The first Saturday of every month belongs to SHOWTIME, and 2006 promises to be no different for America’s No. 1 boxing network, now in its 20th year on the air. Following a spectacular 2005, the network that consistently offers fans the best match ups in boxing begins the New Year with an exciting world championship doubleheader Saturday, Jan. 7, at 9 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast).
In the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING co-feature, two reigning cruiserweight champions will collide when WBC/WBA champion Jean-Marc Mormeck faces his IBF counterpart, O’Neil “Supernova” Bell, for the undisputed cruiserweight title. The winner of Mormeck-Bell will become the division’s first undisputed champion since Evander Holyfield defeated Carlos DeLeon in 1988 on SHOWTIME, and just the second since the division was created in 1980. In the main event, one of the world’s best pound-for-pound boxers, undisputed welterweight champion Zab “Super” Judah, will put all his belts on the line against WBC mandatory challenger and No. 1 contender Carlos Baldomir.
Question: Jean-Marc, how is your training going?
Mormeck: Everything is fine. I am feeling better and better everyday. I am training in the morning and training in the afternoon and everything is good.
Question: Jean-Marc, what is your take on this fight for the undisputed cruiserweight championship, and what are your thoughts on O’Neil Bell?
Mormeck: I think that O’Neil Bell is a great champion because he has his IBF title. I think it will be a tough match because O’Neil Bell is not going to want to let his belt go away, but he has to get ready for this because I am going to take it.
Question: O’Neil, what are your thoughts on this fight and what do you think of Mormeck as a fighter?
Bell: This is a poignant moment for me to display my artistic abilities on SHOWTIME and to the world (and) to capture the IBF, WBC and the WBA championship. My training camp has been going well. I am up for this fight and I love it. The thing I have to say about Mormeck, I hope he does the same (is ready to fight and in top shape) too. Excellent shape, excellent condition. This fight will be like the war of attrition.
He wants to fight, I want it even more. So I am looking forward to that day.
Question: O’Neil, what it would mean to you to join Evander Holyfield and become only the second undisputed cruiserweight champion of the world?
Bell: I am considering all these possibilities and it is a great honor, although I do not think I will ever be able to fit in Evander’s shoes with all the accomplishments that he has done. I am really very happy just to even be considered for being the unification champ. am excited about all the possibilities that are going to come after the fight and also fighting Mormeck.
Question: Jean-Marc, what are your thoughts about joining Holyfield as only the second undisputed cruiserweight champion of the world?
Mormeck: I have great respect for Holyfield’s career, for the warrior, the man, for everything he has done. It would be a great honor and something magic to do what Holyfield did.
Question: Jean-Marc, can you give more details about training, your schedule and how you plan to spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve in camp while being far away from your home and country?
Mormeck: I have wanted this fight for a long time, and this is the only thing that counts. The biggest party I can make is to take this belt and then party with my friends and his family.
Question: Jean-Marc, do you have any special message for the people back in France?
Mormeck: I know that the country of France is behind me and a lot of French are coming to Madison Square Garden. I am just happy to do this title fight.
Question: Has either of you given thought to the possibility of moving up to the heavyweight division once becoming the undisputed cruiserweight champion?
Bell: That is the motivation for me itself – to become the undisputed champion and then move up and conquer that division as well.
Mormeck: It is kind of a dream to go up to heavyweight. If I would have to choose someone to fight, it would be (WBO heavyweight champion) Lamon Brewster because he is really strong.
Question: Jean-Marc, what was your best fight and did you become discouraged from those back to back losses in 1997?
Mormeck: I was most impressed with my fight with Virgil Hill because he had great experience. Regarding the two losses, I learned a lot of lessons. When I get in the ring now, I want to win, win fast, and win with a lot of points. I do not want to take any risks.
Question: Jean-Marc, can you give a few more details regarding your training, and what will your strategy be against Bell?
Mormeck: I am in physical training in the morning and boxing lessons and sparring in the afternoon. I do not have any strategy for O’Neil Bell.
Question: O’Neil, can you talk about your training practices now?
Bell: I am a boxer that goes day by day. I do not necessarily have a direct mindset or strategy to overcome obstacles. I just deal with it as it comes.
Question: So you just wake up every morning and decide how you feel and then you decide how you are going to train?
Bell: That is exactly how it works. My trainer knows when I am slacking off and he knows when I am training too hard. Then again, I also listen to my body. I need running, but I do not need to have my knees hurting or my lower back hurting. So sometimes my body may be telling me to spar six to eight rounds. Keep it simple. I have no strategy. I just take it day by day as it comes along.
Question: O’Neil, what did you do today in regard to training?
Bell: When I go in the ring at five o’clock today, I will spar, and then there will be more mental practice with my trainers and we will analyze how I will approach Jean-Marc.
Question: O’Neil, would you say that perhaps most of the media and most of the boxing fans are automatically assuming that Mormeck is going to win?
Bell: I really cannot criticize my critics; I can just say just keep watching. I learn while I am in the ring. I do different things in every fight. I bring out the best in myself when my opponent wants to stand in front of me and get pounded on.
Question: O’Neil, Jean-Marc has one of the most sculpted physiques around. What do you attribute all that upper torso strength to?
Bell: You are a boxer; you should be a physical specimen. So that is not something to fear. It excites me even more to say it is a bigger and better challenge out there for me. So I commend him for being in excellent shape.
Question: Jean-Marc, do you intend to fight predominately in the United States?
Mormeck: Since I was a kid back in France, America has always been a dream. Today, I have a chance to fight at the Madison Square Garden. .
Question: Jean-Marc, are you familiar with David Hay and Guillermo Jones and what are your thoughts on them for a possible fight in the future?
Mormeck: I do not want to think about any other fight. My only goal is O’Neil Bell.
Question: Jean-Marc, do you have any timetable if you do move up to heavyweight?
Mormeck: I will be moving up to heavyweight, but I have no schedule.
Question: What do each of you consider to be your advantages in this fight?
Bell: My advantage over Jean-Marc is resilience and also being a multi-dimensional fighter. If you want to go ahead and strategize or go ahead and be a technician, I believe my training has given me all the possible knowledge I need to do that. I have exhibited that previously in some of my fights.
Question: O’Neil, did you not say, “The bloodier, the better”?
Bell: Oh, the bloodier, the better. Toe-to-toe, that is my best fight possible. If you go back to the Davis fight, I wanted to fight after he knocked me down twice. I really wanted to take him out. From the very first round, it is going to be an explosion.
Question: Jean-Marc, do you enjoy bloodbaths?
Mormeck: I do not like blood. I just love to win. As far as my advantages, it is not a question of size or speed; it is just a question of will. He did not want this fight. I have always wanted this fight and now I have got it and this is my advantage.
Question: O’Neil, how do you respond to Mormeck saying that you did not want this fight?
Bell: This is absolutely the first time this fight came across the table and I signed the contract. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it.
Question: Jean-Marc, how do you respond to him saying this is the first time he has been offered a fight?
Mormeck: I do not care what he is saying. I left France and came to the United States. This is O’Neil Bell’s country. I am here to fight.
Bell: (To Mormeck) I would have gone there and fought you in your country and beat you in your country. I love this thing. It really does not matter where you are. If you are on the moon, I will come to you.
Question: O’Neil, you say you showed only 80 percent of your ability with Dale Brown. Do you need to try to put it all together and have one complete fight against Mormeck?
Bell: Yes, I was only 80 percent against Brown. The night before the match, I was up at dawn arguing with my manager. That is one of the reasons why I am managing myself now. I am up for this fight completely. I have wiped out all the negative influence in my life. I have been training for five and a half weeks. I am totally dedicated to this fight.
Question: O’Neil, if you defeat Mormeck, would you give Brown a rematch?
Bell: I wanted to give Brown a fight right after I fought him, but he never stepped up to the plate. The offer was there.
Question: O’Neil, is this the most important and biggest fight of your career?
Bell: Exactly, and that is why I am so serious for it.
Question: O’Neil, does it bother you that fans are sleeping on you going in, or is it going to be more satisfaction once you come out ahead?
Bell: My pro debut was against Evander Holyfield’s nephew, so I have always been the underdog. It is just like another day to me. It really does not discourage me. It actually gives me something to fight for even more, to disprove my critics.
Question: Jean-Marc, since you won the title, you have only been defending it once a year. Do you plan on staying busier in 2006?
Mormeck: I definitely want to fight more, but I have to clear this with my promoter, Don King.
Question: O’Neil, who have you been sparring with in preparation for this fight?
Bell: I am not going to disclose my sparring partners, but I know I have been getting excellent work. Like Mormeck said, he only fought once in a year and I have fought twice already. So I am well conditioned.
Question: Jean-Marc, do you have anything you would like to say to O’Neil?
Mormeck: He is going to have to fight because if he fights like he talks, it is going to be boring for everybody. He needs to get known and earn respect from everybody. He should not try to get known here because he is not going to get known by fighting me. O’Neil should just train and not talk that much.
Question: O’Neil, do you feel that because you have fought twice and he has only fought once that it gives you more of an advantage?
Bell: Of course. If you look at history, a man coming off of two wins, he is geared up. He is in a zone right now. “Supernova” is in his zone right now.
Question: O’Neil, when do you know when to box and when do you know when to slug?
Bell: I am diverse. I must be able to adapt to whatever situation arises. If it comes to a point where I need to fight him backing up, I will. If it comes to a point where I need to go toe-to-toe with him, I will. If it comes to a point where I need to set him up for a devastating knockout, I will do so.
Question: O’Neil, is there any chance of you being overtrained or overconfident?
Bell: No. I am very aware of being overtrained. Some days I do take a weekend off. I do sit in the house and just meditate, watch fight tapes. That is listening to my body.
Question: O’Neil, you were known as “Give ’Em Hell” and now you are known as “Supernova.” Why did you change your nickname and when did you change it?
Bell: I changed it after the Brown fight. I saw nothing good came from “hell.” So I think if you carry a name, you bring upon those evil spirits. “Supernova” is bringing about explosion of things, recreating your environment. “Supernova” is recreating a new atmosphere, a new way of thinking, a new way of life. It is a positive projection for me being “Supernova.”
Question: O’Neil, if you could give a nickname to Mormeck, what would
Bell: I heard one of the selections that stuck out the most – it was “Mighty.” But in turn, I remember the cartoon Mighty Mouse. I would think Mighty Mouse would be a better title for him after this fight.
Question: Jean-Marc, do you have a last comment?
Mormeck: Well, I really do not care about those his nicknames. O’Neil has been talking and talking for like hours. That is why he will never be a great champion. I am just waiting for the fight. That is all.