JA Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Sports Network conference call hosted by Richard Maynard. My name is Jacob and I will be your coordinator for today’s conference. For the duration of the call, you will be on listen only. However, at the end of the call, you will have the opportunity to ask questions. If at any time you need assistance, please press star zero on your telephone keypad and you will be connected to an operator. I will now hand you over to your host to begin today’s conference.
RM Thank you, Jacob. Welcome everyone. Thank you for re-joining the call this evening and apologies about the earlier call, but Marco is on the line now and I will shortly hand over to him. Obviously you know that Marco Antonia Barrera takes on Amir Khan next Saturday, a week on Saturday, at the MEN Arena. It’s an absolutely sensational fight. It’s very nearly sold out. There are only a few thousand tickets left but they will go in the next two weeks to ensure a 20,000 sell-out on the night. It’s going to be an incredible atmosphere, as in the past, with Ricky Hatton, Kostya Tszyu, Jeff Lacy, Joe Calzaghe, and at the end, certainly the perfect win for this fight. As you know, Marco Antonio Barrera is a legend of the ring, five time world champion in three weight divisions. You’ve seen him in front of the most thrilling and epic battles in recent history and against Amir Khan. Amir has certainly got his work cut out. He’s in [unclear] in the ring and he’s got to cut out [?] the performances. Marco has been training extremely hard to shape up for this fight from Mexico City, and he will talk about that. On the line also we have the Director of Boxing Operations at Don King Productions, Juan Gonzalez who will also act as interpreter for Marco. Also from Don King Production, Alan Hopper. So both guys are available for questions also. Before I hand over to Marco, I’d like to introduce Katie Drew from Sky Sports who will just give you some information about the Sky Box Office Paperview. Katie.
KD Thanks so much, Richard. Hello everybody; it’s Katie from Sky. Just a very, very quick one. As Richard said, thank you for joining on the conference call this afternoon. If I can just ask that any quotes from the interview today be credited to Sky Box Office please, as the fight next Saturday is live and exclusive on Sky Box Office. That’s pretty much it from us, so back over to you, Richard.
RM Before we open for questions, I would just like Juan, if you could ask Marco to say an opening statement and then we’ll throw the line open for questions, please.
JG [translation]. First of all, good afternoon to everybody, all the reporters. Thanks to everybody here on the call. Your friend, Marco Antonio Barrera, is getting ready to fight and can’t wait to be in Manchester next week. I hope everybody is doing fine.
RM Juan, if you can speak just a little bit louder. Okay. I’d just like to add one final thing; the title that is on the line for next Saturday will be the WBA International and the WBO Intercontinental Lightweight titles. Khan currently holds the WBA International version, and I believe the WBO Intercontinental is vacant. So both titles will be on the line next week. Alan, is there anything you’d like to add?
AH Only that Marco is training in Mexico City. He just ran in a park next to his mother’s house and he joins us on the call today from his mother’s home.
RM Fantastic. Okay, Jacob, if you’d like to throw the line open for questions, please.
JA Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, if you would like to ask a question, please press seven on your telephone keypad. If you change your mind and wish to withdraw your question, please press seven again. You will be advised when to ask your question. We have a question from the line of Gareth A Davies from the Daily Telegraph. Please go ahead.
GD Thank you. Good afternoon, gentlemen, good afternoon Marco.
RM Are you from the Sunday Telegraph?
GD From the Sunday Telegraph, yes indeed. Marco, can I just ask you, first of all, it’s ten years tomorrow since you defeated Paul Lloyd at the Albert Hall; exactly ten years tomorrow that you last fought in the UK. Since then, you have gone on to become a world champion in three weight divisions. Where does the desire for you come from to go half way across the world and fight a hungry young fighter in Amir Khan?
MAB [translation]. It has been ten years since I was fighting in England but I took this fight with a young fighter in his hometown because I believe that when I beat a guy in his own hometown, in front of his crowd, it’s a double victory for me.
GD Does that mean that Marco is still, does he still have aspirations to win another world title?
MAB [translation]. Right now, I definitely want to fight for another world title, for the 135 pounds. But right now I am focusing on one thing. March 14, go to Manchester in front of a lot of fans that I have there, because I have fans there too, and have a great night and do what I do, box. And try to come with a win. Then we will talk about the title.
GD Have you seen much of Amir Khan, Marco?
MAB [translation]. I have seen the last fight from him. I know he has fat hands, he has fat legs [?]. He can punch. But I did my work just to go there and do what I do, that is box and win.
GD We’ve just had another huge name come to the UK, Manny Pacquiao. Can I just ask Marco, obviously you have fought Manny Pacquiao, who does he think will win between Patton and Pacquiao, and on what basis?
JG Can you repeat that, at the end?
GD Who does Marco think will win between Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton, and why?
MAB [translation]. I think it will be a great fight, but I am going to go with Hatton because I think he is a bigger guy, and not only that, he’s my friend and I’m going to say hi to him now when I am in Manchester. He is a very close friend of mine so I am looking forward to seeing him next week.
GD Thank you very much. Adios.
MAB Thank you.
JA We have a question from the line of Allen Hooper from the Independent on Sunday. Please go ahead.
AL It’s eight years since you fought Naseem Hamed. In view of Amir Khan’s youth and speed and the fact that you are now eight years older, do you think that this could possibly be a more difficult fight for you than against Hamed?
MAB [translation]. Definitely the time has passed, the years, but in eight years I have got more experience too, so I think I have everything to guide my opponent until he realises he [unclear]. I am going to teach him how to get, to realise the great sport of boxing.
AL But Marco, do you think it will be a more difficult fight than against Hamed?
MAB [translation]. He is saying that every fight is difficult; this fight and every fight is difficult at the time. This one is difficult now but I have the same desire to win as I had eight years ago.
AL Can you tell us when you intend to arrive in England?
JG That will be on Sunday morning.
AL Thank you.
JA We have another question from the line of Kevin Mitchell from the Tribune [?]. Please go ahead.
KM Marco, I was wondering if you could just give us an update on how your eye injury has healed.
JG First of all, the cut wasn’t in the eye; it was in the top of the eye. It had nothing to do with the eye.
MAB [translation]. Like I told you, he had to do nothing with the eye. It was like in the middle of both eyes, but upwards, like an inch maybe. And I have been doing sparring and everything. It has been fine. I am ready to fight.
KM Thank you very much. What about the weight, Marco? Are you suited to fight at this weight, at lightweight?
MAB [translation]. This is a test for me. It is the first fight at 135, so I am doing the weight good, after haven’t done it in a while. And I think everything is looking fine.
KM Thank you very much.
JA We have a question from the line of Brian Doogan from the Sunday Times. Please go ahead.
BD Hello Marco, how are you doing? You said that one of the weaknesses that Amir Khan has is his chin and that leads you to believe that you will win all the more. Does that just come from the previous Prescott fight or did you see any signs in any of the other fights as well?
MAB [translation]. Right now, I am actually not focusing on his chin. If his chin was shaky in that fight or it wasn’t, I really didn’t focus on that in my training. I really focus on going into the ring and doing my job.
BD Okay. Overall, how does he assess Khan as a fighter at this stage of his development?
MAB [translation]. I just have a lot of respect for him. He is a young fighter. Like I said before, he has excellent [?] hands. He is in great condition. He has a big amount of fans in England. Only for that, I’ve got to respect him a lot for a person to have all that backup. You need to respect the guy. But I have confidence in what I am going to do in the ring.
BD Okay. And finally, can he remember, can he recall being in a similar position himself as a young fighter fighting a more experienced former world champion, and what was that experience like for him?
MAB [translation]. A fight like that, I remember with Kennedy McKinney. He was an Olympic medallist. That was, for me, a big test. And after that, I’ve been going through that many times. Since I became a world champion, everybody wants to beat me, but only a couple could. So it’s just the same deal every day. Everybody wants to beat me but at the end I win.
BD Okay. Thank you, Marco.
JA The next question comes from the line of Steve Lilly [?] from the News of the World. Please go ahead.
SL Good evening everybody. Just one question for Marco. Marco, you told us earlier on in the call you had aspirations to win another world title. Why risk his number one ranking with the WBO because the world title fight would surely have come along even if he had gone without this fight next week?
MAB [translation]. I really don’t like to sit around and wait for fights. I really think I have to earn what I have to do in the ring. I haven’t fought a big fight in a while so this is a big fight and it will make my next fight even bigger if I win this fight.
SL Is there one man that Marco would like to fight next?
MAB [translation]. I have nobody in mind right now. I am just concentrating on this fight right now.
SL Thanks a lot.
JA The next question comes from the line of Tim Platt [?] from the Scottish Mail on Sunday. Please go ahead.
TP Good evening, gentlemen, or good afternoon. I am wondering if you can ask Marco, there was talk in the past of him perhaps having a fight with Alex Arthur, an Edinburgh boxer who was the WBU Super Featherweight champion. He has now moved up to lightweight. Was that ever a possibility and what does Marco know of Alex Arthur?
MAB [translation]. It definitely was an intention to fight him; it’s just that the negotiations never went forward. There was talk and then it never happened. But I wish him well and one day if we meet each other, we meet.
TP Is there a slight possibility?
JG It’s just a matter of it needs to happen or not.
TP Thank you.
JA We currently have no questions coming through. We have a question from the line of Tom Hopkinson from the People [?]. Please go ahead.
TH Hi Marco. Good evening, everyone. Marco, I just wondered, with all the great fighters that you’ve been in the ring with, who would you say that Amir’s style is the closest to?
JG The closest fighter, Amir can look like the one he fought before? Is that the question?
MAB [translation]. I mentioned it before, it’s Kennedy McKinney.
TH Okay. Thank you.
JA Ladies and gentlemen, just to remind you, if you would like to ask a question, please press seven on your telephone keypad now. We have no more questions coming through so I will hand back to your host to conclude today’s conference.
AH Juan, wasn’t there one other fighter he said that reminded him of Amir Khan?
JG I just asked him and he said only one name.
AH Oh. I thought we asked him that question before and he gave us one other person.
JG I don’t remember. So, hopefully, we are going to call him back in a minute.
AH Richard, what do you want to do with the rest of the call here, sir?
RM Any more questions for Marco? Jacob, is there any more questions coming through?
JA Yes, I think there is one question from the line of Allen Hooper from the Independent on Sunday. Please go ahead.
AL It’s not a question for Marco but one for Alan Hopper. Alan, do you know when Don King is arriving next week?
AH You know, I don’t. Don is unique in that he keeps no schedule, as I’m sure you know, and it’s not clear whether I will be joining with him. I know Juan and Marco are going in on Sunday, and I know Richard and Frank have their final press conference scheduled for Thursday, if I’m not mistaken.
AL But Don is definitely coming, is he?
JG He is definitely coming, maybe Tuesday or Wednesday.
AL Okay, thank you.
AH I was just going to Juan if he knew more than I did.
RM Jacob, is that it?
JA We have no further questions coming through.
RM Just before the press cuts off, I would just like to let you know that Amir Khan will be doing his Sunday conference call this Thursday at 11 am and I will be sending out all the dial-in details as normal, by email and text. I’d like to thank Allen Hopper for joining the call, for linking in. Marco Antonio Barrera – thank you, Marco, for joining in. I know you are busy training before you depart, but have a safe flight over and I look forward to seeing you next week. Thank you, Juan, for translating Irish and Scottish accents – you can understand them all.
AH And Juan, finishing up the question, Marco already said earlier that he fought José Luis Valbuena in 2000.
MAB [translation]. I just want to say thank you for all the press being on the call and I want to say hi to all my friends there in Manchester. I see you soon.
AH Thanks, Richard.