The principals who will tangle at the Madison Square Garden Theater on Saturday night, in a card promoted by Top Rank with K2, assembled at the Garden for a press conference on Thursday. Bob Arum, the candid dealmaker who lives in Vegas but retains that patented New Yorker style of saying what’s on his mind, kicked off the affair with a jab at Bernard Hopkins, who fights for rival promoter Golden Boy. Arum noted the youthful talent on display on stage, and compared that to Hopkins, the 48-year-old light heavyweight who gloves up in Brooklyn, against Tavoris Cloud, on March 9.
The promoter talked up his card, and said it is a stern contrast to some of the “drivel” showcased by HBO and Showtime; no, he didn’t care that HBO is showing the Mikey Garcia-Orlando Salido, Gennady Golovkin-Gabriel Rosado and Rocky Martinez-Juan Carlos Burgos title fights.
Speaking of speaking truth to power, and unleashing harsh truths, promoter Russell Peltz of Main Events, who handles Rosado, talked about his fighter’s attributes. He advised us all to not pay attention to the five losses on his record, and lamented how he reached out to a TV exec recently, and was told that a certain fighter with too many losses wasn’t welcome on the air. He noted that one of his favorites was middleweight Bennie Briscoe, who finished in 1982 with a 66-24-5 record. If you lose, but entertain, Peltz said, you should still be seen as a viable entity. Too many shows, he said, are “cowboys and indians” affairs, showcases, and that needs to change if the sport is to survive and thrive. I echo his sentiment; the best fighting the best, in pick 'em matches, is the best concept for the long-term growth of the sport.
Briscoe would have smiled at hearing Rosado talk about how he grabbed a chance to meet the hyped Golovkin, rather than get a crack at K9 Bundrage, who holds a belt at 154. “The greater the risk, the greater the glory,” Rosado said.
Mikey Garcia is an exceedingly humble gent outside the ring, and a solid tactician with a cerebral style inside. He said he thinks his fight with Salido “will leave a lasting impression” and promised to lift Salido’s featherweight crown. Salido, in his turn at the mic, said he expects the bout to be a fight of the year type fight.
Burgos played up the Mexican vs. Puerto Rican angle, saying, "I know I'm facing a Puerto Rican warrior. I want to be the first champion from Mexico in 2013." Foe Martinez kept it simple: "I prepared myself very well for this fight. I'm 100 percent ready for this fight."
There was a nice buzz in the room, and all seem to agree the card is solid kickoff to the new year. If you don't attend, HBO will show the bouts, starting at 9:45 PM.