BROOKLYN– Welterweight contender Robert Guerrero said a lot of people think that pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. is like a God, and that when he faces the unbeaten WBC 147-pound titleholder on May 4, that he will do so “not just to humble Floyd, but to humble the world of boxing.”
“He [Guerrero] believes in God, I believe in God. This reminds me of the fact that this fight is not about church,” said Mayweather, 36.
“This fight is not about being a Catholic, or being a Christian, being a Jew, being a Muslim. It’s about two fighters competing, testing their skills against one another. That’s what it’s about.”
On Thursday, RingTV.com caught up to Stephen Espinoza, executive vice president and general manager of Showtime sports, for his thoughts on the theological aspect of Mayweather-Guerrero while he was in attendance at Barclays Center for the final press conference for Saturday night’s clash between Danny Garcia and Zab Judah.
“It’s obviously a hot-button issue in ranges, from the personal level, from the nation-wide level, from the sort of secular versus spiritual level. It’s interesting to me to have this dialogue be played out so explicitly, because we’ve come to an age where it’s extremely common for athletes to thank God, or to make religious statements,” said Espinoza.
“But it’s extremely rare to have the kind of continued dialogue — open dialogue — about the role of religiousness and spirituality in a person’s athletic career and life. So I find it kind of refreshing. It’s not always a comfortable conversation, but it’s nice to have it explicitly instead of, sort of, behind closed doors. We left no stone unturned in this promotion. We’re not looking to exploit it, but we’ll certainly examine the conflict between the two of them.”
MAYWEATHER DEBUTS ON SATURDAY ON CBS
Narrated by rapper and NCIS: Los Angeles star LL COOL J, the broadcast will also will examine Guerrero, whose wife, Casey, is a cancer-survivor, and who himself endured arthroscopic surgery in September of 2011 to repair a torn tendon in the rotator cuff, forcing him to cancel an August bout with Marcos Maidana.
Ross Greenburg, former president of HBO Sports, is the executive producer of Mayweather, and has produced multiple documentary series’ on the fighter.
“The CBS documentary special is really an introduction to Floyd for the non-fan. Although, a lot of the stuff, for those of us who have been around, there is a lot of stuff that I have never seen before,” said Espinoza.
“For example, there are some things looking at the promotion of [Oscar] De La Hoya-Mayweather, and it’s been a while. I had forgotten how far out of his way (Floyd went) to sort of needle Oscar, and Oscar is very candid about how much that affected his fight.”
De La Hoya, president of Golden Boy, lost by split-decision in May of 2007 to Mayweather, who won the WBC’s junior middleweight belt in a bout that holds the all-time record of pay-per-view buys with more than 2.5 million.
Mayweather airs as part of 100 hours of diverse boxing and documentary programming from Showtime Sports across broadcast, cable and premium television in advance of Mayweather-Guerrero.
“I think that it’s a critical step in sort of the continued advancement of the sport. I mean, the afternoon shows that CBS and other networks are doing are great,” said Espinoza, who was recently featured in USA Today.
“But this type of promotion, particularly the type of promotion that we’re going to see during fight week to a main stream, completely non-sporting audience, that’s the critical stuff. That’s where we can really raise awareness dramatically. Like this Saturday, and some promotional stuff that’s being done over the next week in advance of the fight and during fight week on CBS.”
DE LA HOYA PRAISES SAUL ‘CANELO’ ALVAREZ
De La Hoya offered praise for junior middleweight Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (42-0-1, 30 KOs) in the wake of last Saturday’s Showtime-televised unanimous decision over Austin Trout (26-1, 14 KOs) for the vacant RING junior middleweight championship before a packed Alamodome in San Antonio.
“To me, it was brilliant and excellent because he boxed the boxer,” said De La Hoya of Alvarez, who defeated Trout by scores of 115-112, 116-111 and 118-109 on the respctive cards of Rey Danseco, Oren Shellenberger and Stanley Christodoulou.
“People never expected him to just be smart, use his defense and land his effective punches. The majority of the people were saying that Trout was going to beat him and were saying, ‘Why are you taking this fight?’ They were saying, ‘This is a stupid fight to take.'”
De La Hoya addressed criticism that he was among those who reluctant to have Alvarez fight Trout.
“Absolutely, I took the criticism from the so-called experts. I was concerned because every fight is a concern, but this was the perfect fight for him and it took him to a whole new level,” said De La Hoya.
“I knew when I saw Canelo against Ryan Rhodes, who was a southpaw, and the way that he handled him with ease, I said to myself, ‘This guy loves fighting southpaws, and he’ll handle anybody.’ That’s what he did.”
“I still want to see more jabs, and more punches in bunches. But that will happen. He’s still growing and learning as every fight goes on,” said De La Hoya.
JUDAH SET TO OVERWHELM YOUTHFUL GARCIA
Judah, 35, will end a long ring absence when he faces Garcia. A former 140- and 147-pound titleholder, Judah was last in action last March, when he scored a ninth-round knockout over previously unbeaten Vernon Paris.
The win over Paris helped Judah to rebound from a fifth-round knockout loss in July of 2011 to Amir Khan, who was stopped in the fourth round by Garcia in July of 2012.
Judah, nevertheless, believes himself to be too experienced for Garcia, who is in pursuit of his third straight stoppage win.
“The fight’s going to go the way that I want it to go,” said Judah. “My jab is too fast. My speed is too incredible. My defense is impeccable. I can’t be stopped right now. I wouldn’t be fired up right now like this if I wasn’t ready. I’m ready. You guys have never questioned my skill. Can he fight? Oh yeah, he can fight. Is he going to be in shape? Oh, we don’t know. Is he going to be able to last the 12 rounds? That’s what we want to find out. But my conditioning is good.”
“I’m not worried about this. We’re on sea level. It’s nothing to me. It could go 12 rounds, but I’m going to dominate. I’m going to win every round. I’m going to let him know that this is not what you’re supposed to do. Danny Garcia is a good little fighter, it’s just that right now, it’s not his time. He ran into the wrong person. He’s just 25 years old. He’s got a lot of time to lose and to come back and to bounce back. Maybe when he gets 35 years old, he can be standing here fighting somebody else telling them, ‘Yeah, I remember fighting Zab Judah back at the Barclays, and experience taught me.'”
GARCIA-JUDAH CARD TO BENEFIT THREE CHARITIES
The Garcia-Judah card will benefit three charities, including The One Fund Boston, which raises money for families affected by the tragic events that took place during the Boston Marathon on April 15.
The One Fund Boston will receive one dollar for every punch thrown by all four fighters during the Showtime-televisied event between Garcia and Judah, and co-featured bout between WBO middleweight beltholder Peter Quillin (28-0, 20 KOs) and Fernando Guerrero (25-1, 19 KOs).
In an effort to raise awareness of The One Fund Boston, one of the neutral corner pads used during Saturday night’s event will bear The One Fund Boston’s url (onefundboston.org) along with a Boston Strong logo. Donations can be made by visiting www.onefundboston.org.
In addition, middleweight prospect Danny Jacobs (24-1, 21 KOs) of Brooklyn, has launched a philanthropic foundation called, “Get In The Ring,” which has run a lemonade stand in honor of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer.
Jacobs will meet neighborhood rival Keenan Collins (15-7-3, 10 KOs), this after the 26-year-old Jacobs has overcome paralysis caused by a large, malignant tumor on his spine, the result of being diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer.
Nicknamed “The Golden Child” and “Miracle Man,” Jacobs will help ALSF, which has emerged from the front yard lemonade stand of cancer patient Alexandra “Alex” Scott, who lived from 1996 through 2004.
To date, ALSF has raised more than $60 million toward fulfilling Alex’s dream of finding a cure, funding over 275 pediatric cancer research projects nationally. For more information on Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, visit AlexsLemonade.org.
Melson was featured on HBO’s Real Sports, where he esplained why his paralyzed “soul mate,” Christan Zaccagnino, is his inspiration for donating his entire fight purses to Justadollarplease.org in support of a trial to help cure chronic spinal cord injuries.
Melson told HBO’s Frank Deford that he is inspired during workouts by Zaccagnino, who has been paralyzed from the neck down since a diving accident at age 10. A West Point graduate, Melson maintains a grueling schedule to train while working a typical 9-to-5 office job.
“We are so happy to support such a wide range of charitable causes. We have such passionate, philanthropic and dedicated fighters on this card and Golden Boy Promotions not only applauds them for their efforts, but is also thrilled to join them in supporting these worthy causes,” said De La Hoya.
“We would also be remiss if we did not recognize the victims of the tragedy that took place at the Boston Marathon. As a company that promotes athletic competition, this horrible incident really hit home for us and we are happy to support an effort that supports the city of Boston and those affected by the bombing.”
Garcia will pocket $1.25 million, Judah, $300.000, Quillin, $340,000, and Jacobs and Collins, $30,000, and, $15,000, respectively.
Photo by Robert Boag, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Photo by Rich Kane, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com