Madison Square Garden Final Presser!!!
Big Night of Action at the Garden on Saturday Night...
Story by Matt Richardson
Photos: Ed Mulholland/FightWireImages.com
A day after American politicians wrapped up their campaigns in the Senate and House elections, another American wrapped up a campaign of his own.
Heavyweight Calvin Brock is not in the running for any political office, though he is attempting to return control of the heavyweight division back into American hands.
Or in this case, fists.
A week after Shannon Briggs broke the "Eastern European" monopoly of the heavyweight titles with his upset of WBO title-holder Sergei Liakhovich, the former 2000 U.S. Olympian Brock will attempt to continue the success of his American counterpart when he takes on current IBF titlist Wladimir Klitschko this Saturday at Madison Square Garden (HBO will televise at 10 PM ET).
It is clearly the biggest and most significant fight of Brock's career to date, though you wouldn't know it by his quiet and reserved demeanor.
"The Eastern European and American thing is just a byproduct of making me a bigger star after I win," Brock, 29-0, 22 KO's told Fightnews on Wednesday at the final press conference for the fight. "There's no pressure on me. I don't focus on that. My main focus is to conquer my dreams of becoming heavyweight champion of the world and then unifying the division."
"It was a long, long way; many years, many work-outs and many fights to get a chance to fight at Madison Square Garden," said Klitschko, 46-3, 41 KO's. "It was my wish and my wish is coming true. I'm getting goose bumps when I think about all those great fighters - Rocky Marciano, Joe Louis, 'Sugar' Ray Leonard, Lennox Lewis and Muhammad Ali."
Klitschko, with the legendary Emmanuel Steward in his corner, is looking to join the ranks of former great heavyweight champions. And though he only holds a portion of the championship, his challenger considers Klitschko to be the "real" heavyweight champion.
"Wladimir Klitschko is holding the title and it's the boxer that makes the title not the title that makes the boxer," Brock said.
"My analysis is that the heavyweight division is stacked with a bunch of talent. It's not weak; definitely not weak," said Brock.
"If anybody says it is weak they need to take a second look. The divisions pretty strong; that's why titles keep changing hands. That's probably what they're going to say after I win. But it has to get cleared up when a unification tournament starts and one champion reigns on top."
"After I win, I don't want to hear any excuses that maybe Wladimir wasn't the heavyweight champion. Wladimir is the real heavyweight champion of the world," he said.
"I wish that Saturday night we will all perform as good as we talk," stated Klitschko, who will donate a portion of his purse to UNESCO.
"I think if that happens it's going to be a great fight. I'm very excited to fight in Madison Square Garden and I'm very excited about Saturday night."
Regardless of who wins on Saturday, it is crucial that the winner begin an attempt to unify the titles. Both fighters said they will attempt to earn a unification bout after their fight against each other.
"The champions needs to fight each other and if they can't fight each other then they have to fight the most capable and talented challenger out there," deduced HBO's Kerry Davis.
"Secondly, and maybe just as important, the heavyweight champion has to carry himself in a way and a manner that befits the fact that he holds the most prestigious title in sports. We believe that Wladimir Klitschko actually has those qualities. He has that charisma and he has that persona that he can carry the championship in a way that befits that prestigious title."
Surely either man is capable of leaving the MSG ring on Saturday as a champion, but the true value of the fighter will only be determined in the days, weeks, months and even years after as they either decide to clarify the division or permit it to further stagnate.
"I think you're going to see the emergence of a super fighter," Steward said of his pupil.
"I feel I'm involved with a fighter who's on his way to being one of the great heavyweight champions of all time."
"I go out and box accordingly to not get hit and hit him," said Brock. "Let the knock-out come if it comes and if it don't I will win a decision.
3 days before the biggest bout of his career, we know what kind of campaign Calvin Brock can run. And while early exit polls may have Klitschko as an early favorite, the final result will not be decided until all the punches are thrown and the final score is tallied on Saturday night.
Lots going on here, including a competitive under card. Former champions Kevin Kelley and Manuel Medina will clash in a 12-round elimination bout for a shot at the IBF junior lightweight belt. "Kevin Kelley is a good fighter," Medina, 66-15, 31 KO's said. "It's very important because this fight is elimination for the world title. It's a very interesting fight between two hard veterans and it's most likely both guys last shot at a world title."
Kelley reiterated the statements of his opponent, thanking the Garden for letting him return home after being stopped in a June bout with Bobby Pacquiao. "I want to redeem myself and now is the appropriate time," said the predictably loquacious Kelley, 59-7-2, 39 KO's.
Also on the card, Laila Ali will do battle against one Shelley Burton. Much was made at the presser regarding the fact that Ali's bout will not be shown in it's entirety, albeit highlights will be shown after the re-play of last weeks Floyd Mayweather Jr. - Carlos Baldomir welterweight championship bout. "I'm going to do it like I'm doing it for TV though," stated Ali, 22-0, 19 KO's. Ali will be taking on Shelley Burton, 8-2-1, 2 KO's. And yes, Daddy will be seated prominently at ringside.
Also, New York-based heavyweight Derrick Rossy will do battle against Shannon Miller, Steward prospect Andy Lee will see action as will a few other local talents.
Tickets are still available at the box office. Doors open at 7 PM.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "That just comes with the territory. There's no added pressure upon me to win for them. I've got to win for myself, in that ring man." - Calvin Brock on feeling pressure to win a title for his promoter Main Events, who took big hits this year after Arturo Gatti and Fernando Vargas were both knocked out under their banner.
Klitschko vs Brock Final Press Conference