TODD duBOEF: I would like to welcome everybody to our inaugural U.S.-based promotion that will be live on ESPN, this Saturday, at 10 p.m. ET. There is no other way to start off than with Vasyl Lomachenko. The event in itself, coming from Los Angeles [LA Live’s Microsoft Theater], having Vasyl be the debut fighter, and obviously to be discussing when somebody is pound-for-pound the best, the accolades are there and he has delivered time in and time out in his very short career.
But for me to talk about how great somebody is, I have only been in the business 25 years, but I always talk to our esteemed matchmaker Bruce Trampler, and I say, “Bruce how great is he?” Vasyl, he is one of the only fighters where Bruce will say, “He is something very special.” So he couldn’t be special without his father who is an incredible influence on him, and also his mental trainer, the psychologist who helps him prepare mentally. To be a perfect athlete and have the perfect training he has a great team.
EGIS KLIMAS: We are very excited to speak about our upcoming fight on ESPN. We are going to be available to a much bigger audience and everyone is going to be able to see who Vasyl Lomachenko is and how great he is at what he does and looking forward very, very much and to thank Top Rank for taking us to this level of his career.
You just fought in April and now you are right back in there again and could fight again a third time this year – is this what you like?
VASYL LOMACHENKO: This is exactly what I wanted, and exactly what I needed at this point because right now I am at the peak of my career – my best years – and I need to be more active as possible. I need to be in the ring as much as possible.
As the manager, can you give me your perspective about that?
EGIS KLIMAS: If the fighter is only going in the ring two times a year everyone forgets about him. My point is a champion should fight at least three times a year and if possible, four. It depends how quick you can get, and of course we all know this is a business too. The problems come from the networks and there are a lot of questions to get to that point but of course we are very happy to be able to fight three times a year.
What are the goals that Vasyl has beyond this fight – is it more belts, moving up to higher divisions, or fighting specific fighters?
VASYL LOMACHENKO: The biggest thing for me is I want to fight top, top fighters in the weight class that I am now fighting in. That is my biggest goal. Then maybe it is different weight classes. I want to be in the history book of boxing – I want my name to be mentioned when people talk about the history of boxing. Most important for me is to fight the best – where the fight means something – fans want it – people want to see it. I want to be on top of the list.
Is a fight against Marriaga one that delivers for him?
EGIS KLIMAS: Vasyl is a fighter. He is not choosing opponents and he is not trying to avoid anybody or, lets put it this way, afraid to step in the ring against anybody. He is a guy that is always asking “let’s train – come on over, come on over.” Top Rank can tell you we were thinking we were going to be fighting Orlando Salido and Salido dragged his feet and then Marriaga came about at the last minute – we had a few weeks before the bout. So beggars cannot be choosers.
TODD duBOEF: when you reach the frequency of bouts in a year – you can’t always have the biggest fight, so if we accelerate the frequency and he becomes more aware to everybody out there, you’re right, you may just have a real solid tough guy, like a Marriaga, in front of you, then all the sudden you get to a bigger fight that comes along and things like that happen then a title unification may come along like another solid top- five contender, so we can’t be so selective all the time. We would like to hit two paths – one is to get the best matches for Vasyl and Egis, and two is to keep the frequency going. We don’t want his career to stop because the right match isn’t there.
What do you see as the big matches you can make?
TODD duBOEF: Obviously you have a Salido rematch if Vasyl is still interested in that. And if Salido is real about that. Rigondeaux is yapping his mouth pretty good and that would be two of the most highly heralded amateurs. Vasyl has basically cleaned out the division and he will fight anybody so if he wants to go up in weight there are fighters at 135 that he can fight. I think there are tons of opportunities for him. We obviously want to work with them and with Egis on his move of the weight class. There was talk that he may jump to 135 for this fight but he is comfortable staying at 130 right now and we just pick and choose who we go through.
Do you see a fight with Mikey Garcia, who stated last week he does not want stay-busy fights and wants to fight the best?
TODD duBOEF: I would like to interject here. I am tired with people filing you guys with a bunch of (BS) and telling you ‘we want to fight the greatest fight with the best fighters out there – we are available.’ That is complete nonsense. Mikey Garcia turned down Yuriorkis Gamboa. He turned down Gamboa which would have made him something so don’t tell me he is striving to fight the best out there. He then came and says ‘oh, I want to fight Manny Pacquiao’ after a two-year layoff, ‘I want to fight Terence Crawford, I want to fight Vasyl Lomachenko.’ That’s great, we are here. His (bleeping) trainer shows up to say ‘hey we want to talk about it’ and he goes out and then makes the Broner fight. Stop the nonsense. Stop it. These guys yap (BS) to you guys like they are these pristine people. They don’t go out there and make matches. Vasyl has never dodged anybody. Crawford has never dodged anybody. Nobody goes out there to fight everybody out there. I hate these guys that say ‘oh, the reason is why they wanted the big fights out there’ then they wouldn’t fight Gamboa. It’s nonsense.
EGIS KLIMAS: Mikey Garcia, Mikey Garcia, after the fight he said clearly ‘whoever is willing to fight on Showtime, I will fight you. He is over there choosing the network. I think we are in a different grade. I would love to fight Mikey Garcia. It would give a big name to Vasyl, but..
TODD duBOEF: I don’t even think it’s a big name (laughing)
You don’t think it’s a big name after that victory?
TODD duBOEF: After what victory? I saw the fight, believe it or not. I didn’t think it was an incredible performance. He outpointed Broner. I didn’t think it was a scintillating fight. I thought he won the fight clearly. I wasn’t thinking ‘Oh my God, the masses are clamoring to see him. I am being honest with you. I think he had a nice fight. He fought well. Broner wasn’t throwing a lot of punches and Mikey did a good job, but a big name? A big name is Mikey Garcia now? I don’t see that.
In all of the fighters around that weight class, you’ve got to admit Garcia is a bigger name than Rigondeaux…
EGIS KLIMAS: You mean bigger in the fight? (laughing)
It’s a bigger fight…
TODD duBOEF: Listen, if Mikey Garcia is interested in the fight, have his guys call us. We are in. Any time. I mean the guy leaves us then says the three fighters I want to fight are Pacquiao, Crawford and Lomachenko. Why would you leave? You went on strike for two years. I hate to call it how it is guys.
Do you view Mikey Garcia as a guy you want to fight?
VASYL LOMACHENKO: His trainer Robert Garcia, Robert Garcia mentioned that Mikey is a fighter A-Class. I hadn’t seen anything during that bout that showed me he was a Class-A outstanding fighter. Yes, he won the fight. Yes, he did everything to win the fight, what he needed to be, but I haven’t seen anything outstanding and I haven’t seen him being a A-Class fighter.
TODD duBOEF: Heeey, the promoter and the fighter think alike! Can you believe this? (laughing)
Who is the one guy you want if you are going to have a big fight by the end of the year?
VASYL LOMACHENKO: At this point it really doesn’t matter what I want. I was asked that question before the Jason Sosa bout came off. I told them, before this bout, after the Sosa bout again I was asked by reporters who I want to fight. I said it really doesn’t matter who I want – it is more like who is available. I am preparing for one big name, one big fight, and the fight like Sosa and this upcoming fight on Saturday – it is just like my training session for ONE BIG FIGHT, then the one big fight is going to bring up and you have my promoter on the line, and you can ask them, what are they trying to bring me in the ring. I am a boxer. I am not a picker. Whoever is in front of me I am going to be fighting this guy.
Do you think the Salido fight is still a possibility?
TODD duBOEF: I think a little bit of the perspective is that we really wanted to launch the ESPN thing with Lomachenko preferably in a rematch with Salido. We were getting representation that he was going to take a tune-up fight in May and then Lomachenko, but they kind of dragged this out then saying he had a hurt hand, he couldn’t make the weight. Listen, our business model is a little different than what our business model has been in the past when we had to wait on fighters to make fights to stay active. So what we did, we said listen, Vasyl is a commercially incredible fighter that we want the public to see. He is not going to be held up by an opponent or a situation. We are going to make him available so that millions of people can watch him on ESPN and can see his story and can see his brilliance and that’s why we pivoted to Marriaga. If Salido comes back and says ‘I am ready for the fight and I’m sorry about all of this stuff, I am healthy now, let’s go’ then I talk to Vasyl and Egis and we are all in. We are here to make good matches and to give the public what they want.
Since he will be available to millions more viewers how much of a bigger star can he become?
TODD duBOEF: I don’t want to make a judgment just on the fight. We are talking about and we can all analyze the two hour or two and a half hour block on ESPN or if it’s on FOX or CBS, HBO or Showtime. I think what everybody should take note of is all of the commotion leading up to the fight on the ESPN platforms. That is the shoulder programming that is driving awareness to it and that is going to be invaluable. I think not only is it going to drive the audience to the fight but also it is going to make Vasyl noticeable to the general sports fan and that’s what we are looking for. So tune in to ESPN all week and you are going to be seeing tons of promos, snippets and interviews, the weigh-ins are live and everything in a 360 perspective and following our sport like they used to. It’s not just about fight night.
What is your perspective on fighting Salido?
VASYL LOMACHENKO: Yes, I would like to fight Salido but probably within a one-year period. If it is longer than that I am not going to be interested in fighting him because that bout wouldn’t mean anything. But in general I would like to get back in the ring with him to see how much better I can be in the second bout.
What do you think about Marriaga?
VASYL LOMACHENKO: I did see his bout against Oscar Valdez and what can I tell about him? He is strong and his conditioning is good. He has skills so I think about, what everybody else thinks is going to be easy, I don’t think it is going to be easy for me.
Did you see the Berchelt-Miura fight a couple weeks ago and would you like to fight him?
VASYL LOMACHENKO: Yes, I really would like to fight Miguel Berchelt [WBC super featherweight champion] to unify the titles and I would like to have one more belt into my collection.
What do you think you can do to increase your star power?
TODD duBOEF: Vasyl has nine fights. This guy has nine fights. You tell me somebody after nine fights, or ten fights. He has a very limited number of fights and his appeal right now is very high for the limited number of bouts he has had. We believe by flipping the switch and doing the fights on ESPN and exposing him to the masses I think his star power is going to grow when people see him, when they see him train, when they see how he fights. But right now, with his limited number of fights – most guys are righting four-rounders off television, so I think he is doing damn well.
VASYL LOMACHENKO: Yes, ii would like thank everybody for your attention and I would like to thank everybody for putting my name in all of your stories and I will see you all on August 5th and you guys are going to see another great show.
* * *
Ray Beltran – how is the Green Card progress?
STEVE FEDER: Sure, we were going to file right after the Jonathan Maicello fight in May [one-punch second knockout victory] but once we heard that Top Rank had made the deal with ESPN – the more press we have collected the better – and we had a great response after the last fight, we decided to hold off the application until after this fight. So in two weeks, after this fight is over, we are going to file. All of the press coverage we get for this fight will go in with the application.
How do you feel about getting another title shot?
RAY BELTRAN: Well, you know I think after all of the hard work I got respect which is very hard to get and it is very exciting for me and my team and we all feel great about it.
After your last title fight loss, did you think it was over or you could build your self back up again?
RAY BELTRAN: No, I didn’t feel that. The way I felt with my abilities I would be able to make it back for another title shot and it was just a matter of time.
TODD duBOEF: Ray did what he had to do and was explosive in doing that when the opportunities came up. When he fought underneath Crawford – sensational one-punch knockouts – in Omaha and in New York – and you want to know what? That’s telegenic. People want to see that. He didn’t just sleepwalk through the performance. He went out and made a statement, and you get bonus for that, and we thought bringing Ray back right away, sending him once again to a larger audience, hoping that he will be better and have a terrific performance on Saturday.
How do you feel about being on ESPN and how that may help you in getting a Green Card?
RAY BELTRAN: I feel great and it makes me think about those days when the Friday Night Fights were on ESPN and a lot of people and friends are gong to be able to see my fight and they are going to be able to see who I am and I can’t wait to be on ESPN. I am so happy to be part of Top Rank and this new project and my promoter gives me all of these new opportunities.
Thoughts on Bryan Vasquez?
RAY BELTRAN: He is a very tough opponent. I know he is going to fight. We both have different goals. He’s got a big opportunity to fight me and I have a big challenge in front of me. My focus is on the title and also on the Green Card situation, which is my big motivation to win the fight. He is a good fighter and I want to impress the people and I just can’t wait to get in the ring but I am very confident by the way it is going in the gym and my mind is 100% right now.
What is it like getting in the ring knowing you are fighting for the Green Card?
RAY BELTRAN: Let me tell you how I look at it – when you have doubt you are not going to make it. I have no doubt and I have motivation. I believe it is going to go good. I really believe in myself and I believe in my team. I just can’t wait to be in the ring and I am so excited to get in the ring and put on a good show for the fans. It is my time and my moment and I can’t wait.
When did you begin the process of trying to obtain the Green Card?
STEVE FEDER: As soon as this fight is over, since it is on ESPN and we wanted to take advantage of the media coverage, and within two weeks after this fight, we are going to file. We have been collecting all of the letters of support then we will file and that is the first part of the process and they will look at it then and tell you what the application looks like before the final submission and if it needs tweaking they will let us know – we pay a little extra for that – and from that point on it is about a four to six-month process. It could come sooner but that is typical.
How have you been in the USA for so long and not have your Green Card just yet?
RAY BELTRAN: When I crossed the border I was illegal for nine years then I asked if I could apply for my Visa since I had been here for 12 years and I felt the weight was off my shoulders because I had my Visa. Before that it was a lot of risk for me because if I got pulled over and he’s not having a good day he could call immigration and I would be in big trouble.
STEVE FEDER: As it is now, once Ray stops fighting, he cannot get a work Visa and he cannot stay – he would be here illegally and we need to get this accomplished before it gets to that. He is hoping that he fights one more time this year then he gets a shot at the world title – he will be a US citizen. His P-1 visa allows him to fight in the U.S.
What if he loses? Does he need victory to stay here?
STEVE FEDER: At this point, because we want to get into the mandatory position with either Linares or Garcia or Flanagan, this is a crucial fight that we are up against right now. Once this fight is over with, we have to file. At that point, obviously he has no intentions of losing, so we don’t even put that in our mindset, so Ray would have proven enough that he is at that elite status and at that point we would feel OK. The reason we didn’t do it after New York was because we wanted to have more press coverage on our side, so we knew it was worth waiting for.
Do the big fights he has had not count for the status he needs?
STEVE FEDER: It counts, but it would be equivalent to an actor winning an Academy Award or an Olympian winning the Gold Medal. It takes so much that once you apply you do not want to get rejected. The idea that he was a top fighter, yes that helps. He fought Crawford and that was a unanimous decision and it was at the No. 2 position. He is in a better spot now than he ever has been.
When he fought Crawford he was the mandatory…
STEVE FEDER: Yes, but he has had four knockouts in a row going into Saturday’s fight and he has a good run. Right now, this was the best time to do it. Right now he has been sitting at this No. 2 spot and he keeps moving up the rankings – that’s what they want to see – to see him maintain it. Just being there in that position wouldn’t be enough – what he is doing now is better which is maintaining that position over a period of time. It’s about Ray’s body of work — his career. In essence it’s about continuity and sustained activity at an elite level — rather than one specific fight.
So a year at #2 is better than 3 months at #1
STEVE FEDER: Exactly
RAY BELTRAN: Thank you for taking the time to pay attention to the Ray Beltran life story. I hope that all of my fans are there for the fight and they tune in on ESPN and I want to thank ESPN and all of the people that are involved in this event and I can’t wait to put on a great show and to be back on ESPN as soon as possible again.
TODD duBOEF: If you can’t be at the fights we hope you tune in on Saturday and make a note to tune into ESPN all week to see the promos that they are going to be doing – see the bumpers and see the countdown clock, see the snippets and see the stuff they are going to be bringing you guys and the general fans creating awareness to the fight on Saturday.