Gervonta Davis vs. Hugo Ruiz Interview Transcript
Gervonta Davis vs. Hugo Ruiz International Media Conference Call Transcript and Audio Recording
Thank you everybody for joining this call. I’d like to kick the call off and commend Premier Boxing Champions, Mayweather Promotions, TGB Promotions and SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING and the network for saving this really special card that’s going to take place Saturday, February 9.
Everybody’s aware of the unfortunate injury to Abner Mares, who was going to fight Gervonta Davis, but fortunately a great replacement was found in Hugo Ruiz. Now I’m going to turn it over to Stephen Espinoza to make opening comments.
Thanks very much. By now all of you are aware of the substitution. I don’t think it’s any exaggeration to say that Abner was heartbroken at this development about the injury.
The Davis fight was a fight that Abner asked for, that he pursued and is a fight that’s in his backyard. It was well on its way to breaking the attendance record and it remains to be seen whether that will happen or not but certainly had the cards stayed together it almost certainly would have broken the attendance record based on the trajectory of ticket sales.
At this point the priority was in fact saving this card. We’ve got a whole host of various fighters who’ve been training very hard for this. They all want to remain active. Davis wants to remain active so it was a priority to save this card and to find the best possible, available opponent.
There were a number of options pursued, a number of calls went out to a variety of different fighters. Not surprisingly it wasn’t easy to find someone who was willing to take on Gervonta Davis on ten days’ notice. Thankfully we did get Hugo Ruiz interested and he immediately accepted after he understood the situation.
Hugo Ruiz obviously was on our January 19 PPV on the Pacquiao vs. Broner undercard at 126-pounds. He will be moving up in weight further and I realize that there has been some concern about that. But the one thing that gave us comfort in approving this opponent was the physical size. Hugo Ruiz has a significant height advantage and reach advantage over Gervonta Davis.
Yes, this will be his first fight above 126 but his body frame gave us some confidence that he would be able to be competitive in this fight. In fact, with his reach advantage and height advantage he presents some problems to Davis that Abner did not. So we’re looking forward to a very competitive fight.
We know Hugo is here. He was disappointed that he did not get the title shot that he expected to on the Pacquiao undercard. And in a certain way there’s karma is repaying him in that he gets a title shot here on February 9.
Thank you so much Stephen. Now I’m going to introduce Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions to make a brief comment of just about the card in general. Leonard?
Thank you Kelly. I’d like to thank everyone for joining today’s call. As Stephen mentioned with Hugo Ruiz being a last-minute replacement, his reach and height advantage, that does create somewhat of a problem obviously because anytime as a fighter when there’s a last-minute replacement you haven’t trained and prepared for this particular fighter.
So Davis is going to have to obviously make some immediate adjustments for those things with the height and reach advantage that Hugo brings. Again Hugo is a proud Mexican warrior and we expect a very, very entertaining and exciting fight for the fans.
Okay thanks so much Leonard. At this time I’d like to introduce Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions to make the introductions for Hugo Ruiz. Tom?
Well thank you Kelly. I want to say thank you to Sampson Boxing who is the promoter of Hugo Ruiz. Sampson’s always got these guys that we’ve never heard of and they step up and they’re household names a few years later.
It’s also great to be here at the former StubHub Center, the premier outdoor boxing venue of the United States at Dignity Health Sports Park. And three out of the last six Ring Magazine and BWAA Fights of the Year have all been at the Dignity Health Sports Park. And let me tell you they weren’t all Fight-of-the-Year candidates going into the fight.
I know Hugo Ruiz very well. He fought two absolute wars for me back in 2015 and 2016 for the WBC title against Julio Ceja. And a couple weeks ago, as Stephen said, he didn’t blink an eye when there was a last-minute opponent change.
Ruiz is a more experienced guy and experience matters. That’s what he’ll need to rely on in this fight. So it gives me great pleasure to introduce the former world champion, Hugo Ruiz.
Well first of all good afternoon to everybody, this is Hugo Ruiz and I’m very happy with my promoter Sampson Lewkowicz to get this fight. Sampson told me keep yourself ready, there might be something coming down the pipe and that’s how I got this fight to fight for the 130-pound championship. I’m very happy, training hard.
I also want to thank my father who’s going to be in my corner. So this is a big opportunity for me for this fight that’s taking place on February 9 and I cannot wait for the February 9 date.
Have you had time to sort of process what these last two weeks have gone for you?
Basically I was preparing to fight a southpaw before my opponent was changed on the PPV bout. So I had that change and I’ve been basically still training for a southpaw in the last two weeks. I’ve been feeling very strong and very active. And that last fight was basically, it was more like a training then a real tough fight, so I’m ready. I’m rested and I’m good to go.
Aside from your size what else do you think you have that makes you think you can beat Gervonta Davis on February 9?
I’m very hungry. I want to of course be a champion at 130. Those are the other attributes that I have besides what you stated. The height advantage that I have I feel very comfortable at 130. Sampson has taken me to be a champion at 118, 122. I’m close to 126 but also this is a big challenge for me I understand that, but besides the height, it’s the hunger that I have to be champion at 130.
If you fought on January 19 what day did you get back to the gym after that fight?
I was back training that Tuesday after the fight, I was back in the gym.
How familiar are you with Davis?
I’ve seen him fight of course a few times and I know he’s a counterpuncher. He looks for the knockout just like me. So this could be very electric starting early because as you well know I’m also a guy that looks for the knockout from the first round immediately. So that’s what I’ve seen and it should be exciting.
Are worried at all that Davis might have the natural advantage in strength and size?
No not really. I feel very comfortable at this weight. If I was 126, if I was planning for 126 this Saturday coming up, the 9th of February, I wouldn’t have made it because I’m already going to make 130. That’s how strong I feel at this weight so that does not pose a problem for me against Gervonta Davis.
Why did you go back so quickly to the gym after your last fight?
I usually take maximum five days off a week after a fight but with this fight with Guevara there was really not that much physical abuse from my part. I didn’t receive that many hard hits. So I started training right away.
My promoter Sampson told me, “Hey stay active there might be something coming up the pipe.” And that’s what happened. So I’m glad that I started that Tuesday after the fight.
If the fight on the Pacquiao undercard would’ve been a little more taxing this wouldn’t have been possible for you?
That’s correct, if the fight would’ve been more physical draining if it would’ve been a toe-to-toe battle where I would’ve received a lot of punches and stuff then maybe I would’ve not taken this fight. But I continued my training leading up to the fight with Guevara and I just continued it because again, I felt physically well after the fight. There were no major damages.
How much of a factor do you feel maybe rust will be for Davis?
Yes, definitely I think that rust might show. I’ve been very active. I fought in August, November and just a couple of weeks ago. You lose a lot of rhythm when you don’t fight for a while so that might definitely be an advantage that I have going into this fight.
Can you use your boxing style that you currently have to defeat Davis or do you feel you need to adopt another style and how quickly can you adopt that style?
No my style will definitely not change. That’s been my style. I didn’t think this fight would come so soon but I definitely was looking at being champion at 130. This is a great opportunity that’s been given to me to fight this upcoming week. My style will not change. I will look toward the knockout against Gervonta Davis. If you’ve seen my 39 wins, 33 have come via the knockout. So I’m going to maintain my style, that’s the way I fight.
Thank you so much Hugo for joining us for that part of the call.
Now we’re going to turn it back over to Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions to make the formal introduction for Gervonta Davis and his trainer Calvin Ford.
Thank you Kelly. This next gentleman, he’s really more than a coach. His call of duty, it really goes far beyond the ring. And because of his actions, he really gained and earned respect from many different people including myself, in addition to all the young kids that are out there, all the teens and a lot of fighters that he mentors.
He’s really helped people through the streets of Baltimore. He’s done a phenomenal job in playing a vital role in Gervonta’s entire career. He sets a really positive example for all the youth that are in that particular area. There’s not enough accolades to go around to say about Calvin. So without further ado I’d like to introduce Calvin Ford, trainer of Gervonta Davis.
Training camp has been going great. We’ve made a transition here to Los Angeles. Everything is going fine and whatnot. We were looking forward to fighting Abner Mares. Just looking forward for that, but this happens in a fight. I hope he gets better so we actually get another chance at him but right now we’re just concerned about this new opponent we have in front of us.
I think he a little bit stronger and I know from watching some of his, he’s going to come to put on a good show for this upcoming fight with Gervonta Davis.
He became the youngest reigning American champion in 2017 obviously fighting on SHOWTIME after knocking out Jose Pedraza at just 22-years-old. He became also the youngest two-time world champion last April when he knocked out Jesus Cuellar in round three.
So without further ado, he’s earned the reputation in sports and entertainment as being the next PPV star, the WBA Super Featherweight Champion of the World, Gervonta “Tank” Davis.
I just want to say I’m excited for February 9. I’m looking forward to my new opponent. Sorry to the fans who purchased tickets thinking that I was fighting Abner. My main focus was fighting Abner.
February 9 I’m just trying to give them an action-packed fight no matter who I fight. I’ll put on a great performance for the fans so they can enjoy the fight and go home with something to talk about.
What was your mindset when you first heard that Abner got injured?
I was actually asleep when I got a call that Abner pulled out. At first I thought he was lying but then I had to think, if I was in his shoes I knew his health means more than our fight. Hopefully he will be okay and we’ll get another shot at fighting him sometime in 2019 but my main focus is on February 9 and on my new opponent.
Why do you truly believe that Ruiz is a stronger opponent than Abner?
I believe that he’s stronger because look at his knockout ratio. He’s 39 and 4 with 33 knockouts. That had to play a big part. And I didn’t even know he was coming up from 126. I didn’t know that. I just knew that they gave me a new opponent. I didn’t know who he was, I’m just excited for February 9.
How relieved are you knowing that everything you have set out for 2019 is going to stay on course?
I’m actually in a better space knowing that I. I never had dates lined up like this with me being the main event. I have my dates and I’m just super excited. This camp I really haven’t been down, so I’ve been happy knowing that I have a big future and three big fights lined up for me. I’m just excited. I’m just soaking it all in, making sure I’m training hard so every fight I bring excitement to the sport. I’m just, I’m in a great space right now.
What do you think is the main difference between Hugo Ruiz and Abner Mares stylistically if there is any?
I believe that Hugo, he’s more aggressive than Abner. I think he has more pop on his punches. I just watched a little clip of him. I haven’t studied him like that. I just watched a little a clip once I knew who I was fighting just to be aware of what I have in front of me.
Did you actually get a chance to watch Hugo at all when you were there at his last fight?
I was doing a SHOWTIME interview right after. So my main focus was the SHOWTIME interview so I didn’t watch his fight.
Gervonta have you heard the criticisms that you replaced one guy moving up in weight for another guy moving up in weight? How would you respond to that?
My mind was focused on Abner. Not to throw any other fighter under the bus but, Vasyl Lomachenko, he fought someone that was two weight classes under him and not only one time, he fought another person that was smaller than him, Rigondeaux and Miguel Marriaga.
But I’m just excited to put on a great show no matter who I’m in there with. It’s all about the performance that Gervonta Davis puts on and I’m here to put on a great performance.
Leonard was it in your mind and belief that we will absolutely salvage this show and find somebody for Gervonta Davis?
Most definitely. That was definitely the mindset. Obviously he’s a prideful champion. He’s been off for, it’ll be ten months when he steps in the ring and he needed to fight. So Hugo was the best available guy that we could find. He’s in shape. He’s ready. He’s a proud Mexican warrior. He’s going to put on a very entertaining fight for all the fans in attendance and all the fans that are watching on SHOWTIME.
Have there been any changes in preparation or training camp by the time you guys found out about the new opponent, or since it was too close to fight day have you guys been pretty much sticking to the same routine?
No we’ve been sticking to the same routine. We didn’t change anything. Actually Gervonta has various different sparring partners in there because I’m still a student of the game too and I always say you never know when a fighter is going to change their stuff. If you look at when Gennady Golovkin fought Danny Jacobs, he went southpaw. So you have to prepare yourself for anything that’s going to happen that night. So we look at different looks and just like you prepare for anything else. Most coaches and trainers want to prepare for any situation that’s going to come so you’ll be prepared for it.
This camp I actually sparred different type of guys. I sparred someone that’s come after me. He was much taller with a longer reach, so I thank him for the work and things like that because now I needed it. I’m excited. Nothing other than training. We’ll adapt to whatever was in front of us, so. I’m just excited to see what he brings February 9.
Is there a lot more excitement for this fight considering that it’s been a long time since you last fought?
I’m just excited. This is my first main event in the US, so like I said I’m in a great space right now. I know that 2019 is very big for me and I’m just soaking it all in. I don’t feel like I should be nervous though when you have good food on your plate. I’m just, I’m ready.
How will you take advantage of the taller fighter with the longer reach, how do you plan to take advantage of this guy?
We’re not going to try to take advantage, we’re just going to see, what type of fight he’s going to bring. Tank, he’s in a good spirit. He’s been great this camp. He’s been coming in doing what we asking him to do. If you look at his Instagram he’s been posting how he’s coming along. Everything has been on point.
So when we look at a situation of opponent change, we want to roll with it. The main thing is, we want to put on a good performance, because at the end of the day that’s what you all are going to talk about especially after the long layoff.
So we’ve been preparing for the long layoff. We want to make him look sharper and like he never was off the ring. That’s going to show that he’s not looking past this opponent right here, but to let everyone know, man he’s the truth and that’s what we trying to show. Tank is the truth. Gervonta is the truth.
What do you consider a good performance?
Like I always say if you watch any of my interviews it’s what the opponent brings to Tank because you all still haven’t seen the best of Tank. Watching him sparring with certain people and doing certain thing, it gets real exciting there. So I’m just waiting to see what Tank does.
Tank is like Michael Jordan to me in the ring. He puts on a show and makes you watch what he going to do next. So that’s what I’m looking forward to. I’m looking for a great performance from him.
For me it’s just getting in there to do what I do best. I want to just capitalize off of that mistake and make them pay for it all night, that’s all. Show them that I’m not just best in my weight class, I’m probably like one of the best fighters on TV, if not the best.
Leonard what assurances did you get from each other that that everything was going to go smooth this year?
It’s actions. He knows firsthand that in 2018 a lot of things happened and a lot of things people don’t know about and that those were personal things. Again he’s a young man. He made a few mistakes and he stepped up. He owned those mistakes and he’s moved on.
He wants to have a phenomenal year and everything’s in place for him to do that. We think the world of Gervonta Davis. We think that he’s going to eventually be the biggest star in this sport and right now he’s the most exciting fighter in the entire sport.
So that’s what we’re looking forward to, him just getting back. That’s why Floyd was very adamant to me when Abner fell out. He called me it was, like really the wee hours of the morning and he said, “Tank has to fight.” And we’re all on the same page with that.
He’s young, he needs to be active. He wants to be out there showcasing his skills to show you that he is what he is. And again come next Saturday night I think we can expect another sensational performance from Tank.
Leonard was Ruiz on that short list immediately or did you initially reach out to other fighters who ultimately declined?
Yes, there was a short list but I want to give props to Tom Brown. With Tom being a Hall of Fame matchmaker and an excellent promoter, and again with having the resources and having worked with a lot of these fighters, being in his position, it made things that much easier.
So there were a few options, a few guys we looked at but this was the best guy who was available. We know style-wise that he brings excitement. He’s a very aggressive fighter with a bunch of knockouts. And he’s coming to bring the fight for the fans. He’s a proud Mexican warrior and we know there’s going to be a very entertaining fight. His style and Tank’s style are matched very well and it’s going to be a very, very entertaining fight.
Gervonta how are you maintaining your focus with the opponent change?
I’m not tripping off of changing opponents and things like that because when I actually first started, they used to change my opponents a lot. A lot of fighters used to pull out and things like that. And also I came from the amateurs. We used to fight five times a week and with different opponents then.
So I’m not really tripping off the opponent change. All I’m here to do is put on a good performance on February 9 and we’re looking forward to it.
Okay great. Gervonta we’re all looking forward to it and we appreciate how great of a boxing star you are for this sport and the sports world in general. So congratulations on your careers to date and we look forward to seeing you fight on Saturday night. Thank you so much to the media for joining us and we will see you next week at the fights.
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