Canelo Alvarez and James “Mandingo Warrior” Kirkland hosted the final press conference in Houston on Thursday, May 7 ahead of their showdown on May 9 at Minute Maid Park and live on HBO World Championship Boxing ®.
Golden Boy Promotions Founder and President Oscar De La Hoya, SMS Promotions Chairman and CEO Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, and Future Hall of Famer and Golden Boy Promotions Partner Bernard Hopkins were also in attendance to support their fighters ahead of Saturday’s bout. Also in attendance were promoters Mike Battah, President of Leija*Battah Promotions andJesse James Leija, Texas Boxing Legend and Founder of Leija*Battah Promotions.
Other fighters on the Canelo vs. Kirkland undercard in attendance at Thursday’s press conference included co-main event fighter Humberto “La Zorrita” Soto(65-8-2, 35 KOs), 2012 Olympian Joseph “Jojo” Diaz Jr. (15-0, 10 KOs), Chinese heavyweight sensation, Taishan (3-0, 2 KOs), KeAndre Gibson (12-0-1, 5 KOs), Joshua Clottey (38-4, 22 KOs), Ryan Martin (12-0, 7 KOs), and James Leija Jr.
Here is what the fighters and the promoters had to say at the press conference:
CANELO ALVAREZ, Former WBC and WBA Super Welterweight World Champion:
“Thank you all for being here. I want to say thank you for all of the support you have been giving me. We have worked very hard to come out with this victory.
“It’s very easy to say words, but once we are in the ring, let’s let the fists do the talking.”
OSCAR DE LA HOYA, Founder and President of Golden Boy Promotions:
“We are excited to be once again partnering with the champion network, HBO, where everyone is guaranteed to watch the best that boxing has to offer.
“Some people weren’t too content with the May 2 performances but one thing is for sure: people are very excited to watch some action with Canelo Alvarez and James Kirkland on May 9.
“As a promoter, you want to work with fighters that want to go against the very best. That is what is so exciting for me about promoting this event because that’s what we’ll have on May 9. The best fighting the best.
“James is one of the most decorated punchers and fighters. He brings power, and he brings excitement to ring.”
JAMES KIRKLAND, Super Welterweight Contender:
“I have been looking forward to this moment for a long time. We had this fight set up once before but it was canceled due to an injury.
“My training camp has been outstanding. Canelo brings a lot to the game; he has a great team backing him. I would like to thank the fans, HBO, and everyone who will be at the fight. Thank you. Team Kirkland!”
CURTIS “50 CENT” JACKSON, Founder and Chairman of SMS Promotions:
“This is excitement. Originally, I was just passionate about boxing, I was just a fan, but now, to be a part of what could possibly be the biggest fight of the year, that is really exciting.
“I want to thank everyone, Golden Boy Promotions, Oscar De La Hoya, Bernard Hopkins, HBO, and everyone working behind the scenes to make this fight happen.
“One of my up and coming fighters for SMS Promotions, Ryan Martin, will also be fighting on May 9.
“We will definitely get a chance to see some action on May 9 at Minute Maid Park. It’s the perfect place for this fight.”
HUMBERTO SOTO, Former Three-Division World Champion:
“I want to thank the promoters for bringing back this level of fighting.
“It’s going to be another great fight. We have youth versus experience, and the fans are going to win. Don’t miss this fight, thank you so much.”
BERNARD HOPKINS, Future Hall of Famer and Golden Boy Promotions Partner:
“Thank you everyone that participated in putting this event together. Right now, these fighters have a chance to be the ‘next big thing.’
“This will be the shortest comment I’ve ever made: Canelo, you’re healthy, right? (nod) Kirkland, you’re healthy, right? (nod) Then, we’re going to fight, ya’ll.”
MIKE BATTAH, President of Lieja*Battah Promotions:
“When we started Leija*Battah Promotions three years ago our goal was to bring the best, fan friendly fights to Texas and years later we have proven it.
“Where else can you get a megastar like Canelo and a dangerous fighter like Kirkland fighting two or three hours from your home? We have fighters from Houston, and San Antonio, and other parts of Texas that will be on a mega-fight undercard like they have never experienced. It is important to showcase these Texas fighters on this big stage.”
JESSE JAMES LEIJA, Texas Boxing Legend and Founder of Leija*Battah Promotions:
“Houston, we want you to come and bring out the best boxing fans in the world. It is the best atmosphere to be boxing in a baseball stadium.
“On May 9 at Minute Maid Park my son is making his professional boxing debut. He is a graduate of St. Mary’s University. Come out and support this great event.
“I want to thank these two amazing fighters, Canelo and Kirkland in advance, because we are going to have a great night.”
JOSE “CHEPO” REYNOSO, Manager and Trainer for Canelo Alvarez:
“On Saturday night we are going to see two tremendous warriors go toe to toe.
“At the end of the night Canelo will be shouting ‘Viva Mexico’ with his fists.”
EDDY REYNOSO, Head Trainer for Canelo Alvarez:
“At training camp we worked very hard, very dedicated. And, once again, thanks to all the press for the coverage you’ve given us.”
PETER NELSON, HBO Sports Vice President of Programing:
“This is exactly the kind of caliber event that makes stars.
“More people are going to see this event than anything since Muhammad Ali fought here in Texas.
“I think that this is one of the signature events HBO will have this year. These are the stars of today, Canelo Alvarez and James Kirkland.
“This presents a great opportunity for Humberto Soto to bring his career back to a big stage. We are going to see fighters fulfill their potential on Saturday night.”
REID RYAN, President of Business Operations for Houston:
“The fight is definitely being talked about in the City of Houston. We are very excited about this event.
“There is a buzz surrounding this event. The phone has been ringing all day at the stadium. People are excited for this event. It will be the first boxing event at Minute Maid Park.”
BAY BAY McCLINTON, Strength and Conditioning Trainer to James Kirkland:
“I only train greatness. On Saturday night, you will see greatness. You are going to see a different James Kirkland.
“The last time Mexico came to Texas, remember this: remember the Alamo.
“I always ask my fighters, ‘You want to be good, or you want to be great?’ Tomorrow, he’s [Kirkland] going to be great.”
GREG ALVAREZ, Combative Sports Manager of the Texas Department of License & Regulation:
“Thank you to Golden Boy Promotions, Leija*Battah Promotions and all the people that are putting this show on.
“This is the biggest single day event Texas is going to have.
“I’m real excited for this big fight, the real fight.”
Tickets for May 9 Canelo vs. Kirkland are priced at $350, $150, $100, $50 and $25, plus applicable fees and service charges, are available for purchase at Astros.com/boxing, the Minute Maid Park Box Office (Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.) all Ticketmaster outlets, by calling Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000, online at www.ticketmaster.com. There is a 19-ticket limit per household.
Canelo Alvarez vs. James Kirkland is a 12-round super welterweight bout presented by Golden Boy Promotions in association with Canelo Promotions, SMS Promotions and Leija*Battah Promotions. The fight will take place Saturday, May 9 at Minute Maid Park in Houston and is sponsored by Corona Extra, Mexico – Live it to Believe it!, Fred Loya Insurance and O’Reilly Auto Parts. Doors open at 11:00 a.m. CT and first bout starts at 11:10 a.m. CT, the HBO World Championship Boxing telecast begins at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT.