By David Robinett
Boxing’s next generation took center stage Thursday at the final press conference before Saturday night’s HBO Boxing After Dark tripleheader at HP Pavilion in San Jose, California. The televised portion of the card, presented by Oscar de la Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, features three bouts designated as co-main events, beginning with local star Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero, (23-1-1, 16 KOs), taking on undefeated Indonesian prospect Daud Yordan, (17-0, 12 KOs), in a ten-round junior lightweight bout for the vacant NABO title. Southern California’s “Vicious” Victor Ortiz, (23-1-1, 18 KOs), looks to extend his run of impressive performances, defending his NABO and USBA junior welterweight titles against durable Greek veteran “Mighty” Mike Arnaoutis, (21-2-1, 10 KOs), in the middle bout, while hard-hitting junior middleweights James Kirkland, (24-0, 21 KOs), and Joel Julio, (34-2, 31 KOs), tangle over ten rounds in the evening’s featured matchup.
“This will be a historic event, the first time HBO has come to San Jose,” said de la Hoya in his opening remarks. “This is the type of event that fight fans will be talking about for months and years to come. These are compelling fights, top-notch fights, and it doesn’t get any better than this.”
“HBO has been doing a tremendous job the last few months,” continued de la Hoya. “Putting together a series of fights which has helped out the sport of boxing. To have all this talent on one card is an amazing feat. The fighters that emerge victorious will be able to look back on March 7th as the night when they truly established themselves as the fighters to carry this sport into the next era.”
Former IBF featherweight champion Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero, who hails from nearby Gilroy, California, also expressed his enthusiasm for one of the biggest boxing events the San Francisco Bay Area will have seen in years.
“It’s about time I got out to San Jose to fight and I’d like to thank Golden Boy [Promotions] for putting on the show here.” Guerrero also talked about his intriguing matchup with the enigmatic Indonesian. “Daud Yordan’s a good fighter. I’ve seen one tape on him, it was hard to find, but from what I’ve seen he’s a good fighter, he’s got good hands, good feet, he does a lot of good things in the ring. All I can say is I’m ready to go and I can’t wait.”
The boyish Yordan, who looked younger than his 21 years, drew laughs from the media and others in attendance by unveiling a shirt underneath his jacket with the symbol from “Ghostbusters”, a play on Guerrero’s nickname, but the savvy former champ had a quick response.
“I like that little ‘Ghostbusters’ symbol on the back of his shirt,” noted Guerrero. “But the last person who came out with a ‘Ghostbusters’ sign was Jason Litzau and I knocked him out in eight rounds.”
The other fighters on the televised card were also present and spoke briefly, but the most spirited exchange during the press conference was between the trainers of Joel Julio and James Kirkland. First, Robert Quesada, who trains Julio, stepped to the dais.
“I remember when Mike Tyson fought Evander Holyfield,” observed Quesada. “Mike Tyson had strength, but Evander Holyfield had intelligence, and the intelligent fighter won. On Saturday, James Kirkland will have strength, but Joel Julio will have the intelligence,” observed Quesada with a knowing grin.
Kirkland’s trainer, former female boxing champion and pound-for-pound entrant Ann Wolfe, sternly rebuked Quesada upon her turn at the dais. “I’m not a big talker,” said Wolfe, “But this is not Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson, this is James and Julio and they’ll be chopping some wood, so let the chips fall where they may.”
Kirkland followed by emphasizing that he does not expect the fight with Julio to go the full twelve rounds.
“I know Julio is coming prepared but I came to do what I came to do,” stated Kirkland. “Me and Julio are going to meet up in the center of the ring and we’re going to see whose chin is better.”
Noted trainer James “Buddy” McGirt, who will be in Mike Arnaoutis’s corner Saturday night summarized the feeling of many at the press conference with his comments.
“Everything’s great. It’s a great card with a lot of good fighters on the card. There’s nobody that’s going to be an ‘opponent’ Saturday night.”
The March 7th HBO Boxing After Dark tripleheader at HP Pavilion in San Jose, California will be presented by Golden Boy Promotions and begins at 10:00pm ET/PT (tape delayed on the West Coast.)