Alberto Machado, Angel Fierro discuss Thursday night NBC battle
Ring City USA continues its three-event residency in Puerto Rico this week as it heads to Albergue Olimpico (Olympic Center) in Salinas this Thursday to present a stacked evening of boxing action headlined by the next chapter in the iconic Puerto Rico vs. Mexico ring rivalry as Alberto Machado (22-2, 18 KOs) of Rio Piedras, P.R., battles Angel ‘Tashiro’ Fierro (17-1-1, 13 KOs) of Tijuana.
The full card, which features six matchups and fighters at different levels in their professional careers, will stream live around the world on Twitch at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT. The three-fight main card will begin at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT on NBC Sports Network in the United States and Puerto Rico, and on Twitch for fans outside of the U.S.
In the evening’s co-main event from Puerto Rico, Jose ‘Chiquro’ Martinez, (21-1-2, 14 KOs), of Las Marias, Puerto Rico, clashes with three-time world title challenger Israel ‘Jiga’ Gonzalez (26-4, 11 KOs) of Los Cabos, Mexico, in a ten-round bantamweight bout. A six-round light heavyweight fight will round out the main card on NBC Sports Network featuring Irish’ Joe Ward, (2-1, 2 KOs), of Moate, Ireland, who will look to avenge his pro debut setback against Marco ‘El Muneco’ Delgado, (7-1, 5 KOs), of Turlock, Calif.
Headlining the Twitch undercard broadcast, which begins at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT, three-time world title challenger Maricela ‘La Diva’ Cornejo, (13-4, 5 KOs), of Los Angeles, Calif. faces off against Alma Ibarra (7-1, 4 KOs) of Monterrey, Mexico. In an eight-round flyweight battle, former world champion and knockout artist Angel ‘Tito’ Acosta, (21-2, 21 KOs), of San Juan, Puerto Rico, battles Gilberto Mendoza (17-9-3, 8 KOs) of Modesto, Calif. Also on the Twitch undercard is a six-round junior lightweight battle featuring top undefeated prospect Edwin ‘The Chin’ Valentin (9-0, 8 KOs) fighting in his hometown of Salinas when he faces veteran Hector Marengo (7-14-4, 4 KOs) of Arecibo, Puerto Rico.
All fighters have arrived in Puerto Rico ahead of Thursday’s event and below are quotes from the Monday’s media availability:
On the opponent change: “We had a plan for Hector Tanajara. Fierro is a good fighter, he is young. He has a style a little similar to Tanajara but more aggressive. I’ve only watched one of Angel Fierro’s fights and don’t know much about him other than he is a tough Mexican fighter. The truth is that the last-minute change does affect me a little, but this happens in boxing. I am the main event of this big card and I have to do whatever it is for the show to continue even though Tanajara is sick. I have made the commitment to NBC Sports Network, my family, my promoter, and all boxing fans. I have a great team and I am a professional; I have to make adjustments and move on.”
On fighting in Puerto Rico: “It is very special to fight here and to fight at home in Puerto Rico. I am grateful for this opportunity to fight on NBC Sports Network. I want to demonstrate that I can be a world champion again.”
On the pandemic: “I have been boxing since I was 11 years old so it was good to get time off to rest my body and spend time with my kids.”
On his goal: “Many boxing fans know who I am, now I want to remind them why I was world champion. Those who do not know me will now through NBC Sports and the Twitch app. I also hope to win some new fans. Every boxer wants to be a world champion and then we want to defend the title. Some things are also important – entertain, make weight, be healthy.”
On fighting at 135 vs. 130 pounds: “I think I had great performances at 130 pounds but right now at the lightweight division my weight is good, and my body feels more comfortable. I was Alberto ‘Explosivo’ Machado in the past and I feel that back now at 135. I feel great right now.”
His prediction for Thursday night: “I predict victory, hopefully by knockout.”
On what’s next: “I have an excellent team around me, and they will dictate the next step. I always want to fight the best and hopefully I will have the opportunity to fight for a world title in the near future.”
On training camp: “I was preparing for a fight on March 12 and this fight came so I said, ‘let’s go!’”
On taking the fight on short notice: “I had no reservations whatsoever, I am always dieting and watching my weight. I am always training so I jumped at the opportunity to take this fight.”
On fighting in Puerto Rico: “We know we are in enemy territory being in his hometown. But I have no worries, it’s going to be a war. This fight is going to be a war.”
On facing Machado: “Alberto Machado is an elite fighter. But I have stayed prepared for this opportunity. I am ready to fight. I have seen him fight before. He has been on my radar because I knew that there was a possibility I would fight him. We studied the (Andrew) Cancio fights. We have been analyzing his strengths and weaknesses, his chin, everything. We are well prepared for whatever he can do.”
On facing southpaws: “I fought six southpaws in the past. They have all been different styles though. I know how to control southpaws. I know how to fight them. My original opponent for my next fight was a southpaw.”
On how a win would change his life: “I can’t think about how my life is going to change beforehand. I am 100% focused and I am sure 100% that I am going to win. Then we can talk about how my life is going to change with my team.”
On whether he’s looking for a knockout: “100%. I can’t promise the knockout, but I can assure you that it’s going to be a war. I am going to look for the knockout like all Mexicans do.”
On training with Buddy McGirt: “It’s been great. I have learned so much from working with him since May. It’s simple and basic things but they are so effective. He has truly brought the best out of me. I understand the game so much more now. I am in there extremely confident with my boxing IQ now and what each punch and movement is really there for.”
On what she learned from fighting Franchon Crews Dezurn: “During the (first) fight, her weight was on me and I could hear my back get injured. I felt paralyzed. I could only jab. I was very green when it came to rules and whatnot. It could’ve been a no-contest because I couldn’t continue but I didn’t know that. The second fight, I was on vacation three days before and I got the call for the fight. I took that fight because I wanted to show everybody and show myself that, ‘dude, I can fight.’ I have heart. I only have four amateur fights, but I can stand toe-to-toe and show them hell, too. Learning the game though, that’s where Buddy McGirt has helped me so much. That last fight showed me that I do belong here. I know what I have, and I know I am worthy to be here.”
On her strategy: “Fighting smart. If she wants to bring it, my right hand will be there to welcome it.”
On fighting in Puerto Rico: “They will see two women put on a good show. I am super excited to be here in Puerto Rico to win some fans and then eat some mofongo after the fight!”
On women’s boxing: “I am excited to be a part of this movement and what’s to come for these little girls out there. I want to see what impact this has for them – the youth – and then to see what they can do with it.”
On what’s next: “To get this win on Thursday night. This fight is my main focus right now. I think this will be the bloodiest and toughest war of my career. I am getting myself ready for that. Every time I step in the ring, it’s to be a better me. I am not focused on anyone else. I just want to step in there better than the last time.”
On coming back from his knee injury: “It was tough not knowing where I’d be when I got back on my feet and how long it would take me to get back in the ring, in addition to what long term damage it was going to cause. I was lucky enough that everything went well, and I got back on my feet. I had a good strong mindset that if I put the work in, I would be back fighting soon. It’s been a long, difficult time but I am looking forward to getting back in the ring to showcase my skills.”
On the time away from the ring: “I feel that I am probably a better fighter now. I got to work on things that were my weaknesses over that period of time. I feel more determined and focused to put a show on and be ruthless.”
On a rematch with Delgado: “This was the opponent I wanted from day one. I wanted to put it right. I am 100% focused like I would be for any opponent. He has a number of wins and a bit of confidence. I know my level of fighting is higher than his and that will show on Thursday night. It’s just about me turning up. I told my team I wanted this rematch because I wanted to put this right. I want to go on to bigger and better things in the near future. I take one fight at a time, but I hope it’s a busy year. I’ll keep stepping up.”
On his two fights in Mexico: “It was great to get back in the ring after the injury. The two guys I fought weren’t up to the standard of where I am at, but I went in there ruthless and got them out of there as quickly as possible.”
On what he has to prove: “It’s not so much about what I have to prove but it’s getting opportunities to fight in these big events that are very special to me. I just want to show the people why I was such a good amateur and how it transfers to a professional.”