LOS ANGELES-Leave it to Jorge “The Hyena” Barrios to scavenge the first shot of the lightweight tournament, though he’s not the top bill.
Barrios nearly enticed Edwin Valero to blows during a press conference at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles on Monday. The Golden Boy Promotions tournament is called Lightweight Lightning. The event takes place on April 4 in Austin, Texas and will be shown on HBO pay-per-view.
The conference was nearly over when Valero was speaking on the mike and was interrupted by Barrios who demanded that the Venezuelan slugger name names on who he wants to fight.
Valero slowly moved away from the podium toward Barrios who was sitting behind him and started jawing back at the brash Argentine. Cooler heads stepped between them.
The funny thing is Barrios is not even fighting Valero, he’s got Carlos “Famoso” Hernandez on his plate.
“That was a switch,” said Hernandez (43-7-1, 24 KOs). “I was expecting Barrios to talk smack about me and he ends up talking smack about Valero instead.”
Valero is scheduled to fight Antonio Pitalua (46-3, 40 KOs) who was unable to fly from Mexico to the press conference. The chock full of hair fighter will be making his first appearance in the U.S. since December 2003. At stake is the WBC interim lightweight title.
“I’m much better at this weight,” said Valero (24-0, 24 KOs), who abdicated his WBA junior lightweight throne. “It was very difficult losing the weight before. It should be easier now.”
Also on the impressive lightweight card is Hall of Fame bound Joel “El Cepillo” Casamayor, meeting Coachella’s Joel “The Kidd” Diaz. Another bout has Jesus “El Matador” Chavez meeting Australia’s Michael Katsidis. And the final lightweight clash is Barrios versus Hernandez.
“It’s really amazing to see the greatest fighters fight on the same event,” said Richard Schaefer, CEO for Golden Boy. “It really is the best fighting the best.”
Barrios kind of lost track of who he’s scheduled to fight, but he did say that he won’t be boring in the ring.
“I’m never in a boring fight,” said Barrios (47-4-1, 34 KOs) with his white-rimmed Hyena sunglasses and flamboyant apparel. “The winner moves on in this tournament.”
El Salvador’s Hernandez, who returned to boxing last year after a brief retirement, was in serious form.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been in a promotion like this,” said Hernandez, who now lives in San Antonio, Texas. “Each fight is its own main event.”
Also in serious form is Chavez who has a stiff task ahead with Katsidis (24-2, 21 KOs).
“I never disrespect any fighter no matter what his record,” said Chavez (44-4, 30 KOs). “Whether he’s a champion or a fighter with not as much experience I respect them all in the ring. I take everybody serious.”
Cuba’s Casamayor, who lost his last fight to Juan Manuel Marquez, cannot wait to get back in the ring.
“What happened in my last fight is in the past,” said Casamayor (36-4-1, 22 KOs), the impressive boxing stylist. “I’m fighting a very good fighter.”
Diaz, who is now trained by his brother Joel Diaz, expects wonderful contest.
“This is Joel Casamayor I’m fighting,” said Diaz (36-4, 26 KOs), who is delighted with fighting someone as talented as Casamayor. “I respect his ability and I expect a very good fight.”
The stacked lightweight fight card takes place in Austin, Texas on April 4.
“It’s a pleasure to be part of this excellent card and we’re very excited,” said Veronica Hernandez, wife and manager of Carlos.
Oh yeah, Valero hopes to bump into Barrios one fine day.