Undefeated Jeff “Left Hook” Lacy will defend his IBF and IBO super middleweight titles against IBF No. 5 contender Scott “The Sandman” Pemberton on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING Saturday, Nov. 5, 2005, at 9 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast). In a second world title fight, IBF bantamweight champion Rafael Marquez will defend against IBO/IBF No. 1 contender, Silence Mabuza.
Questions for Marquez and Mabuza
Question: Rafael, what are your thoughts going into the fight and how is training going?
Marquez: Right now, I feel very, very good. I am well over the flu. My training has been proceeding at 100 percent I am physically and mentally in excellent condition and I want to be able to go into Lake Tahoe and give a great show for all the fight fans.
Question: Silence, do you have any opening comments?
Mabuza: Well, we were ready from the onset. We were supposed to fight on Oct. 1 and the fight did not happen. You never know, it may have been for a good reason. It could have happened to me. I could have gotten sick or something and would have had to go back home and take a week’s rest and then go back to business. I am just waiting for Nov. 5. Let’s get it on.
Question: Rafael, were you disappointed you could not fight Mabuza the first time?
Marquez: I did not want to postpone the fight, but I did not feel well. My body was not really up to it and my manager and trainer told me that I really could not go into this type of a fight if I was not at 100 percent. But I felt very badly about it.
Question: Silence, what was it like to have to go through the postponement?
Mabuza: It was very, very disappointing to travel all the way to get here and then, the next thing you know, the fight (is postponed) only four days prior to the fight. But I am a professional athlete. These things happen. Also, I saw it as a window of opportunity for me to go back home and work more on something which I needed to work hard on. So, actually, I am in pretty good condition now and I believe that we will put on a good show.
Question: Rafael, if your manager or trainer had been on the fence about whether you should fight or not, would you have gone in and fought anyway, or did you realize you were so ill that you would not be able to get in the ring?
Marquez: I had severe headaches, was kind of weak and did not feel ready to get in the ring. The doctor had also informed me that he would not give his approval for me to fight because I was not in good shape. I did not want to give any advantage to Silence Mabuza. I respect him as a fighter and an opponent, so I would not give him that advantage by walking into the ring without being completely ready to fight. So my decision would have been no, I would not have fought.
Question: Rafael, there have been some issues going on between your camp and your promoter, as well as the situation with your brother. Has that been a distraction at all?
Marquez: No. When I get ready to fight, when I go into training camp and walk into the ring, I am 100 percent focused on what I have to do. Although there were many other issues that certainly were taking place, they did not affect me and they are not affecting me. The only thing that could affect me has been sickness and at this point, I am at 100 percent, and that is the way I conduct myself.
Question: Rafael, what do think about Mabuza as a fighter and could he be your toughest fight?
Marquez: I have tremendous respect for Mabuza and I consider him a very strong, very skilled and very tough opponent. So I know that this is a very dangerous fight and, yes, it is a difficult fight. But at this point, I cannot quite say it will be my most difficult because I still believe that Tim Austin was probably my most challenging fight. Another one that was very tough was Mark Johnson. I cannot say that at this point because I have not fought him yet.
Question: Silence, how long have you been at Lake Tahoe?
Mabuza: We have been here a week.
Question: Has that been enough time to adjust?
Mabuza: We only came in early because of the weather conditions. Right now, in South Africa, it is summer and so it is a lot warmer than it is up here. But we found the weather to be very pleasant here in Tahoe at the moment and the facilities that we have in Caesars are great.
Question: Rafael, are you on schedule with weights and training?
Marquez: With my weight, I am right on schedule, right on program. I feel wonderful, physically. Mentally, I am strong. I am only two pounds over at this point, which is just the way that it should be. I am actually doing better than I have felt in a long time.
Question: Silence, how do you plan to neutralize Marquez’s power, especially his right hand?
Mabuza: Just watch on Nov. 5 [and you’ll see].
Question: Rafael, is there any plan for moving up in weight regardless of the outcome?
Marquez: I am confident that I will be victorious and therefore will probably have one more defense, actually a possibility of unification of the title. Then, after that, I am strongly considering moving up to the 122 pounds.
Question: Silence, how important is this fight to your career?
Mabuza: For me to be given such an opportunity to fight the No. 1 in the world with Marquez – I have got great respect for Marquez as a champion and No. 1 in the bantam – and I believe that it is time for me to now prove that I can step up into the big leagues and be the best bantamweight. I am here again to take back what rightfully belongs to us in South Africa, which is the IBF belt. So this is very, very important for me, my family and my country.
Closing Comments by Marquez and Mabuza
Marquez: I want to be sure that everyone knows that I am not one to talk much on conference calls or in interviews. I like to do most of my talking in the ring. But I intend to defend my title to the death. I know that God will protect me and I am absolutely certain that I will be the victorious one on Nov. 5.
Mabuza: I also feel that I do not talk too much outside the ring. I will be doing my talking in the ring. I have been boxing almost half of my life. My talking will be done greatly on Nov. 5. I believe that Marquez is ready, and I am ready. This is going to be the best fight ever to be seen in bantamweight.
Begin Questions for Lacy and Pemberton
Question: Jeff, everyone seemed to think that your next fight would be against Joe Calzaghe, but it is going to be against Scott Pemberton. Was that a letdown at all?
Lacy: No. By him (Calzaghe) taking a fight two months out for a bigger fight, I knew (our fight) was not going to happen. So we just moved on. It is a disappointment that the fans will not get to see who the best 168-pound world champ is, but I have to carry on with my career.
Question: Scott, what is going through your head now as your near your first world title fight?
Pemberton: I just have to prepare the best that I can. I feel great and I am ready to rock and roll.
Question: Scott, what is the key to winning this fight?
Pemberton: Not making any mistakes. I am in with a great fighter. I am just going to go out and try to utilize my jab and give angles and do what you are supposed to do in boxing.
Question: Jeff, what is the key to retaining your title?
Lacy: It comes down to hard work in the gym. That is where you start. I am totally prepared for this. Scott is a dangerous fighter. Everybody has been ducking Scott and everybody has been ducking me. So it is only best that the two people that have been ducked the most in the weight class should fight. I take nothing away from Scott Pemberton. It is going to be a great fight on Nov. 5.
Question: Scott, you have had to wait so long for a world title fight – did you ever wonder if it was going to come?
Pemberton: Well, of course I did. I was supposed to fight Danny Green in Australia but then he broke two bones in his back. It actually worked out for the better because now I get to fight Jeff Lacy for the IBF world championship.
Question: Scott, how have you been able to stay at a top level as long as you have?
Pemberton: I am trying to better position myself to get better things for my family. The No. 1 thing I want to do is buy a home for my family and that has been my motivational factor throughout this whole ordeal.
Question: Scott, what was it like to beat Omar Sheika twice impressively, once by knockout, and then watch Sheika get the title shot against Jeff before you?
Pemberton: It is about making money – that is the motivation for everything.
Question: So it did not bother you that if got the opportunity ahead of you?
Pemberton: It did not really bother me too much. I was more interested to see how he was going to do. The fight, in my opinion, was pretty close, but Sheika could not close the show like Jeff did in the later rounds.
Question: Scott, does that give you confidence to see a guy that you beat two times hang pretty well with Jeff?
Pemberton: Well, styles make fights. I do not take anything for granted.
Question: Jeff, did the two of you spar together for awhile?
Lacy: In training camp up in Big Bear a couple of times, yeah.
Question: What do you remember about those sparring sessions, if anything?
Lacy: I am going to leave it for the fight.
Question: Scott, what are you willing to share in regard to what you recall during your sparring sessions with Jeff?
Pemberton: When we sparred, we were not going in there to try to kill each other or anything like that. I was there, for my purpose, to help Jeff and we moved him out a little bit. It was very controlled and it was just working very easily.
Question: Jeff, because Scott is a dangerous puncher, how do you approach fighting him?
Lacy: Well, actually, I like fighting punchers more because you do not have to chase them. They have the confidence in standing there enough and trying to get their shots in. So that is the best type of fight you ever want to have, especially for the boxing public.
Question: Jeff, what is the preparation like for this fight as opposed to when you were fighting in your hometown in the last fight?
Lacy: Scott is a puncher and he is a dangerous fighter. Everybody ducked him. I am not doing any ducking and we are going to fight Nov. 5. It is something that I like to have around my waist that he is trying to get and I am not looking to just give it to him.
Question: Jeff, do you think you are becoming a more well-rounded fighter?
Lacy: In the last couple of fights that I had, I was more relaxed. I am more positive on what I want to do in the ring and how to take someone’s advantage away from them and use it to my strength. I am coming around and I feel more comfortable in the ring.
Question: Jeff, every fight is important, but put this fight in your perspective.
Lacy: Well, this fight is a great fight for the boxing public. You have two warriors that are coming to fight and both of them are punchers. There is no denying me retaining this world title that I have because I love it. Scott has waited so long to fight for the world title and I am looking at it as if I was fighting for the world title.
Question: Jeff, what gets you so geared up about the challenge of boxing as opposed to just the big paydays of it?
Lacy: I love the fight. I love the challenge. Your opponent – he is training to knock me off my throne and I am training to make sure that he does not do that. That is what excites me the most out of all this. The night of the fight, my trainer sends me in, his trainer sends him in and say, ‘Do it, go make us proud.’ That is what I like. I like having that weight on my shoulders.
Question: Scott, you and Sheika have a relatively cordial relationship. Have you talked to him about what it was like to be in with Jeff and what he thought some of his strengths and weaknesses were?
Pemberton: Yes, I did. He just said that he thought that he won the fight and that Jeff was not all what everyone said that he was cracked up to be. That is his opinion. I know what I saw on the tape. I thought the fight was fairly close going up into the ninth round, but (from there Jeff took him) into the deep waters and then just drowned him. Sheika could not keep up the pace in the later rounds.
Question: Scott, did he tell you anything specifically about something to watch out for with Jeff?
Pemberton: They call him Jeff “Left Hook” Lacy, but he has a great right hand. He is definitely a powerful man. You cannot just go in there and just sit there and be slapped or just sit there and bang with the guy. You will get your block knocked off. So you have to give angles and step around and you have to box and not just go in there and just throw it out.
Question: Scott, you have been training for other fights, but are you concerned that you have not fought in about a year or so?
Pemberton: I have been in the gym all this time and I have been sparring. I think people get rusty when you have not trained for awhile, but I have been training for a long time.
Question: Jeff, how frustrating is it for you to have to wait even longer for the Calzaghe fight to possibly happen?
Lacy: I am not worried about a Calzaghe fight. It was supposed to happen Nov. 5. Now, we have Scott Pemberton. He is the only person on my mind. I am not thinking about Calzaghe.
Question: Did you have to make any changes in terms of your training or sparring partners?
Lacy: We were just getting ready to set up for the Calzaghe fight. It was two months out. That is the time it takes to be in training for a fight like that. Being that he took a fight two months out before that fight, we knew before we started camp that he was not going to fight.
Question: So there were no surprises there?
Lacy: No, there were no surprises. I already had it in the back of my mind that he was basically talking like he was going to pull out of the fight anyway.
Question: Jeff, do you feel that if a Calzaghe fight does not happen that you may have to move up in weight for a real challenge or do you feel comfortable at this weight and would you like to stay there for awhile?
Lacy: I feel comfortable at 168, but my goal is to become the undisputed middleweight champion. If I cannot do that at this time, I will explore other options.
Question: Would that include moving up in weight?
Lacy: Of course.
Question: What about fighting some of the guys at 160?
Lacy: I will either move up or down.
Question: Scott and Jeff, what are your predictions?
Pemberton: I cannot give any predictions as far as the outcome of the fight other than I feel pretty confident that I am going to be victorious.
Lacy: There is no way I am losing my title next Saturday night.
Who will win? Wladimir Klitschko or Tyson Fury?