by: Sean Crose
Bob Arum used a Thursday press conference to promote this Saturday’s Madison Square Garden card to push his political beliefs. “We’re getting rid of all these Republicans, like Nunes and McCarthy,” the octogenarian promoter claimed at one point. “They’re all gone,” Arum also used the occasion to argue his beliefs on immigration. Alongside Arum on stage was none other than longtime rival Don King, who himself decided to wear an oversize pin adorned with a picture of President Donald Trump. Although this weekend’s card, which will be aired live on ESPN, features a world title bout, the entire affair on Thursday was about the two promoters, who took turns jabbing at one another.
The featured fighters did get a chance to speak, however. Ireland’s Michael Conlon, a 5-0 super bantamweight, made it clear he was happy to return to New York, the place where he made his professional debut exactly a year ago. “It means a lot to me to be back,” he claimed. “Every time I walk through the street, I see someone I know…it feels like Ireland when I am here.” Conlan, who will be meeting 15-2 David Berna, exchanged gifts onstage with WWE personality, and fellow Irishman, Finn Balor.
Mehdi Amar, the 34-5-2 light heavyweight who will be facing the feared 14-0 Oleksandr Gvozdyk on Saturday for the interim WBC world light heavyweight title, also expressed his pleasure at being in New York. “I’m really happy to be here,” he claimed. “Such a prestigious title.” His opponent, Gvozdyk, was in good spirits. “All the fans I think should expect a good fight,” he stated. “I’m happy to fight on ESPN and thankful for ESPN for a great opportunity.” Although he will clearly be in deep, Amar declared he was ready for Saturday’s challenge. “I’ll take this fight as any other fight,” he said. “The pressure’s on my shoulders.”
The two fighters who will engage in this weekend’s main even were far more subdued than the promoters who are putting on the fight. The 21-1-0 Amir Imam showed quiet confidence in his quest to attain the WBC world super lightweight title by beating the 21-0 Jose Carlos Ramirez. “He’s a tough fighter,” Imam said of his opponent. “I see a lot in him. I’m not overlooking him.” Imam also made sure to exude confidence. “It’s time to get the title now,” he stated plainly. Like his foe, Ramirez wasn’t interested in being over the top. “It’s definitely a blessing for me to able to fight here for my first world title,” Ramirez told the media, exuding graciousness.
The fighters were polite, but the promoters made sure the even was far from tactful.