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SHOWTIME SPORTS MEDIA CONFERENCE
June 30, 2008
Ten months after a wildly controversial ending to their first fight, Ricardo Torres will risk his World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior welterweight title against No. 1 contender Kendall Holt in a rematch on a special edition of ShoBox: The New Generation this Saturday, July 5, live on SHOWTIME at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast).
Torres (32-1, 28 KOs), who will defend his WBO crown for a third time, rallied to score a hotly debated 11th-round TKO over Holt (23-2, 12 KOs) on Sept. 1, 2007, in the champion's hometown of Barranquilla, Colombia
In a 10-round junior welterweight co-feature, undefeated World Boxing Association (WBA)/WBO No. 5 140-pound contender Lamont Peterson (24-0, 11 KOs) will put his undefeated record on the line against former International Boxing Association (IBA) champion Rogelio Castaneda.
Bob Arum's Top Rank, Inc., will promote the doubleheader from the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nev.
BOB ARUM: Thank you. We're very pleased that we're able to present this event on SHOWTIME, because the fight which took place a number of months ago was considered to be very controversial. And when things are controversial in boxing, very often lawsuits start. But, anyway, all of this is going to be settled in the ring at the beautiful new Planet Hollywood hotel in Las Vegas. The fight will be held in what was -- they probably have a different name, but we used to call it the Theater for the Performing Arts. It's a great facility. Some of the best fights ever were in that facility.
I go back. I remember very distinctly Boom Boom Mancini winning his lightweight title from Arturo Frias in that arena, in that building. So we're pleased that the fights will be held at the beautiful Planet Hollywood hotel and that SHOWTIME is televising the event for the entire country.
SHOWTIME has made great strides, not only in boxing, but in original programming. And the number of new subscribers to SHOWTIME is growing by leaps and bounds. And SHOWTIME may, in the years to come, become the most watched premium network.
So this is just another example of SHOWTIME putting on a very, very competitive match on its network. With that, I'm going to turn it back to you, John, and you can introduce the two fighters: the champion, who is one of the hardest punchers in boxing today, and the challenger, who is an extremely poised and experienced fighter, who wants to add the title champion before his name.
So, John, I turn it back to you.
Q. What are your thoughts going into this fight, about fighting Holt again and what do you remember about the first fight which was incredibly controversial and it was really -- to call it a wild fight would really underestimate what kind of fight it was. Why don't we get your thoughts on fighting Kendall again and what do you remember about the first fight?
RICARDO TORRES: I don't remember it being controversial at all. I beat him fair and square and I moved on. Now, this is the next fight and I believe it should be even better. I think we know each other better. We should be able to know what each other can do. And that's what gives me the confidence that I have.
I'm very well prepared for this rematch.
Q. Kendall, what are your thoughts on fighting Torres again? And what do you remember most about the first fight?
KENDALL HOLT: I just remember me not doing enough. I just remember me not being active enough. I believe I was winning the fight. I believe the fight was stopped early. I believe that in this rematch I prepared myself better than I did before. And I believe I'm going to be a lot more active in this fight, and I believe this time I'll walk away with a WBO championship.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. Kendall, two questions. One for Kendall and one for Bob. Kendall, the first fight you had sort of an issue with the referee as though -- were you prepared for the conditions that you ended up facing going into that fight in Colombia?
KENDALL HOLT: Could you repeat the question.
Q. Were you prepared for all the conditions you had to face in that ring in the first fight.
KENDALL HOLT: No, actually I was -- I didn't think anything controversial was going to happen. I was just prepared to face Torres. I didn't prepare to face the hostile crowd. I didn't prepare to face a referee who was making a lot of mistakes. I was just prepared to face Ricardo Torres.
Q. I guess with the rematch you said you weren't busy enough the first fight. You had him down. So you say you're going to be pressing the pace a little bit more in the rematch, or are you going to be getting the same Torres in the ring?
KENDALL HOLT: At times I will pick up action, I will go forward. As you know, I'm a sleek counter puncher, so I will follow the game plan, which is to box. I will at times in the fight -- I will press action when I feel it's time to press action.
Q. Bob, we talk about controversy, Saturday night your guy Umberto Soto was disqualified. What were your comments on that when you saw what took place in the ring and the reaction of the Nevada State Athletic Commission?
BOB ARUM: It was absolute lunacy. Soto should not have been disqualified. He had knocked the Dominican down. The Dominican was brushed by a punch while he was down on the back of the head.
I mean, you could see from the tape that it barely struck him and it was inadvertent. And to disqualify Soto and to give the title to the Oscar-winning Lorenzo, who was stretched out on the canvas until he was told he won the fight, is ludicrous. And the WBC, to its credit, is not going to recognize that result.
Q. They decided that the blow to the back of the head was the thing that prevented Lorenzo from continuing?
BOB ARUM: Yeah, that was ludicrous. Ludicrous.
Q. Ricardo, what made it important for you to accept this rematch beyond money? Because obviously that was a factor. But what made you accept this rematch when you did not have to after the WBO rule against making an immediate rematch?
RICARDO TORRES: As far as I'm concerned I'm a champion I'm out here to face the best fighters out there. They say Holt is that right now. I accept that. I'll fight Holt and move on and I'll fight even bigger and better fights.
The opportunity was brought up to fight him again. And I have no problem with that. If that's what needs to be done right now, that's what needs to be done.
Q. Ricardo, all the talk of the controversy, did that motivate you at all to take the fight, though, to kind of prove that you were the better fighter in the rematch? How much did that have to do with influencing you and accepting the rematch?
RICARDO TORRES: I never felt like that. I know it was a controversy. I know that he didn't get hit with anything. The only thing he got hit with was my punches. That's why he went down. As far as I'm concerned, obviously the WBO, it was a fair win. But like I said, I'm willing to fight whoever is out there when the opportunity is here and we'll do it again.
Q. Can you talk about fighting in the United States and what made you accept the fight in the United States? Because of course you didn't have to do that either, even though the fight is in Las Vegas and Kendall Holt is from New Jersey. You're still fighting in the United States. Can you tell us your opinion of that and what you think about coming to the United States to fight the rematch?
RICARDO TORRES: I'm very confident. I'm with an open mind. I came to do my job. Hopefully they'll do their job and everybody will see a great fight and everybody will be happy. As far as I'm concerned I'm very confident about what I'm able to do in the ring. And I don't see in the first fight all the referees and all the judges were from the United States. So what's the difference?
Q. Actually, one of the judges was from your hometown. Have you watched the first fight? Have you ever watched it again, never saw it on YouTube or wherever it was posted? Have you ever watched it at all?
RICARDO TORRES: I have seen it a few times and obviously we knew what was happening that night. We knew we were down on points. We knew we had to pick it up. I was down in the sixth round. I got up and I know I had to do something special. I knew I had to take him out. And I did. I took him out in the 11th. And the referee did the right thing by stopping it. He was hurt.
Q. Bob, I was wondering what your opinion of the stoppage was in the last fight in the 11th round, it was a little wild there. Can you elaborate a little more on maybe what you saw there?
BOB ARUM: You remember I'm watching it from a tape after the event. And I thought the referee stoppage was justified. I thought that Kendall was really hurt. And it was very, very difficult to see, for me to see on that tape what the fans were carrying on in the arena. I did see stuff being thrown, but you couldn't get the impact unless you were there.
And I know you were there, Keith. So it's very, very hard for me to say. But I think the stoppage was justified.
Q. Bob, why do you think Ricardo eventually took the rematch? Obviously he didn't have to. And eventually he did and clearly money was a factor. But what beyond that do you think made him do that?
BOB ARUM: I think pride. I think he has a lot of pride. Money, as you say, was a factor. When we got into the picture, when Todd got into the picture and Pat English was bringing suits and this and that, and we figured that the way to solve it was to get everybody together, pay everybody, put the fight on in Las Vegas or in Connecticut at one point, we thought, maybe.
And this is the way these disputes should be settled in boxing, in the ring. In the ring. Because I think it certainly was a terrific fight last time, and SHOWTIME viewers and the people coming to watch the fight here in Las Vegas want to see a tremendously competitive and interesting fight.
It was the first time. And I think it will be even better this time. And, look, we priced tickets very, very reasonably. They're 50, 100, $150. Every seat's a good seat. So we'll have 4- or 5,000 people there on Saturday, and I think it's great for boxing and it's great for SHOWTIME. And it's great for Planet Hollywood and great for the fighters.
Q. I want to make sure I have this correct as well because I was told this through third-parties. But Ricardo did not want to fight him in New Jersey or New York, from what I understand; is that correct?
BOB ARUM: I think Todd told me that, yes.
Q. Is Billy Chams still with Ricardo as his co-promoter?
BOB ARUM: Yes, we made the deal through Billy.
Q. He's not on the call though, right?
BOB ARUM: No, Billy is not on the call.
Q. Bob, do you know who the ref for this one is going to be?
BOB ARUM: Do we have the officials yet, Lee?
LEE SAMUELS: I haven't seen any.
BOB ARUM: I can have somebody check with the Athletic Commission. Call the Athletic Commission, referee and three judges.
Q. Kendall, good start last time against Ricardo, you say you want to stay after it this time. To do so do you open yourself up somewhere else in your fight plan?
KENDALL HOLT: I'm going to try not to. But when you go forward and you press action, at times you will be -- I will be leaving myself open. So that's a risk I'm going to have to chance. I'm going to take that chance. I'm going to be smart about it. I'm not going to go out there and lose my head. But I will take chances in the fight.
Q. You're coming off a win over Tackie. How do you feel going into this one? That's what I'm trying to get at? Do you worry you get gassed if you go too hard early on?
KENDALL HOLT: I'm a professional fighter. I'm trained to go 12 hard rounds. But I've prepared very well. I've changed some things about myself and I broke down some mental barriers that was hindering me a little bit in the fight game.
So hopefully in this fight all that will shine through.
Q. What did you learn about Ricardo from the first meeting?
KENDALL HOLT: What I learned about him is I underestimated him the first time, because I was a firm believer that he didn't earn his chance to be a world champion. Before Coto. He shouldn't have had a chance to fight Coto. After the fight I realized I didn't think he earned his chance. He shouldn't have been in the fight for the championship. He shouldn't have won the championship, but now I understand that he's here. So I have to deal with him being here.
Q. Earlier Bob had mentioned Connecticut. I'm sure you'd love to have it at Patterson. I'm guessing Vegas is better than Barranquilla.
KENDALL HOLT: I'll take anywhere in the States over Barranquilla.
LEE SAMUELS: The officials for the fight. Referee is Jay Nady. The judges are Duane Ford, Robert Hoyle and Bert Clements. Everyone is from Nevada.
BOB ARUM: Everybody got the officials?
Q. Is it Robert Hoyle, H-o-y-l-e.
LEE SAMUELS: Yes.
Q. What's the last guy?
LEE SAMUELS: Bert Clements. B-e-r-t C-l-e-m-e-n-t-s. He's from Reno.
Q. Kendall, I know there was a lot of emotion and there still is a lot of emotion based on what happened the first time around. But going into this fight, will you be able to put all those emotions behind you on fight night and just focus on the battle at hand?
KENDALL HOLT: I'm sure I will. I'm sure I will be able to put it behind me, but at times they might come back into play during the fight. So I'm not absolutely sure that they won't.
But I'm a professional, so I should be able to prepare.
Q. When your hand is raised this time around, will it be sweeter because of all that's taken place previously?
KENDALL HOLT: You know what, it will be, because all the controversy has actually made me a bigger star. It made me a more recognizable name. And hopefully winning this fight will make me a more recognizable face.
Q. Bringing the title back home to Jersey, how important is that to you?
KENDALL HOLT: It's extremely important, because Arturo Gatti was the last champion from New Jersey, but before him it was a lot of years that New Jersey didn't have a champion. So this is extremely important that I bring it back to New Jersey, especially after the New York Giants just won the Super Bowl.
Q. Kendall, I want to ask you to recount a little bit what you saw as the key parts of the controversy in the first fight and a little more specifically how you want to -- aside from the setting of the fight, how you want to avoid some of the problems that existed that you can take care of in the rematch.
KENDALL HOLT: Well, the biggest controversy I feel, some people may not agree with me, but I believe the stoppage was premature, and then we have premature stoppages like that then there will be no such thing as the Arturo Gatti wars and fights like that, just because a guy is stunned or hurt doesn't mean he shouldn't be allowed to fight, because some of the fights, some of the best fights we've ever had in boxing history was fought when guys were hurt.
You stop a fight when a guy can't defend himself anymore, not because he's hurt. And how I'm going to stop the controversy is by limiting myself being wide open, by making mental errors and dropping my hands. I know I'm going to get hit with those big punches and I should treat it as that every single second of the fight that I'm in there fighting.
Q. How many times have you watched the tape of that first fight and come up with these kind of lessons?
KENDALL HOLT: Two or three times I've watched it. Each time I've watched it I've just watched it more. I've never one time sat and watched it in its entirety. But the main thing was that I wasn't active enough. And the second thing was that when I was active he caught me with a good punch and I was on the ropes and my hand was slightly down a little bit.
But other than that, the fight was fought to near perfection on my behalf.
Q. Ricardo, can you comment on the controversy in the fight and also your view on the stoppage at the time the first fight was stopped?
RICARDO TORRES: As far as I am concerned I was hitting him with a lot of punches at the end of the fight. I was just after him. He was throwing maybe a couple slap punches at me. But I think the referee did the right thing. His job is to protect the fighters at all times and I think he was doing that.
Q. Ricardo, based on what happened in the first fight, what do you expect to do differently in this fight, now that you've seen each other in a fight already?
RICARDO TORRES: You know, as far as I'm concerned we did make some mistakes, I think, in that fight. We have never seen him before. Now we have a lot rounds facing each other. I think that will be the difference. I think I know him better. I know what I can do against him. Just make sure that I'm prepared to go the 12 rounds and hard.
Q. Do you think that Holt's going to do anything different against you? Do you expect anything different from Holt?
RICARDO TORRES: I always expect different from fights. Fights are always different. They're never the same. I think we know each other very well. I don't think he can change that much. But I'm sure he'll try to do some things different.
Q. Five minutes ago Holt said that any place better to fight him than Barranquilla, what did you think about that?
RICARDO TORRES: I think he should be grateful for the way he was treated in Barranquilla. I think in Columbia he was treated as a very nice guest. I think he got everything he needed, everything that he wanted while he was there. He got treated better than I do in my own country.
I think in the ring, there's just two of us. It doesn't matter where we fight. It's just going to be me and him.
BOB ARUM: I want to say to the New Jersey boxing writers that Kendall's buddy, the best running back in football, Brandon Jacobs, is coming to the fight on Saturday. And I have a word they can put in from my friend Steve Tish: Better sign Jacobs to the new contract before Jacobs comes here because if Jacobs is not signed, I'm offering Jacobs a contract as a professional boxer, because I believe Jacobs could be the heavyweight champion of the world.
Q. Bob, just so you know, Brandon Jacobs told me in his 32 amateur fights he only lost twice, but he got knocked out in both. He got stopped.
BOB ARUM: I just finished with a guy who also had great whiskers in Tye Fields, so I gotta get somebody else in there.
Q. Ricardo, you're the betting underdog in this fight. What's your opinion about that and why you think you might be the underdog in the fight.
RICARDO TORRES: I know that the guy that made the odds is not giving up in the ring. The people that are betting on the fight are not getting in the ring. I'm going to prove everybody wrong. I'm prepared mentally, physically for this fight. There's nothing written about it here. There's no favorites. There's no nothing. We still have to fight.
Q. Is this personal for you at all? Because Kendall Holt has said repeatedly this is strictly business, he didn't take it personally. Have you taken the same approach to it or has it become personal to you for any reason?
RICARDO TORRES: As far as I'm concerned, to me boxing is still a sport. I love to compete. I love to compete against the best. And I think competition is what makes this great. I think I come in here to fight the best and to do the best that I can. And I think I don't want anybody getting hurt. I don't want anybody getting injured.
All I want to do is just put on a great performance. I hope my opponent does the same thing and we both move on and get on to bigger fights and other performances down the road.
Q. Kendall, can you address that as well, being the favorite in the fight after losing the first fight?
KENDALL HOLT: Being a favorite, it doesn't really do anything for me. It doesn't do anything for my confidence. What did do things for my confidence, when I was the underdog, I look at fights where I was the underdog, wow, people are really not giving me any respect or any chance.
Now that they are, it really doesn't bother me. I mean, like Ricardo said, those are the people that -- they're not getting in, they don't have to fight. They don't have to train. They don't have to work hard. They don't have to do anything but guess who they think should win or who they think might win.
I appreciate them thinking I'm going to win. But like at the end of the day, we still have to get in there. We've got to conform. We've still got to fight.
Q. What do you think of Ricardo saying that he thought that the conclusion to the fight was controversy-free?
KENDALL HOLT: If I was in his shoes I would have said the same thing. But you can't deny what happened. It happened. What happened was unfortunate. But the biggest controversy, I think, was the fight shouldn't have been stopped.
If it was stopped, it should have been stopped to clean the debris out of the ring. But to be stopped and to declare him the winner was preposterous, because just because a fighter is hurt you don't stop the fight. Like I said before, I mean, if that's the case, we wouldn't have the Arturo Gatti fight, the Wards, the Mickey Wards, the people that come back from down to win the fight in the last round, the last second.
If those fights were stopped when a guy was hurt for the first time, you know, we wouldn't have those wars. I mean, you stop the fight when the fighter is unable to defend himself, defend himself. You stop it when he's unable to continue to go on.
I was willing and able to continue, I was staring -- was I hurt? No. Was I unable to defend myself? No. Was my head snapping back? No. Was I wobbly? No. So the fight was prematurely stopped.
Q. Bob, I've been told that the fight has been promoted very well out there in Las Vegas. It's all over the place in terms of posters and pictures.
KENDALL HOLT: I'm on the blackjack table. (Laughter).
Q. What kind of crowd are you expecting for the fight, Bob? I think the venue holds 4,000.
BOB ARUM: The venue can be made to hold 6,000. We expect between 4- and 5-, something like that. I mean, they do a marvelous job at Planet Hollywood promoting. Really, they put everything into it. It's been a pleasure for us to work with them. There's a love there for boxing with Robert Earl and Mike Mecca. They haven't become jaded like some of the places that put on a lot of these big fights.
They're very, very enthusiastic, and it's been a pleasure for all of us at Top Rank to work with them. And I know the fighters are really thrilled with the treatment they've been receiving at Planet Hollywood.
Q. Kendall, all things considered, what happened that night and what transpired in the ring? How long did it take for you to get over that fight and to lose a fight for the reasons that you just said? Was it a lingering thing and when did you finally get over it?
KENDALL HOLT: It did not linger. It did not linger. I got over it after the appeals were denied. But more so when the new ranking came out and I moved down only one notch lower than I was before. So I was like I'm No. 2 in the world. I get maybe two good fights and I'm right back to being a mandatory challenger. So at that point I wasn't worried about it anymore. I wasn't worried about fighting for the rematch.
I just knew it was going to happen. It was just a matter of time.
Q. Once that fight ended and you were in the dressing room, what was your mind-set? What were you talking about? What were you thinking?
KENDALL HOLT: Cried. I cried. That fight shouldn't have been stopped. I was stunned. I wasn't unable to defend myself. I could have went on. I was just completely stunned. And Ricardo Torres is right in saying that I was seeded really well over there. I was up until that point. Up until that point I was seeded really well. Up until really the sixth round when I was struck in the face with a beer can, he was laid out on the ground recovering so he didn't see it. But there's still shots of me being hit in the face with a can.
From that moment on I've been mentally -- I wasn't there anymore. I was just concerned like if I did go after him and I did knock him out, with me and my entourage, me and my trainers, Keith and everyone who was there from America, will we make it out of here, because up until that point I only seen one security guard.
So all of that went through my mind.
Q. Bob, have you ever been involved in a fight that one of the participants got nailed with a beer can from some kind of object being thrown from a fan in a ring?
BOB ARUM: Read George Kimball's great book that's coming out that they sent me an advanced copy called the Four Kings, the story of the fights with Hagler, Leonard, Hearns and Duran, and when Marvin won the world title in England against Minter, I have never seen so many cans rain on a ring.
It was like a rainstorm of beer cans. I didn't know there were that many cans in all of England. So, yeah, I've seen it.
Q. That was after the fight, though, right?
BOB ARUM: It was pretty scary.
Q. Bob, I want to ask you about these continuing controversies, because it's not only in the first fight with Ricardo and Kendall in Colombia, but this past Saturday in Las Vegas, with the Nevada State Athletic Commission, there was at minimum huge confusion in the fight with Soto and Lorenzo. Even though we know there's a lot of subjectivity in boxing, what do you think should be done to prevent such craziness from continuing to go on? That seems to be happening all the time.
BOB ARUM: I don't know if it's all the time. I don't think that you can -- you take whatever steps you can to prevent controversies from happening. But while I disagree with what the Nevada commission did at the fight, I certainly don't question their motives. In other words, I think they made a mistake, but they didn't make a mistake out of any venal purpose. Mistakes will happen.
There are egregious calls in boxing -- I mean in baseball. There are egregious calls in football, even with instant replay. In any athletic endeavor, there will be mistakes made, controversies and calls. You try to eliminate them to the extent possible. But I'm not aware that they're occurring at any greater number than at times past.
I just don't think so. I think that when you have a controversy like what happened in Barranquilla, the way you handle it is everybody works together to do a rematch so the playing field is leveled.
When the Nevada Commission blows a call like they did on Saturday night in the Soto fight, the remedy is to fix it and to have the fighters fight again and hopefully the appropriate guy will emerge victorious.
But, I mean, there's no state of controversy going on at any greater level than has happened in the past.
Q. Even though a lot of people felt that Lorenzo, to put it charitably, was exaggerating the damage to the blow to the back of the head by Soto, what was your reaction when he was left to lie on the mat bleeding for several minutes while Joe Cortez and all the officials conferred?
BOB ARUM: Well, it was not done properly. It was not one of the most glorious moments for the Nevada Athletic Commission, but, again, nobody is guilty of any wrongdoing. Were there mistakes made? Yes. Was it handled correctly? No. But there was no wrongdoing.
We've got to put things in perspective. There was no big betting coup or anything like that. There was no looking to favor one promoter over another or one camp over another.
A mistake was made. Mistakes will happen. Hopefully we're on our way to rectifying it.
KENDALL HOLT: Montel Goossen's fight against Roy Jones, he did the same thing.
BOB ARUM: Yeah, that's an example. But this punch, you know, when you saw the replay, was the most glancing of blows. It did no damage at all.
Q. Hopefully nothing like that will happen this Saturday night.
BOB ARUM: All you can say is hopefully. There are two terrific fighters fighting. And the battle should be decided in the ring and the best guy should win the fight. That's what boxing should be all about.
Q. Kendall, in your first bout against Ricardo Torres, were you hurt by fatigue or Torres's punches?
KENDALL HOLT: He caught me with a good shot in the fourth round and a good shot in the 11th round. Other than that, I was fine.
Q. Ricardo, will you change your approach in this fight considering you gave Holt a demanding lead early in the fight by fighting too passively?
RICARDO TORRES: Without a doubt I know him better. I know what to expect. I think you'll see me more sure what I'm trying to do and with the things I need to do. I come more prepared. We're going to go 12 hard rounds and I know what I need to do. My mentality is there. I'm physically fit. And I'm ready to go.
Q. Bob, was Joe Cortez after the fight reprimanded in any way by the commission?
BOB ARUM: If he was, it wouldn't have been in front of me, that's for sure. I can't answer that question.
BOB ARUM: It's going to be a terrific fight. Great night of boxing. Starts at 5:00 at the arena. SHOWTIME telecast goes on at 8:00 Pacific time, which and it will be delayed on the West Coast, as John said.
It's really -- if you really love the sport of boxing and you want to see another great fight, this is the fight that you'll enjoy and it will make your July 4th weekend complete.
RICARDO TORRES: I want to invite everybody to come out and see the fight. I think it will be a great fight. Even better than the first one.
KENDALL HOLT: I'd like to thank Bob Arum for helping with securing a rematch for me. I would like to thank Ricardo Torres for being a stand-up person and a stand-up champion for granting me the rematch.
And I'd like everyone to come out because it's going to be fireworks on the 4th of July and then again on the 5th of July when we step in the ring and square off.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
End of FastScripts