Carlos Hernandez, Escobedo, Leija, and Beristain Conference call Transcript
Richard Schaefer: Good morning, good afternoon, everyone. We have only a little more than a week to go to truly an exciting lightweight showdown featuring some of the most recognized names in the lightweight division. We have with Jesus Chavez, Carlos Hernandez, and Julio Diaz three stars of the sport fighting against opponents, who want to make names for themselves, who want to really move up in the rankings and stake a claim eventually for a world title fight. And then, of course, in the main event with Edwin Valero and Antonio Pitalua. We have a great showdown with a very, very tough Mexican fighter, Antonio Pitalua, and Edwin Valero, sort of like a cult fighter who has a tremendous following within the boxing community. And I think it’s going to be a great night of boxing with these four lightweight battles. It’s going to be April 4 at the Frank Erwin Center in at the University of Texas in Austin, a great campus, a great town for those people who are going to go there, to see the fights live. It’s going to be the first time for me, but I hear it’s a tremendous atmosphere there, a great, great – a beautiful town, Austin. The fight is going to be shown live on pay-per-view beginning at 9:00 pm ET and 6:00 pm PT. It is going to be distributed by HBO. Tickets to the event are still available. Ticket demand has been brisk. We are expecting a great and large turnout in Austin. The Texas fans loves boxing, embrace boxing, and create a great atmosphere, live atmosphere in the venue.
Tickets are priced between $25, $35, $50, $70, $100, $150, and $200, so really for any and all budgets, there are seats available. And to be able to see this kind of card with those four great events, including the WBC World Lightweight title for $25 is almost like going to a movie, a great price for a great, great sporting event sponsored by Cerveza Tecate and Southwest Airlines.
I would like to welcome now the people we have on the phone – we have Carlos Famoso Hernandez and his trainer, Jesse James Leija, and Vicente Escobedo and his trainer, Nacho Beristain. I’m going to turn it first to Vicente to make some opening comments and then to Carlos and then we are going to open it up to the media who have any questions to the fighters or their trainers. I just want to quickly make a note as well, we are looking forward to see Jesse James Leija again. He is – he was a tremendous fighter, tremendous champion. He’s just a really great guy and I’m very pleased to see that he is training Famoso Hernandez.
And, of course, my good friend, Nacho Beristain, a legendary trainer who recently guided Juan Manuel Marquez to a great victory over Juan Diaz and so it’s great to have Nacho on the phone as well. But now let’s move to Vicente Escobedo. He’s a rising lightweight star from Woodland, California, with a record of 19 and 1, 2004 US Olympian, and he’s coming off the most impressive win of his professional career, a six-round stoppage of the unbeaten Dominic Salcido, which was last September 26.
So please, Vicente, if you want to say a few words, how your camp has been going and any other comments you have, please go ahead. So it is a pleasure for me now to turn it over to a former world champion, the greatest fighter ever to come out of El Salvador who lives now in San Antonio, Texas. And he is training with Jesse James Leija, as I mentioned to you already. He has – after a two-year layoff, he came back with a win and he really has started his campaign, which hopefully will bring him to another world championship.
He is determined. He’s hungry, as he was in the beginning of his career because he wants to show everyone out there that he still has it to become world champion again in a division where there is a lot of great, great fights out there. So please, Carlos Famoso Hernandez, why don’t you make some opening statements and talk a bit about your training.
Carlos Hernandez: Thank you very much for having me here. Thank you, Mr. Schaefer, and all of the media here and for Golden Boy Promotions for believing in me and giving me this opportunity with a young rising star like Vicente Escobedo, who we know – we all know is the future of boxing. But we have to work to win. This guy is a good, hungry young fighter, but what I have in my corner is experience. And that’s what we’re going to bring to the table.
Richard Schaefer: Great. Thank you. Jesse, do you want to say a few words, please?
Jesse James Leija: First of all, I would like to say hello to Richard Schaefer and hello to the great promoters at Golden Boy. I’m excited about this. I’m so excited for Carlos Hernandez getting a second opportunity to get back to the world title. And I know Vicente Escobedo, who’s a young, young, energized fighter. But, I see it that he’s going to be heavily tested in this fight. I almost see it as when I fought Juan Lazcano, when I fought Hector Camacho, Jr., when I fought Francisco Bojado where I think these guys are coming in too quick, too soon, to fight a veteran fighter as in Carlos. And, I know he has a great trainer and I just think that right now it’s going to be experience that’s going to prevail over Vicente Escobedo. And we’re training hard. We’re not taking shortcuts. Carlos is in here, he’s been training for the last six months I think. And he’s ready to go. And we’re anxious and we’re excited about fighting on this great card.
Vicente Escobedo: Well, I would like to thank Golden Boy, thank you guys for this opportunity to be on this card, it’s a dream. I’ve been dreaming about this for – since I started boxing. And now the time has come. Things have been going good. I just – training has been going really, really good up here in Mexico City. I want to thank Nacho Beristain, for the preparation and the hard work that I’ve been working. And it’s an important fight for me because Carlos Hernandez is a former world champion, a great fighter. I mean, starting as a professional, I remember watching him fight and to me, to have this opportunity, it’s huge, and, we definitely have a tough fight in front of us and we’re training hard and we’re ready, we’re prepared I’m just – I’m so excited and I’d just like to thank everyone for this opportunity.
Rodolfo Macias from San Antonio Newspaper (San Antonio, Texas).
Q: Okay, the first question is directed to Richard. Originally the card was announced with four fights. Two of those fights have changed. What is that what were the changes due to?
Richard Schaefer: Well, I mean, there still are going to be four fights. You have the Valero vs. Pitalua main event. Carlos Famoso Hernandez, who was supposed to fight Barrios, has been replaced by Vicente Escobedo. And in many ways, this is really an opportunity for a young and rising star to take on one of the true stars of the sport with Famoso Hernandez. And for Famoso Hernandez, it obviously is an opportunity as well to turn back the tide as we have seen recently, with Shane Mosley and you saw it with Bernard Hopkins where the veterans shows the younger fighters, who is the man. And Carlos Hernandez wants to basically show the same and make a strong case that he is willing to take on any and everyone. So, I mean, I really have to thank our matchmaker, Eric Gomez and Roberto Diaz who have come up with such a great fight. And then, of course, we have Joel Casamayor, who was supposed to fight Julio Diaz. He got injured. And, again with Rolando Reyes, our matchmakers found somebody who deserves the opportunity to be in the ring with Julio Diaz. And we anticipate that that will be a great showdown as well. So it still is four fights. It still is great action. It still is some of the biggest and best names in the lightweight division today.
Rodolfo Macias from San Antonio Newspaper (San Antonio, Texas).
Q: Now the second question is to Carlos Hernandez. Carlos, 39-years-old, you’re facing a much younger opponent in Vicente Escobedo. You mentioned something about the car accident (Venezuela). Do you think that’s going to affect you or bother you? Or how is that going to play into this fight?
Carlos Hernandez: I am fighting a much tougher opponent in Vicente Escobedo because now I’m fighting a young, hungry fighter, a younger fighter who has a tremendous corner and all due respect to the corner and to Escobedo and his team, but that makes me train harder and to know that I have a younger, stronger, faster, opponent, but to show who I am, I’ll go in there and be ready for this fight.
Rodolfo Macias from San Antonio Newspaper (San Antonio, Texas).
Q: Vicente, do you think that the audience being predominately Mexican, Mexican American, will have more support for you in Austin, Texas over Carlos Hernandez, who hails from El Salvador.
Vicente Escobedo: Look, the fans are going to go out there, enjoy great fights and good fights that night and we’re both going to have our supporters. It’s going to be divided. And, it’s not going to make a difference or affect either/or to who the fans go for or have Mexican Americans in my favor.
San Antonio Express News (San Antonio, Texas).
Q: I had a point of clarification before I had a question. Actually I don’t think Carlos was born in El Salvador. I think he’s of Salvadoran descent. Isn’t that right, Carlos?
Carlos Hernandez: That’s correct.
Q: Yeah. I just wanted to point that out, Richard. I know your media information when you had the press conference here had him from El Salvador, but he’s actually born in California I think. Anyway, be that as it may, Carlos, I know you’ve lived in San Antonio for a while. And I think I asked you this before, but what happened in the couple of fights you fought in San Antonio a couple years ago? Probably not your best efforts, and I think you took some time- you kind of retired after the Kevin Kelley fight, correct?
Carlos Hernandez: Yeah, that’s correct. What I needed was a fresh start. I needed a change. And that’s why we’re here. I came to Jesse James Leija’s gym and found inspiration. I found that I was rejuvenated and I feel great.
It’s a beautiful town, like San Antonio is. Jesse James and I hope San Antonio’s going to do the same to me, they could open their arms to me, after fighting and beating Escobedo.
Q: Were you just feeling like- you fought this guy at the Charro Ranch here, it was like in a bull ring I think. Isn’t that right?
Carlos Hernandez: Yes.
Q: And then Kevin Kelley, were you just, rusty, you just hadn’t fought much? What was going on in those fights?
Carlos Hernandez: It was more like just going through the motions of boxing, just because I have to do it. It wasn’t something that I wanted to do. It was just something that at the end I said well, let’s do it. It’s not like I really mentally prepared for a fight.And – but I didn’t want to back down or back out of a fight. It was that I just said, let’s do it, let’s take it. I am confident in getting a win. And what happened. But our mindset is different for this fight. Of course, with the guy having Nacho Beristain in his corner is something else, Vicente Escobedo alone is – he’s a good, tremendous fighter. But now with Nacho in his corner, it’s a big thing. And we’re expecting the best from Escobedo. He’s not just going for a gold medal or a world title. He’s going for it all April 4.
Q: Yeah. Hey, James, what do you see in the gym with Carlos right now? Does he look like a guy who’s got something left?
Jesse James Leija: Oh, yeah, definitely. What I see in him, Carlos is a guy who is eager to learn and who’s just tenacious in there. He’s just nonstop. We have to – sometimes I have to slow him down and give him some easy days because he’s just working very hard to get there. And he looks like a young fighter. And that’s what you want to see, a guy with a lot of drive, a lot of talent, a guy that wants to succeed in the ring and win in the ring at all costs.
And that’s what every trainer wants in every fighter is to have that drive and the will to win. And that’s what he has. And that makes it – it makes my job easy when you have that type of fighter.
Q: My question is for both Carlos and Vicente. And Carlos, you can go first. Do you see this fight with Escobedo as a crossroads bout? Do either of you believe that you’re at a crossroads in your careers?
Carlos Hernandez: Yeah, for me, of course it is. I mean, it’s not like I’m Escobedo’s age. So to me, I’m pretty much backed into a corner and have to fight my way out of it. But Escobedo still has a future in boxing. So for me, it’s, of course, it’s really, it’s to do or die for me. And it kind of reminds me of when I was up and coming fighting against an old veteran as Goyo Vargas and beating Goyo Vargas. And that’s what opened the doors for me. So I see a young lion coming, wanting to fight against the old lion. But, we’re just going to have to wait and see till April 4 and let the bell sound and fireworks should explode.
Q: Vicente, do you think it’s a crossroads or do you feel that you, even though you’re a young guy, do you feel that maybe this is a must-win fight for you?
Vicente Escobedo: Yeah, definitely, it’s a must-win fight, even though definitely not a crossroads fight for me. Like you say, I’m a young fighter, and it’s really a huge opportunity for me. This is my moment. This is my moment and I – and I’m going to go in there and step in that ring and give it all I got, give it 100%, leave it in the ring. And I know I got a tough, tough fight against Carlos Hernandez, so we’re prepared. We’re ready, hungry. And it’s going to be a good, good fight.And like Carlos said, the bell rings and you’re going to see, two fighters just go at it. And, it’s going to be a great, great fight. So I’m really, really excited.
Q: Would you say that Hernandez is the most formidable opponent you’ve faced in your professional career?
Vicente Escobedo: Definitely, definitely. I believe so.
Q: What is that your other opponents haven’t brought to the ring?
Vicente Escobedo: I think the last one, I fought against Dominic Salcido. It was a tough fight, too you know? And he was a good boxer and everything, but, I just felt, in my heart the whole time that as long as I had a good punch on him, I was going to hurt him. I just thought I was much stronger than him. And now the opportunity with Carlos, I know he’s a strong fighter. He’s proved that. And I’ve seen him in action and he’s a really, really strong fighter. I mean, the guy is, going to stay in there and fight me? It’s going to be a fight. And then so I definitely (believe) that it is going to be the toughest fight that I have so far.
Q: Does it mean anything to you — and this is my last question. Does it add anything to you to beat someone who has held a world title and somebody who’s fought the best over the last two decades, somebody who actually has a name for himself?
Vicente Escobedo: Definitely. I mean, Carlos Hernandez, he had a world title. All those fights, he’s fought, Mayweather, Kevin Kelley everyone, just he has such a big resume with just fighters that – great fighters that he’s fought, a win over Carlos Hernandez would just, skyrocket my career, would blossom my career and it’s huge to me. And, I think it’s just a huge opportunity to have this opportunity and fight Carlos Hernandez. And a win over Carlos Hernandez would just benefit me.
Q: Hey Vicente this is the biggest challenge and it’s kind of a make-or-break fight for your career, but also coming up in the sport, were you ever a fan of Famoso and kind of what his life story has been like, the being homeless and fighting his way through and winning a world title? Were you ever a fan of his?
Vicente Escobedo: I remember, I wont forget this because, Carlos is a good person. Everyone has nothing but good things to say about him. I remember the first time I was going to turn pro, I went to the Wild boxinng card and I was watching Carlos Hernandez spar. And, I was watching him spar and like man, this guy is just – it looks like I fight. I mean, I’m serious. And I was just like amazed of, just this is sparring. It looked like a fight. And I remember him coming down to the ring and they introduce me and he shook my hand and, told me, hey, turn pro with a lot of respect. He was just, he just shook my hand, said good luck, and train hard. He was just giving me good advice. And like I got to say that I am, I am a fan of Carlos Hernandez.
Q: And Carlos, what about Vicente as a young fighter impresses you the most about him and what he’s been able to do?
Carlos Hernandez: He’s a really clean, clean kid, seems like a very dedicated young man who just, not only in, but outside, a very likeable person. And it’s not like we’re buddies or great pals, like that, but I know him.I’ve seen him before at Maywood. And I remember the that at wild card. And the guy’s a nice guy and I just want to thank him for taking the fight and what a compliment to me.
Q: Vicente, I wanted to talk to you about, a couple weeks ago before you took this fight, you were set for Kelley. And then that was a non-televised fight. It was in ARCO Arena, a place that you’ve fought many times before. What does it mean to your career to be able to go from that and in a matter of weeks you’re on a pay-per-view fight?
Vicente Escobedo: I means a lot this is what I’ve been waiting for, to get on pay-per-view, HBO, have a big, big fight like this, televised, for the world to see it, all of the fans, it’s huge to me. It means everything to me. I was supposed to fight Kevin Kelley, but he got sick, and one day, when Golden Boy announced this fight, I wanted to take it. I didn’t hesitate to take it because I was ready. I was already prepared, ready to fight Kelley. So – and that was scheduled to be March 26. And this is scheduled to April 4. It gave me more time, so I just thought this was an opportunity that I can not pass and I had to take it. And I felt confident and ready, so here we are.
Q: Do you feel like, the stars kind of aligned for you and you have to get a win here so you can kind of capitalize on this opportunity?
Vicente Escobedo: Definitely. I’m doing everything in my power to train hard and, to me, a huge win over Carlos Hernandez would be huge to me and, just great for my career, so I’m definitely training hard and ready for this fight.
Q: Hey James, I wanted to ask you about – something else about Carlos. I imagine you guys have gotten to be pretty good friends because – I see some similarities there. Not only were you both world champions, but you’re both real strong family men. And I imagine that has played a part in your friendship. Tell me about that and what kind of a person you think Carlos is.
Jesse James Leija: No, we’re not friends at all. I don’t really like the guy at all. No, we really – and that’s a great thing, too, is to be good friends with, I mean, first of all, we were friends beforehand, only, through a meeting, but I was friends with and I knew who he was. And I was a fan of his in boxing. And then when he moved to San Antonio, I was surprised that he moved down here. And, I was anxious to train him. And I seen him train a few times and I said man, you still have it. You got to put it together and get motivated again. And I think that’s what we’ve – I have been able to help him get re-motivated and, and to keep him doing what he wants to do and that’s to fight. I mean, he’s a fighter.
And you can see it. You can see it all over him when he comes into the gym and when he wants to get into it and spar. And that he’s a fighter. And to be able to work with him and to be friends with him, be friends with his wife, and then our families are all friends, that’s incredible. And that’s when you really go out and you really want to do your best to help him achieve his goal and that’s to become a world champion again.
Q: The question is for Vicente. Your only loss came to Daniel Jimenez. And I’m just curious as to whether you would like to get a rematch with him to avenge that loss? And is that something that you think about? Like do you think much about that loss and what happened in that fight?
Vicente Escobedo: I don’t think about that any more actually. My loss did come to him. And it’s something that I would love to get a rematch in the future. We are talking about to get a rematch in the future, which – to gain that win back over Jimenez, and that’s something, maybe in the future. I mean, I’m not sure.
I’m going to leave that up to my promotion because right now, I mean, the only thing I’m concentrating is April 4 and that’s Carlos Hernandez because that’s what I got in front of me. So as far as Jimenez, I have no thoughts or anything about that fight. That’s behind me and it’s the past.
Q: And then have you sparred much with the Marquez brothers? And if so, could you describe how those sessions went and what’s the most important thing that you learned from them?
Vicente Escobedo: I had the opportunity to spar with Juan Manuel Marquez for his fight with Diaz. I helped him a couple times, and I got to say, it’s amazing, you go in a sparring session with the world champion, you definitely notice the difference, the way he’s – his style, the way he is – his rhythm and everything just on point. And, I learned a lot from him, and so everything went well. I learned and got to know, what it’s like to be in there with the world champion.
And, I think it just benefited me and helped me more because, I’m – here I am, April 4, going to face another ex-world champion. So I got to say it went very well and I’m just thankful to have to have the opportunity to spar with Juan Manual Marquez.
Q: Oh, okay. Carlos, are you disappointed Barrios got hurt, especially after all of that months trashing talk you did at the LA press conference.
Carlos Hernandez: Of course, of course, a little disappointed, but at the same time, concerned, hopefully he’s okay and he’ll be able to recover and come back to fight because the sport would miss him. He’s just a character. But, we have Vicente Escobedo and so we have to focus on this guy. I can’t think about Barrios anymore. And Escobedo’s the one who we’re targeting.
Q: Oh, Vicente. You are fighting an experienced boxer. How prepared are you for Carlos?
Vicente Escobedo: I’m really prepared. I’ve been training very hard, with here at Nacho and sparring with top sparring partners. I’ve been ready. I’ve been feeling good and ready and I’m just – this is my moment. It’s what I’ve been waiting for. This is after a win and after a great win with Dominic Salcido and now I feel like I’m ready, to step up and fight one of these top lightweight fighters like Carlos Hernandez. So I’m definitely ready. And, April 4, we’ll be ready and prepared.
Benito Lara, from Radar Deportivo. (San Antonio, Texas).
Q: Okay, the question is to both the trainers, Jesse James Leija and to Nacho Beristain, what do you guys foresee in your fighters – in front of your fighters and what do you expect from your opponents and also after the fight what do you see for your fighters’ immediate future. So I guess we could start with Nacho?
Nacho Beristain: Well, to answer that question , without the years of experience and – that I’ve been in this sport, I can say that we – we respect Carlos Hernandez.It’s a very, very strong, tough fight. I don’t like to look past. And what we have here is a very attractive fight. And as far as future plans, nothing’s on our mind except Carlos Hernandez.
Q: And the question, same question for you, Jesse, regarding Carlos Famoso Hernandez.
Jesse James Leija: Well, first of all and I know we’re going to have a tough fight on our hands. Being, I’ve been in there several times where I’m fighting a younger guy that I think we have seen lately with the experience, we’ve seen Shane Mosley, Bernard Hopkins, all with experience.You can never, never beat experience. And I think that’s one thing that we have over Escobedo, we have experience. I take it for granted, yeah, he has a great trainer in his corner who’s going to minimize some of that experience. But no matter what you have, no matter what you do, once you get in the ring, it all changes. And you can count on the experience when you’re in the ring. And I think that’s what we have. We have experience. And I think it’s going to be a tough fight. I see Carlos winning the fight, in a tough fight, but I see Carlos winning the fight.
Rodolfo Macias from San Antonio Newspaper (San Antonio, Texas).
Q: The question to Mr. Schaefer, what criteria is taken when the judges are selected and if the judges have already been named for these fights.
Richard Schaefer: Well, we really have nothing to do with the selection of the judges. These fights are taking place in the jurisdiction of the Texas Athletic Commission and it is only up to the Texas commission to come up to select the judges.
And so we all place our faith in the capabilities of the Texas commission. I think they are very experienced. They have done many big fights. So we really have no worries about that. I think they will put together a fine panel of judges.
Q: Okay, Nacho, do you see a bright future ahead, possibly a world champion ahead for your fighter, Vicente Escobedo?
Nacho Beristain: Of course, definitely. A fighter, first of all, to make the Olympic team, the US Olympic team, not just an average fighter makes that. He has tremendous talent. He has tremendous faculties. He’s looking better and better each time out, the more we work together. And it’s just a matter of time and bringing that out of him.
Q: Question for both of you guys real quick, just if you guys could talk about Marquez, kind of the champ of the division right now. Do either of you feel you guys are ready? Do you feel you need a couple more fights to take on Marquez? If you could just comment on where you guys are at as far as thinking about Marquez.
Carlos Hernandez: As for me, I think first things first. And the first thing is getting past Vicente Escobedo, who I think who is working with as Marquez’s trainer, so he’s going to bring I’m sure his style to the ring. So it’ll be – beating him was like beating Marquez in a way because of them having the same trainer. But first things first, we would have to get past Vicente Escobedo before we can talk about Marquez, for sure.
Q: Okay. Vicente?
Vicente Escobedo: To me, I don’t think so. To me, I’m focused here on Carlos as well. Carlos Hernandez is who I am fighting next and it’s kind of hard to say that, I mean, because, I mean, we’re both trained by Nacho Beristain. I mean, to me, I just feel like, first things first, we’ve got to take care, what we’ve got in front of us and that’s Carlos Hernandez and, we’ve got a fun fight April 4 and – but to me right now as far as fighting Juan Marquez anytime soon, I don’t think so.
Richard Schaefer: Well, thank you very much. Again, top to bottom, the best lightweight card ever, four great fights, four very meaningful fights, and you absolutely right, Colby, one of those guys might make a case for a showdown with Juan Manuel Marquez. Juan Manual Marquez is planning on coming back on the Mexican holiday in September. And who knows, maybe one of these guys on this card might be his next opponent. What I want to say as well, it’s on pay-per-view. And it’s not like the regular $50 or $55. It’s priced at $39.95, so great fights, great price from a great city in Austin, distributed by HBO pay-per-view, so make sure you tell all of your readers, listeners, and so on, to watch this great Lightweight Lightning on April 4.
END OF CALL
"Lightweight Lightning," which is presented by Golden Boy Promotions and sponsored by Cerveza Tecate and Southwest Airlines on April 4th at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, TX, will air live on pay-per-view beginning at 9pm ET / 6pm PT with a suggested retail price of $39.95. The unprecedented four-bout pay-per-view card features Edwin Valero vs. Antonio Pitalua in a 12 round bout for the vacant WBC World Lightweight Crown, Jesus Chavez vs. Michael Katsidis in a 10 round lightweight bout, Carlos Hernandez vs. Vicente Escobedo in a 10 round lightweight bout and Julio Diaz vs. Rolando Reyes in a 10 round lightweight bout.