Fighters competing on Saturday’s Premier Boxing Champions on ESPN card held workouts in Tampa today before their July 11 showdowns. The headlining event pits Keith “One Time” Thurman (25-0, 21 KOs) against Luis Collazo (36-6, 19 KOs). The opener sees undefeated Tony Harrison (21-0, 19 KOS) taking on Willie Nelson (23-2-1, 13 KOS). Also participating in the workout was the son of former world champion Antonio Tarver, Antonio Tarver Jr. (2-0, 2 KOs) who will fight on the undercard.
“There’s a lot to talk about with this fight. The fact that it’s on ESPN, people are going to tune-in and I’ll have the opportunity to make more fans and broaden my fan base. It’s another audition for a national audience.
“Depending on how you do, your stock goes up. An impressive win though, that gets you a real jump. I’ve worked hard to get here and I want to be spectacular.
“I believe the excitement will come for myself when I enter the arena and I hear the cheers of the hometown crowd. I’ve gotten a lot of love and respect from different venues I’ve fought at, but it’s been a long time since I’ve been back home.
“There are a lot of people who have followed my career that haven’t been able to see me, live in action. The fact that I’m bringing this fight home, I just think about when Winky Wright did it; Jeff Lacy did it; Antonio Tarver did it; it’s a big thing for me emotionally to be able to bring world-class boxing back to Tampa Bay.
“I’m looking forward to a great performance and hopefully we can continuously bring these big fights back to Tampa Bay.”
“My preparation was for 15 rounds so we’re ready to go the distance. I’m here for the long haul.
“I’m trying to pull off the upset again. Anything can happen in this sport, one punch can end everything, so we’ll see what happens on Saturday.
“With the Khan fight I showed myself how much passion I still have for the sport. This fight here, everyone is going to see the old Luis Collazo again.
“I’m the type of guy who doesn’t like to plan ahead. I’m the underdog and I love being the underdog. I’ve been the underdog all my life. It inspires me to go out there and show the fans that anything is possible not just in the ring, but in life.
“I’m going to give it my all, that’s the type of person I am. I didn’t come here for handout so I hope he’s prepared.”
“Nelson’s got a lot of heart. I’m not underestimating him. I’m coming in in top shape. I did things I normally don’t do in training. I went swimming for this camp. We know what we’re up against.
“He’s got the heart of a champion. He’s been knocked down before, but he gets back up and starts fighting again, so we know we’re up against a real tough fighter.
“I’ve been ready to face a guy of this caliber for a long time. I’ve been sparring Gennady Golovkin, Andy Lee, K9, and Luis Collazo. I’ve been in with champions before I even turned pro. I’ve been in with the best and did what I was supposed to do against them.
“All these guys are familiar faces to me. Luis Collazo and Willie. These guys have been down to Kronk to spar me. I’ve been on that stage and had those wars in the gym already, so I’m ready.
“It feels great for Detroit to be back on the map and getting the recognition that’s been missing for many years. If I can be the one to help out the next generation of Detroit fighters and make it easier for them to break through so be it.”
“Training camp has been excellent. I’ve sparred with a lot of different guys, especially ones that were heavier than me and have given me some great work.
“Tony knows how to use his height in the ring, but I’m a tall fighter so he won’t be able to do that against me. He’s a puncher, that’s what he tries to do.
“I channel out any of the talking he does. I’m self-motivated and I know what I need to do out there. I can’t get mad at his antics because that does nothing for me.
“I want to be one of the successful boxers from Ohio that really does something. I want to make my mark in not just Ohio boxing but boxing period.
“This isn’t the toughest fight of my career but it’s the toughest challenge, going up against a young, undefeated guy. All my fights have been tough so I’m used to it.
“I’m excited to be on such a big card, but I am used to it now. The lights don’t get to me. PBC has been great for the sport because everyone can tune-in to these fights.”
ANTONIO TARVER JR.
“I’ve been training with the world champion Keith Thurman and I held my own in there. It’s been a great experience.
“It’s a beautiful thing to be fighting in my home state. I’m blessed to be fighting at the Sun Dome.
“My dad is always right in my ear. Always on me about the defense and protecting myself in the ring.
“I’m a southpaw who’s a fast hitter. I can hit hard and counter punch. I think of myself as the whole package.”