By Jeff Zimmerman
Photos: Stacey Verbeek
Top Rank hosted an Afterschool Goals and Boxing Clinic for 20+ kids at the Frisco Family YMCA on Wednesday that included a meet and greet with fighters Eleider Alvarez, Oscar Valdez, Teofimo Lopez and Richard Commey. Top Rank reporter Crystina Poncher served as the MC for the event as she and the fighters spoke to the kids of the importance of staying in school and following their dreams, even perhaps boxing. The kids participated in various boxing related drills led by each of the fighters as the media looked on.
This will all lead to what is being billed as “Super Saturday” at Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas, as fights will air on both ESPN and ESPN+ headlined by Eleider Alvarez-Sergey Kovalev 2 and includes the return of Oscar Valdez and lightweight rising start Teofimo Lopez. There are three world title bouts on the card plus the Lopez fight versus Diego Magdaleno.
Fightnews.com caught with a few of the fighters and a trainer on hand at the event.
Eleider “Storm” Alvarez
On the first fight with Kovalev
Everybody thought it would be an easy fight for Kovalev. Everybody thought that, maybe that’s why people are saying he was winning the fight, but if you look closely at the 1st round and the 2nd round, before the 4th round everything was going well. I was well prepared and happy to have beaten the monster of the division, not only a world champion, but the best in the division. And I’m ready for more.
On how life changed since knocking out Kovalev
Everything has changed after that fight. Everybody knows Eleider Alvarez since my performance.
Bob Arum said nobody really knew you as Stevenson kept ducking you
We waited for 3 years for Stevenson. We were mandatory for 3 years for Stevenson and he never showed up at any negotiation, at any place. Right after the fight, the manager asked me if I could fight Stevenson and I said I had no problem, but it never happened.
If he beats Kovalev again, who is next
For the moment, I am very focused on Kovalev. I have no other name in my mind than Kovalev. I need to do my work, win this fight and will get with my manager on what’s coming up.
On camp overall
Training camp has been going very well and excited to step back in the ring. It has been almost a year since my last fight so I am anxious to get in there and put up a good fight.
On the broken jaw against Quigg
The jaw is 100% healed, I hardly think about my jaw until I get these questions. Once the doctor said it was ok, I got it out of my mind and not thinking about it. I had a great training camp working on our defense and don’t expect that to ever happen again. we’re well prepared mentally, physically for this fight and the jaw is perfectly fight and won’t be an issue for this fight.
Improving defense under Eddy Reynoso
I am very conscious you won’t learn everything in one training camp, it takes time to adjust to a certain style you want to have. I do see myself with a big improvement, but I am not going to talk, I am going to try and show it. I’m ready to see the fans, see a different Oscar Valdez, a more defensive fighter.
On fighting Carmine Tommasone, a fellow Olympian
He’s not an easy fight, a walk in the park. Plus my mentality is never over look any fighter. This is boxing, nothing is written in life, a defeat could come. I am taking him very seriously. He represented in the Olympic Games and me being a 2X Olypmian knows what it takes to represent your country and know that you have to have somewhat good skills to represent your country. I know it’s not going to be an easy fight but will do whatever I have to come out victorious.
Teofimo Lopez, Jr.
On how he feels a few days from the fight
I feel like a champ, like always. We’re excited. We can’t wait. Everybody’s excited to see what we’re going to come up with next and just tune in on ESPN+. Download it.
On fighting his first southpaw and Arum saying this is a big test
They said that the last few fights. That it’s a big test for me, what do we do. We make it like’s it’s nothing, like it’s easy. Each and every opponent that we face from this point on is going to be tough, he’s going to be tougher than the next one.
But at the end of the day, they have never faced a fighter like me. So when it’s all said and done, they can say it’s a tough fight and I hope it is. When they feel the first jab, the first punch of the fight, it changes and their whole game plan goes out the window. And we take over. Saturday night is not going to be a difference whether he’s southpaw, whether he’s crazy, whether he’s a giant, it does not matter.
On preparing for Magdaleno specifically during camp
We always work on a lot of things to prepare and get ready for this fight and each and every fight. My father knows what I need to do. To be honest, there wasn’t much too change in the sparring, from orthodox to southpaw. Everything else has been good. We know that he’s Mexican and he’s going to come too fight. All the Mexican fighters always bring the fight. And we know it’s going to be a good one. The only thing is when that first punch comes to him, we want to know if he’s going to hold it or is he going to fold and that’s what we will find out on Saturday.
On his prediction
On whether other young fighters in his division are getting hyped more
It shows with time and with fights who the promoters put their fighters against. Clearly, they are showing with Ryan Garcia and all these fighters that are coming up, they are not exceeding their expectations. The only one that is exceeding people’s expectations is me, Teofimo Lopez. But I wish nothing but the best for them always, you know why, then it could be down the line a great fight. We’re not going to talk down upon them, but who’s killing the game right now, Teofimo. And we’re going to keep it like that.
Teofimo Lopez Sr, trainer
On how his son looks
He looks unbelievable. We did some drills yesterday and he’s looking sharp. There are some drills I do with him that nobody knows about, to get him sharp, to get him poised and ready for the fight. I have never seen him so sharp in my life. Every fight he is progressing and progressing, showing the boxing world with 11 fights, he is a superstar in the game of boxing. I study a lot of tape on fighters and I have never seen another fighter with 11 fights doing what he’s doing right now.
On what to expect from Diego Magdaleno
I think Magdaleno is just over his head with my son. I don’t think that fight is going to last more than 2 rounds, you heard it from me first. He is just a devasting fighter, the way he moves in the ring, he’s a great boxer but at the same time he has a lot of power that keeps him above everybody else.
He won all the awards as prospect of the year, ESPN prospect of the year. All the awards he has been winning, even knockout of the year, shows we are on the right path. He has had a lot of talk and a lot of hype with only 11 fights and no boxer has ever done that.
Bob Arum said your son would fight King Kong if you could
Bob said if everything goes well with every fight with him, the next fight April 20th will probably be with Pedraza. It depends on how we do with Pedraza, we will definitely have a showdown with Lomachenko. And Lomachenko is supposed to be pound-for-pound the best fighter in the world and I see my son taking him out really easy. That’s how I believe so much in my son and everything I have been saying has been happening. I do the talk and he does the walk..
On fighting Lomachenko at the end of 2019
Definitely. If not at the beginning of the year of 2020. I don’t see it. I don’t see it happening in 2020, I see it happening in 2019.