Current champion Jhonny Gonzalez and once-beaten contender Vanes Martirosyan participated in a workout on Monday at the Main Event Sports Club in Glendale, Calif., prior to their respective upcoming fights on Saturday, March 28, at the The Pearl at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas live on Showtime.
In the 12-round main event, Gonzalez (57-8, 48 KOs), of Mexico City, will defend his 126-pound title against talented once-beaten former world title challenger Gary Russell Jr. (25-1, 14 KOs), of Capitol Heights, Md. In the 10-round co-feature, Martirosyan (35-1-1, 21 KOs), of Glendale, Calif., will take on undefeated rising star Jermell “Iron Man” Charlo (25-0, 11 KOs), of Houston, in an important super welterweight showdown.
Here’s what the boxers as well as trainers, Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain (Gonzalez) and Dean Campos (Martirosyan), had to say Monday at the Los Angeles-area gym:
JHONNY GONZALEZ, WBC Featherweight World Champion
“First off, I would like to apologize for not participating in the media conference call that took place this morning. I have never missed a conference call before, and I take full responsibility for missing the call. I know how important these calls are and I promise that I will not miss another one.
“I have been very focused for the past three months during my training camp. I have been training in the high altitude in Toluca, Mexico.
“I have had two title defenses since beating Abner Mares and I am excited and ready for my fight on Saturday.
“Ever since beating Mares, I feel like I am finally getting the respect and support from the fans and media that I deserve. I get recognized all of the time now. The recognition motivates me to work harder than ever before and not let my fans down.
“I feel like I am in my boxing prime. There is still so much to prove and show to the world that I am still at the top of my game and capable of fighting with the best.
“In my fight on Saturday I am going to bring the same energy and intensity that I brought in my fight against Mares.
“I know that Gary Russell Jr. has fast and powerful hands. He is a quick and strong southpaw. I know he’s an excellent boxer.
“I am going to attack him with my power and speed. Once he feels my power in the ring, he’s not going to be able to think in there. He’s going to run, but if he decides to brawl with us, then we will have something for him.
“At this point in my career, he [Russell] is the fastest opponent I have ever faced. He has very fast hands and puts together good combinations.
“To prepare for Russell, I am constantly keeping my hands up at all times during my training. I am training that if he throws punches at me, I know how to immediately react and throw shots back at him.
“A lot of people are doubting me going into this fight because of the speed of Russell. It’s a great challenge for me and I can’t wait to get in the ring.
“I am absolutely looking for the knockout and I believe I will get it. I don’t expect this fight to go the distance. I am going to pressure him from the opening bell, my conditioning and confidence is at an all-time high. I am very anxious for this title fight, I want to fight right now.”
VANES MARTIROSYAN, World-Ranked Contender
“I am in great shape, training camp has gone great. I am just as excited for this fight as I was when I fought for the U.S. team in the Olympics.
“I feel like this fight is more of a test for him [Charlo], and I have to make sure he fails the test.
“I used to work with Ronnie Shields [Charlo’s Trainer] for about three years. I am pretty sure they have a game plan for me, but I am a totally different Vanes than the one who used to train with Shields. I hope they are getting prepared for that Vanes because I have changed a lot since then.
“Jermell [Charlo] is a good boxer, but he’s a basic boxer. He’s done well with guys that he’s supposed to look good against. There are some guys that he should’ve knocked out that he didn’t. If he hits me I will hit him right back and we’ll see how he handles that.
“If I stick to my game plan and everything goes as planned, I will say that it will be an easy fight. We have a B and a C plan if the fight doesn’t go exactly as planned.
“All I can do is prepare and go out there and win the fight. After I lost my fight to Demetrius Andrade I felt like a loser. I can’t lose this fight, I’d rather die than go out there and lose again.”
IGNACIO “NACHO” BERISTAIN, Gonzalez’ Trainer
“Gary Russell’s speed and quickness could be a factor for us in this fight. We must find a way to eliminate it.
“We need to find a solution to his quickness and do everything we can to win. We feel like we’ve prepared enough and are in a great position to come out on top.
“Russell has fast hands and he recovers quickly. He has had knockouts at different weight levels. But we’re working really hard, and on Saturday you guys are going to see a different Jhonny Gonzalez.
“Jhonny Gonzalez is a very strong fighter. I think the strength and power of his punch beats Russell’s. I think that will be one of the keys– Jhonny Gonzalez knows how to punch, hard.
“I don’t just believe in Jhonny because he’s my fighter, but because he’s fought and trained immensely hard — he knows what he wants.”
DEAN CAMPOS, Martirosyan’s Trainer
“Vanes is such a quick learner. He is able to pick up everything that I am trying to teach him to accomplish everything that we want to do to win this fight.
“We must exploit Charlo’s weaknesses. Charlo is a good fighter, but everyone has weaknesses. My job is to prepare him as best as I can so that he can get in the ring with the best opportunity to win this fight.
“I want to supply him with ideas to unlock that final last edge to come out on top. If he is able to do some of the things that we go over in camp, then he will be in a good position for a victory come Saturday.”