LOS ANGELES (February 14, 0219) – There was no love lost on Valentine's Day in Los Angeles as fighters competing on Saturday's Premier Boxing Champions on FOX and FOX Deportes exchanged words and went face-to-face at the final press conference before their respective showdowns this Saturday night at Microsoft Theater at L.A. Live.
WBA Featherweight World Champion Leo Santa Cruz will defend his title against Mexico's Rafael Rivera in the main event of the show. Coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and will feature an exciting clash between contenders Omar Figueroa and John Molina Jr., plus unbeaten prospects Sebastian Fundora and Donnie Marshall going toe-to-toe.
Tickets for the show, which is promoted by TGB Promotions and Ringstar Sports, are on sale now, and can be purchased at AXS.com. The event also featured an appearance by former world champion and Southern California fan-favorite Fernando Vargas.
Here is what the press conference participants had to say Thursday from the Conga Room:
LEO SANTA CRUZ “We were getting ready for Miguel Flores, but in the gym you have to always be ready for any kind of style. We had been already been working with sparring partners who brawl, and that's what we expect from Rafael Rivera.
“I knew immediately that Rivera was a good opponent. He's young and hungry and that makes him dangerous. He can take punches, so we're ready for 12 rounds. We're going to be smart in this fight because we know what Rivera can do.
“Seeing my dad going through cancer treatment has been very tough. He motivates me to go to the gym and train hard, because I know if he sees me working hard, it will motivate him as well.
“I'm just looking to go out there, give a great fight and help my name continue to grow so that I can fight the best.
“I love fighting and training here in Los Angeles. It gives me a chance to be with my family more. When I have them here, it makes me train harder. I do all of this for them and their future.
“If I can get this win, we want to unify the belts or make the third fight against Carl Frampton. If not, we will go to 130 pounds and seek a title in a new weight class.”
RAFAEL RIVERA “I've stepped in late before to a big fight. I'm always ready when it comes. Expect a surprise come Saturday night.
“I know that I have everything it takes to bring this title back to Tijuana. We've trained hard and had these last four weeks to focus in on breaking Leo down.
“I'm prepared for anything Leo brings into the ring. Everyone knows he's very tough and throws a lot of punches, but I believe I am the faster fighter and I can hurt him with counters.
“This is the best opportunity I've had, going up against a great champion like Leo. I'm ready for fight and a great show for the fans.”
OMAR FIGUEROA “Given our styles, there's no way this is going to go the distance. I think this is going to be an early night and I'm planning on having my hand raised.
“The layoff didn't affect me against Robert Guerrero, so I don't see why it will affect me now. That's why I keep my style consistent. The only difference is the character across from me in the ring. This fight will depend on how John wants it to go, because I'm coming to fight.
“I'm just looking to get in the ring and take advantage of this opportunity I've been given. I've made changes that have made my whole game so much easier. It's a totally different mentality that I have now.
“Training camp went great. I've made a lot of changes in my lifestyle and I'm dedicated 100 percent to boxing. Things have never been better.”
JOHN MOLINA JR. “It's time to fight. The hard work is done and the time is now. Talk is cheap. On Saturday night, we'll get down.
“I've been down this road before. I was never given lofty expectations. There's no pressure here. I think Omar's style will accommodate mine and make it a fun fight for the fans.
“Whenever I fight, it's going to be exciting. You can say the same thing about Omar. I'm prepared for any version of Omar. Just like any other fight. I can't wait until Saturday night to get in there and do what I do best.
“I've put everything into this camp, like I'm sure my opponent has. That's what we owe to the fans and it's going to come to fruition Saturday night.”
SEBASTIAN FUNDORA “I expect a good fight. He's an undefeated fighter and I hope to give the fans a great show and walk away victorious. “We're totally focused on this fight. I just train and everything else is out of the way. I trained hard and I'm going to do my thing like always. “I'm still growing as a fighter. We're getting better with every camp and every fight. It's good that we keep fighting quality opponents, because it helps accelerate that process. “Hopefully we're going to display a lot more boxing and technique in this fight. I think Marshall is going to come inside and attack the body. I think if I'm able to stop him, it will be from the boxing skills that I show.”
DONNIE MARSHALL “I'm ready to dominate the fight like I always do. That's the only thing on my mind. I don't care about his height, record or anything else. I'm coming to dominate. “I've never been concerned with the height of Fundora. We sparred with some good strong southpaws in Florida including Yamaguchi Falcao. Then we went to Las Vegas for the second half of training camp and worked with some top prospects. I'm more than prepared for anything. “Every fight is a make or break fight. I've trained against top fighters and been all around the country in different gyms. I've only been pro two and a half years. I'm a young 30. I'm going to announce myself on Saturday in a big way.”
RICHARD SCHAEFER, Chairman and CEO of Ringstar Sports “This weekend is another example why Los Angeles is such a great fight town. We're going to have a fantastic crowd at Microsoft Theater at L.A. Live on Saturday night. I think that speaks to the strength of this city as a boxing town, and the strength of this card. This is top to bottom one of the best cards I can remember here in Los Angeles. “The tripleheader on FOX and FOX Deportes has three fights that want to steal the night. We will see which fight and which fighter everyone will be talking about after Saturday. There are definitely some fights on this card that have ‘Fight of the Year' written all over them. “We are committed to continuing to bring the best and biggest fights to the fans here in Los Angeles, because Los Angeles is the fight capital of the world again.”