Here is what the press conference participants had to say Thursday from the Chick Hearn Press Room at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles:
Photo: Stephanie Trapp/ Showtime
LEO SANTA CRUZ
“The first fight was a really good one, but I think this one will be even better. Mares is a great fighter with a great trainer in Robert Garcia, and that’s the kind of challenge I want. We both want to give the fans great fights.
“I’ve learned a lot from my last few fights. I’m not coming in here worried about losing, I just worry about giving the fans a great show. If Mares is better than me that night, then he will win. But I’ve worked too hard and I’m going to be at my peak on Saturday night.
“I think that Mares has gotten a lot better. Robert Garcia is a trainer who has brought him up to a different level. He’s made a lot of improvements. I learned from the Frampton fights and my dad is a good trainer too. It’s even all the way around and it’s going to be a great fight.
“I think the winner of this fight will be number one in this division. Gary Russell Jr. is a great fighter and I definitely want a rematch of our amateur fight. But me and Abner put a lot of pressure on our opponents and I don’t think Gary would like the pressure from either of us.
“My team motivates me every day in the gym. They’re right next to me running every day towards the same goal. That’s what I love about training camp because it makes me work even harder.”
“I could stand up here and tell you what I’m going to do Saturday, but you’ve seen the first fight. You know how exciting the first fight was. I have even more to prove and I’m going to leave it all on the line this time.
“This is going to be an exciting fight. I know Leo has matured as an athlete and fighter by fighting Frampton twice. But if you look at my last couple of performances, they speak for themselves. I think both of us are seasoned and better fighters right now.
“There’s no doubt that the winner of this fight is number one in this division. There’s some great fighters at featherweight, but we’re fighting for the top spot in this division.
“Our focus isn’t on looking for a stoppage. That was my mistake the first fight. I tried to destroy him. I’m going to follow instructions and show I’m the better fighter in there.
“If I win Saturday night, and the fight is just as exciting as the first one, I’m ready for a trilogy. Let’s make it happen.
“I’m going to fight my heart out and win this fight this time. May the best man win. We’re going to give the fans what they want to see. I’m calling this ‘Fight of the Year’ guaranteed.”
“My brother and I have been doing this a long time. Austin Trout has done it a long time as well. I’m hoping everyone gets there early, because I’m bringing excitement to the table right from the start.
“Some critics say that me and my brother haven’t fought the people required to be on the pound-for-pound list. My race to the top continues Saturday night to prove all those people wrong.
“A knockout is possible. If he wants that to be the way it goes, then I’m capable. Derrick and I have a great plan that we’re ready to use. None of our experience in the past matters, we’re both 0-0. Anything can happen on Saturday night.
“I look to do what my brother did against Trout, but way better. If that’s with a knockout or just picking him apart, I’m ready. I’m fighting for a lot more than just a win on Saturday. We’re going to keep shining and do what we have to do.
“We want everyone to know that my brother and I come from the trenches. We made it this far, so we’re not stopping now. Nobody is standing in my way. I know Trout wants a belt, but this is the wrong belt to go after.
“I have to deal with Austin Trout. Jarrett Hurd is not my focus right now. I definitely want to unify titles soon and I hope he comes out ringside on Saturday night so I can look at him after this fight. Everyone knows what time it is.”
“I’m very excited to be here and have another once in a lifetime opportunity. I believe this is destiny. I’m coming into the lion’s den and I’m going to come out unscathed.
“As great as my win against Miguel Cotto was, I don’t think it compares to this fight here. People complained about Cotto being old after I beat him, but with Jermell, there’s no excuse you can make up. He’s an undefeated world champion, so if I get the win, this is definitely bigger than Cotto.
“I don’t think he’s overlooking me because I bet his brother told him not to sleep on Trout. Everyone’s going to see what I’ve been saying on Saturday night.
“My training camp with Barry Hunter was fantastic. We got all the work in that I needed and Barry is someone who always pushes me to be better than I believe I’m capable of.
“I learned from my mistakes when I fought the bigger brother. I’m going to be even better on Saturday and it’s going to be a totally different result.
“For everyone sleeping on me, you better wake up. It’s going to be an awakening on Saturday night.”
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