CONFERENCE CALL QUOTES
RICARDO TORRES & KENDALL HOLT,
PROMOTER BOB ARUM
Monday, June 30, 2008
Ten months after a wildly controversial ending to their first fight, Ricardo Torres will risk his World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior welterweight title against No. 1 contender Kendall Holt in a rematch on a special edition of ShoBox: The New Generation this Saturday, July 5, live on SHOWTIME at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast).
Torres (32-1, 28 KOs), who will defend his WBO crown for a third time, rallied to score a hotly debated 11th-round TKO over Holt (23-2, 12 KOs) on Sept. 1, 2007, in the champion’s hometown of Barranquilla, Colombia
In a 10-round junior welterweight co-feature, undefeated World Boxing Association (WBA)/WBO No. 5 140-pound contender Lamont Peterson (24-0, 11 KOs) will put his undefeated record on the line against former International Boxing Association (IBA) champion Rogelio Castaneda.
Bob Arum’s Top Rank, Inc., will promote the doubleheader from the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nev.
Question: Bob, Ricardo and Kendall, can you provide some closing comments?
Arum: We’re very pleased that we’re able to present this event on SHOWTIME because the fight which took place a number of months ago was considered to be very controversial. When things are controversial in boxing, very often lawsuits start.
All of this is going to be settled in the ring at the beautiful new Planet Hollywood hotel in Las Vegas. We’re pleased that the fights will be held at the beautiful Planet Hollywood hotel and that SHOWTIME is televising the event for the entire country.
SHOWTIME has made great strides, not only in boxing, but in original programming. The number of new subscribers to SHOWTIME is growing by leaps and bounds. This is just another example of SHOWTIME putting on a very competitive match. The champion, Ricardo Torres, is one of the hardest punchers in boxing today. The challenger, Kendall Holt, is an extremely poised and experienced fighter who wants to add the title champion before his name.
Question: Ricardo, what are your thoughts about fighting Holt again, and what do you remember about the first controversial fight?
Torres: I don’t remember the first fight being controversial at all. I beat Holt fair and square, and I moved on. Now, this is the next fight and I believe it should be even better. We know each other better. We should be able to know what each other can do. That’s what gives me the confidence that I have.
I’m very well prepared for this rematch.
Question: Kendall, what are your thoughts on fighting Torres again? What do you remember most about the first fight?
Holt: I just remember me not doing enough. I just remember me not being active enough. I believe I was winning the fight. I believe the fight was stopped early. I believe that in this rematch I prepared myself better than I did before. I believe I’m going to be a lot more active in this fight, and I believe this time I’ll walk away with a WBO championship.
Question: Were you prepared for all the conditions you faced in the ring in the first fight?
Holt: Actually, I was prepared. I didn’t think anything controversial was going to happen. I was just prepared to face Torres. I didn’t prepare to face the hostile crowd. I didn’t prepare to face a referee who was making a lot of mistakes. I was just prepared to face Torres.
Question: Are you going to press the pace a little bit more in the rematch, or are you going to get the same Torres in the ring?
Holt: At times I will pick up action, I will go forward. I’m a sleek counter puncher, so I will follow the game plan, which is to box. I will press the action when I feel it’s time.
Question: Ricardo, what made it important for you to accept this rematch beyond money? What made you accept this rematch when you did not have to after the WBO rule against making an immediate rematch?
Torres: As far as I’m concerned, I’m a champion. I’m out here to face the best fighters out there. They say Holt is that right now. I accept that. I’ll fight Holt and move on, and I’ll fight even bigger and better fights.
The opportunity was brought up to fight Holt again. I have no problem with that. If that’s what needs to be done right now, that’s what needs to be done.
Question: Did all the controversy motivate you to take the fight to kind of prove that you were the better fighter in the rematch?
Torres: I never felt like that. I know the first fight was controversial. I know that Holt didn’t get hit with anything. The only thing he got hit with was my punches. That’s why he went down. As far as I’m concerned, obviously the WBO, it was a fair win. But like I said, I’m willing to fight whoever is out there when the opportunity is here and we’ll do it again.
Question: Can you talk about coming to the United States for the rematch, and what made you accept the fight in the U.S.?
Torres: I’m very confident. I have an open mind. I came to do my job. Hopefully, they’ll do their job, everybody will see a great fight and everybody will be happy. As far as I’m concerned, I’m very confident about what I’m able to do in the ring.
Question: Have you watched the first fight against Holt?
Torres: I have seen the first fight a few times, and obviously we knew what was happening that night. We knew we were down on points. We knew we had to pick it up. I was down in the sixth round. I got up, and knew I had to do something special. I knew I had to take Holt out, and I did. I took him out in the 11th. The referee did the right thing by stopping it. He was hurt.
Question: Bob, what is your opinion of the stoppage in the first Torres-Holt fight?
Arum: You remember I’m watching it from a tape after the event. I thought the referee stoppage was justified. I thought that Holt was really hurt. It was very, very difficult for me to see on that tape what the fans were carrying on in the arena. I did see stuff being thrown, but you couldn’t get the impact unless you were there.
So, it’s very, very hard for me to say. But I think the stoppage was justified.
Question: Why do you think Torres eventually took the rematch?
Arum: Torres has a lot of pride. Money, as you say, was a factor. When we (Top Rank) got into the picture, we figured that the way to solve it was to get everybody together, pay everybody, and put the fight on in Las Vegas or in Connecticut.
In boxing, disputes should be settled in the ring. I think it certainly was a terrific fight last time. SHOWTIME viewers and the people coming to watch the fight here in Las Vegas want to see a tremendously competitive and interesting fight.
It will be even better this time. Tickets are priced very, very reasonably. They’re $50, $100 and $150. Every seat’s a good seat. So, we’ll have 4,000 or 5,000 people there on Saturday. It’s great for boxing and great for SHOWTIME. It’s great for Planet Hollywood and great for the fighters.
Question: Do you know who the referee is going to be for the rematch?
Lee Samuels: The referee is Jay Nady. The judges are Duane Ford, Robert Hoyle and Bert Clements. Everyone is from Nevada.
Question: Kendall, if you stay after it this time, do you open yourself up somewhere else in your fight plan?
Holt: I’m going to try not to. But, when you go forward and press the action, at times you will leave yourself open. So, that’s a risk I’m going to have to take. I’m going to take that chance. I’m going to be smart about it. I’m not going to go out there and lose my head. But, I will take chances in the fight.
Question: How do you feel going into this fight? Do you worry about getting gassed if you go too hard early on?
Holt: I’m a professional fighter. I’m trained to go 12 hard rounds. But I’ve prepared very well. I’ve changed some things about myself, and I broke down some mental barriers that were hindering me a little bit in the fight game.
So, hopefully in this fight, all that will shine through.
Question: What did you learn about Torres from the first meeting?
Holt: What I learned about Torres is that I underestimated him the first time. I was a firm believer that he didn’t earn his chance to be a world champion. He shouldn’t have had a chance to fight Miguel Cotto. After the fight, I realized I didn’t think he earned his chance. He shouldn’t have been in the fight for the championship. He shouldn’t have won the championship, but now I understand that he’s here. So, I have to deal with him being here.
Question: Will you be able to put all the emotions of the first fight behind you on fight night and just focus on the battle at hand?
Holt: I’m sure I will be able to put the emotions behind me, but, at times, they might come back into play during the fight. So, I’m not absolutely sure that they won’t. But I’m a professional, so I should be able to prepare.
Question: When your hand is raised this time around, will it be sweeter because of all that’s taken place previously?
Holt: It will be sweeter because all the controversy has actually made me a bigger star. It made me a more recognizable name. Hopefully, winning this fight will make me a more recognizable face.
Question: Is bringing the title back home to New Jersey important to you?
Holt: It’s extremely important to bring the title back home because Arturo Gatti was the last champion from New Jersey. Before him, it was a lot of years that New Jersey didn’t have a champion. So, it is extremely important that I bring the title back to New Jersey, especially after the New York Giants just won the Super Bowl.
Question: How do you avoid some of the problems from the first fight in the rematch?
Holt: Well, the biggest controversy was that the stoppage was premature. If we have premature stoppages like that, then there will be no such thing as the Arturo Gatti wars and fights like that. Even if a guy is stunned or hurt, it doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be allowed to fight because some of the best fights we’ve in boxing history were fought when guys were hurt.
You stop a fight when a guy can’t defend himself anymore, not because he’s hurt. How I’m going to stop the controversy is by limiting myself being wide open, by making mental errors and dropping my hands. I know I’m going to get hit with those big punches, and I should treat it as if I’m in there fighting every single second of the fight.
Question: How many times have you watched the tape of that first fight to come up with these kinds of lessons?
Holt: I have watched the first fight two or three times. Each time I’ve watched it, I’ve just watched it more. I’ve never one time sat and watched it in its entirety. The main thing was that I wasn’t active enough. The second thing was that when I was active, Torres caught me with a good punch and I was on the ropes, and my hand was slightly down a little bit.
But, other than that, the fight was fought to near perfection on my behalf.
Question: Ricardo, can you comment on the controversy in the fight and also your view on the time of the stoppage?
Torres: I was hitting Holt with a lot of punches at the end of the fight. I was just after him. He was throwing maybe a couple of slap punches at me. But, the referee did the right thing. His job is to protect the fighters at all times, and I think he was doing that.
Question: Based on what happened in the first fight, what do you expect to do differently in the rematch now that you’ve seen each other already?
Torres: As far as I’m concerned, we did make some mistakes in that fight. We had never seen Holt before. Now, we have a lot rounds facing each other. That will be the difference because I know him better. I know what I can do against Holt, and I will be prepared to go the 12 rounds.
Question: Do you think that Holt’s going to do anything differently against you?
Torres: I always expect different things from fights. Fights are always different. We know each other very well. I don’t think Holt can change that much. But, I’m sure he’ll try to do some things differently.
Question: What do you think about Holt saying that any place is better to fight the rematch than Barranquilla, Colombia?
Torres: Holt should be grateful for the way he was treated in Barranquilla. He was treated as a very nice guest. He got everything he needed and needed while he was there. He got treated better than I do in my own country.
In the ring, there are just two of us. It doesn’t matter where we fight. It’s just going to be me and him.
Question: What’s your opinion about being the betting underdog in this fight?
Torres: The guy that made the odds is not getting in the ring. The people that are betting on the fight are not getting in the ring. I’m going to prove everybody wrong. I’m prepared mentally and physically for this fight. There’s nothing written about it here. There are no favorites. There’s nothing. We still have to fight.
Question: Is this personal for you at all?
Torres: As far as I’m concerned, boxing is still a sport. I love to compete against the best. Competition is what makes this great. I come in here to fight the best and to do the best that I can. I don’t want anybody getting hurt or getting injured.
I just want to put on a great performance. I hope my opponent does the same thing, and we both move on and get on to bigger fights and other performances down the road.
Question: Kendall, can you address the fact that you are the favorite in the rematch after losing the first fight against Torres?
Holt: Being a favorite doesn’t really do anything for me or my confidence. It really doesn’t bother me. Like Torres said, the people making the odds don’t have to fight. They don’t have to train. They don’t have to work hard. They don’t have to do anything but guess who they think should win or who they think might win.
I appreciate that the odds makers think I’m going to win. At the end of the day, we still have to get in there and fight.
Question: What do you think of Torres saying that he thought the conclusion to the first fight was controversy‑free?
Holt: If I were in Torres’ shoes, I would have said the same thing. But you can’t deny what happened. It happened. What happened was unfortunate. But the biggest controversy was that the fight shouldn’t have been stopped.
If the fight was stopped, it should have been stopped to clean the debris out of the ring. But, to be stopped and to declare Torres the winner was preposterous you don’t stop the fight just because a fighter is hurt. If that’s the case, we wouldn’t have the Arturo Gatti fight, the Micky Wards, the people that come back to win the fight in the last second of the last round.
If those fights were stopped when a guy was hurt for the first time, we wouldn’t have those wars. You stop the fight when the fighter is unable to defend himself. You stop it when he’s unable to continue to go on.
I was willing and able to continue. Was I hurt? No. Was I unable to defend myself? No. Was my head snapping back? No. Was I wobbly? No. So, the fight was prematurely stopped.
Question: Bob, what kind of crowd are you expecting for the fight?
Arum: The venue can be made to hold 6,000. We expect between 4,000 and 5,000. They do a marvelous job promoting at Planet Hollywood. They put everything into it. It’s been a pleasure for us to work with them. There’s a love there for boxing with Robert Earl and Mike Mecca. They haven’t become jaded like some of the places that put on a lot of these big fights.
They’re very enthusiastic, and it’s been a pleasure for all of us at Top Rank to work with them. I know the fighters are really thrilled with the treatment they’ve received at Planet Hollywood.
Question: Kendall, what happened in the first Torres fight, and what transpired in the ring? How long did it take for you to get over it and to lose a fight for the reasons that you just said?
Holt: The first Torres fight did not linger. I got over it after the appeals were denied. When the new ranking came out, I moved down only one notch lower than I was before. So, I was the No. 2 contender in the world. My thinking was that I will have two good fights and I will be right back to being a mandatory challenger. So, at that point, I wasn’t worried about it anymore. I wasn’t worried about fighting for the rematch.
I just knew the rematch would happen. It was just a matter of time.
Question: Once that fight ended and you were in the dressing room, what was your mind set?
Holt: I cried. That fight shouldn’t have been stopped. I was stunned. I wasn’t unable to defend myself. I could have gone on. I was just completely stunned. Up until the sixth round when I was struck in the face with a beer can, Torres was laid out on the ground recovering, so he didn’t see it. But there are still shots of me being hit in the face with a can.
From that moment on, I was not there mentally. I was just concerned about me, my entourage, my trainers and everyone from America making it out of there if I did go after Torres and knock him out. Up until that point, I had only seen one security guard.
So, all of that went through my mind.
Question: Bob, have you ever been involved in a fight that one of the participants got nailed with some kind of object thrown in a ring from a fan?
Arum: Read George Kimball’s great book that’s coming out called “Four Kings.” When Marvin Hagler won the world title in England against Minter, I have never seen so many cans rain on a ring. It was like a rainstorm of beer cans. I didn’t know there were that many cans in all of England. So, yeah, I’ve seen it.
Question: That was after the fight, though, right?
Arum: It was pretty scary.
Question: Even though we know there’s a lot of subjectivity in boxing, what do you think should be done to prevent such craziness from continuing to go on all the time?
Arum: I don’t know if it’s all the time. You take whatever steps you can to prevent controversies from happening. Mistakes will happen.
There are egregious calls in baseball and football, even with instant replay. In any athletic endeavor, there will be mistakes made, controversies and calls. You try to eliminate them to the extent possible. But I’m not aware that they’re occurring at any greater number than at times past.
When you have a controversy like what happened in Barranquilla, the way you handle it is everybody works together to do a rematch so the playing field is leveled.
Question: Kendall, in your first bout against Torres, were you hurt by fatigue or his punches?
Holt: Torres caught me with a good shot in the fourth round and a good shot in the 11th round. Other than that, I was fine.
Question: Ricardo, will you change your approach in this fight considering you gave Holt a demanding lead early in the fight by fighting too passively?
Torres: Without a doubt, I know him better. I know what to expect. I think you’ll see me more sure of what I’m trying to do and with the things I need to do. I come more prepared. We’re going to go 12 hard rounds, and I know what I need to do. My mentality is there. I’m physically fit. I’m ready to go.
Question: Bob, Ricardo and Kendall, can you provide some closing comments?
Arum: It’s going to be a terrific fight, and a great night of boxing. The fights start at 5 p.m. at the arena. SHOWTIME telecast goes on at 8 p.m. pacific time, and it will be delayed on the west coast.
If you really love the sport of boxing and want to see another great fight, this is the fight that you’ll enjoy. It will make your July fourth weekend complete.
Torres: I want to invite everybody to come out and see the fight. It will be a great fight, and even better than the first one.
Holt: I’d like to thank Bob Arum for helping to secure a rematch. I would like to thank Ricardo Torres for being a stand‑up person and a stand‑up champion for granting me the rematch.