for the knockout. In my mind in the fourth round I hit him with a couple to the body and I push him into the corner then I was going to knock him out. I didn’t see the left hook coming. If I see it, maybe I hold on, you know. A live punch is a more dangerous punch and I was on the floor and I never experienced being on the floor in my life. And I jump up right away to fight – to keep going and knock him out. If I take a few seconds and then go after him it would have been a smarter way. You know, in the past you can watch Carlos Castillo fight – one time Carlos was on the floor and he jumped back up, but he had experience. I had no experience in my career at all of being on the floor. I think now I am a different fighter now – a smarter fighter. I have to be patient and I have to take my time. If he wants to try the left hook again – let’s see. Boxing is sometimes a chess game. Get your opponent to play your game then do your stuff. I think I am going to show all the world and show all my skills. Rigoondeaux showed his skills and exposed him. He showed Nonito he can work him out from angles, punch him and I want to do the same. In my mind I want to break him on a punch and of course I want to break him on a punch and knock him out. I want the whole world to see the fight, love me or hate me, it’s my style and my style is my style and I want to show everything in the ring.
Are you saying it was a mistake to go for the knockout?
VIC DARCHINYAN: Not too much a mistake going for the knockout. I had him in front of me and the left hook which I didn’t see, it was a blind punch for me – there was nothing wrong. All of my opponents I didn’t think too much I just want to knock them out, you know. I rushed it a little bit and was not patient at that moment. I rushed and that’s why it happened. I need to be a little more patient.
I know you had problems with your shoulder or shoulders at the Rigondeaux fight, can you explain that?
NONITO DONAIRE: The one I had surgery on was my right shoulder. I had two tears on it and after the fight I took care of it. A week after the fight I took care of it.
What about the left shoulder?
NONITO DONAIRE: There was a problem with the left shoulder but it is fine now.
So you are able to train fully now?
NONITO DONAIRE: Yes it has been excellent. I am confident in both hands and we can pull the trigger with both hands so I am very excited about it.
You were Fighter of the Year, you were on such a high then you lose to Rigondeaux. How do you climb the mountain again?
NONITO DONAIRE: I have been just trying to recall how I became world champion and the process of it. The mentality and the desire – we are trying to bring all that out. Trying to bring youth back into my boxing style – trying to change the whole thing but it starts with the mental part, to be excited and we are very excited about this fight.
Since your fight with Vic, he went on to win titles, have you followed his career at all?
NONITO DONAIRE: We tried to get the rematch with him a few times and we knew we would get the opportunity again. So it is happening now and we are excited about it. I didn’t really follow him much – I am the type of person who sees only what is in front of me and that is my opponent.
Vic, after your loss to Nonito, you went on to win titles and had a couple losses. Do you see this as revenge or to get back to the top?
VIC DARCHINYAN: Nonito is well prepared for this fight. He doesn’t have any excuses after the fight. After I lost to him I wanted to fight any fighter. I wanted to unify my titles No champion wanted to fight me. After I lost to Nonito the champions were willing to fight and I became undisputed champion after one year [Darchinyan unified the IBF/WBC/WBA 115 pound titles in 2008.] This will be good proof for me. After I beat Nonito and can unify all the titles then I can see what is in front of me. I am very happy to be fighting Nonito and he is over all his injuries. He is good prepared and I am good prepared and we will show all the world a good fight. I am very motivated for the fight and I am waiting and I don’t want to wait any more for this fight.
Bob, you were not involved with the first fight, but how did this all come together?
BOB ARUM: What happened was Frank Espinoza was entering into a managerial contract with Vic and he came to us and said Vic would like to fight Nonito and we talked to Cameron Dunkin and he said Nonito would like the fight so we put it together – it was as simple as that. I know there had been a lot of talk over the years but the two managers knew the fighters wanted to fight each other and I knew it was an attractive fight, which was the story behind why we made the fight and thanks to HBO the public will see it on November 9th.
What will be in store for the winner?
BOB ARUM: I’m glad you asked that. What we are trying to do here, we believe there is huge talent in the featherweight division. On this card, Nonito and Vic are fighting at 126 pounds. Orlando Salido, who is the new WBO champion, will be fighting Vasyl Lomachenko early next year and Evgeny Gradovich will be on the Manny Pacquiao-Brandon Rios pay-per-view card in Macau, fighting against Billy Dib and that should be a tremendous featherweight title rematch. Then on this card, not fighting on HBO but on the international telecast, we will have a WBA featherweight championship featuring undefeated Jamaican — Nicholas Walters, who has won almost all of his fights by knockout — defending his title against Alberto Garza from Mexico and the winner of that fight will go into the mix; and Guillermo Rigondeaux who will be fighting Joseph Agbeko – both of these guys will be moving up to featherweight. So we can look forward to some great featherweight matches on HBO next year.
You ended the first fight with one punch and Vic said it was a lucky punch – do you feel a need to show anything more in this fight?
NONITO DONAIRE: I don’t need to prove anything. We trained for that one punch. We trained for the things that we knew he would do. We trained for his impatience and that’s what we showed. I was able to also hit him the third round with the same punch. So people that really understood and watched the fight — it was really set up — it just landed perfectly with that one punch that landed. But we can’t count on that – Vic has grown and he is ready for this fight and we are ready as well.
This is your first fight at 126. How do you feel?
NONITO DONAIRE: I feel good working out and sparring at this weight class because I am actually training to win the fight not to lose the weight. We are working on lots of game plans and not to cut down the weight and my speed is coming back so we are very excited about that.
Vic, how do you feel about your age on longevity in this sport?
VIC DARCHINYAN: I feel good and it is not about age. It is about confidence and motivation for the fights. You’re not listening – it is not about age it is about might. I can run fifteen miles and I can go at top speed without tiring and then recovering. My preparation has been very good thanks to my coach, who has great training sessions for me and I am very prepared. Thirty-seven years old? I don’t even feel that, I feel like I am 25. I am not getting tired. It’s about how you prepare yourself.
Nonito, how do you see this fight going? This is the same guy you fought in ’07, is it not?
NONITO DONAIRE: Yes and that is why we are training very hard and we don’t look back at how 2007 went. We want to get the same outcome. We are working very hard for it and we’ll see how things will be. Styles make fights and make different outcomes. Whatever style he comes in for the fight – we will work with that one.
Do you see it ending in a knockout?
NONITO DONAIRE: That’s one thing this fight will be. He is going to look for a knockout and I’m going to look for a knockout. I don’t think it is going to last the ten-rounds.
Nonito, what did the win against Vic mean for your career? Outside the Philippines, you were basically an unknown…
NONITO DONAIRE: I wasn’t even known in the Philippines at that time. I was more known in the amateurs in the U.S. That fight definitely put my name on the map in terms of exciting fighters and it jump-started my career.
Your brother Glenn challenged Vic before you did . Did you see a roadmap to fighting him from that fight?
NONITO DONAIRE: Definitely – we worked on it and that’s how we were able to land the big punch. We planned for it.
Vic, after your loss to Nonito, you had a run of success then a couple losses – one to Agbeko. As you moved up in weight – how do you cope with disadvantages?
VIC DARCHINYAN: You talk about the losses, of course. I lost to Agbeko, which was a close fight, and I have no excuses. I lost to [Anselmo] Moreno, which was the wrong fight for me and I fought not a good fight. After a couple of losses, I did not lose to Abner Mares (split decision loss) and I did not lose the fight in Japan [WBC bantamweight title decision loss to Shinsuke Yamanaka.] The fight in Japan – I don’t know whether you saw the fight in Japan or not – it went 12 rounds and the crowd was booing him. Of course there are things, small mistakes. The two fights I lost were close too. The reason I want to fight Nonito is because it was my mistake – I jumped at him. I went for the knockout and then I take the punch. Losing I can see – I am giving good fights to the crowd – I am looking to stop my opponent. I am not looking to survive the rounds. None of my opponents have beaten me because I am looking to survive. Every loss I had you can see I am confident and pushing my opponent. I am losing by rounds – by points, by one or two points you can see.
FRANK ESPINOZA: As far as Vic, he is extremely hungry and motivated. It is his last chance at redemption against a guy that took his undefeated status. But it’s been a long time since I have seen Vic this excited about a fight. He brings experience, a lot of aggression, power and he is also very mentally strong. One thing I can guarantee you is that he will be a true warrior in the ring and give the fans a great show on Saturday night
Robert Garcia, how has camp been going and working with Nonito’s father for this fight?
ROBERT GARCIA: Camp is great. We have had a few weeks in Oxnard with his father and had great sparring. His dad is the one that made him and was there when he won his first title, so I was very happy when I heard that his dad was back in the training camp. We had a great camp and it will show on Saturday night.
We have seen that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t work having a father in camp training his son. One success story is you and your father – do you see the same correlation here?
ROBERT GARCIA: Exactly, when he first became world champion his father was his only trainer and his father was doing all the work. Like all families, they had differences but now that he is back I think Nonito is better prepared mentally, he is happier and enjoying training camp and that’s what matters to me. They are father and son and I’m glad they are back together and they are happy and I am happy for him.
BOB ARUM: I think the public has a lot to look forward to this Saturday – three great fights and the people in Corpus Christi will see a fourth great fight plus an outstanding undercard.
VIC DARCHINYAN: Thank you very much. I hope everyone knows how much I want this fight. Thanks you to Frank, my second fight with him, who knew I wanted this fight after six years, and looking for many more fights with him. And thank you to Top Rank.
NONITO DONAIRE: Once again, thank you guys for this opportunity and I am very excited for this fight. It’s going to be a helluva fight so for all you people out there –stay tuned for it. We’ll have our fists talking in the fight – that’s how it’s going to be.
World championship boxing returns to the Lone Star State this Saturday with an exciting tripleheader featuring two world title fights and a grudge rematch between former world champions that’s been building for over six years!