Leo Santa Cruz-Carl Frampton media conference call
Welcome, everybody, to the Santa Cruz-Frampton telephone call. The event is Saturday, July 30, 2016, on SHOWTIME. The action begins on SHOWTIME at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time; that’s 6:00 p.m, Pacific time from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
The main event is Leo Santa Cruz versus Carl Frampton for the WBA World Featherweight Championship. The co-featured SHOWTIME bout features Mikey Garcia versus former champion, Elio Rojas. Both men are former champions. It’s a junior welterweight 10-round bout.
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by my company in association with Cyclone Promotions and presented by Premier Boxing Champions start at $38 and can be purchased online at Ticketmaster.com, BarclayCenter.com, or by calling 1-800-745-3000. They are also available at the box office at the Barclay Center, and group discounts are available.
This is a sensational card that will actually begin on SHOWTIME EXTREME at 7:00 pm Eastern time and Pacific time. And the SHOWTIME EXTREME bouts feature an opening bout: a terrific matchup between Ivan Redkach and Tevin Farmer. And the main event that features SHOWTIME’s own announcer, Paulie Malignaggi in a battle for Brooklyn against Brooklyn’s own Gabriel Bracero.
The opening bout on the SHOWTIME telecast features two junior middleweights, two of the best in the world, in Tony Harrison versus Sergey Rabchenko. So it’s a tripleheader on SHOWTIME.
On this call, we’re going to begin with Mikey Garcia and Elio Rojas. Elio Rojas will be challenging Mikey Garcia; Mikey’s end of his 2-1/2-year layoff.
Elio Rojas from San Francisco de Macorís, the Dominican Republic, has a record of 24 and 2 with 14 KOs. He’s the former WBC Featherweight Champion. He’s returning from a near-two-year layoff.
He’s fighting Mikey, who’s ending a 2½–year layoff himself, trained by his brother, Robert, former WBO Featherweight and WBO Super Featherweight World Champion, and who holds a number of big wins over Orlando Salido, Juan Manuel Lopez, Romàn Martínez and Juan Carlos Burgos.
Before I introduce the fighters though, I want to introduce the man that made this entire card possible, the Executive VP and General Manger of SHOWTIME Sports, Stephen Espinoza.
Thanks very much, Lou. We are all getting ready and are very excited for another outstanding card top to bottom at Barclays Center – to continue the momentum of our outstanding June 25 fight, we’ve got a really interesting set of matchups.
The first women’s championship title fight at Barclays Center with Amanda Serrano defending her title, to Paulie Malignaggi, SHOWTIME’s own on-air talent, returning to the ring against fellow-Brooklynite, Gabriel Bracero, the super welterweight eliminator, Harrison versus Rabchenko.
And of course, the two fights that we are here to talk about today, our two feature bouts, starting with the much-anticipated return of Mikey Garcia to the ring who was one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport before his layoff.
It is a very positive thing in the sport for someone of Mikey’s caliber to be returning. We’re excited to see what he has planned for a new division. And as is typical for Mikey’s career, he never takes the easy way out.
In Elio Rojas, he has a former world champion, also coming off a layoff of his own, but with 2½ years out of the ring, Mikey certainly could have taken a much easier fight. And no one would have criticized him whatsoever. But that’s not Mikey’s style. And he found someone who’s a very worthy challenger, a tough fighter, former world champion in Elio Rojas at 24 and 2, 14 KOs, so this is a good, good test for both guys.
In terms of our main event, of course, this is really one of the most anticipated fights of the second half of the year, and we are proud to be bringing it to you right on the heels of the fantastic Thurman-Porter fight last June 25 in this very same venue.
If you have been watching SHOWTIME at all, you’ve seen Leo Santa Cruz been featured many times as one of the most fan-friendly and popular young fighters in this sport. Carl Frampton is on a mission to launch his brand and generate the kind of fan base here in the U.S. that he has across the Atlantic.
We started that process with him on CBS almost exactly a year ago and he is also an exciting fighter, and this is as close to guaranteed action as you’re going to get. So top to bottom, we’re thrilled to be bringing this card. We’re very proud to be there, and we will see you all on July 30.
Thank you, Stephen. So without further ado, I’m going to get to the co-featured bout. I’m going to introduce, first, the former WBC Featherweight champion of the world, returning from a near two-year layoff. From San Francisco de Macorís, Dominican Republic, his trainer, will translate for him. The former world champion, Elio Rojas. Elio, will you say a few words?
I would like to thank you all. I’m so very happy to be. I’m really glad that this fight is going to take place. I put it in the work and will be going in there strong. I had a great camp.
All right. Thank you, Elio. I’m going to turn it over now to former WBO Featherweight and WBO Super Featherweight world champion, two-division world champion. Undefeated with a record of 34 and 0 with 28 KOs. The Pride of Oxnard, California, Mikey Garcia.
Thank you, Lou. I’m here. I’m ready. Finally getting to show people my boxing skills in front of the world, and I couldn’t be more excited. I’m well-prepared for the fight. I’m looking forward to a very good fight.
I want Elio to come at his very best and perform, because that’s what I will bring, the best out of me. I think this is a wonderful fight. We’re both former world champions. Because we are coming out from lengthy layoffs, we should be very hungry to get down at this challenge and move forward our careers.
So I really, really want to have a good fight. I think the fans are going to be very surprised with my performance on July 30.
Mikey, during your layoff, how much time did you train, and how did you manage your training without having a fight on the horizon? Was it difficult for you to train without a fight? And how much sparring did you do? Did you make sure to get in the ring every once in a while and spar?
I was saying, even though it’s been 2½ years, I stayed in the gym almost the entire time. I probably took maybe two to three weeks off throughout the entire two-year period. I was always active, always in the gym, and I was doing a lot of sparring, actually.
I helped out a lot of the guys in my brother’s gym, starting with Marcos Maidana when he fought Mayweather. I was his primary sparring partner, and we worked a lot of rounds with him.
And then the fights that my other gym members like Saul Rodriguez – I was helping him, I was helping Max Perez, and the new guys that my brother has, they’re fighting frequently. Very, very frequently.
So I kept helping them in the gym. And that allows me to stay in shape, because even though it’s been 2½ years, really honestly, it seems like it was six, nine months for me, because I stayed in the gym. I stayed active. I stayed in shape. And I never really took too much time out of the gym.
Why did Elio Rojas choose Mikey Garcia and why Mikey Garcia choose Elio Rojas?
I could have chosen another opponent – a much easier opponent, being that I’ve been gone for over two years, but that’s not what I want. I don’t want criticism. I don’t want the fans to criticize me or my opponent. We had a few names that we mentioned, but they were not available, either for timing, or they already had another fight scheduled, or other opponents just clearly said no.
And Elio was available. We looked at him. He’s a former world champion. I remember him from when he was champion at the featherweight limit. And he’s a very good fighter. He’s got excellent skills. He’s also coming out of almost two-year inactivity period, so I’m assuming he’s hungry. I’m assuming he’s excited to be back and wants to take his career to the next level.
It’s a great opportunity for both of us to showcase our skills and the winner will go on to bigger and better things. And that’s what I want. I want him to come in and perform to the best of his abilities, because that will also bring the best out of me.
I’m taking this fight because I mean to show the world I’m an elite fighter, and the only way to show it is to beat the elite fighter, which is Garcia. That’s why I need to show the world that I’m able to be on top with the big names. I deserve this opportunity because the public never gave me the respect that I deserves. That’s why I’m taking this fight with a top fighter.
Mikey, can you talk about what New York has meant to you in your success there?
Well, New York has always been very good to me. I’ve already fought in New York several times. I think, if I’m not mistaken, this is my fourth fight in New York, and New York has always shown a lot of love.
I love New York. I actually think it’s a great place for boxing. A lot of boxing history in New York. And the fans — I see a difference. Fans are real boxing fans. They’re not just fans of the show itself, let’s go to a fight because it’s the thing to do on a Saturday night. There’s some boxing fans.
No, these fans actually follow the sport. They support the fighters, and they’re there, early on. They’re there to watch the show, not just the main event. So you can see the boxing history. They support everybody there. They show me a lot of love, lot of respect, and it’s all good in New York.
What did it feel like being in that crowd on June 25, and do you expect a similar atmosphere when you fight there again on the 30th?
Well, I hope it’s very similar because it was great. It was an awesome experience. I mean, Barclays Center is great. It’s huge, and the fans, like I said, you can just feel the atmosphere. You can feel the electricity in the fans, and when we were there and all the fans, storm us and me, and take photos, and pictures, and sign items, it’s great.
It’s wonderful to get that love and that appreciation from the fans, being that I’m out here from Southern California, and we’re all the way on the other coast, and you still get all that support from the fans. It’s wonderful, so I hope that we get the same feeling, and that the fans show up and give us their love and support.
Can you talk about Rojas, in terms of his style? Is he similar to any opponent that you’ve faced, and if so, is there an opponent you feel brought out the best in you and hopefully he will too?
Every opponent is a little bit different. I think Rojas is a very good, wonderful boxer. He’s experienced, definitely. He’s a former world champion. I’m just getting ready for whatever Rojas decides to show up. If he wants to box, and use his reach, and straight punches to keep me at a distance, then I’m going to have to find ways to get inside or counter him from the outside.
If he decides to come forward and try to bring the fight to me, then I’m ready for that too. I’ve been sparring wonderful guys here at the gym to be ready, and prepared for any kind of Rojas that shows up. I make the right adjustments in the ring. If we see something not working so well, we’ll make the adjustments, and we’ll always try to make sure that we’re on top of everything.
I just want to say thank you for the opportunity, everybody. Stephen and DiBella for putting this show together and allowing me to perform. I expect a great fight. I expect a great performance, and let’s just go out there and do our thing. Rojas is going to be ready. I’m sure he’ll be ready and excited, just like I am. I wish him the best of luck, and let’s put on a great show for the fans.
We’d like to thank you, everybody, for the fight. SHOWTIME, we’d like to thank you. We’d like to thank Garcia for taking the fight. I’m coming ready on July 30. I’m going to be a different Elio Rojas from before. I’m going to gain the respect that I never got. I’m taking home the victory.
Thank you, both of you guys, and we’re going to move on to the main event now. Thank you both.
The main event on Saturday, July 30, again, SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXINGS beginning 9:00 p.m. Eastern time, 6:00 p.m. Pacific time, is one of the most anticipated matchups in the featherweight division, but really one of the most anticipated matchups in all of boxing and certainly all of the lower weight classes.
Leo Santa Cruz with a record of 32-0-1 with 18 KOs. One of the most exciting featherweights in the world. The same can be said of Carl Frampton, undefeated at 22-0 with 14 KOs from Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Leo Santa Cruz became WBA Super World’s Featherweight Champion on Aug. 29, 2015, when he beat Abner Mares by decision in a Fight of the Year candidate. He’s currently 11-0 in world title fights.
And he thus far has the distinction of having defeated seven current or former world champions, which is pretty amazing. He’s going to try to make that eight on July 30 when he takes on undefeated Carl Frampton. So from Rosemead, Calif., born in Mexico, Leo Santa Cruz.
Leo Santa Cruz
First of all, I want you thank everybody for having me here, and I’m just excited to come over to New York to be fighting for the fans, and hopefully getting new fans over there. I want to make new fans and and I will do that in New York.
Does it matter to you that you’re going to be in your own country and probably not be the fan favorite? They’ll be rooting for him. What’s your thoughts about that?
L. Santa Cruz
It won’t really matter because once fight day comes, it’s only going to be me and Carl in the ring. The fans are the people, they’re not the ones fighting in the ring with us. It’s going to be a great fight. You have to go over there and make new fans, and you go make a great fight.
What are your thoughts about his style of fighting and the way it seems you guys match up in a fight that is going to be very fan-friendly kind of fight?
L. Santa Cruz
Truly, I only have watched very few fights of him, but I’d say the little I have watched, he’s a great fighter. He has everything. He has great skills. He has good footwork great punches, and he has great power. His style is kind of like Mexican style.
He comes forward, a sign of a great fighter. And his style and my style are going to make for an interesting fight. We are going to go toe-to-toe. We’re going to go out there and give you a great fight for all the fans.
Do you think he’s maybe going to be the best fighter you’ve faced so far?
L. Santa Cruz
Yes, I think so. He is undefeated, he has unified and he is a great fighter, like you said. He’s really a super star. So I think, yes, getting that victory, I can get to the next level, and get me one the biggest fight I can win.
Can you talk about your preparation for this fight as you watch your father deal with his own illness and how it’s been in your camp, and if it is going to distract you at all? How is your dad doing?
L. Santa Cruz
Thank God, my dad, he’s doing much better now. At the beginning, it was really difficult. It was hard. My dad was taught, he told us that, these are God’s side; you can live that.
At the beginning, it was difficult and everything but the last couple of weeks, he was there in the camp. He was there each day doing what he had to do, so I think this chance, it’s been great. He’d promised that he’d come to the fight and not to give up.
Will he be in the ring with you, in the corner with you on July 30?
L. Santa Cruz
Yes, hopefully, dad, yes, he is. I know he’s trying and I know he’s been great, and so I think he’s there in my corner on fight night.
Leo, do you think about the style of Frampton is more like Abner Mares or is totally different?
L. Santa Cruz
It’s going to be a great fight. Because Frampton is strong, he is almost the same size as Mares. He comes forward when he wants to. He could box; he could do whatever he wants to. But he’s going to also do the same thing.
So I think he’s going to be a very interesting fight and it’s going to come down to whoever wants it the most is going to take it.
Leo, do you want to just really take the fight to him. No boxing. Is that accurate, or are you going to do something like that with some adjustments here and there?
L. Santa Cruz
Yes. I’m going to do that. I’m going to go out there and take the fight to him and then stay on top of him, trying to get him tired, break him down, working the body and trying to hit him. And if that’s not working for us, we could make an adjustment. We could box smart from the outside and not let him come in.
We train in the gym for both sides of the match — from the inside or to be on the outside. Whatever works, that’s what we’re going to do.
Leo, you and Carl both fought on the same night, back in February. Was he on your radar that night?
L Santa Cruz
My plan was that if I won the fight and if Carl won the fight I wanted to fight him next. I didn’t know it was going to happen but yes I was hoping they’d make the fight happen. I guess me and Carl Frampton, if we both won. And then I heard that he called me out so I did the same thing. I said if he wants to fight me, bring it over here. I’m ready to fight him too.
Do you think it’s important that you draw him in a firefight or do you make him fight your fight for all 12 rounds, in order to win this fight?
L. Santa Cruz
I’m going to make the fight and I’m not going to be like Scott Quigg. Scott Quigg wasn’t trained as much to come forward and he was more careful. He was more on the outside. I think none of them were going to risk it. They didn’t want to take chances and none of them wanted to get caught. But not me.
I’m going to go out there and I’m going to make it a fight. I’m going to make him fight me. I’m going to go out there, pressure him and pressure him so that he’ll have no other choice but to stop and fight with me.
Have you thought when this happened, of canceling the fight until your father was well? Or did he encourage you to say no, this is a business you’ve got to continue going?
Leo Santa Cruz
Yes, me and my brother reached out about maybe canceling the fight because we didn’t know how my dad was going to be, or if he would be in my corner or if he was going to be able to beat cancer. We didn’t know what was going to go on. So yes, we thought about it.
But then, you know, when we went to talk to my dad and told him about it he told us that no, that this is a job that even if he can’t be there then we still have to go out there and do what we do. I knew he was going to be happier if I went out there and fought. My dad would get strong and he said oh, no, no, no. This cancer is not going to beat me. I’m going to fight it. I’m going to fight it. I’m going to beat it and you’re going to go out there and do the same thing.
So that’s what his words were. It was a big help and then it made us come out here and work harder.
Do you then have the ability to go from plan A to plan B or plan C or whatever, to offset what they bring to the table which you may not have been prepared for?
L. Santa Cruz
Yes. Of course. I could adjust to like whatever the fighter brings, to modify. With Frampton we’re going to do the same thing. We’re going to go out there and we’re going to stay in there, we’re going to try to make it a war. Because that’s what our fans love. They love to see a great fight.
Is it more difficult to face an undefeated fighter?
L. Santa Cruz
Yes, it is more difficult and we know that he’s undefeated. He hasn’t tasted defeat. I know he’s going to come with everything because he’s not going to want to let that all go. But at the same time that’s also more motivation for me, because I know he hasn’t lost and I want to be the first one to give him his first loss.
I want to go out there and beat him and that way I’ll be considered one of the best.
Are you going to try to make this an exciting fight like your previous bouts?
L. Santa Cruz
Yes this fight it could be a fight of the year or a great fight like against Abner Mares and Kiko
Carl Frampton is a great fighter. He has everything. He has great skills, footwork, great puncher,
he has great power. So that being said, it’s a big fight, it’s going to be entertaining and what
we’re going to do is we’re going to go out there and make it a great fight for them.
Thank you Leo. And, Leo — I just want you to know that all of us in the entire boxing
world are praying for your dad and thank you for your dad. And we look forward to seeing you
next week, in Brooklyn.
L. Santa Cruz
Yes, thank you guys for your prayers and yes, my dad right now he’s doing great. Thank
God. And hopefully he continues to beat cancer.
Thank you. Carl, if you could say a few words and then we’ll open it up to questions for you.
Yes. I’m just excited about this fight. It’s a huge fight. I’ve been involved in some pretty big
fights back home in the UK which haven’t really caught the public’s imagination in the States.
But I think that this fight will. I think that this is going to be the first time really in my career.
It’s a world-class opponent who’s coming to win and he really believes that he’s going to win
I believe the exact same thing so I think that is only going to mean one thing and that’s going to be a great fight. So I’m looking forward to it. I’m really excited.
Did you know after your last fight that it was definitely going to be in the next weight class and to get a big fight up there against somebody like Leo or whoever?
Yes. That was the plan was to move up. But I spoke with my team and we agreed that I would only move up for a big fight, the likes of a Santa Cruz, someone who is a big name fighter. So I wouldn’t have moved up – I didn’t want to move up to fight anyone. I wanted to go straight into the deep end and be involved in a big fight.
So I probably could have stayed at 122 but it was hurting me, making that weight. It’s just at this point now, I’m 29-years-old. It’s not getting easier to lose weight. And 122 pounds was just taking something away from me. I feel much stronger now at 126. I’m enjoying boxing. These last couple of weeks, before you weigh in, I usually hate boxing. It’s just not a nice feeling.
I’m eating well and I’m training well. I’m full of energy. So I think it was the right decision to move up and that’s me. I’m a featherweight now. I’ll never see 122 again.
How do you go about trying to deal with somebody that has those two factors working to his advantage? He’s extremely active with his punches and he’s going to be a taller, longer fighter than you. How in the world do you deal with that?
Well it’s not going to be easy, but I think I can punch very hard and I don’t think that Leo, he’s been in with some good opposition, but I don’t think he’s been hit by anyone that can punch as hard as me, yet. I think that when I was making 122 it was taking something away from my power and I was hurting opponents sparring partners in the gym when I was sitting around 130, 132.
But on fight night with the smaller gloves on, I wasn’t having the same effect and actually got down to making the weight. So I think that I can judge distance very well. I’ve got good distance control. I can see things coming. And that combined with my punching power, it’s not going to be easy. Leo is going to come forward better, but when he’s getting hit hard he may have to think twice about coming forward so much.
So what’s the reaction been to your presence in New York? And do you feel like you’ll be the favorite inside the arena on fight night because of that?
Yes. It has been good. We went to see the Irish consulate yesterday in New York, right in Manhattan. It was a great turnout. I’ve had a great reception since I came here. The 12th of July 2016 will now be known as Carl Frampton Appreciation Day in Westchester County apparently, as well. So that was pretty nice. That was nice.
We’ve had a good reaction. The Irish community have kind of rallied and gathered around us and they’re all here supporting us. We’re training in a gym called Champs Gym with a guy called Ron O’Leary, of Irish descent. So they’re really supporting us. And I’m expecting to bring probably 1,500 people from back home, from the UK and Ireland as well, which will probably sound more like about 5,000. So we’re all excited.
I think it’s going to be a good night. I think it doesn’t really matter. At the end of the day it’s two guys fighting in the ring and it doesn’t matter who’s making all the noise. Not too much anyway. But I feel that I could have equally as much support as Santa Cruz, maybe even slightly more.
What would it mean to you to win the title in a second weight class, which is something that Barry McGuigan did not do during his Hall of Fame career?
Yes. It would be huge. There’s been one other Irishman that’s won world titles in two weight divisions and that was Steve Collins. But there has never been another Irishman that’s done it. I’d be making a better history for myself. It’s going to be nice to win back the title that Barry owned 30 years ago, that WBA title as featherweight. That would be nice. It just feels like everything’s lined up and destined to happen.
And I feel like it might be time for me to make history. I’m ready for this fight. I have been for a long time. But up at 126 I feel that this suits me more than fighting Leo Santa Cruz at 122. I think it would have been a harder fight for me at 122 simply because of making the weight. At 126, I’m much better. And I think that everything’s falling into place and I’m ready to take the title off him.
Barry, could you address that about him getting another title and something that you didn’t do? And also, if he does win, getting the belt that you used to have 30 years ago?
Yes. Absolutely. It’s wonderful that Carl is getting the chance to fight for the 126-pound title. We don’t really go into the sentimental stuff very much. It’s just a job of work and what condition he is. At 126, he’s so much stronger and camp has been fantastic. He’s looked great. And yes, it’d be nice if he won my old title but that’s about it. It didn’t really matter. For him to win and to be impressed at his performance is what’s important
And I believe Leo Santa Cruz will bring the very best out of him because he’s such a great fighter. But I believe 100 percent that Frampton will beat him on the 30th of July.
You were knocked down in the Gonzalez fight. Did any of that have to do with weight loss, do you think?
Yes. Of course it did. I’ve mentioned that I struggled to make the weight and I’m much stronger at this weight division. But I don’t think it was a close fight to be honest. I think I won pretty comfortably after the first round. The first round was a terrible round, a disastrous round. But after that I won the fight pretty convincingly.
But to be honest, the Gonzalez fight has been a blessing in disguise. This fight with Santa Cruz I don’t think would happen unless that happened, the Gonzalez fight. The fight with Scott Quigg wouldn’t have happened unless the Gonzalez fight wouldn’t have happened. I’ve been chasing these guys for a long time. I’ve wanted to fight them.
I’ve made myself available to Santa Cruz in 2013 I think, and the fight never happened, when he was at 122. But suddenly now all the guys that I’ve been chasing they want to come and fight me. So that was a blessing in disguise and I’m glad it happened all the fights are happening. This is exactly what I want.
He expects you to put on a lot of weight. Does that size translate into power? And will you be more strong – stronger than he thinks you’re going to be?
I don’t know what Leo is thinking, to be honest. And that isn’t me having a dig at him, saying that, he’s going to think twice about coming forward when he’s getting hit. That’s any fighter in the world, are going to think twice about coming forward too much when I’m fighting back. And I just feel much stronger, fitter, sharper, everything really, at this weight class.
If I’m being honest, I probably outgrew 122 a year and a half ago but I was the champion, I was defending my title, I was making it because I had to. But I’m going to be much better at featherweight.
If you back him up — have you ever seen him fight in reverse? Do you think the fight’s over?
No. I don’t think the fight’s over. I think that there are different ways that this fight can be won. But we have a game plan and going into this fight I’m hoping that game plan A can work. If not, I’ll resort to plan B or plan C. But, Leo can actually box a bit on the back foot. There’s been on occasions, you know, where I’ve seen that, where he can counter well. He blocks shots well and comes back with his own. He’s a very, very high intelligence fighter.
So he prefers to be a front foot better and coming forward. But I think if push comes to shove then he can actually fight a bit on the back foot. So look, he’s a world-class fighter. He’s not a one trick pony. I’m expecting a very tough fight. But there are a few different plans we have in place and we believe they’re going to work on the night.
So are you saying that when Gonzalez knocked you down that was the green light to tell you, hey, I’d better get out of this lighter weight class because my strength is zapped trying to make this weight?
Well I said to my team that I wanted to move up for a big name and we got a big name. So if it hadn’t had been a big name like Santa Cruz, I probably would have stayed at super bantamweight, which would have hurt me. I was outgrowing the weight. It wasn’t easy for me to make. And I wasn’t enjoying boxing making 122. But this is a business and you do what you have to do. So if it wasn’t a big name fight, I probably would have stayed. But me at 122, you’re only seeing 70-80 percent. I’m much more comfortable at 126. I think you’re going to see the best performance of my career and I’m glad that I’m up here.
Do you find the size advantage as an obstacle?
Well most opponents I have faced have been taller than me. So I’m used to fighting guys that are taller than me. You know, I had probably about 180 amateur fights. I don’t know exactly how many. And I came up against all different fighters. My sparring partners are always taller than me. I like to spar big guys. So, I’ll be used to it. And what people haven’t really brought up and mentioned yet, is Leo Santa Cruz started his pro career at bantamweight.
I finished my amateur career at featherweight. So I feel like on the night I’m going to be the bigger man, although he’s taller than me and he’s got a longer reach. I’m going to be physically stronger. I’m going to be stronger, I’m going to be punching harder I feel. And I’m going to be in front of him. And I will be able to push him back if I want to do that.
So this is something that I don’t think Leo has come up against yet. I hope that he’s expecting a tough fight, because I’ve prepared very, very hard for this. I’m willing to put everything on the line and do anything really, to get the win.
What does Barry McGuigan bring to you and your team?
Well he brings a lot. He brings a lot of wisdom. Obviously he’s been there and he’s done it. Barry’s my manager now and I think we have a great team. It’s his son Shane McGuigan who actually trains me. Shane is the one I listen to and comes up with a plan and the tactics. But everyone has a bit of an input. And obviously it would be silly for us not to take the advice of Barry considering he’s been there and he’s done it. So it’s great that we got people like this on our team who have taken punches in the head, who know what it’s like at the very top level of the sport. Of course you’re just going to soak it all in. And when someone like that gives you advice you listen.