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SHOWTIME SPORTS MEDIA CONFERENCE
June 28, 2007
In a highly anticipated match and can't miss candidate for Fight of the Year, WBO welterweight champion Antonio Margarito will defend his belt against undefeated, No. 1-ranked and mandatory challenger, Paul "The Punisher" Williams in the main event of "Pride N' Punishment'' on Saturday, July 14, in the outdoor tennis stadium at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The 12-round bout, presented by Goossen Tutor Promotions, will be televised on HBO "World Championship Boxing."
"The winner of this fight is the preeminent welterweight in the world -- and that includes (Miguel) Cotto or anyone else in the 147-pound division,'' promoter Dan Goossen said.
Tickets for "Pride N' Punishment" 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 are on sale 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 will begin at 5:30 p.m. PT.
DAN GOOSSEN: I think it's a great event, "Pride N' Punishment". You know one of the great things we've seen this year are some great anticipated match-ups. And this is certainly, I think, one of the top ones out there. We've had De La Hoya/Mayweather, Cotto/Judah, Hatton/Castillo. And coming up July 14th I think at the top of that chain we've got two of the hungriest, in their prime, welterweights in the world, one that we know has been considered the most feared fighter in boxing today and the other one who wants to show that that title deserves to be on his shoulders. Tickets are going great. There's a lot of anticipation there. It's been great working with Antonio Margarito. And Bob and myself go back many years and have had a good, strong healthy relationship to make these type of fights. As Bob has recently been saying and we've been saying for years, this is what boxing needs: The best fights, the most competitive fights; if not names against a good fighter, you need two hungry fighters out there that want to go out there and knock the other one out. And that's what we've got July 14th with "Pride N' Punishment". I want to hand it over to Bob. Bob, why don't you say a few things and we'll get this thing ticked off with the fighters opening it up.
BOB ARUM: Now that you mentioned you're in Dallas, I hope to tell all the press that Dan, in addition to his talents as a promoter, has been trying out as a tight end for the Dallas Cowboys and he can tell you how that's gone. I'm delighted that he is on his way back to Los Angeles so that he can continue to promote this great fight between Antonio Margarito and Paul Williams. As everyone knows, we are the promoters of Antonio Margarito. We think he is an absolute star in boxing. We're very confident as he goes into this fight and we're very proud of Antonio. We know that he will give a great account of himself against Paul Williams, who is one of the top welterweights in the world. So I can certainly commend this fight to everyone who will be in the Los Angeles area to come out and watch a great fight.
Q. Antonio, could you please make some comments about how your training is going and how much you're looking forward to this title defense.
ANTONIO MARGARITO: Everything is going very great. July 14th will be two months of training. Sparring has been great. Camp has been great. No excuses. This camp is just very positive. I feel very strong and excited to fight July the 14th.
Q. What are your thoughts going into this fight, Paul? You regard Margarito as perhaps the most feared fighter in the world and you've been calling him out for years?
PAUL WILLIAMS: Yes, everybody said he's the most feared, and I don't have that reputation. I understand him as being a champion and all that. It's new blood in the sport. It's my time. I feel like it's my time to shine. Up here in Puerto Rico, training camp is going real good. Exercises and stuff. Everything is going good for me. I'm anxious to get in the ring on July 14th and prove to the world that I deserve to be a world champion.
Q. Antonio, are you doing anything differently training-wise for this fight; does Paul Williams present a different type challenge for you than some of the other guys that you've defended your title against?
ANTONIO MARGARITO: Of course. We've been doing different things. We have to. Not every fighter is the same fighter. So on July 14th you will definitely see a new and different Antonio Margarito.
Q. Paul, what kind of challenge does it present to you to fight a guy like Margarito; can you compare him to any of the fighters you fought before?
PAUL WILLIAMS: No, sir. Like he said, every fighter fight different and stuff. But I think Margarito, he's the best fighter in the whole entire world. I'm not taking him lightly. I know he's got power in both of his hands. I know he likes to do the [impression] fight and all that. So whatever he brings to the table I'm ready for anything he brings to us. I'm prepared for everything.
Q. Has there been any injuries or anything of the like? And what weight would he be at the moment?
ANTONIO MARGARITO: No, not at all. Camp has been going great. No injuries whatsoever. Everything has been going perfect. I'm happy. I'm positive. And I'm anxious to get in the ring.
Q. Paul, has there been any distractions or anything of the sort to take away from the training and what weight would you be at right now as far as the fight? Have you suffered any type of injuries during the training camp and what's your weight at?
PAUL WILLIAMS: No injuries. Everybody go through the pain, blood sweat and tears; that's what we go through. It's one night. Of course, I'll be training hard. No injuries. We have everything going. I'm blessed and I'm happy with it. We're very positive we're going to win this fight. July 14th you're going to see some fireworks, believe me. It ain't going to be the 4th of July, but it's going to be another 4th of July.
Q. Antonio, in your last fight with Joshua Clottey, he seemed to give you some trouble in the beginning. Was there anything, even though Paul Williams is a different fighter and a different style than Clottey, is there anything in your training that you've done to adjust to avoid any problems coming up again?
ANTONIO MARGARITO: I don't want to make up any excuses, but a lot of different things happened during that training camp. It wasn't a good training camp. And, yes, you did see a rough Antonio Margarito there, but you're not going to see that same person on July 14th. You're going to see a whole different fighter there, a very, very different fighter.
Q. Antonio, you're not used to fighting fighters who are taller than you; how much will that be a factor in this?
ANTONIO MARGARITO: No, that shouldn't be a problem. We got sparring. We were able to find tall sparring partners as well. I've fought fighters who are tall, not as tall as Paul himself, but that shouldn't be a problem. But we've been training hard for this type of fight.
Q. Paul, obviously this is the biggest fight in your career. I think Antonio is the most accomplished opponent. Can you tell us why at your age and experience right now you feel you're ready to fight one of the world-class top fighters like Antonio Margarito and defeat him July 14th?
PAUL WILLIAMS: I have to prove to myself and the whole world I deserve a title shot. Everybody that I was in the ring with I shine on. I feel it's my turn. It's been going on eight years. I want to put my mark in the boxing record books and stuff as one of the greats. I called out everybody that's supposed to be the top guys in their weight class, and I'm calling them out. I don't want the easy fight. I want the harder fights. I want the fights that everybody says, okay, this guy deserved to be in the title shot and stuff. Bottom line: It's my time. I'm hungry for this and this is what we've been wanting from day one.
Q. Antonio, it seems that whenever you fight difficult fights such as the one you're going into, you seem to come out very well prepared.
ANTONIO MARGARITO: Yes, it seems as the most difficult fights going into seem to be the most easiest fight because of the way of my preparation. I prepare myself very, very well like I've been doing now, everything has been going perfectly. So I feel confident that I will be victorious on July the 14th.
Q. Paul, training in Puerto Rico, how has that been helpful to your career compared to other training camps that you've done in the U.S.?
PAUL WILLIAMS: It's been going very well, because it wasn't DC it was too cold with the ice and snow. We came up with Puerto Rico it's hotter there. Everybody shows a lot of love. Can't work out no better than this. I prepare, come into the gym nice and quiet. Everything is convenient for us. I'm just blessed right now to be where I'm at right now. I'm going to prove that July 14th. I'm training hard to come out as the world champion.
Q. Paul, how did you get into boxing? You come from South Carolina and Georgian, there's not a whole lot of boxing over there. How did you get into it?
PAUL WILLIAMS: There was a friend of the family's and stuff. His wife and my mom are best friends. He was an amateur coach. He turned my brother and I onto the sport. We fell in love with it. Took it from there. Then there was George Peterson. And we've been together ever since then. 32-0. 24 or 25 whatever way it comes with the win.
Q. Fighting on the East Coast, you're a welterweight, a tall welterweight; you probably started as a light heavy weight or something like that?
PAUL WILLIAMS: No, sir. We messed around at 160 for a minute, came down to 147, because the weight was so easy for me to make. It's where I feel comfortable. I feel comfortable at 147. We want to give our best in at 147 [not 160].
Q. Who has been your toughest fight so far?
PAUL WILLIAMS: Walter Matthysse was my toughest fight.
Q. Why was he the toughest?
PAUL WILLIAMS: He had power in both hands. Gotta be able to look, any shot he hits you with can take you out. So of course I had to prepare myself for that. I'm ready for Margarito. I know he's got power in both hands. It's going to be the same thing. I'll be on my Ps and Qs and do my best and that's to punish people.
Q. Antonio, considering your opponent's record, do you believe or feel that this is the most difficult opponent you've had to face?
ANTONIO MARGARITO: No, I don't feel that this is the most difficult opponent I've faced. I've faced tougher opponents with more experience and tougher fighters. I'm well prepared for this fight and I'm well prepared for Paul, and I'll be in there ready for everything he has to give. I'm going to give my best also. I feel confident I'll be victorious in this fight.
Q. Dan, can you give me your thoughts: You went to the press for this fight. What makes you so confident that your kid is going to beat Margarito?
DAN GOOSSEN: We always have the confidence whether or not we won the first bid or not. The bottom line is that Paul kind of set it best and Bob has been saying it for quite a while now, you know, the best way to prove you're the best is to fight the best. And it's kind of the king of the mountain. That's what we need in boxing. You've got Cotto who just beat Judah; brings a lot of attention to this 147-pound division. And you have Margarito out there defending his title numerous times and is considered this most-feared welterweight in the world. So you've got Paul Williams who realizes that assimilating victory, an exciting victory over Antonio Margarito puts him right at the top of the heap, eye to eye with anybody out there. That's De La Hoya, Mayweather, Cotto, doesn't matter. Those are the big fights. And we said it on a press conference a while back, Bob and myself, this is kind of like a remake of the Hearns/Leonard/Duran era where you had these three guys fighting each other and really bringing a lot of excitement to the boxing world. That's what I see with Williams out there. You know, even the loser in this one I believe will be a winner, because it's going to be a great fight. I'm that confident in this fight. I'm confident that Williams is the best 147-pounder in the world.
Q. Antonio, you've said throughout the press conference that you're going to change totally. What's going to change?
ANTONIO MARGARITO: You're going to be seeing the same Margarito in the fight, a fighter that goes in and gives all his heart and fights for the people. But, of course, you're going to see a fighter who made adjustments during training. I'm fighting a different fight. I'm fighting a Paul Williams who is a southpaw. I have to make adjustments and changes. These are changes that myself and the team made. When I say you're going to see a different Antonio, that's what I mean. But you're still going to see the same Antonio there with the heart, with the Mexican pride that wants to put on good fights for his people.
Q. Bob, De La Hoya and Mayweather was supposed to be the fight to save boxing. Judah versus Cotto was such a great fight that that fight seemed to be a fight that saved us from the fight that was supposed to save boxing. Do you think Margarito/Williams will be as exciting as Cotto and Judah was?
BOB ARUM: You can't predict with certainty how a fight is going to unfold. However, based on what I've seen of the styles of these fighters, it can't help but be an exciting fight. Now, how exciting compared to Cotto/Judah, we'll have to see. But certainly it's going to be more exciting in the ring than De La Hoya/Mayweather was.
Q. Paul, at your height and reach and the way you fight, you remind a lot of people of Tommy Hearns. But I want to ask you, who are some of the fighters that you looked up to when you were a kid? Who were some of the fighters that maybe you would compare yourself to?
PAUL WILLIAMS: Sorry, not being arrogant or cocky or nothing. But nobody. I look up to myself. I never looked at those fights back in the days. When I got into boxing, the guys in the gym as amateurs and stuff, I took styles from them and put it into my own style. This is what I came up with. Mr. Peterson mold that. I've seen the fights of Tommy Hearns and Hagler and all the other fighters. But study them, based my style on them, no, sir. I look up to myself.
Q. Antonio, this fight at The Home Depot, in a way it's going to be in your backyard. You're seemingly going to have the home field advantage in this fight; what does that mean to you? And have you ever had a fight where you've been like the local favorite, like you will be probably in this fight?
ANTONIO MARGARITO: I never go into a fight thinking if I'm a favorite, if the fans are with me or if they're not. I go in there to do my job. I go in there to fight and to give a good fight and try to make more fans by fighting the fights that I fight. But I never really think about that, that I'm a fan favorite or I'll have all my fans here. I'm here to fight and win fights.
Q. Paul, conversely, even though you fought at The Home Depot Center before and your fight was probably the best fight of the night when you beat I think it was Matthysse, does it matter to you where this fight is? It's every boxer's dream to fight for a world title. Do you care where this fight was, whether you're considered a villain or a favorite or whatever?
PAUL WILLIAMS: No, sir. You look at it, all my fights, being away from home and stuff. Come to think of it, I like it like that because I meet the fans and they become my fans. And I put on a good show. I don't give them a boring show. I give them the best. I put God first. I go out there, nobody gets hurt. But I'm going to put on a good show. Doesn't matter where I fight at. July 14 I'm just going to put on a good show. I know Margarito is going to bring his A game. But he'll need to bring his triple A game because I'm coming out with guns blazing.
Q. Bob, we first heard that the winner of this fight will face Cotto. But now that the World Boxing Association is asking Cotto to defend his title, is that going to change anything? In case Margarito wins, do you see a fight between Margarito and Cotto?
BOB ARUM: If Margarito wins, there's no question. If Paul Williams wins, we have to see what kind of fight it is. And there are other fighters out there. The World Boxing Association, we've talked to. They will agree there's no question on the unification match but that they will agree on an exception. So Cotto can fight a world champion of another organization and then the winner of that fight would then become a super champion and therefore not have to engage in a mandatory.
Q. Antonio, last time you fought against a southpaw was against Daniel Santos. What would be different from Daniel Santos and Paul Williams' style?
ANTONIO MARGARITO: Not really anything. I've been preparing for a southpaw. I'm ready going into this. Because Paul Williams is a southpaw I'm not going to be making any excuses. I'm ready to fight Paul Williams. I'm ready to fight him even if he's a southpaw or not. I'm ready to go.
Q. Antonio, style-wise, seems like this is going to be a tremendous slug-fest in the middle of the ring from start to finish. Do either of you see this fight going the distance?
ANTONIO MARGARITO: No, I don't believe this fight will go the distance. If Paul Williams is going to fight the way he's been saying he's going to fight, this fight will not be going the distance.
Q. Paul, could this fight possibly go the distance?
PAUL WILLIAMS: If the fight does go -- this doesn't make me arrogant or nothing, it's my confidence level -- I don't think the fight will go the distance. But if it did, I'll be punishing him the whole 12 rounds. I don't think he'll take the punishment for 12 rounds like that. I don't see it going the distance. But if it do, he's going to wish it got stopped.
Q. Antonio, when is the last time you've been in a fight where you weren't just almost the unanimous choice to win the fight and be the favorite? This is a pretty even fight in the eyes of everyone. A lot of people are picking Paul to win. Does that provide you with any extra motivation, as if you needed any to begin with?
ANTONIO MARGARITO: This is not going to be the first time I go into a bout where the public says I'm not going to win. Out of my seven defenses, probably three of them people were doubting my victories and I came out victorious. This is going to be another time. I'm going to prove everyone wrong. I'm going to prove all my doubters wrong and I'm going to move forward after this victory. But I'm going to show the world that I'm a true great welterweight.
Q. This is a question for Williams now. You have mentioned especially interviews in Puerto Rico that Margarito makes too many mistakes. You're going to be capitalizing on that; you don't think he'll last six rounds with you if he commits the same mistakes that he's been doing. What type of mistakes are you talking about? Can you expand on that, Williams?
PAUL WILLIAMS: I will tell you that on July 14th, sir.
Q. When this fight was initially signed and you were told that you're finally going to get your shot at a world title and against the guy you've been calling out, Antonio Margarito, what was your reaction?
PAUL WILLIAMS: I feel so -- I mean that's what I've been waiting for. It's a lot of fighters that never get to that point to fight for a world title and stuff. And I made it. So I appreciate Dan and Bob for making this fight to happen that I get a chance to be a world champion. I thank God every day that he gave me the talent and gift and put me where I am so I can fight for a world title. I appreciate all the guys and HBO for putting it on. I thank you for that.
Q. Wanted to know if there's a rematch clause for either fighter on the contract?
DAN GOOSSEN: No, there isn't.
Q. Mr. Goossen, if your guy wins, are you going to work with Top Rank to make Cotto his very next opponent, or will you seek another opponent between a potential Williams/Cotto fight?
DAN GOOSSEN: Here's the way I look at it, and I've had numerous conversations with Bob on it. I believe Paul's going to show on July 14th that he is the preeminent welterweight in the world. No disrespect to Miguel Cotto, because he's a tremendous and exciting fighter. But with Paul's physical abilities, along with his athletic abilities inside that ring, it makes him the Babe Ruth of the welterweight division in ours eyes. But that remains to be seen and proven on July 14th. But I believe when people see that, when other welterweights see it, they will understand what I'm talking about. Going back to the question, yes, we want to do exactly what Paul just talked about, what Cotto has talked about, the best fight the best. We're at the level of this sport where Paul Williams, with the type of victory I believe he's going to get on July 14th, will catapult himself into the brackets where we can do tremendous numbers in attendance and everything else. It will be a fight that a lot of people will want to see. So from that end of it, we'll put deals together and again Paul's actions July 14th will do better than any words I can ever say about it.
Q. Antonio, if you are victorious over Williams, there is talk of a contract, of a signed agreement of you and Cotto, where would you like that fight to happen if it happens?
ANTONIO MARGARITO: I would prefer it being in Las Vegas. I really do hope it's out there.
BOB ARUM: It should be a great fight. We at Top Rank are absolutely convinced that the one winner in this fight is our guy, Antonio Margarito. But whatever happens, it's going to be a great fight.
DAN GOOSSEN: I agree with everything that, the last comment that Bob said. It's going to be a great fight, and it's going to bring back the top fights that I saw Bob promote back in the '70s and '80s, as I said earlier, Leonard, Hagler and Hearns and Duran. And we've got the hot welterweight division right now where July 14th is a can't-miss for us. We're real excited to be a part of it. A lot of respect goes out to Margarito. However, we just believe Paul Williams will be the "The Punisher" that night and come out victorious. But we think the fans are really going to climb aboard knowing it's excitement all the time. They're always going to be looking for him to hit that home run and that's what he likes to do.
PAUL WILLIAMS: I'd like to see everybody come out and see the fight July the 14th because I'm going to go out there, do my best. Everything going good in training camp. My weight is fine. I'll go outside after I leave the gym and get my workout and eat a good meal. Because July 14th I'm going to show the world I deserve to be a champion.
ANTONIO MARGARITO: I want to give thanks to my promoter, Bob Arum. I want everybody to know that I'm preparing very well, want my family to be sure that I will be victorious. I'm getting ready. I'm getting ready for a good fight and it's going to be -- it's going to be fireworks July 14th.
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