Hearing From Erislandy Lara and Ishe Smith Before Friday Fight on SHO

ERISLANDY LARA VS. ISHE SMITH MEDIA CONFERENCE CALL TRANSCRIPT

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Kelly Swanson

We’re on the call today to talk about “Lonestar Battle: Erislandy Lara versus Ishe Smith.” What a match up. This is for the WBA Super Welterweight World Title, 12 round bout. This is a SHOWTIME SPECIAL EDITION airing at 10:15 p.m. ET/PT, and it’s promoted by Mayweather Promotions.

The fight night takes place Friday, December 12 at Illusions Theater at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. There are two other match-ups on the televised portion of the show. The opening bout will be Chris Pearson versus Steve Martinez and Badou Jack also showing on SHOWTIME against Steve Martinez.

The promotion is sponsored by Corona Extra. There are tickets still available starting at $25 all the way up to $100, available on Ticketmaster. Before, we get into the fighters, I’d like to now introduce you to Chris DeBlasio, who’ll make a quick statement for SHOWTIME.

Chris DeBlasio

Just really briefly, we’ll let you guys get to the fighters right away, but I wanted to thank Erislandy Lara, Ishe Smith and everyone at Mayweather Promotions for setting this event up. I’m looking forward to getting back to the live boxing presentation on SHOWTIME. Friday, December 12 this event from San Antonio will kickoff three already announced live shows and a probable fourth live show across those two weekends.

Friday, December 12 is the card we’re talking about. Saturday, December 13 from Las Vegas, Amir Khan versus Devon Alexander, Keith Thurman versus Leonard Bundu and two other fights on that SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING event. Should be a great one from MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Then, the following week from the Pepsi Coliseum in Quebec City, Adonis Stevenson versus Dmitry Sukhotskyand a great rematch of welterweights with Jo Jo Dan versus Kevin Bizier, plus two other fights on that card as well. We’ve got a lot of live boxing coming and it’s been a little bit of a long time coming. We’re excited to get back to it, and we hope you, the press, are excited and looking forward to it. Without further ado, let’s go back and get right into this great fight card from San Antonio.

K. Swanson

Okay, great. Thanks, Chris. Okay. Now, we’re going to go ahead and introduce the fighters and their trainers, two of the best trainers in boxing matching up with two of the best fighters in boxing, certainly in the super welterweight division.

First, we have Ishe “Sugar Shay” Smith. He’s 26-6 with 12 KOs from Las Vegas, Nevada. He’s the former IBF Junior Middleweight World Champion. On the 12th, he’s going to go ahead and look to capture his second world championship in less than two years when he faces Erislandy Lara. I’m going to introduce Ishe and his trainer, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad. So, Ishe, if you’d like to make opening comments. And then, Eddie, you can complement his comments.

Ishe Smith

I just want to thank Mayweather Promotions and Floyd Mayweather for putting me back on this this stage, for getting me back on this stage and just another fight to add to my legacy. I’m grateful to be here. Just blessings all the way around. This has been a great camp. So, I’m just happy to be back on this stage. Thanks to SHOWTIME.

Eddie Mustafa Muhammad

Yeah, we are in great condition mentally and physically and that’s all we need to be in. We’re about ready.

K. Swanson

Okay, great. Thank you so much. Now I’m going to go ahead and introduce Erislandy and his trainer, Ronnie Shields, and Luis DeCubas Jr. who will translate for Erislandy. Erislandy “The American Dream” Lara, 19-2-2, with 12 KOs, originally from Cuba, now fighting out of Houston, Texas. Love that ring name. He’s the current WBA Super Welterweight Champion. He’s a graduate of the renowned Cuban amateur boxing program. He has secured wins over the likes of respected fighters; Austin Trout and Alfredo Angulo. He is a very competitive fighter. He’ll be looking to avenge a heartfelt loss after going the distance with Canelo Alvarez in July 2014 when he faces Ishe Smith. So, without further ado, let’s here from Erislandy and his trainer, Ronnie Shields.

Erislandy Lara

I want to thank everybody here on the call for being present. First off, I’d like to thank God.I’m ready to go. I’m here with my team. My team’s great. I’d like to thank my team, obviously, Al Haymon and the rest of my team for putting this together and I’m ready to go. Not much to talk about.

Ronnie Shields

It’s a pleasure to be here with everybody. We’re looking forward to a great event in San Antonio. Erislandy’s in great shape, ready to go. He’s ready to defend the title.

K. Swanson

Okay, thanks so much, Ronnie. I have to say that both of these fighters are really great family men, and I appreciate that. They’re always posting beautiful pictures of their wife and children on their Instagrams. So, thank you very much. All right, let’s go ahead and open it up to the press for questions.

Q

Ishe, what would you say was the most difficult aspect of your career to overcome in terms of adversity? And then, also how important was it for you to come back from the Molina fight with a knockout to get into this one?

I. Smith

I think the hardest thing that I had to overcome was probably the part of my life where I was on the brink of suicide, and I was dealing with the divorce and couldn’t get any fights and couldn’t make any money. Then right after that being able to hookup with Floyd and having that strong support system and my current family, my girlfriend right now, Valerie and my family. I think it was just very important to get the win. We were training for Lara then, but things happen in boxing, which I understood. I never went to the press and argued that he pulled out. The opportunity came for him to be on the bigger stage making money. So, I understood that aspect. We’re back here at the stage and meeting now. So, good things come to those who wait. He did what he had to do. And that’s that.

Q

How long was that stretch where you really felt like, things were over for you?

I. Smith

It was probably a good year. Before, I fought in May of 2012, I hadn’t fought for like 18 months. Floyd had heard my story. And in the gym, I was helping him get ready for Cotto. He just felt like boxing hadn’t given me a fair shake. He felt that I was a good fighter and that I could become champion. And he was like, ‘I’m going to give you an opportunity. I’m going to get you to the doorstep and what you do once you go in is up to you.’ And I still remember those talks that we had during that camp. Like, I said, it’s just a blessing that I’m here today.

Q

Do you consider this a make or break fight for you given all that you’ve been through and he’s given?

I. Smith

No, because, in life you’re going to come up to the plate. You’re going to be sitting on the fastball. You may get a curve, a slider or a change up. You may strikeout. But, in life you go back to the dugout. You remember what you did wrong, and you get another at bat. And it’s about what you do when you get back up to the plate. Life isn’t over.

I never put myself in make or break fights. Who would have thought when I lost to Molina last September I would be back on this stage a little bit over a year later.So I never say a fight is a make or break fight for me. You want to go out and perform, but as an athlete you always just want to come up to the plate and do your best when you get there.

Q

Erislandy, can you address the ups and downs of your career?

E. Lara

Those fights are in the past. I think everybody who’s lost a fight gets depressed. The fans, everyone saw that I won a few of them. Everyone knows it. And right now, I’m not worried about that. That’s the past. Now, I have to look to the future and know that I got Ishe Smith in front of me. So, that’s the one I’m worried about and that’s where our main focus is at.

Q

One more about that last fight, is there anything about that fight you would change, because many of us, thought that either you won or was very close to winning if you hadn’t maybe stepped off the gas just a little bit in rounds against Alvarez?

E. Lara

I’m not one of those guys that says, ‘I I would have done this. I would have done that.’ I did what I did. I won the fight. I feel like I dominated him in the rounds that I did. I thought I won the fight. And in boxing if you win, you win. There’s no reason because you’re not the star you have to win 10 rounds to two. If you win seven rounds, you win eight rounds, you win the fight. There’s no question I think and a lot of other people feel as well that I won over seven rounds.

Q

How critical is it not only to win this fight but to do so convincingly given that you’ve had those three experiences where most of us thought you dominated and you still didn’t get the win? How critical is it to look really good in the fight?

E. Lara

Every fight is important, it doesn’t matter how you win. Winning is winning any which way you do it. The main focus is to go out there and win this fight and stay undefeated.

Q

Ishe, two weeks ago you felt your training for this fight even exceeded your expectations. Is there anything that leads you to believe that you’re even sharper than you were two weeks ago?

I. Smith

I think so, we’ve got some great sparring. We started off camp with some hungry amateurs. So, we definitely added the necessary pieces. We’re just looking to go out there and put together a great fight. These guys have been pushing and pushing me and pushing me. This has been one of the best camps I’ve had. One of the most expensive camps I’ve had, but it’s been one of the better camps I’ve had. Two weeks ago, I didn’t think it could get better, but it definitely has.

Q

Eddie, you had a game plan for Lara before the fight got postponed. How much of that game plan is being implemented for this given what he did against Canelo?

E. Mustafa Muhammad

Well a lot of it is implemented in not just the Canelo fight. It’s implemented in all the fights that I’ve seen him in. So it’s going to be a very competitive fight.We coming to do one thing and that’s leave with the championship. We respect Erislandy and respect his people, but now it’s time to fight. All the hard work is over with and, like I said, it’s time to fight.

Q

What will be the key for Ishe to control this fight? Is it just defense? Is it going to be his ability to take a punch? Is it going to be his jab? What will be the key for him to stay in this fight and have a chance to win?

E. Mustafa Muhammad

Well, I think the game is — I hit you, but you don’t hit me. We’re not in it to take punches.We’re in it to give punches.Ishe is in the best shape possible he can get in, and we’ve been working hard. We have another week to go.We’re going to come back with that belt.

Q

Erislandy, is there anything in your prep for this fight that you kept around? In other words did you retain any of the prep with Ronnie for Ishe this time that he had before the fight got postponed?

E. Lara

Yeah we’ll definitely be going back to some of the things we were working on before we jumped into the Canelo camp on Ishe Smith and just adjust a few things that we feel are gonna work versus him. It’s the same camp for everybody.

Q

Ronnie, how much sharper is Lara since his great performance against Canelo? You thought he was going to be in good shape to take Ishe before he got to the Canelo fight and give him what he did against Canelo. How confident are you that this fight has become easier for Lara?

R. Shields

I don’t think we go in thinking that the fight is gonna be easy because Ishe is a good fighter. We’ve realized our competitor is going to be tough. So we always train hard all the time, each side of the championship fight for us. We’re going with the mentality that hey, we got to keep the title.

Q

What’s the biggest challenge that Ishe presents for Lara in your mind?

R. Shields

Well, Ishe is a very smart fighter. He’s been around. He’s fought everybody. Look at the guys, look at his record and you’ll see all the guys he’s fought. Ishe is a great fighter. It’s a lot of things that we see, though, that we feel we can take advantage of. And that’s the thing that we are working on and Lara’s in great shape like always and he’s ready to go on Friday night.

Q

Ronnie, you understand what strengths Ishe brings to the table, what a tough awkward fighter he is. You’ve been game planning for that, but have you had any trouble getting your man Erislandy up for this fight mentally and emotionally after being on the biggest platform of boxing, SHOWTIME PPV?

R. Shields

Not at all, Lara is the kind of guy that when he comes with you, he comes with the mentality that he has to work as hard as he can. This is something that he’s always done since I’ve been training him. He works very hard every day. Every fight is a championship fight, maybe because he’s coming over from Cuba and he realizes he wants to be the American dream. So, this is his dream. He realizes in order to fulfill that dream he has to work hard. So, every day, every fight is a championship fight for him, whether it’s for his title or not. He feels great. He’s looking great in the gym. I think on December 12 everybody is going to see all the hard work that he’s put in.

Q

Ronnie, there’s so much talent in the 154-pound weight division. Do you feel that Erislandy is undoubtedly the most talented fighter at 154?

R. Shields

There’s no question about it. He just brings so much to the table. Everybody wants to fight him because just for the simple reason that they want to fight the best guy. So, this is why everybody lines up to fight him, before people weren’t bothering him. But they realize one thing. In the sport of boxing, in order to make money you have to fight the best.

Q

Yeah and obviously you have so much talent and you’ve got two other fighters who are gonna be fighting the next day in Las Vegas (Charlo Brothers) at the MGM Grand. Have you guys been sparring and working together? Have they been able to replicate or have you used anyone who’s been able to replicate somewhat of the awkward movement and the craft of Ishe Smith?

R. Shields

Lara has been sparring with both twins, along with others. But, I don’t believe they try to replicate any other fighter because it just can’t happen. Nobody is going to be exactly like the fighter you’re gonna fight. But yes, both twins have been sparring with Lara and for this point it was also, but the most important thing is that we put a great game plan together. Lara’s going to stick to it. And he’s going to be victorious on December the 12.

Q

Eddie, how has it been working with Ishe in probably the biggest fight of his career?

E. Mustafa Muhammad

Oh, it’s been a pleasure as always. What are we doing is, we’re picking up loose things. I’m showing him how to fight a southpaw because when I was world champion I fought five southpaws. It so happens I knocked all five out. I’m just showing him how to do it, that’s all. We’re working hard.

Q

Obviously you’re in Vegas. You’ve got such great sparring there. Who have you been working with to actually prepare you and try to possibly emulate Erislandy in the ring?

E Mustafa Muhammad

Well, really we just have southpaws. There’s nobody that can emulate anybody. You know on any given day the fighter can change. So, we’re not emulating. We’re just doing what we have to do to beat a crafty southpaw.

Q

Leading into the first fight before the fight was rescheduled, there was a lot of bad blood between both Lara and Smith. Ishe, why has that not been the case this time?

I. Smith

Well, this is boxing, you’ve got to sell a fight, nobody goes into the fight hating somebody and nobody goes and sees somebody in the street and wants to fight them or sees somebody at a fight or a press conference and they want to get in a street fight, you have to sell a fight. You have to hype a fight or the fights done. The fight pretty much sold itself the first time and then when it got rescheduled it’s just selling itself this time. San Antonio fans have a great fan base. They have some wonderful fans out there and all the hard work, all the footwork was done by SHOWTIME and Mayweather Promotions and as fighters we just go in there and fight. The trash talk and all that stuff was good to sell the fight the first time, but I pretty much think it sold itself this time.

Q

Also, for Lara, the same question of why not as much bad blood this time?

E. Lara

The bad blood was put on ink, on the contract, there’s no need to talk, there’s not anything else really to do. We’re a week out and we’ll do our talking in the ring. Obviously, you want to sell fights. You want to do what you can to promote as much as you can, but at this point I feel I’m one of the top fighters in the world and now it’s time to just keep proving why I’m undefeated and why I’m the best 154-pounder in the world.

Q

What are you looking to gain by being in a fight with Ishe Smith and what do you look forward to 2015?

E. Lara

The main focus is on beating Ishe Smith, who’s a solid contender, and handling business. Then in 2015 we want to go out there and just box and get that Mayweather fight, that’s the fight that we want.

Q

Why wasn’t Lara mentioned, with the top fighters in the world like Canelo, Pacquiao, Mayweather and Cotto?

E. Lara

I think it has a lot to do with just me being a very difficult style for any fighter. Part could be because I come from Cuban descent. But I just got to keep doing my job and winning and they got to fight me at the end of the day when it comes down to it.

Q

What do you think Ishe’s most dangerous trait is?

E. Lara

I really don’t know. I haven’t watched any videos, never watched him fight. I’m not worried about what he does. I’m just focused on the fight.

Q

Ishe, were you surprised when the fight landed in San Antonio or do you really care one way or the other?

I. Smith

I didn’t care one way or the other. I was out there for another fight and the fight fans were great. They showed me a lot of love and a lot of respect. So, it’s the most neutral playing field it could be. Like I said, San Antonio has some great fight fans. I’m looking forward to fight out there and putting that on my bucket list as a place that I fought as a pro. So, I’m excited. It would have been nice to be at home, but I understand, the circumstances, the champion and all that going to get his belt. So, I’m excited to be fighting at San Antonio.

Q

Erislandy, have you been to San Antonio and what do you think about fighting here?

E. Lara

San Antonio’s a beautiful place. I go there a lot with the family. I consider it home because I knows it is part of Texas. I live in Houston. It’s a beautiful place. It’s got great fight fans. I was also there for the press conference with Canelo and there are a lot of Latin fans, they support me out there. So I’m very excited to be fighting in San Antonio, which you can basically call home for me.

Q

Erislandy, how do you cope with the mental aspect of possibly being on the wrong side of a decision again?

E. Lara:

The main thing is just to stay focused and work hard. I can’t dictate or judge for the judges. I just have to focus on what I do best and that’s win fights. So, I think that’s why I’m still in the position I’m in and why I’m regarded as the best in the division because regardless of what some of the outcomes have been on the judges’ scorecards a lot of people know the outcome and the truth.

Q

Ronnie, how do you keep motivating the mental aspect for him to get in the ring and give his all when he’s done that every time and been on the other side of the decision?

R. Shields

Well, because all the fans, the fans are what keeps him going. Everybody always comes up and tells him hey, man, they stole it. You won this fight and keep your head up and just keep working. You can’t fool the fans. The fans are who they are and they are the most important people in the sport of boxing because they pay to watch. This is why Lara is going to always be on top. Look if we sit back and wait and let a judge dictate how his career is going to go then we are in very sad shape. So, we don’t do that. We just keep on focusing on what’s ahead, who’s in front of us. The judges may steal it, but the fans always know that he won.

Q

Ishe, do you feel like you have to add some extra components to your training to look dazzling in the ring?

I. Smith

I don’t listen to what people say on social media and what they have to say. I go out and I execute whatever game plan the team puts forth. If I listened to what people have to say on social media and other places I would never be where I am and became the first fighter to ever win a world championship born and raised in Las Vegas.

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“Lonestar Battle: Lara vs. Smith” is 12-round WBA Super Welterweight World Championship fight promoted by Mayweather Promotions and sponsored by Corona Extra. The night of fights is a SHOWTIME BOXING: SPECIAL EDITION (10:15 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast) taking place at the Illusions Theater at The Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

Tickets, priced at $100, $75, $50 and $25, are on sale now and may be purchased by calling The Alamodome Box Office at 800-745-3000. Tickets are also available online at www.ticketmaster.com

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