Say “adios” to the niceties. The main event fighters headlining this week’s edition of MetroPCS Friday Night Knockout on truTV have only one thing on their minds — their opponents!
At their media workout at the Top Rank Gym, the four young warriors — super middleweights GILBERTO “Zurdo” RAMIREZ and GEVORG KHATCHIKIAN, and lightweights SAÚL “Kid Dynamite” RODRÍGUEZ and IVAN “Bam Bam” NAJERA, who boast a combined record of 88-2 (55 KOs) — took time out to discuss their Friday night battles which will be televised live at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on truTV from The Chelsea inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Here’s what they had to say:
Ramirez (32-0, 24 KOs), of Mazatlan, Mexico. The Mazatlan Mauler with the matinee idol looks, risks his No. 1 world rating and mandatory challenger position for the World Boxing Organization super middleweight world title as he defends his WBO International and NABF super middleweight titles:
“It’s easy to talk like my opponent is doing. I like it. No, my team did not make a mistake agreeing to fight Khatchikian. He’s going to find out the hard way. Fights are won in the ring. I wanted this fight to be better prepared to fight Arthur Abraham for the world title. I have no desire to sit it out waiting for my title shot. That’s what this fight is all about.”
Khatchikian (23-1, 11 KOs), of Heerlen, Netherlands. Six of his last seven victories have come by way of knockout. His lone blemish, an 11th-round TKO to former Olympic gold medalist and reigning International Boxing Federation (IBF) super middleweight champion James DeGale. He will be challenging Ramirez in a 10-round super middleweight rumble.
“Team Zurdo made a big mistake taking this fight. All of the pressure is on him, not me. I have more power. James Degale, who I fought, is 10 times better than Zurdo. And Degale is a southpaw too. I plan to figure out Zurdo real quick on Friday night, then I will strike. When I get done, Zurdo won’t have to worry about Arthur Abraham anymore.”
Rodriguez (18-0-1, 13 KOs), of Riverside, Calif. He has gone the distance just twice in his last 10 fights, a testament to his one-punch knockout power and his ring name, “Kid Dynamite.”
“Ivan Najera talks how great it was to go all of the rounds against Verdejo. But I don’t think Najera won a round so what does that mean? Najera has heart which means he will coming straight at me. I have a great trainer in Robert Garcia and a great manager in Cameron Dunkin. I am in Robert’s gym which has a lot of champions, contenders and rising stars. There is a hunger to win in that gym. That’s what I am taking into the ring Friday night.”
Najera (16-1, 8 KOs), of San Antonio, TX. He is known for his crowd-pleasing aggressive style of fighting and good punching power. Texas boxing fans have been flocking to his fights because he always delivers all-action performances.
“Verdejo is a monster. Saul Rodriguez isn’t half the fighter Verdejo is. I plan to replace the “0” with a “1” in the Rodriguez loss column the same way Verdejo did to me. Let’s see how Rodriguez handles not being undefeated anymore. It’s going to hurt him. I’m going to hurt him.”
Promoted by Top Rank and Zapari Boxing Promotions, remaining tickets to the Ramirez-Khatchikian championship boxing event, priced at $100, $85, $75, $50 and $40, are available for purchase at www.cosmopolitanlasvegas.com or through Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000 and www.ticketmaster.com.