Roc Nation Sports – ‘Throne Boxing’ Interviews

By Boxing News - 01/06/2015 - Comments

DAVID ITSKOWITCH: Thanks for joining us on the first conference call in the history of Roc Nation Boxing for this Friday’s throne boxing event January 9 at The Theater at Madison Square Garden and will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1. In the main event is Dusty Hernandez-Harrison taking on Tommy Rainone for the vacant WBC Continental Americas Welterweight Championship and a great co-feature bout featuring Tureano Johnson versus Alex Theran and they will fight ten-rounds for the WBC Silver middleweight championship and the vacant WBA International middleweight championship. We also have a great undercard which has been previously announced. We have some great musical acts performing. DJ Mustard will be spinning for the TV portion of the event. Hosting is the Voice of New York Angie Martinez and a special performance in the ring between the co-feature and the main event will be Fabolous.

Michael Buffer will be the ring announcer and Gus Johnson blow-by-blow alongside Rich Morotta. Special guests at the fight include JAY Z, Rihanna, Carmelo Anthony, CC Sabathia, Victor Cruz, Sam Dew, Sentigold, Melany Fiona. Wardell and Big Sean.

Tickets are available starting at $30 and are available at the MSG Box Office and all Ticketmaster outlets and on-line at and on . One dollar from each ticket sold will be donated to the Muhammad Ali Center. We also have a very impressive list of sponsors, including Budweiser, D’USSE™, GEICO, HUE For Every Man, Jaybird, PUMA, SONIC® Drive-In, TapouT Muscle, Tequila CAZADORES®, TOWN Residential and Wyndham® New Yorker Hotel.

I would like to introduce Alex “El Principe” Theran, from Barranquilla, Colombia with a record of 17-1 with 9 KOs, coming of two knockout victories. A 6th round KO on December 6 in Barranquilla, Colombia.

ALEX THERON: I am very excited and very motivated. I know this is a very important fight here in New York and I am very well prepared.

What is your style?

ALEX THERON: I have very fast legs and you will see a lot of movement. I don’t like to come with too much bite at first but my movement is very impressive.

What do you know about your opponent?

ALEX THERON: We did have a match-up in 2008 in an elimination bout for the Olympics and I did beat him. I don’t think he has a very strong defense. I have studied his fights and his movements and I am very prepared for him.

You had a loss before your last fight and the third was a tough round. How far have you moved away from that?

ALEX THERON: It was a very hurtful round but I feel good and am mentally prepared for this fight and I plan a much different approach going in to this fight.

David, can you tell us about the entertainment aspect you are bringing to the sport?

DAVID ITSKOWITCH: We have looked around at fights and at boxing in general and if you look at a boxing event now it really hasn’t changed a tremendous amount in the last however many decades. We want to really amp up the fan experience at the event. There will be other bells and whistles at the event that I have not even gotten into that are going to make things even more enjoyable for fans and to keep the fans engaged. We want to make the in-arena experience more appealing to fans – yes they are coming in to see a fight but we want to give them more than the fights when they go to see a fight.

How important is the event for Jay Z?

DAVID ITSKOWITCH: He will be at the weigh-in and at the fight. I think that should say how important it is to him.

How did you go about selecting the fighters for this event?

DAVID ITSKOWITCH: It was a mix between fighters that we have a relationship with, promoters we have good relationships with and making good fights. Building a car that will be appealing to fans in New York, which is obviously an ethnic melting pot. SO it was a variety of factors.

How about Dusty who has fought at the Garden recently?

DAVID ITSKOWITCH: Dusty is a big attraction is DC and brings a lot of fans and has a history of fighting at the Garden and you put him in a fight against a guy like Tommy Rainone who is a New York guy and sells tickets himself, always comes to fight and is tough as nails you are going to have a good fight and one that is an attractive fight.

Did you sign Dusty?

DAVID ITSKOWITCH: You probably read a report on-line and that report is accurate.

RON BERKOWITZ: JAY Z is involved in every aspect of ROC NATION Sports and ROC NATION as a whole. So it would certainly not come as a surprise him being there and if fact it would come as a surprise if he were not coming. As David said, it 100% speaks for itself and it’s important for everyone that has dealt with ROC NATION and ROC NATION Sports in general, what kind of businessman and what kind of an owner that he actually is. He is an owner that is involved in every step of the way and in every decision.

How do you put all of this star power in to the Theater?

DAVID ITZKOWICH: We have worked the financials out so that everything makes sense.

RON BERKOWITZ: I just wanted to say that Rihanna is attending and not performing. And not having enough seats is a good problem to have. This is only our first event and we have plans for many, many more shows.

Alex, how do you combat against Tureano, who is a big puncher and has a lot of experience?

ALEX THERON: I am very well prepared and know that he will come at me with big punches. I am ready for the strong rounds and it is going to be a very entertaining fight.

Did you watch the fight against Curtis Stevens?

ALEX THERON: I did watch the fight and I notice that his technique lacks. I studied that fight and saw he is a slow mover compared to me – I am very quick.

Alex, when you speak about movement, what type of movement do you mean?

ALEX THERON: It is not so much running, at all. My movements are lateral movements and maneuvering around the ring.


Have you done a scouting report on Theron and how do you expect to beat him?

TUREANO JOHNSON: Yes we did a lot of research and we are doing more research on my opponent. He is a boxer / puncher but doesn’t like to mix it up so much but can if he gets the opportunity. My plan when I get into the ring is to pretty much out-box him. He has more lateral movement and not one to get in there and mix it up, like Alex.

Is going for a knockout in your game plan or not?

TUREANO JOHNSON: It isn’t in the game plan but it is my natural instinct. I like to go in here and I like to bang to try to get the knockout. We want to bring more spice to my boxing technique. I am a boxer also and I am going to try to use a little more technique that I have learned over the years. Many folks haven’t seen me do much boxing and not many have even seen me use the jab. You should see more graceful boxing inside the ring on Friday night. But my whole intention is that if I get the opportunity, I am going to knock him out.

What lies ahead if you win this fight?

TUREANO JOHNSON: From what I am told, holding the WBC Silver title, which is one of the titles that we are fighting for – that is a prestigious title. It is a title that will enable you to fight the N. 1 contender or the world champion. So yes indeed, this is the biggest step of my life. This is the most important fight of my life and this I don’t take lightly. In this fight the fans can expect to see the most explosive Tureano Johnson they have ever seen before.

How has the Curtis Stevens loss affected you and how have you recovered?

TUREANO JOHNSON: The fight with Curtis Stevens indeed, I am not going to say I am not pleased with the way it ended. The fight in itself was a disaster. It crashed and burned, the biggest accident that ever happened in my life. What has it done for me lately? There is no doubt it still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth but indeed it has made me more eager and given me more energy. But it has also given t=me the energy to say ‘you know what Tureano? You are not from the United States. You may reside here and live here as an American but the fact is you are not fighting in your backyard so every time I fight expect no one to be on my side. My whole intention is to go in there with blood in my eye. I want to make a dominant decision, winning every single round if it has to go to a decision but my goal is to knock out my opponent and not leaving anything to the judges. So yes, I am more eager and determined, and I say again, I have blood in my eyes and I will never again be gassed out inside the ring.

Are you better from the Curtis Stevens experience?

TUREANO JOHNSON: If you have done your research, I can box. I have been doing a little boxing for twelve years. It would all depend on my opponent and if he would allow me to box or if he would allow me to go in there and bang. But I can’t judge to tell you if I am better, but I know that I am going to be that Tureano to come in the ring to be destructive, whether I am technical or just a bully. I am going to come in there and throw my hands to get that guy out of the ring, so you be the judge whether I am better or not. I am coming in there to do my job and that is to knock my opponent out.

GARY SHAW: The one thing that Tureano is not saying about himself is that he is a very fan-friendly fighter and he is right that that stoppage was, in my mind, improper and if there was a different referee in there at that time then Tureano would have won that fight. He on the first eleven rounds hands-down. But because he is a fan-friendly fighter, he wants to fight and he wants to give the fans something to cheer about. I don’t think you should be harsh on him, and I don’t think you are, but I want you to understand the type of fighter that Tureano is once he enters the ring.

What will you do, on this big stage once again, to make sure you look your best in the ring?

TUREANO JOHNSON: I am going to be three times the Tureano I was in the Curtis Stevens fight. In fact, if you look at me now compared to when I fought Curtis Stevens, I was a nice boy. This time Tureano is going to come out meaner, stronger, more faster, more smarter, more slicker. I am going to come out even more dangerous and the fans can expect an exciting fight. Non-stop, fist throwing, and sorry to say, it is going to be a nasty, blood-shedding kind of fight and I will agree on that one.

What specific changes have you made in training?

TUREANO JOHNSON: I have added more power, more speed and a little bit of technique like slipping and moving my head. We have added more of what I have not been good at doing.

What have you done regarding not gassing-out / the stamina issue?

TUREANO JOHNSON: We have had to go the extra mile – put more mileage in. Get my nutrition and eating properly. A weight program to able me to get some power and some strength and getting into the boxing game so I can box when needed. To go in there to beat up a guy when needed. So yes, we went the extra mile for this fight. This is a big fight for me personally. It is going to tell me just where I am at in the boxing world – whether I will be a world champion and a world champion forever.

TUREANO JOHNSON: While with Gary Shaw as my promoter he has been very generous to allow me to fight on many occasions even fighting back in the Bahamas. Now with the merger of ROC NATION and Gary Shaw, leaves me with phenomenal possibilities. It is the biggest move in the boxing world today. I think with the publicity with Mr. Jay Z and ROC NATION, they are out there with all of the sports and all of the entertainment they are going to grab a lot of attention as well as with Gary Shaw and his knowledge in boxing. I believe it is the most dynamic move in my life – the merger being complete and actually happening.

Is your final goal a Golovkin fight?

TUREANO JOHNSON: Ultimately, yes. Gennady Golovkin, in my book, is the number one fighter. And Miguel Cotto and Andy Lee and so one but I think Golovkin is the best fighter in the division and I believe that champions have to fight champions. I believe I deserve the opportunity to fight Golovkin and if the fans find it worthy that I fight him now, I agree with them 100%. But if they are saying Tureano, you need one or two fights more, so be it. But I know for sure, as a champion, I want to fight the best and Golovkin is one of the guys that I would like to put my power, my speed to show the fans that I am the one that can beat Gennady Golovkin.

GARY SHAW: When you see who Tureano is, like when he fought on ESPN against Gavronsky, it was a spectacular fight. There are not many boxers today that come out of a knockout loss, like the fight against Stevens, and come back and fight an undefeated fighter. I think a fight with GGG would be a spectacular fight. I think there are other fighters out there at 160 pounds, including Miguel Cotto that would be a big fight for him. David Lemieux out of Canada – these are all big punchers and what I would call TV-ready and big time TV.

DUSTY HARRISON-HERNANDEZ (24-0, 13 KOs), from Washington D.C., very bright prospect that people are expecting a lot of things out of and is no stranger to fighting at the Garden

DUSTY HARRISON-HERNANDEZ: I would just like to say everything has been really fun about this event. I never did a media call before and never had a billboard up, I really love the way everything has been promoted and I am enjoying it. I have been watching Tommy Rainone and I think it is a perfect fight for me to develop my career. He is not one of those guys that comes right at you, he is slick and crafty – perfect for me right now.

What does it mean to you to be the featured fighter in ROC NATION’s first fight?

DUSTY HARRISON-HERNANDEZ: I am honored and it has been great for me. My family is really enjoying it and my friends of course. There are artists performing at the fight – it is more than just a boxing event. I think if there are more events like this it will attract more crowds. All of my friends that are my age are looking forward to this fight more than any other. And I think that kind of says something.

What do you think this fight will do for your future?

DUSTY HARRISON-HERNANDEZ: I think it opens up a lot of opportunity for me outside of the ring. I am only twenty and the sky is the limit for me inside of the ring. I think the way they promote fights will do wonders for me outside of the ring.

What kind of performance do you need to put on to justify the hype of this event?

DUSTY HARRISON-HERNANDEZ: The biggest thing, obviously, that I’ve got to do is win, and do what the people want to see. They’d like to see a knockout, but I need to show all of the potential I have a twenty-year-old. I need to show something that people will want to watch again.

You will now be fighting at an event with stars in the house that people your age and your friends are huge fans of. What have they been saying?

DUSTY HARRISON-HERNANDEZ: My friends say I was fighting with ROC NATION and they say ‘Jay Z’s ROC NATION?’ I am just their friend to them so it is a little surreal to them. I know that I have been in the gym working so I feel that I deserve it. They are happy for me a surprised and they think it’s great. But come fight night, I am just in the ring and I have never had a problem of staying focused when it comes to the fight and being prepared. I give credit to my mom and step-mom and my trainer to keep me focused.

Are people bugging you more for tickets for this event? Is there someone that runs interference for you?

DUSTY HARRISON-HERNANDEZ: I have great people around me. My dad helps me with training and there is a lady that helps me with the tickets. There is a bus trip going up from D.C, not sure how many buses but she handles all the tickets for that. Michael helps me with the media requests. I have a lot of people that help me. It has been about 3½ years and I have developed a perfect team around me and I give all the credit to them for helping me stay focused.

How do you feel about facing probably your toughest opponent to date?

DUSTY HARRISON-HERNANDEZ: It is important for me to develop. I can’t keep fighting the same types of fighters and the same skill level. It is important for me to take this fight to become the best boxer that I can be. I am twenty so I really need to develop the right way. He is probably the slickest and craftiest fighter I have fought other than Michael Clark but I think it will be a tougher fight than that.

You are the headliner but Tommy Rainone is a New Yorker – will that make you fight harder?

DUSTY HARRISON-HERNANDEZ: When it comes to that night in the ring and they announce our names, the people are not there specifically for him they are there because it is a boxing event. By that time they have been there all night and they have been drinking and they are just going to go crazy when they hear the kid is from New York. Subconsciously the judges may hear the big cheer every time he throws a punch and every time he lands something, but yes it definitely makes me push harder. It’s a new thing and another part of development for my career fighting in his hometown.

What was your reaction when you were told you would be headlining ROC NATON’s first card?

DUSTY HARRISON-HERNANDEZ: I was excited. I then kind of thought it would just be another fight. ROC NATION only had experience with entertainment and I knew they were going to have big plans for it. They proved me right and it is going to be exciting.

Do you compare yourself signing to ROC NATION to Canelo Alvarez signing with Golden Boy?

DUSTY HARRISON-HERNANDEZ: I don’t know if that was the plan but with Canelo and with Chavez Jr the amount of fights and the age – everything just kind of happened the same. I don’t know how many more fights it will take to get to the big one. It depends on me and how I look in fights. My team will know after each fight and what kind of test that opponent gave to me. It’s on me and how good I look.

How have are you handling your rise to fame?

DUSTY HARRISON-HERNANDEZ: It actually surprised my mom (the way things have gone). But she know what I do in the gym and how much hard work I put in. I am so used to it now and I just keep moving on in my career. But my mom is really enjoying it and I am happy to see her having fun. She is enjoying the fights and she is excited for this fight and that means a lot to me.

How about the father-son relationship?

DUSTY HARRISON-HERNANDEZ: We got lucky. We had so many problems going thru the amateurs and we kind of worked out the method that we do things. When I have my hands wrapped – Billy Briscoe wraps my hands and he is OK with it – or another guy is holding the mitts for me – he is OK with it – as long as my dad is in my corner at the end of the day it is good. He has been in my corner for every amateur fight, every exhibition, every sparring match and every pro fight he has always been in my corner and that’s what means the most to him. We both give-and-take and we both worked it out so there won’t be any problems in the future. We still argue over small things but nothing that is going to end a relationship between us.

Has the ROC NATION signing made you train herder or differently?

DUSTY HARRISON-HERNANDEZ: I haven’t changed any of my workouts, I have just been doing them harder and more intense – that is the only thing that has changed. Sparring harder, more rounds, running harder.

Do you have a strength and conditioning coach?

DUSTY HARRISON-HERNANDEZ: No I like to stick to more traditional boxing training. I think the best way to prepare for a fight is boxing training. I noticed a lot of the pros do not spar as much as me and they don’t run as much as me. I think too many boxers get caught up in the strength and conditioning workouts, which takes away from their actual boxing workouts. I do some strength and conditioning but I don’t think that should be the main part. I have seen boxers do their conditioning workouts and they have nothing left to spar – they skip the bag or skip the mitts and like to focus more on the boxing workout.

How did you decide to sign Dusty Harrison?

DAVID ITSKOWITCH: Obviously talent is a big part of the equation and he is a very marketable fighter. He’s a good kid and we feel he has a bright future both in and out of the ring.

Dave, is this a test run for bigger things?

DAVID ITSKOWITCH: We have already announced that we have three shows schedule for FOX Sports 1. We are going to be announcing the other dates shortly. In the short term we have two additional shows and we plan on doing more after that.

DAVID ITSKOWITCH: Tommy Rainone – most of you in New York know Tommy. He is a local favorite out of Long Island and has fought at the Gardena and Yankee Stadium. He is a big attraction and ticket seller. An interesting fact about Tommy is that he also has a regular job – he works nights at a Hilton on Long Island at nights in the accounting department. He works by night, trains by day and fights by weekend. He has a record of 22-5-1 with 4 KOs. I present Tommy “The Razor” Rainone…

TOMMY RAINONE: It is winding down. All the hard work is done and all of the sparring is done. I am just watching what I eat and getting my strength back this week. I am ready to go. I am ready to fight.

Can you talk about being a self-managed boxer?

TOMMY RAINONE: Honestly, when you don’t have a promoter or a manager and working a full-time job – all of these are distractions to a point. To be honest with you, leading up to a fight it becomes total chaos. Having to sell tickets and the phone never stops ringing. But I get used to it I have been doing it like this my whole career and it’s the only thing that I know and I am used to handling it that way.

How did you choose that rout?

TOMMY RAINONE: Some of it is by choice and some of it is not. As far as managing myself that is by choice because I like to control my own destiny. I think I have done a good enough job of that since I am fighting in a main event fight at the Garden on Saturday night. I feel like I could do as well for myself as any manager could do for me and why pay somebody for a job that I thought I could do just as well.

How do you feel you can get the win on Friday against Dusty?

TOMMY RAINONE: Good question, as I have discussed it before, the whole knockout thing…the black and white of it is I only have four knockouts, but the gray of it is that I have scored fifteen or sixteen knockdowns in my career. My last fight I dropped the guy twice and it was a ten-round decision but all you see is that it was a ten-round decision. You just see another decision victory and not that the guy was on the canvas twice. After I drop them I keep them honest and I keep them gun-shy. I know that I can punch and I know that I am not a finisher. I admit that and it’s one part of my game that is missing. But the element of surprise is when I hit these guys – they are not expecting a guy that can punch at all. I know that I will get his respect with my power if he thinking that I can’t punch. I know that his father, who is a very knowledgeable guy, I am sure that he has studied me plenty and I’m sure he gave the kid a little heads up that I can punch a little more than you think. The element of surprise may not be there as much because this particular guy I am fighting right now – I think his father is a very good trainer even though he doesn’t make as much as most trainers make but with that being said I just have to go out there and be myself make adjustments and worry about firing on all cylinders and as long as I do that I think I have a very good chance to beat this kid. I can’t worry too much about what he does.

How do you envision the fight taking place?

TOMMY RAINONE: Just like any other right. I’ve had twenty-eight fights and this is my twenty-ninth and listen if anyone tells you they don’t think about losing before the fight in the dressing room is lying. If you go into the fight with no fear factor then you don’t respect your opponent. That’s what keeps a guy honest and hungry. My confidence is there and I have gotten excellent sparring from excellent fighters like Chris Algieri and Thomas LaManna and so forth getting ready to finish fights. I put in the work with tall, long guys with a lot of talent, just as good, if not better than Dusty and with a little diversity as far as the guys I was sparring. I put in a lot of hard work so I see the fight as being a chess match, a mental battle. I think I am going to have to fight myself as much as I have to fight him and as long as I do that well I will come out on top.

What do you think of Dusty?

TOMMY RAINONE: On paper of course he is my toughest opponent to date but I won’t know until the bell rings. Hopefully he is not but on paper he is the most accomplished. I respect the kid. I think he is a good solid fighter but I don’t think he’s a killer. I also know that’s only twenty years old and people tend to rush people and they may be a little impatient with him as far as him stepping up. This is a step up for him. As much as you say this is the best guy that I fought I promise you that I am the best guy that he has fought. He really hasn’t fought good competition yet. I’m not knocking him on that because you can only expect so much from a kid that young but I am the best fighter he ever fought. It’s that simple and it works both ways.