By Jeff Zimmerman
Photos: Stacey Verbeek
Super Saturday is almost here. Three world title fights, including one of the most anticipated rematches in recent memory, will take place Saturday at Ford Center at the Star, the practice home of the Dallas Cowboys.
Todd duBoef, Top Rank President
Thank you everybody for showing up. I would like to thank the Dallas Cowboys, Chad Estes, Legends and really being aggressive to say let’s start something, let’s build this market, look at big events, look at a special weekend which obviously they love this weekend with the Super Bowl on Sunday. Thank you for everything. And finally thank you to ESPN who has been a wonderful partner and who has really looked at this from a different dynamic.
We really love this, it’s creative, it’s new, it’s fresh. It’s not the same old. Everybody that comes along is working with us together, the fighters, their managers, their teams and promoters and it couldn’t happen without us all being open and flexible, trying different things.
This is going to be a terrific card. When we put this together, somebody said to me, this is really a PPV card. It is a PPV card from top to bottom. You have global appeal, world titles, significant world titles, great weight classes.
Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev
I want to say big thanks to my team and Top Rank for this opportunity to get my belts back. I couldn’t stop my boxing career like a loser. This is my goal to bring back my belt that I dropped on the way to my big goal, collect all four belts. Yes, I made a mistake, but this time I will fix it. This Saturday, I will fix the situation.
Again, I will be on the top, if not I am not Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev. Believe me Saturday will be the best version of me because I have done everything I could to get in the best shape of my boxing career, like a pro. I have a great team, Teddy Cruz and Buddy McGirt, they have really helped me and my massage therapist. All my team helped me to get here.
I’m happy and ready this time, really ready and see you Saturday.
Eleider “Storm” Alvarez
Since winning the title
Things have changed a lot for me. This is my first time being the Main Event on a card. What has changed is my popularity, but I am still the same guy.
Thanks to God I am a mentally strong person. I have come from the bottom basically, little by little I have been getting my stuff, now I have more, so that’s why I think I have been able to handle it well. I am a mentally strong person.
On Kovalev saying he got lucky and it was an accident
I believe that’s excuses he’s making, when you lose you have a lot of excuses, when you win you have no excuses. I had a great gameplan with my team and he said it was accident. Well he’s going to have another accident Saturday.
He’s got a jab out of this world, but he always wants to hit people with the right hand. But you got to set it up. Just keep it basic, you have been fighting a long time. You had a bunch of amateur fights. One day he sent me a tape to a link of one of his amateur fights. I said what are you doing in that fight that allowed you to come back. He said my jab.
When was the last time you threw this many jabs, he couldn’t remember. So, in training camp, I would say you could only use your left jab, no hook, no right hand, left jab only. He said what? I said if you throw a right hand, I am going to start the round over again.
It worked out well. There were times he wanted to throw them, I said no, jabs only. It’s just basic stuff. A lot of people get away from reality, but if you stick to the basics how could you go wrong.
On getting a shot at Andre Ward with Kovalev
I didn’t see the 2nd fight, but yea. I felt after the first fight, I was telling everybody whenever I would do interviews, I said Sergey has to make adjustments. I wasn’t going to say anything. The adjustment was Sergey needs to learn how to fight inside, especially when you’re fighting Andre Ward. Because if you can’t beat him outside, Andre’s going to get inside and just break you down you slowly with little body shots. He’ll grab you, boom, boom and get out. You got to be ready when he grabs you and punch with him. If not, he’s going to break you. He’s proven over and over and has done that to everybody.
Thoughts on Alvarez
He can fight. I have a guy, Isaac Chilemba, who fought him. I thought Chilemba won, we fought in Canada. He’s a durable guy, he’s a good fighter, but I think that if Sergey keeps it basic he gets his championship back.
I am very happy and pleased to showcase myself, my skills here in such a big arena in ESPN. I’m ready for whatever and here to win. I never lost a fight. The loss I have on my record, I never lost that fight, so I’m ready for this fight and I prepared as never before so this is the most important fight in my life right now. And my team trust in me and I trust in myself and other things doesn’t matter to me.
After Robert Easter loss
After the Robert Easter fight, I kept working. I met Andre. I keep working and here I am today.
On becoming the next world champion from Ghana after Azumah Nelson, Joshua Clottey, etc.
It would change the whole world for me. This is what I have been looking for since I started boxing. Thank God. A win must be for me. I have to win this fight no matter what. It means a whole lot to me. It’s all about winning.
Andre Rozier, trainer of Commey
We have had a wonderful training camp. We are fortunate and blessed enough to have elite fighters that were his sparring partners from Chris Algieri, Curtis Stevens, Alex Vargas, Sadam Ali. This was a fantastic group and they encompassed Richard in a lot of hard work, but they always gave him the confidence that he was going to be the IBF lightweight champion of the world. And he worked his butt off for it. On Saturday night, everyone will see why this young man is special.
I fought in America as an amateur, but first time as a professional. When I got the call, it was like an early Christmas present because it was early December. I’m prepared well for this opportunity…to become the 4th Italian boxer to win a world title in the United States would be every boxer’s dream, so it is a huge opportunity.
On this being referred to as a tune up fight for Valdez
No, it doesn’t bother me, I am confident in my skills and this will be an opportunity to show my skills. I was an underdog when I was going to qualify for the Olympics and then I was the only one that qualified.
On breaking his jaw and being out of the ring so long
Without a doubt it was one of the most difficult times of my life. Having my mouth wired shut for two months was the hardest thing I ever dealt with. That’s in the past right now, I am focused on this fight. I am 100% healed from that injury. And that’s not going to bother me anymore. I’m just excited to get back in the ring. It has been almost a year since my last fight. I have been training very hard with my new trainer Eddy Reynoso. It has been a great training camp and I just get in there and start again where I left off.
On not taking Tommasone lightly
We had a great training camp. I don’t take any fighter lightly. There was a time that no one knew who Manny Pacquiao was before he came to the United States and had his first fight and became a star. We don’t know what Tommasone can bring. I will always be 100% ready for any fight because I don’t take any fighter lightly. I have respect for all fighters inside the ring and I am going to do whatever I have to do to come out victorious.
On getting the call to work with Oscar
Working with a world champion and athlete that works as hard as Oscar does, I am always proud to become part of that team.
New things you are you working on
It’s not easy to work with a fighter who has a pro career already but some of the stuff we focused on was some of the mistakes he was making during the fights and adding some defensive skills that he’s going to get used too.
They are talking very highly of me, so we have to back it up. I am used to it through my father, my coach, who talks very highly of me already. So, come Saturday night, you guys will see something bigger and better. At the end of the day, Top Rank knows what they’re doing, ESPN knows what they’re doing, we’re Team Teofimo Lopez, what are we doing? We are bringing entertainment. Yes, I am young, but when I fight, it’s not my age.
Brad Goodman is matchmaker of the year for a reason, he’s got that title. I just have to use my personal experience to win this fight.