In a legitimate Fight of the Year candidate, WBO welterweight champion Antonio “The Tijuana Tornado” Margarito (34-4, 1 NC, 24 KOs) will make his seventh defense when he faces unbeaten, No. 1-ranked contender Paul “The Punisher” Williams (32-0, 24 KOs) in the main event of a stellar fight card Saturday, July 14, 2007, in the outdoor tennis stadium at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
Billed as “Pride N’ Punishment,” the long-awaited, highly anticipated 12-round confrontation between arguably the hardest-punching, most exciting rivals in the 147-pound division is presented by Goossen Tutor Promotions and will be televised on HBO “World Championship Boxing.” The HBO broadcast starts at 8 p.m. ET/11 PM PT.
Tickets are available for as low as $25, with VIP floor seats priced at $300. Other tickets in the bowl are available at $50, $75 and $150 and will be on sale Tuesday, May 29 at Ticketmaster outlets and online at www.Ticketmaster.com, as well as The Home Depot Center Box Office (open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.). Group tickets are available online at www.aegtickets.com or by calling 1-877-AEG-TICKETS. The first bout July 14 will begin at 5:30 p.m. PT.
Begin Opening Comments.
Arum: I am delighted to be on this call because I am looking forward to the fight on July 14. I think it is going to be a terrific fight, and I commend Dan for putting it, not in the casinos, but in a public arena, where the public can come out and support the fight and see a real fight. We at Top Rank are very proud of Antonio Margarito. He is a terrific fighter. He is a real fighter. By that I mean he is not one of these businessmen we see in the ring so often, guys who look the same when they (when they leave the ring as when they enter) because they do not throw many punches. They collect a paycheck, and they do not give the public value. Antonio gives the public value, and I am sure that his fight with Paul Williams will be a terrific fight. Paul is a very good fighter, and comes to fight. The best man is going to win. We are very confident in our guy, Antonio Margarito.
Arum: Once we get going, the spotlight is going to be on the fighters, as well as it should be with Antonio Margarito defending his title, and Paul Williams, our fighter, finally getting that shot at taking the title away from Margarito. It is going to be a great, competitive fight. We have got two fighters that are fighters. They know it is going to be a brutal battle. They know it is going to be a great fight. They know there is going to be a lot of pain in there, but yet Margarito did not want to give up his title, and Paul wanted to make sure he kept that title. So I applaud both of them for doing that. We are going to have a great fight. It is one of the reasons why we called it Pride and Punishment, because there is a lot of pride on the line with Bob’s champion, Margarito, who he has called the most feared fighter in boxing. We believe Paul Williams should have that title attached to his name, and we are going to find out July 14. I look forward to seeing it as a fan. (The Home Depot Center is a great place). We are in Los Angeles, where Margarito trains, and lives and in La Habra (Calif.) where he also trains. Paul Williams has some roots (at The Home Depot Center). He beat Walter Matthysse there to become the No. 1 contender in the world. We had an opportunity to take this to a Las Vegas casino, and there is a lot of glitz to that. But I believe on July 14, having it at the Home Depot Center is not only going to be more glitzy for us, but more glamorous. This is a fight that has a lot of interest already. Once this thing was announced, our phones have been off the hook for tickets. So we are looking for a sell out of over 8,000 seats. Anyway, I want to thank both fighters, Bob, for what you have done with Margarito, and may the best man win July 14. We are going to have a fun time that night.
Margarito: I just want to tell everyone “The Tornado” from Tijuana is coming, and to be ready for it, because he is taking Paul Williams in his path.
Question: Paul, what are your thoughts about this fight, and how has training been going?
Williams: Training has been good. I am just glad the fight is taking place. I will be coming back home with that WBO title. So I am not worried about anything. I just cannot wait to get it on.
Goossen: Before we go to more questions, I would like Sergio Diaz, the manager of Margarito, to make a brief statement. Then I would like to also have George Peterson, the manager-trainer of Williams, to make a statement right after Sergio. Sergio?
Goossen: I am glad this fight is taking place. It is a fight that is going to be good for the crowd. It is going to be an all action fight. It really depends on Paul. Paul says he is going to stand and exchange with Tony, which I really doubt. If he does, he better be ready because Antonio is preparing 100 percent. There is too much ahead (for us) of this. We are concentrating on this fight, but Paul Williams was saying Antonio had a heart of Jell-O, (and calling him) Chicken Margarito. You know what? He is going to eat those words those words July 14.
Peterson: I give Antonio all due respect. But we are just going to pick up from where we left off in 2004 when we put a spanking on him. It is going to be an instant replay of that (sparring session). If you insist, Margarito will go to the mat, but Paul has got three more years of experience, so I do not even see it being a contest. None whatsoever. I am just sorry that Joshua Clottey got shafted (versus Margarito), but we are going to pick up from there.
Goossen: What happened in that sparring session?
Peterson: Well, we put a spanking on him. They say, “Hey, man, you all got to leave. You cannot continue on beating on our guy like that.” Margarito has not changed anything whatsoever. That is the bad thing about it. He has not changed, but Paul has changed a lot. So we are not going to have any problems. We are looking forward to it. I wish it was tomorrow night so we can get this over and done with. We come to administer punishment, and that is the way it has been from day one from Paul Williams.
Diaz: It is funny you talked about a spanking when no one can remember any spanking going on. I remember asking for more rounds from you guys, and you guys telling us, “No, no. We do not want to spar any more rounds.” A lot of things that have been said are untrue. (But if) that is the way you build up Paul, fine. You had to use Antonio’s name to build him. Hey, we will see July 14 what happens.
Goossen: Paul, do you recall that incident, and what happened?
Goossen: Yes, sir. I recall it clear as yesterday. We were sparring, and I hit him with a right hook, and I busted his eye. They stopped, and they put some grease on it, but they still wanted him to keep sparring. So what I did, (knowing) he had a big fight with (Daniel) Santos coming up, (was) I just threw all body shots, and I hurt him to the body. They gave us a pair of light gloves, and that was it.
Margarito: All I can tell you is I think everyone in boxing knows who Margarito is. They know who Paul Williams is, and they just use my name and build themselves up. I do not know what they are even talking about. It happened so long ago. When they get a chance to prove themselves on July 14, we are going to show them who the real champion is.
Question: Can we just get a little more clarification on whether Williams (as well as Margarito) was also down in one of those sparring sessions?
Margarito: I can tell you that nobody went down in either of the rounds. We only did three rounds of sparring, and we asked him to give us one more. His trainer said, “No, no more. We are only coming for three rounds.” They did not want to do any more rounds after that. I do not know why they are saying what they are saying, because we were the ones that asked them for another round, and they did not want to take it. I want to hear Paul Williams saying that he knocked me down.
Williams: No sir, nobody was knocked down. I just cut his eye and I just hit him to the body real hard, and they did not want to spar any more. That was it. That was what I told you the first time. A lie will change, but the truth will stay the same.
Question: Antonio, can you tell us how your training has been going?
Margarito: I have been training real well. I have been here in L.A. for two weeks. Of course, I never stop training. I have been training in Tijuana, but now I am in LA. I should be 100 percent when the fight comes around.
Question: Antonio, what kind of fight do you expect from Williams? Do you expect just a slugfest from the middle of the ring?
Margarito: I am always prepared to fight whatever kind of fight the opponent brings to me. As everyone knows, I am an aggressive fighter. I like that fight, the in-fighting, and that would be the best fight for everyone, but if not, if he comes to box, I will be prepared for it.
Question: Paul, what kind of fight do you expect?
Williams: I like action. So there is going to be some action. I plan on stomping Margarito. I know that he is in his hometown, so I cannot leave that to anybody (the judges).
Question: Paul, you have called out Margarito for a long time, and it is every boxer’s dream to fight for a world title. What was your reaction when you heard the fight was made?
Williams: I felt real good. This is my chance. They call him the most feared, and I want that title from him. There would not be anybody else (for me to fight to make a name for myself). He is the man that no one wanted to call out. I was the first one to call him out. I wanted to fight him, and they made it.
Question: Paul, in the last few years, you said that you have improved on some things. What are some of the things that you have changed in your style?
Williams: Well, if I choose to box from outside, I can box from the outside. I move my head a little more. When I get in the ring, my style adjusts to my opponent. However he comes out, I am outgunning him, and I can get in front of him. I will do that. I am sure my opponents are watching the tapes. It does not matter to me. They say I do not have any power. You will see the power come.
Question: Is he the biggest fighter (of your career)?
Williams: Yes, he would have to be the biggest name. He is the champion. You have got to respect the champion, but those days are over.
Question: Antonio, can you tell us what happened before this fight got made when a press release went out saying that you had already accepted a fight with Miguel Cotto?
Margarito: Yes, I had accepted to fight Cotto, because that was the big fight out there for me, but they (the WBO) wanted to take my belt away. I worked very hard to get that belt, and I was not about to give it up on the table. He has to take it away from me. I knew that I had to make the fight with Williams in order to keep my title, and that is why I decided to defend my title, because when I fight Cotto, I want to go in as a champion, just like he is.
Question: Dan, if Williams wins, is a fight with Cotto something that you would look into?
Goossen: Well, we have talked to Bob quite often about Williams and Cotto. I believe this fight will establish the preeminent welterweight in the world. Now, keep in mind, Cotto is just coming up to the welterweight division. He has not been there as long as these two fighters, but we are very confident in Paul Williams’ abilities, his desire, his dedication, and his non-stop action inside that ring. We know what to expect from Margarito, and that is also a toe to toe brawl, so to me, the best welterweight in the world will have his hand raised July 14, and any other type of fight, or super fight, that can be made will be made. I know Cotto would certainly be a super fight for Williams.
Question: Bob, do you feel the same way?
Arum: Let me tell you where the situation is. If Cotto wins and Antonio wins, then the fight is on between Cotto and Antonio. If Williams were to beat Antonio, and he did not fight like a businessman, but he fought like a fighter â€“ in other words, it is an exciting fight, the best man wins, and Williams’ hand is raised â€“ then obviously we would look into that. And if Cotto beat Judah, then we would look with favor on a Cotto/Williams fight. But I am not fighting my fighters with any businessmen. No more guys who are in for a pay day, and just putz around in the ring and do not fight. If Williams fights and beats Tony, absolutely. But if he does not, and he happens to win the fight, absolutely not.
Goossen: Hell will freeze over before you see either one of these guys not fighting to the finish.
Arum: I would hope that would be the case, and if that is the case, then the winner of this fight, if Cotto beats Judah, obviously would be a good opponent. That would make a great big match. Puerto Rico East Coast against the West Coast.
Question: Antonio, can you talk a little about (your fight) against Clottey? And what weaknesses do you notice in Williams that you know that you will be able to exploit?
Margarito: When you talk about Clottey, you are talking about a real strong guy. A guy that, I think, took a lot of punches and punishment. I was not at my best. I know I had some problems with my ankle, problem with my hands. I mean, I was not on my best, but sometimes the styles makes fights different. This fight with Williams will be a totally different.
Question: Bob, the president of the UFC says that both you and Don King are killing boxing. What is your take on that?
Arum: I do not know. You know, I do not know where he comes off saying anything like that. All I know is the UFC has done a great job presenting their product, but their product is not good. The athletic competition is horrible. It is horrible to watch, and the fighters are not nearly as efficient as professional boxers. Our problem has been that we have not presented the sport (well); our production has not been up to par. Television people turn these fights into studio productions, and they do not allow music between rounds. They have long pauses between fights. That is old school. That has to change. We are not idiots. Dan Goossen is a smart guy. He has a good promotional flair. He knows what it is to present a real show to the public, which we have not been doing in boxing. So the point is that we have to convince the networks, even if we have to do these shows ourselves, that the public wants to be entertained, they want to see fireworks, they want to see entrances, they want to see the same type of production that they get in a UFC show, but once they do, and they get fights like we saw Saturday night between (Kelly) Pavlic and (Edison) Miranda, believe me there is no sport that compares, even remotely, to boxing.
Question: Bob, is boxing dying?
Arum: No, boxing is not dying. Boxing has learned a lesson from the UFC, and the lesson is that we have got to do a better job in presenting our product. There are promoters like Dan Goossen, Lou DiBella, and ourselves, and others who are aware of that, and we are going to change the way boxing is presented. The actual boxing matches, with fighters who fight -- there is nothing more thrilling, and nothing more exciting for a fan. We do not need any more businessmen fights. We do not need stuff where the fighters look at each other, because I mean, nobody wants to see that anymore. We do not need Bernard Hopkins and Winky Wright. We do not need Jermain Taylor and Cory Spinks. We need Kelly Pavlic and Edison Miranda. We need Antonio Margarito and Paul Williams. We need fights, and we will present them the way they should be presented, and believe me, boxing will beat UFC or any of these mixed martial arts guys.
Question: Antonio, in your last fight against Clottey, it seemed like you got off to a slow start. What do you plan to do differently against Williams?
Margarito: I think you are going to see little different things from me. We are going to develop a real good strategy for his style, and you will see me coming out of this fight with a victory.
Question: Paul, you have an 82-inch reach. How do you plan on using that against Margarito to keep him at the end of your punches?
Williams: I do not plan on keeping him at the end. I plan on knocking him out.
Question: Paul, what did you gain from that intense session â€“ it was not really sparring â€“ against Margarito and what did you find out about Antonio that day?
Williams: I found out a lot of stuff. He had trouble with movement. But you know, he is a pressure fighter and I know he is going to keep coming. I am a pressure fighter too, so I like that. It is going to be a good action fight.
Question: Antonio, why did you take the fight (with Clottey) after you seriously hurt your leg in the gym?
Margarito: When it first happened in the gym, I (did not think) I would be able to go through with the fight. But two or three days later, I felt better. I felt that with the preparation I had done, all the work that I had done, I would be able to go through that fight. During the fight, I was in pain. It did hurt. But I went through with it. I was able to get the victory, and that is really the important thing.
Question: Antonio, are you looking ahead to big fights against the big names in the division?
Margarito: Yes, I am thinking about the big fights. (But) I know I have to beat Williams, and that is in my mind now to get to the next step, which would be Cotto. .
Question: Bob, do you think Margarito is at that point where nobody can avoid him?
Arum: Businessmen will avoid him. (Oscar) De La Hoya and (Floyd) Mayweather, as they demonstrated, are businessmen. They are not real fighters. They will avoid any real fighter, whether it is Margarito, Cotto, or Paul Williams. Businessmen do not really fight, they make business. I hope you understand what I am saying. Mayweather and De la Hoya had a tremendous audience, but they fought like businessmen. They looked the same when they went in the ring, and when they came out of the ring. They made a lot of money, God love them for it, but let me tell you, businessmen do not get in the ring with fighters.
Question: Paul, why did you decide in Puerto Rico?
Williams: Well, I heard it was a beautiful country (so) we went there and fell in love with it and what was happening there. The people show you so much respect. There is a lot of love there and it is easy for us to train there. It is a good atmosphere, running up the hills and all that.
Question: Are you afraid if you were to fight Cotto next, the friends you make in Puerto Rico would be against you?
Williams: I do not think so. I think, Puerto Ricans may stick with Puerto Ricans but it does not matter if they change or stay the same, because if I do fight Cotto, I will beat him. After the fight, they will treat me the same.
Question: Paul, what do you see in Margarito that you feel you will, or can, capitalize on? Also, early in your career, you fought at 154 and 160. What made you move down to a lower weight class, and do you have any plans on eventually going back up?
Williams: When I fought in those classes, I was dropping weight real easy. So we thought we should go down in weight and see how that works. We went to 154 and I came in like at 152, so I moved down to 147, and it was real easy to make. Yes, I have plans of going back up after we get these belts in 147. I plan on moving up to 154, getting all the belts, then 160, and getting all those belts. The question about Margarito; I throw a lot of punches like he throws a lot of punches, so we are both going to be open for a lot of shots. I think he can give it, but I do not think he could take it.
Question: Paul, have you studied the Clottey-Margarito fight and what did you learn from it?
Williams: To tell you the truth, I do not watch tapes. I get a false reading on that. I let my manager do all that.
Question: Did you feel that in fighting Williams that you have to win dramatically in order to raise the potential for bigger names after Cotto?
Margarito: When I go up into the ring, I try to do my best. I prepare really well. I try to give everything I have, and that is what it shows in every fight. I go in there looking for the win, no matter what it takes, and that is what I do. I try to do the best I can, and look the best I can.
Question: Antonio, the great Mexican fighters like Eric Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera are on their way out. Do you think you can be the next big Mexican star?
Margarito: I hope so. I think they are on their way out. They gave us a lot of great fights, but now it is time for the Tijuana Tornado to give everyone great fights, and to carry the name of Mexico to great heights, and that is what I intend to do.
Begin Closing Comments
Margarito: I want to, of course, thank everyone for supporting my career. I intend to give a great fight July 14. I want to thank everyone for taking part in this conference call and to Bob Arum.
Williams: I want everybody to come out because I know it is going to be an action packed fight. I know Margarito is training very hard, just like I am training very hard, so the fans will be seeing us really throw down. There is not going to be any running around. (This will not be a) bad fight. It is going to be a very fair and excellent fight. Do not go get any popcorn. You may miss something really exciting.
Williams: All I say in my closing comment is that what Dan Goossen says in his closing comments will speak for me.
Goossen: The last thing I want to say is I am really proud of Antonio Margarito having that pride to defend his title. Bob Arum, what can you say? One of the greatest promoters of all time. It is good to have him there on the other side, so to speak, but certainly you can liven up any event, Bob, and you have done a great job throughout the years doing that, and you have built a lot of champions. We will find out July 14 where we all stand with our respective fighters. (So people, nationally, know what is happening with HBO, is that), in essence, (fans are getting) a triple header. I haven’t seen a triple header in years on HBO. Bob, you might have done the last one, but it had to be 20 some odd years ago, if there was one. That is the importance of this fight. As you know, July 14 was a date that Arturo Gatti already had and Main Events had the semi-main for that night. So, in essence, July 14 was closed up. But this was such an important fight for the industry, for the fighters, for the promoters, and the network, that they were able to make a deal where we had a split feed. Bob, do you ever remember a split feed before?
Arum: Yes, Dan, I remember, certainly, a split feed in the ABC (TV) days. I know John Tate fought Mike Weaver in Knoxville, and Larry Holmes fought a guy named (Leroy) Jones in Las Vegas. ABC did a split feed when (Victor) Galindez and (Marvin) Johnson fought in New Orleans on the same card that Sugar Ray Leonard and (Wilfred) Benitez and (Marvin) Hagler and Vito Antuofermo fought in Las Vegas. Shows how old I am. I remember there was a split feed once in a Sunny Liston doubleheader. But I do not remember any recent splits.
Goossen: I believe when you have a situation like this, it just shows the importance and the level that this fight is. So again, the fans nationally will be able to have the enjoyment of seeing three fights with ours culminating in what I believe will (reveal) the preeminent welterweight in the world. That was their investment in having this fight. (Not taking) anything away from Gatti. He has had a tremendous career. (Kermit) Citron and (Walter) Matthysse; obviously your fighter, Margarito, beat Citron and Paul stopped Matthysse. So, you know, that is a good opening fight, but we have the meat and potatoes at the Home Depot Center, July 14, Pride and Punishment. I want to thank Bob Arum, Dan Beckerman, Tim Leiweke, with the Home Depot Center, AEG, and Antonio Margarito, Sergio Diaz, George Peterson, and Paul Williams. We will see you guys in LA.