Here is a full transcript of last week’s spirited media conference call supporting Don King’s world championship tripleheader at Scottrade Center in St. Louis on Aug. 7. The participants included undefeated WBC/IBF 140-pound champion Devon Alexander “The Great” (20-0, 13 KOs), from St. Louis; who will defend against former WBA super lightweight champion Andriy Kotelnik (31-3-1, 13 KOs), from Lviv Ukraine; and undefeated IBF light heavyweight champion Tavoris “Thunder” Cloud (20-0, 18 KOs), from Tallahassee, Fla.; who will defend against former IBF light heavyweight champion Glen “Road Warrior” Johnson (50-13-2, 34 KOs), from Jamaica now fighting out of Miami.
Alan Hopper (Don King Productions, Public Relations Director) – On Saturday, August 7th, Don King Productions will present a world championship tripleheader, “Gateway to Greatness: The Homecoming” at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. We’ve heard a lot of talk recently from other boxing promoters wanting to present great top-to-bottom cards like Don King cards, but nobody does it like Don King himself. Before we get to the HBO Boxing After Dark co-featured main event fighters we have on our call today, I’d like to mention that we will also feature a domestically non-televised WBC/USNBC cruiserweight championship. Ryan Coyne is an undefeated cruiserweight at 14 and 0 from St. Louis who played collegiate football at Mizzou in 2001 and 2002 before becoming a professional boxer. He will face another undefeated fighter, Warren “The Hit Man” Browning, from Kentucky. Our third World Championship, which also will not be televised domestically, features Cory Spinks of the St. Louis Spinks fighting family, putting his IBF junior middleweight crown on the line against IBF 154-pound mandatory challenger Cornelius “K9” Bundrage. Needless to say, this fight card is loaded. And St. Louis, we want to see you all there at the Scottrade Center to see these great fights live and in person. The featured bouts on August 7 will showcase a pair of undefeated world champions: Devon Alexander “The Great” is St. Louis-born, bred, educated and now a role model for the youth in the Gateway City. He is trained and managed by fellow St. Louisan Kevin Cunningham. “The Great” lived up to his nickname last summer when he won his first world title, the WBC Super Lightweight Championship, by defeating Junior “The Hitter” Witter. Wasting no time, he faced then-IBF 140-pound champion Juan “Iron Twins” Urango at Mohegan Sun in March and scored the most sensational knockout of his career, which was set up by a devastating right upper cut that lifted Urango’s toes off the canvas. Devon will be taking on former WBA Super Lightweight Champion Andriy Kotelnik, of Ukraine. Both of these fighters will carry the hopes and dreams of their respective countries into the ring with them. The second undefeated world champion appearing on the card has the same record as Devon Alexander at 20 and 0, the difference being 18 of his wins have come by knockout. I refer to IBF Light Heavyweight Champion Tavoris “Thunder” Cloud from the capital of our great state of Florida, Tallahassee. Tavoris will face legendary former IBF World Champion Glen “Road Warrior” Johnson who was the 2004 BWAA Fighter of the Year after knocking out Roy Jones Jr. and defeating Antonio Tarver. Tickets priced from just $17.50, $35, $70, $150 and $300 are on sale now at Scottrade Center Box Office, all Ticketmaster ticket centers, including Ticketmaster.com. The event is being promoted by Don King Productions. Doors will open at 5:30 pm. Alexander versus Kotelnik and Cloud versus Johnson will be televised live on HBO beginning at 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time and Pacific Time, 9 p.m. Central Time. Cloud versus Johnson is presented in association with DiBella Entertainment and Warriors Boxing Promotions. Before we introduce the fighters, let’s welcome Event Promoter Don “Only in America” King. Don….
Don King – Thank you, Alan, and thank you all for being on the call. I think this is an exciting time for me because I love St. Louis and I love the St. Louis people. And recognizing that, the great Mayor Francis Slay will be there to be able to enjoy the people that he represents watching a great event. This is the largest card that has ever been presented in the history of St. Louis in boxing. We have three world championship fights and a cruiserweight championship fights. This is intoxicatingly exciting, and there’s going to be something that is good. Budweiser will be there, as you know, Bud is indigenous to Anheuser-Busch. So, we got a great, great show in store for each and every one of you. Don’t hesitate to ask the questions. If you’re a young kid from the Ukraine, Andriy is a tremendous personality there, a great fighter, and I think you – everybody’s going to be shocked and amazed that he’s going to come in and put on a show. Not coming in to be an accommodation, but coming in to try to seek victory. And as you know, we have a super-sensational young man that is indigenous to St. Louis. He is a native. It’s a “Lou” thing with Devon Alexander. Here’s a young man that demonstrates his talent and his skills and also adds to that discipline, constraint and an addiction-like smile that lets everybody know that he’s friendly, affable. But when he gets in the ring, he’s a killer. So, he’s a guy that is really going to demonstrate his talent. And whether he will be successful as the superstar that we all prognosticated, predict him to be, whether or not this young man from the Ukraine can come in and upset that apple cart are the questions that will be answered. So, Missouri is the “Show Me” state. So, we’re going to have the governor–the great Governor Jay Nixon–to be there right at ringside beside me looking over the “Show Me” State. So, when you go to Missouri, they say, “Show me.” Well, that’s what we intend to do to each and everyone. We intend to show you. Not just talk about verbalization, but we’re going to talk about creating something that is going to be provocatively beautiful, a wonderful boxing card from top to bottom. Give the people what they want and they will respond. So, we’re in business, St. Louis, and we’re going to show the world.
Alan Hopper – Thank you. Media, please be advised that Tavoris Cloud and Glen Johnson are up first for your questions. Right now, I’d like to invite Glen Johnson’s promoter, Leon Margules, to give us a camp update on the Road Warrior. Leon?
Leon Margules – Thank you, sir, and I want to thank the people for St. Louis for hosting this great event, and I want to thank one of the greatest, if not the greatest–certainly the most famous promoter but one of the greatest promoters of all time, Don King, for putting this together. And only Don can do events like this, as he’s–over the years, anybody familiar with boxing knows that when you see multiple world championship cards, usually the promoter of those events are Don King. So, I’d like to thank Don for putting the show together and for including this great fight on the show. As you know, I promote the great Glen Johnson, one of the greatest light heavyweights of all time, but to talk about training camp, I think I’d be remiss in doing it myself since I’m not in the gym every day. But, I’d like to introduce his long-time manager and the gentleman who’s responsible for coordinating his camp and making sure things go just right for the Road Warrior, Henry Foster.
Henry Foster – I’d like to start out first by saying as well that in over 20 years of management, this is the first opportunity that I’ve had to work with the great and illustrious Don King. And in the 10 years that I’ve been managing Glen, it’s also our first opportunity together to work with Don King. And we’re very, very grateful and honored to have this opportunity to participate with you in this great event. Getting to the training camp, Glen has come off a terrific knock-out victory over Yusuf Mack. And with virtually no time off, segued right into the training camp to prepare for this fight. We train in Miami in Kendall, the Thump Boxing Gym. That’s where our conditioning coach, who’s the owner of the gym, has set up his operation. And we’ve had very excellent sparring and Glen has been injury-free and he’s just come along terrifically and we expect him to be peaking the night of the fight. It’s been an uneventful camp. And by that, I mean it’s all been good. There’ve been no setbacks, and we’re on weight and fully prepared to show Mr. Cloud and the rest of the world that Glen is the rightful champion and looking to prove that.
Alan Hopper – Thank you, Henry, and thanks, Leon. Tavoris Cloud is trained by a recent inductee into the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame, Al Benani. Al, give the names of a few of the world champions you have trained, and tell us about this camp with your latest world champion, Tavoris Cloud.
Al Bonanni (Trainer of Tavoris Cloud) – Hello to the press, and hello to St. Louis. It’s going to be great to be back in St. Louis. I’ve been there many times. Well, I’ve been with Freddy Pendleton, Uriah Grant, Randall Bailey, Mayorga. There’s been many fighters that I work with. And this young man I believe is going to be the biggest champion that I ever worked with in regards to prominence. Our camp has went very, very well. We’re training at Bonnie Canino’s gym. Bonnie is the four-time women’s world champion, and she acted as conditioner for the camp. She’s a great person and the gym is immaculate, a wonderful place to train in. And we’re ready to go. He’s in great shape, he’s on weight. We’ve prepared diligently for this about, and we’re looking forward to it.
How’s everybody? This question is for right down the middle for each of these guys. Glen, you came off the–a pretty sensational win over a fairly young guy and really defied your age. Can you do it again against this young guy? And Tavoris, can you beat this–I don’t even want to say “old guy.” I mean, what can you do against this crafty veteran? Those questions for each of you.
Glen Johnson – I mean, I’m in shape. Certainly, we have worked on a few things differently for Tavoris. He’s a different type of fighter. So, we prepare in the right way to fight that kind of style, and we–everybody in our camp–certainly believe that I can do it again. I truly believe that and we’re going to go out and do it. And you can talk about it forever, but when you go out and do it, that’s when it’s all said and done.
Tavoris Cloud – Yeah, basically, I don’t think Glen Johnson is the fighter that he used to be. And I don’t think I will have any problems winning the fight on August 7.
I mean, after what he did in his last fight, you could say that, that he’s not the fighter he used to be?
Tavoris Cloud – Yeah, I’m not impressed. Not impressed.
Glen, do you have any response to that?
Mr. Glen Johnson – Not really. I mean, I don’t have to talk a lot of noise. To me, it’s all about stepping in the ring and doing what you do. That’s what I’ve been doing for many years. I’m never somebody who ever disrespect anybody. That’s not my style. I go in the ring and do my work. That’s what I’m paid for and that’s what I’m prepared to do.
Well, Tavoris, you said you haven’t been impressed. Could you be a little more specific? And then, maybe Glen could respond to that.
Mr. Tavoris Cloud – Well, I watched the fight. I watched the Johnson and Yusuf Mack fight. And to me it didn’t look like Yusuf Mack was in any kind of shape to be fighting. He basically gave up. I don’t believe that Glen Johnson was fighting a fighter who had a strong mind that night. And I can look at Yusuf Mack and I know that he’ll be fighting a different kind of fighter in me come August 7.
And, Glen, how do you respond to that?
Glen Johnson – Well, certainly, he’s correct. Yusuf Mack–he’s a totally different fighter than Tavoris Cloud. I didn’t prepare for Yusuf Mack in this fight. I got prepared for Tavoris Cloud. And so, yeah, it is a different fight, and I’m looking forward to this win.
Glen, what is your mentality that allows you to continue to kind of reach back into that fountain of youth and just find what you find to win these fights?
Glen Johnson – I’m blessed. I mean, I’m in that elite few that still can do sports at that age (41) when most people say you shouldn’t able to do it. So, I’m very thankful that I’m able to do what I do at this age. And I don’t know what the answer is. People ask me all the time, ‘How you do it,’ and I say, I just train hard. I don’t have any bad habit as far as drinking and smoking or drugs or anything like that. I don’t let that play a part. I don’t know if it’s just genes. I don’t know what it is, but I’m still able to do it and I’m doing it well. I’m thankful and I go out there and try to represent myself well each and every time.
Are you confident you can do this against Tavoris Cloud? Is he anything different than anything you’ve ever seen in the ring, or you’ve seen this before?
Glen Johnson – I mean, there is not much in there in boxing. I mean, there’s a left hand and a right hand and, hey, I’ve seen it thrown every different kind of way throughout my career. So, certainly, it won’t be nothing I haven’t seen before.
Glen, with the amount of experience that you have in the ring, are you looking at that to be an advantage because you’ve fought guys like Tavoris before? And do you think that it’s going to be a problem for Tavoris because he doesn’t have the extensive professional career as you?
Glen Johnson – Well, I’m really not even thinking about none of those things. I get prepared to fight, and I get prepared to fight against the skill set that the fighter that I’m about to challenge brings to the table. And I don’t think outside of that box too much, because once you start doing that, then you start allowing things to creep in your mind. So, I just do what I’m supposed to do. I’m ready for this fight, I’m well prepared and I’m not looking for no easy way out. We go in there, we do what we do and we see who come out victorious. I feel confident it will be me.
Have you adjusted your training and your approaches to the fight? Any difference, say, as when you were as young a man as Tavoris?
Mr. Glen Johnson – Not so much. I mean, I made some small adjustments, but not so much. I still can do the things that I normally do. I still have the same kind of energy level and spirit and a love for boxing. I mean, it takes tremendous courage to keep going back in the ring and do what I do based on just my career or my experiences that I have throughout my career. It’s not an easy thing to get up and go back and put in the work that I put in, knowing what a lot of the outcomes have been. So, I have to just stay focused and keep my eye on the prize and do what I need to do to be successful.
But, going into this fight, I mean you’re 41 years of age now. Are you kind of looking at this as your last shot? I mean, still, has that kind of changed the way you approach the fight?
Glen Johnson – Well, again, I just stay focused on who I’m fighting. I don’t really look outside of that box. But, I mean, certainly if you want to look at it on a broad margin, it’s my opportunity to go out there. It’s not a lot more of those going to come around at this time in my career. So, I definitely got to look at it as my last opportunity.
Can you describe your thought process about going in the ring, for taking probably one of your smallest purses in a very, very long time to put yourself in this position?
Glen Johnson – Well, it’s not my first time taking shortened money. A lot of times I–.
But when–there’s short money and then there’s, like, no money.
Glen Johnson – Yeah, that’s true. Well, I take that just for the opportunity, and I did it, a lot of times you fight for money, and then sometimes, in my situation, you have to fight for opportunities. And that’s how I look at that situation. So, just the fact that we was able to do what we did and come back strong after losing a fight to Chad Dawson, it was a good opportunity for me to come back and be able to make a statement. And looking forward to completing that statement now.
Can you talk about just the frustration in those types of layoffs and how that came about, and also what do you think the layoff will do to you when you finally do get in the ring against a guy that sure knows how to make a guy work for 12 rounds like Glen Johnson does?
Tavoris Cloud – Well, I don’t think my time off will have any negative effect on me. As of August 7th, I come to fight, and I will put on a great show. As far as being off, my time off, in the past, I had some promotional problems and stuff, which is why I’m signed with Don King now. So, everything is going smooth. My head is clear. I don’t have to worry about when the next fight is coming, when is this or that going to happen. So, August 7th we get this fight over with, we’re just going on the road.
Would you like to keep a more active schedule? Because if you–still, from the Gonzales fight to this fight, it will be two fights in just about two years to the day. And that–.
Mr. Tavoris Cloud – Yeah, I would definitely like to be more active. Like I said, I had promotional problems, and that problem has been handled.
So, I just want to know how much longer and who will you fight next.
Glen Johnson – I don’t know the answer to none of those questions. I don’t know how much longer I’m going to fight. It all depends on how long can I fight on a high level. And I don’t know who is next. It’s all based on what will manifest themselves after the victory. So, we just take it one fight at a time and we stay focused on one fight at a time.
Glen, if you win the championship–I’m also from Jamaica. Will you be coming home for a parade?
Glen Johnson – Yeah. I’m looking forward to coming home in December. I don’t think I’m going to come home right after the fight. And it’s not ‘if.’ I will. I’ll win my championship back.
What was your reaction when Glen Johnson was–name brought to you?
Tavoris Cloud – Well, Glen Johnson is the number one contender. When the name Glen Johnson was brought to me, it was like, let’s go. He’s the mandatory, let’s fight him. Let’s get him out the way and go to the next step.
What have you been doing in the time off? Have you been keeping the weight down and things like that, or are you kind of one of those guys that wait until you hear–get the call and then go back into the gym?
Tavoris Cloud – No, I’ve been training. I’ve been in camp for a while and I’ve been keeping everything up to par. And it’ll be a great show August 7th.
What is the thought process of taking these fights against younger guys that are very hungry and strong like Tavoris?
Glen Johnson – Well, I mean, if I can’t do on a high level, it don’t make no sense I do it. And I mean, a lot of those guys, too, they also have a lot more that–a lot more–what you say, like a celebrity status. I guess you’re referring to, like, a Bernard Hopkins. And Bernard Hopkins can fight a guy that–a dead guy and still make decent money just because he’s fighting off his name. And Uriah Jones and those guys can do similar things. I don’t really have that kind of–and even if I did, I wouldn’t take that route anyway–but I really don’t have that kind of privilege. So, for me, for my whole career being a hard career from the beginning–and it will be all the way until the end–I don’t take any soft fights and neither do I pull any punches. I just go at it with the attitude where I got to fight for everything that I have. I got to earn mine. So, that–I always kept that attitude and never change it.
Mr. King, it has to be rewarding to see guys like Cory Spinks and Devon Alexander be at the level they’re at to where you can bring cards in their back yard.
Don King – Yes, it is. It’s a thrill for me because I love St. Louis and ‘Meet Me in St. Louis’ on August the 7th. And this is what I’m really doing is a promotion of the people. And this is what makes St. Louis so special with me. It’s the Show Me state. And in St. Louis you get the opportunity to do just that, to show it to the world. And to give a great card from top to bottom is just–is the motif that I use. It is my thing. Always promoting the people. When you hear me say I’m a promoter of the people for the people and by the people and my magic lies in my people ties, that’s exactly what it is. And so, to have great men here and to have two guys that are indigenous St. Louians. That is Cory Spinks. You’ve seen Devon Alexander fight under him all the way down the line from the beginning of his career to him now becoming a champion with a great trainer like Kevin Cunningham. And then, to see now the youngster go up on top of the card and be the main event, I mean, that is something that everyone can be very, very proud of and to do so without getting himself into any kind of problems. Got great discipline, a bonafide good citizen, role model, young man that is dealing with all of the decadence and all of the different opportunities to go wrong, chooses to go right. I think it’s a remarkable reflection on St. Louis and what St. Louis has, and it makes me feel good to be a part of this type of evolution that we seen happening right there before our eyes. Devon Alexander, two-belt champion, right now defending his crowns in a homecoming on August 7th, ‘Gateway to Greatness’ at the great arena that we have there. And it makes me feel good to be a part of all this with John Urban and all the rest of them in the Scottrade Center there. So, it’s a great thing for me, because it’s about the people.
I was wondering, with both Glen and Tavoris being Florida guys, have they ever sparred with each other?
Glen Johnson – I was told that we sparred, but I don’t remember it. So, I don’t know if it’s real or not.
Tavoris, do you remember sparring with Glen?
Tavoris Cloud – Not really. Not really. I might have come through the gym and sparred a couple of rounds with a couple people, but I don’t necessarily remember it.
Don…Real good undercard, too. Is Cory Spinks’ fight going to be on DonKingTV or anything like that?
Don King – Well, we’re thinking about that, and–but, right now, it’s going to be there for all the people at the Scottrade Center along with this Irishman, you know what I mean? Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ra, an Irish lullaby. The Irish will be sitting there but the kelly green will be in vogue when Ryan Coyne comes on to defend or to get this championship fight that the WBC has put together. I think that’s going to be really great. So, you’re going to have the Irish and everyone else coming in… This is a super card and I’m very proud of it. And I think that we may find ways and means that that could be seen on DonKingTV.
Don, I have to hand it to you about putting up such a great card. What does it take, in your opinion, to set up a card of such a caliber for boxing fans? What does it take, what’s involved, and why is it so hard for other promoters to put up such a fight?
Don King – Well, you have to respect the fighters. You got to be able to relate and identify with them as people, not as products or something that could be ephemeral, and they’re human beings. When you can relate and identify with them and you can talk to them, you can show them the benefit of being there with all of these fighters. They have to be able to demonstrate their talent and their ability. And each one will have a different selfish invested interest, but they all have a common goal: to be the champion of the world and to let the world know that they’re the champion and become a people’s fighter such as a Muhammad Ali or George Foreman or a Ken Norton. And these are the things that we have to try to be able to deal with. And in so doing, we can then make their career bigger and they can make money. So, it’s about relating and identifying with the fighters that’s going to be on the card, so that they don’t get caught up in a lot of mundane things of egos and who’s going to be up first and which one is going to be this, that and the other. So, it’s a thing about ‘getting to know you, getting to know all about you’ and to be able to deal with the people that you have at hand to respect them. So, that’s what really enables me to put on great cards with great fighters that has great confidence, great egos, and has great desire to make money. So, that’s what makes me be able to do that, because I understand. I can empathize, sympathize and commiserate with their plight.
And with so many championship-level fighters on this card, is there going to be enough pots–money in the pot to give them great purses so that everybody walks away happy, including you, making any money from this fight?
Don King – Well, this fight here–I don’t think money is going to be the most important asset. I don’t think it’s going to be a lot of money to be made in this fight, but it’s going to give a lot of people an opportunity in this fight. And what you’re seeing–if you have these type of fights and they become superstars, they will make the money. This money is always there if you can create the demand, and then create a supply to supply that demand that you created. And so, when you become a people’s champion, when you can relate and identify with the people, the people are the most important. So, I look forward to this card taking place in St. Louis with Francis Slay, with Anheuser-Busch and Company and with John Irvin and David Checketts and with the Scottrade Center. All these combinations….
Don King – …Of people working together. And working together works will enable St. Louis to go back into the forefront of the world because this Ukrainian kid had 50,000 people seeing him off. And that means how popular he is back at home in the Ukraine. So, it’s going to be the Irish, the Ukrainians. It’s going to be many of the Americans, the Jamaicans. And so, it’s going to be a super event that brings the people together and illustrates and demonstrated the Melting Pot theory of what this great nation is all about. So, it’s going to be what you think, and I think, and it’s going to be fabulous. And I’m just excited about it. And I want everybody to see, so carry the word to friend and foe alike that a great happening is taking place in St. Louis on August the 7th, ‘Gateway to Greatness: The Homecoming of Devon Alexander.’ So, don’t forget it, and be there.
Alan Hopper – We’ve got Devon Alexander, his trainer and manager Kevin Cunningham, Andriy Kotelnik and Stacey McKinley, Andriy’s trainer, on the call. We also have DKP Consultant Pavel Govzman on the call, who may be translating, or we may have Andrew translating. But first, I’d like to take a moment to announce that Fox Sports Midwest will be producing a 30-minute special titled ‘Gateway to Greatness: The Devon Alexander Story,’ that will air in prime time during Fight Week on Thursday, August 5th at 7:30 p.m. Central Time. Thanks to Fox Sports Midwest for that. Kevin Cunningham has managed and trained Devon Alexander since before he began doing amateur tournaments. Kevin, I know you’re out in Vegas at Don King’s house, and I’ve heard Devon is sleeping in the same bed Iron Mike used to sleep in when he trained in Vegas. Is this true, Kevin?
Kevin Cunningham – Oh, yeah. Definitely, definitely. We had the same training camp for the Juan Urango fight, so yeah, we’re happy with our training arrangements and this is the House of Greatness, and we’re having a tremendous training camp.
When did you guys get out to camp, and any other details about how it’s going before we go to questions from the media?
Kevin Cunningham – It’s going great. We–I think we got here June the 12th. So, we’ve been here for five weeks now and we got three weeks to go, and everything is going great.
Alan Hopper – New trainer of Andriy Kotelnik, Stacey McKinley, is on the line. Stacey has worked with or trained Samuel “The Nigerian Nightmare” Peter, Zab “Super” Judah, Ricardo “El Matador” Mayorga, “Iron Mike” Tyson and the others. Stacey, has Andriy–Stacey is up in the Don King Training Camp just outside Cleveland in Orwell, Ohio. Stacey, you went right up to camp after the initial press conference in St. Louis on June 10th, didn’t you?
Stacey McKinley – Yeah, we’ve been in training now for about nine weeks. We trained for about four weeks and I gave them a week off. He went on a little small vacation. He come back, so we still in the camp. We’ve been training every day and the kid is in good shape, and we’re ready to go.
Tim Bradley and Abregu, they were really talking up the division in a possible fight between you and Tim. Can you guys talk about that–how HBO showcasing you guys, first Timmy last week and then you guys on the 7th. How did Timmy do on his end to promote maybe a possible fight for you, and what can people expect from Devon on the 7th?
Kevin Cunningham – Well, I love the idea of hyping up a fight with the two best 140-pounders in the world, Devon and Tim. And Bradley took care of business last week, now Devon has to take care of business on August the 7th. The only difference is Bradley had a subpar performance and Devon’s going to have an explosive performance.
Can you go on about why you thought his performance was subpar?
Kevin Cunningham – Yeah. Well, my opinion is his performance was subpar. First of all, he fought an opponent with no credentials. I mean, he had a trumped-up record, but has he ever won any titles, has he ever fought in any world title fights? I mean, he had no accomplishments. He had an undefeated record with no accomplishments, and the guy–I mean, he didn’t even put on a good show. And Tim Bradley, he had something like that in front of him–a pathetic opponent in front of him–and he basically just went 12 rounds and won a subpar decision. And that’s my opinion. I mean, he didn’t look spectacular to me.
And, Devon, your thoughts on it?
Devon Alexander – Well, I’m pretty much the same on that. It was real subpar. I didn’t see nothing special. I don’t really see the hype. They’ve been hyping Timothy Bradley up. Just skill-wise. I mean, he has heart, but he has nothing special. And again, it was a lame performance.
Devon, how does it make you feel when Timmy Bradley looks into the screen and says he wants to fight Manny Pacquiao? Do you feel like he’s been avoiding you?
Devon Alexander – Well, yeah. He knows I got skills and he don’t want to fight nobody that’s got skills and that he knows better than them. So, I’m not worrying about that. I’m worrying about August 7th.
Kevin, how did you feel about that?
Kevin Cunningham – Well, I think it’s a disgrace when the media and the fans give Tim Bradley the title as the best 140-pounder in the world when it’s obvious that he’s avoiding fighting one of the top 140-pounders in the world. And everybody considers Devon and Tim Bradley the two best and he constantly avoids Devon. And he’s done nothing to put himself in position to earn the right to fight a great fighter like Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather. So, I mean I think it’s a disgrace to even continue to mention Bradley’s name with the likes of Pacquiao and Mayweather. And I say the same thing about Devon. You’ve never heard Devon mention Pacquiao or Mayweather because Devon wants to go out here and prove that he deserves to be in the conversation with the greats, but he wants to prove himself first by being the best in his division and fighting the best in his division. And that’s why we applaud Andriy Kotelnik for taking the fight. He took the fight when the so-called ‘best guys’ didn’t want to take the fight.
Hey, Devon, can you talk a little bit about just your emotions as far as coming home to defend the title?
Devon Alexander – Oh, man, it’s a great, great, great feeling. I mean, from coming in on the undercard, fighting first on the undercards–of guys that I saw and admired for years–to become a main event at home at Scottrade Center, the biggest arena in St. Louis, I mean, it’s a blessing because most people, they don’t get an opportunity like I do, coming from where I come from. And I’m just thankful to Scottrade for putting me on; I’m thankful for Don; I’m thankful to my coach, Kevin; and I want to make the most of it.
The discussion within the industry and from HBO with the media and that sort of stuff is that Timmy won his fight last week. If you take care of your fight against Kotelnik on August 7th, they are looking at possibly doing the two of you against each other and it will be a very big fight some time at the end of January. When you hear stuff like that, is it something you don’t want to look ahead to at all, or does it motivate you to put on even a more specific performance against Kotelnik?
Devon Alexander – Oh, it’s all motivation, all motivation. I mean it’s hard work and hard work pays off. I know I got to keep working. I know I got a tough task on August 7th, and I’m focused 100 percent on that. But, I know after this–if I take care of this–I know it’s bigger and bigger opportunities down the road. So, I kind of stay focused on the task ahead and just use the future tense as motivation.
I know Kevin wants it because he’s told me that 1,000 times. Is that the fight that you want if you can win August 7th?
Devon Alexander – –Definitely, definitely. I definitely want that because I think he’s a roadblock. He’s the reason that people are not seeing me as the best 140-pounder in the world, which they said, arguably both was ours. So, I mean, he’s a roadblock in me becoming a megastar.
How does he view the fact that a lot of people are just simply overlooking him and not giving him, not giving him a chance to win, that he’s just there to be beaten while Devon will go on to some other bigger things, that it’s sort of like this is the semi-final, but he’s a huge underdog?
Pavel Govzman (interpreter) – First of all, Andriy didn’t come here to be a little boy. He is a three-time world champion and, like Devon said, he’s going to finish the fight by the second round or he can just keep talking, because Andrew is not going to give up without a fight.
His feelings about being more or less overlooked in the entire promotion?
Kotelnik – Let me try something. I’m not going to talk too much about it. I don’t want to jump ahead of myself, but everybody is going to see on August the 7th who, really, Andrew Kotelnik is. Everybody is going to get their questions answered. And don’t forget for a minute that I am a three-time former world champion. And I think taking me lightly would be a big mistake. And you know how people say that Russians are coming? Well, let me tell you, Ukrainians are here.
Stacey McKinney – That’s right. The Ukrainians are here!
While we’re talking about Andriy, Don King has been to camp because his home in Cleveland is near there. You visited Andriy four times in camp. Before Mike asks his next question, can you say what you’ve seen of Andriy up at camp, Don?
Don King – Andriy is a great champion. He’s a guy that’s coming to fight. He is not coming to accommodate. He’s coming to put on a fight. And what makes this fight so great is the significant part of Kevin Cunningham. Kevin Cunningham selected Andriy Kotelnik because everywhere we would go to get a match, it would be turned down. They was too fat, too short, too tall, too skinny, wasn’t experienced enough, wasn’t known–this, that, and the other. And we were promised Maidana, we was promised Maidana, we was promised Maidana. We couldn’t get anyone to come from Bradley, we couldn’t get Bradley, and everybody that we tried to fight was not approvable. And so, Kevin said, ‘Listen, there’s a guy out there that going to be hard-pressed not to be approved because he beat Maidana, the one that they were trying to give to us.” And it was Andriy Kotelnik. And since I met this man, he’s one of the most hard-working fighters I have ever met. He trains every day, he’s out there in the camp and running and training three times a day. He’s going to try to win this fight…
Don King – …I’ve been there and seen this guy working. He goes out and does his thing. It’s going to be good because I know that’s the way that Kevin runs his camp and that his guy is going to be ready. So, you’re going to have two highly trained physically fit athletes meeting in the center of the arena in St. Louis, and it’s going to be a barn-burner. Everybody will see it and recognize it.
From what you’ve seen with your own eyes, does he look like he’s taking Devon Alexander lightly?
Don King – No, he isn’t. In fact, he’s overzealous. He’s taking him more important and he’s putting a lot of emphasis on it. And I know that because he just knows the way that Devon works, you know what I mean? So, it’s going to be a good: an irresistible force against an immovable object. Something has got to give, and give it will on August the 7th. So, be there to check it out, because this is going to be a real war.
Is it a possibility that he (Devon) is overlooking Kotelnik just by thinking about this other stuff too much? And if yes, what do you say to bringing him back down and have him focus on this fight at hand?
Kevin Cunningham – Well, it’s my job to make sure that he’s not overlooking anybody. First of all, Devon is a focused individual. I’m an extremely focused individual. So, yeah, we could talk about the prospects of future fights and what could be down the road. We could talk about those things. We can talk and chew bubble gum at the same time, but we’re focused on August the 7th. And we wanted to fight a real Top 10, 140-pound, world class former champion-type opponent. We didn’t want to go out and handpick a nobody or anything like that. So, I mean, Devon knows that he’s fighting an Olympic silver medalist, a former world champion and a guy that has beaten Marcos Maidana. So, we don’t come to camp for eight weeks, run five miles every day in the mountains, spar 40 rounds a week for six weeks and train the way we train because we’re overlooking somebody. So, this stuff about overlooking somebody, that ain’t the way we do business in this camp. So, we’re focused, we got a serious opponent in front of us, a former world champion, a Top 10 140-pounder, and that’s just the way we would like it. That’s the only we want to do business. We want to fight the best. We think he’s one of the best junior welterweights in the world, and that’s what we’re preparing for.
Andriy, can you give a scouting report on what you see Devon Alexander being as a fighter–your scouting report on Devon Alexander?
Andriy Kotelnik – I think that (my trainer) Stacey should answer this question.
Stacey McKinney – Well, I hear all this talk about Devon and Bradley. It seemed like they’re overlooking Kotelnik, but I tell you what, this is going to be a hard, hard fight for Devon. And I know–I’ve been knowing Kevin and Devon for a long time. I know Devon is well trained. I know he’s well managed, and he’s well promoted. And I think that Don King is doing a hell of a job on this promotion, and it look like each fight is a super fight. And I know this going to be a super fight and there’s no doubt about it that Ukrainian fighters and Russian fighters are the hardest-working fighters in show business. So, sometime Cunningham better be aware of what you ask for. Sometimes you ask for something you don’t want. And I’m very, very pleased in working with my fighter. He’s easy to work with, he’s training hard. He’s running. He’s doing everything that a fighter’s supposed to do. And like I told him, I said, ‘Look, you’ve got to take a week off.’ I had to actually run him out of the gym. They went to Daytona Beach for a week. He had to take a break because he had been at camp for about nine weeks–a little bit too long–and he didn’t want to take a week off. He said, ‘I never, I haven’t been off in five years.’ I said, ‘Well, in this particular instance, you got to take some time off and come back fresh,’ because he’s working as hard as six fighters. I know Devon. Everybody’s talking about the great knockout he had against Juan Urango, but everybody know that Juan Urango is slow as molasses. And I’m going to give Devon a new name. We’re going to call him the Missouri Catfish, and we’re going to knock that mudcat out and throw him in the Mississippi River. And we’re not worried about none of those fighters down there. So, Devon, you just keep thinking about Bradley and overlook this man right here and you’ll see who’s going to take these belts back home.
Kevin, can you give me a scouting report for all of my readers at the Sweet Science who haven’t seen Kotelnik? What’s the scouting report on this kid?
Kevin Cunningham – He’s a solid, Kotelnik is a solid fighter. Like I said, he’s a former world champion. He’s an Olympic silver medalist. He has a stellar boxing background. I think he’s one of the best junior welterweights in the world. But, Devon’s going to make him look like a piece of shit.
And technically, what does he bring to the table? What are your assessment of skills and technique, if you don’t mind?
Kevin Cunningham – Well, I mean, he has good defense. He keeps his hands up pretty good and he has a decent jab. And, he’s a solid fighter. And nothing special, but he’s solid.
Do you still feel that way after the training camp and after watching more video and just seeing what Kotelnik can do?
Kevin Cunningham – Well, basically, my whole outlook on what I was saying is the fact that Devon is going to jump in Kotelnik’s ass and he’s going to be in it from the opening bell. And I can’t see Kotelnik standing up to this type of beating, for 12 rounds. So, if he does make through 12 rounds, more power to him, but he’s getting a beating that he’s never gotten in his life before on August the 7th, and I can’t see him taking that for 12 rounds. But, if he does….
Mr. Stacey McKinney – –Well, that’s what we want him to do! That’s how what we want it, want him to do. Step out and jump on him.
Kevin Cunningham – –It’s more power to him….
Andriy Kotelnik – Well, first of all, Devon’s the greatest… Since you guys started talking like that, I don’t see anything great in you, either. And so far, you haven’t beaten anybody, really, who deserves that special of attention. And you know who I have fought in the past. And every opponent of mine also talked the same BS before the fight as you just did. But, you know what? Almost every one of them paid for the words later during the fight. And Kevin, be careful what you ask for, because you might be in deep shit yourself right now.
Kevin Cunningham – Well, one of those opponents that whipped your ass was Junior Witter, who Devon stopped in eight rounds. So, you’re right…
Andriy Kotelnik – You’re right. Keep talking about your opponents. First of all, if you saw the fight between me and Witter, you know that the result would’ve been different it was outside of England. That’s first of all…
Kevin Cunningham – That’s an excuse Andriy has for every loss that he has. Every loss that he has, he blames it on where the fight was held!
Andriy Kotelnik – First of all, Kevin, you can go on the Internet and see it for yourself. Don’t ask us about this fight. It’s not our excuse. We’re not giving any excuses. We take full responsibility…
Kevin Cunningham – I watched the fight…
Stacey McKinney – –You ain’t got to worry about this fight because your boy going to get knocked out. That mud cat–that Missouri mud cat–going to get knocked out.
Kevin Cunningham – –We’re…
Stacey McKinney – –Don’t worry about no decision. We’re going to knock that mud cat out.
Kevin Cunningham – –…going to send the man rushing back to Russia with a whipped ass.
Andriy Kotelnik – You might send mad Russians back to Russia, but we don’t have Russians here. You have a Ukrainian here. So…
Kevin Cunningham – –Ukrainian, Russian, wherever…You’re going back with your ass whipped.
Stacey McKinney – –But, I’m Russian, too. I’m a Russian, too, and I’m black. I’m the black Russian. We knock that mud cat out and throw him in the Mississippi River and take all the beautiful women in Missouri back to the Ukraine.
Andriy Kotelnik – Lately, you’ve been a little bit more shy when the press conference is in-person. As always, over the phone you’re a little bit more brave. That’s good to know your side. I mean, it’s good. We look forward to seeing you for the next press conference and see what you have to say there.
Kevin Cunningham – Man. You know what? You know what? What in the world…?
Stacey McKinney – Sleeping in Mike Tyson’s bed? We’re going to put you in Mike Tyson’s arms!
Kevin Cunningham – He wants to get his ass whipped in the ring and outside the ring talking like that…
Stacey McKinney – –Oh, we fight inside and outside. Don’t make no difference to us!
Andriy Kotelnik – We look forward any time, Kevin. We are coming to your house. You will never come to our house because you’re too scared of that…
Kevin Cunningham – –…There’s no reason to come to your house because when we get through with you in St. Louis…
Andriy Kotelnik – So we’re coming to your house and we’ll make you pay. We’ll see how you feel after that, okay?
Kevin Cunningham – Devon’s going to retire this boy, man.
Andriy has fought in some tough environments. He fought Souleymane M’baye in his home country, Junior Witter in his home country and Gavin Rees in his home country. Does he believe that those experiences are going to help him going into this tough environment?
Kevin Cunningham – –Amir Kahn. Amir Kahn…
Ask him if he feels like that’s going to give him the mental advantage because he’s seen this type of thing before.
Andriy Kotelnik – What’s going to help me on August the 7th is my experience that I brought with me, as well as my work and my training with Stacey McKinney, who taught me a lot in the last several weeks and who did a lot for my preparation. And from what you say you saw in the tapes you have watched, Kevin and Devon, I think you’ve seen some romantic movies, not my fights. But, after next fight, when you see the fight against Kotelnik, when you see that video and go over what happened in that fight, I think it’s going to remind you of a horror movie, not like the romantic videos you’ve been watching. I would also like to use this opportunity to thank Don King for actually giving me this opportunity and giving me this chance and for such hospitality. I am living at one of his houses in Orwell, Ohio, and training at one of the best training camps in the world. So, I am really grateful for that. It’s very difficult for me to be so far away from my family, but I’m here to take the belt back home, and that’s why I’m here. I want to thank Don King and Don King Productions, HBO and everybody who has helped to get me the opportunity for this fight. Thank you, everybody.
Don, on the HBO telecast this past Saturday, Max Kellerman, after the Bradley fight, kind of made and interesting point about how all these promotional companies, Golden Boy and Top Rank, they all want to pit their fighters against one another to basically make the most profit for themselves. Now, you’ve definitely been under some scrutiny throughout your entire promotional career, but just kind of give your thoughts on that. You’re putting together a great care on August 7th, and obviously, everybody wants to make the most money they can, but do you agree with Max Kellerman that boxing is shifting in kind of a poor direction going that way, or do you think that it’s being over-hyped as–or he overhyped that a little bit?
Don King – Well, what it is with me is you give the people what they want and then they say, ‘When is the next one?’ They respond. ‘When is the next one?’ They don’t want to worry about going on a pay-per-view show where they–if the top main man does not show–then everybody’s disappointed and they go away with a sour taste in their mouth because the undercard was non-existent. My undercards are cool pictures. You got four championship matches on this card alone. And so, this is a thing here that is unheard of with anybody else, but I’m in the promoting of the people. That’s why I subscribe to the feeling that Kevin exposited. It ain’t about what you fight, it’s who you fight. It’s not when you fight or where you fight, it’s who you fight. And so, you’ve got to be able to–in order to be able to get to Monaco to break the bank, a lot of guys that get in to Monaco has the best without being the best, without fighting the rest. And this is what we want to be able to change. You got to put the guys in there to become people’s champions where the people will make the acclamation and pronounce the declaration that you are the champion in their mind, their hearts and everything. In their eyes, you’re the champion. And they will pay to see you. You get paid for doing that. But, you can’t do it if you don’t get an opportunity to be seen. So, I want to be able put on the best fights, and I want to make money just like anyone else. I’m a capitalist, you know what I mean, but I’m a people person first. And that means you’ve got to be able to deal with what is real and what is practical. And when you find these type of contenders that we have here existing in St. Louis, and the role model kid that’s in the den of iniquity, yet he can find the crowning achievement of bringing God and himself–let God bring him out–extricating him from this den of iniquity and put him into a situation where he could be of benefit to mankind and humanity and his fellow human beings, that’s what I’m looking for. People that will make America better, to make the world better. So, it’s a thing here. Fight the best. That’s where I come from, that school of Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Ken Norton, Larry Holmes. Fight the best. Whatever it is, the rest of them, they can do what they want. Fight the best. So, if it takes working with the other promoters to do that, I’m willing to do that because my fighters has got to be able to stand the test of time to be able to rise above the plate. And the only way you can do that is by them fighting each other.
Even Golden Boy said the other day that they’re trying to make their upcoming Pay-Per-View event match up with a Don King undercard. How do you feel when you see things like that?
Don King – I feel very proud, very pleased, very humbled, you know what I mean? Because all they basically doing is saying, “Hey, we respect the people.” That’s because that’s really what I am. I’m one of the masses not the classes, yet I can illustrate and verify Rudyard Kipling when he said you can walk with kings but yet keep the common touch. You know what I mean? It’s about people. It’s about us meeting and greeting each other, being able to deal with one another. And so, when you’re in sports competing–lie they did in the World Cup–the least of them come up and win. Spain has never won the World Cup. So, you get things that they saw–when you got competition. You never know what’s going to happen in a boxing match. And that’s why you go to see it because of the challenge. You know what I mean? Psychologically, physically, you know what I mean, mentally? It’s something. And so, it’s excitement in the time of trouble and suffering. Now, boxing matches were superb to be able to give a vicarious feeling of getting away from the stress and the anger and the unemployment, you know what I mean, and all the different things that are there, you can kind of get a moment of relief. And so, this is going to be a tremendous show and I’m real happy for Dave Checketts now, who have taken over the Scottrade Center because he’s a dynamite guy. And Dave is one that also–coming from Madison Square Garden, he understands and he got a great administrator there with Urban–John Urban–and so we got a combination that is really made in boxing Heaven to bring the people together to really put on a great, great show there in St. Louis. And then, you got the king of beers. One king to another is Budweiser, the King of Beers. This Bud’s for you. So, you got everything that’s going, man, here up on the groundswell world of public opinion to the elitist. Everybody that’s anybody must be there.
Kevin, we talked about the relationship you have with Devon. More impressively, the relationship you guys had in the–in particular in the Urango fight. Can you talk about the communication that went on there, how much of it was Devon’s IQ, how much of it was your instruction, was interesting a combination of both and the bond that you guys shared in that fight.
Kevin Cunningham – Well, I think it’s a combination of both. I mean, Devon is a highly intelligent young fighter–just 23 years old. He’s the youngest world champion in the world, a unified world champion, but he’s always been above the curve. Back in the amateur days, I changed Devon’s birth certificate to put him in with the grown men because he was prepared and talented enough to deal with those guys.
How old was he at that point when you changed it? Do you remember?
Kevin Cunningham – Yes. He was 16 and you had to be 17 to fight in the national Golden Gloves tournament. So, I changed his birth certificate and made him 17, and he went on to beat everybody in his weight class. So he’s always been above his age bracke, or he’s always been above the curve when it comes to boxing. And like I said, he’s one of the hardest working fighters I’ve ever trained–I’ve ever seen, for that matter. He reminds me of the old guys. Devon is a throwback. He reminds me of Henry Armstrong. I mean, when I look at Devon I see Henry Armstrong. So, and he had…
Stacey McKinney – –You better stop lying. He’s no Henry Armstrong–.
Kevin Cunningham – –And he has that mentality. So, we’ve been together since he was seven years old. Devon has been with me since he was seven, so when you’ve been together that long, a lot of things–Devon can look at me a certain way–I can look at him and he’ll know what type of adjustment to make. We’ve been together that long. We could, we got that type of communication. And like I said, I think it’s–to answer your question–it was a little bit of both.
Can you elaborate on that? Because I think there was one anxious moment maybe in the third round where Urango started to maybe get some punches in, but from then on it seemed like there was a change. Either you followed instruction–there was also some improvisation in there where you were able to just break him down and take him out.
Kevin Cunningham – Yeah, he made an adjustment….
Devon Alexander – –Definitely I made the adjustment. I mean, I think it was like the second round. I caught him with a good uppercut and that busted his nose, so I got little anxious, and I felt that I needed to go ahead, try to take him out. But, I didn’t stick to the game plan, so I got probably touched more than what my coach wanted me to. But, after the third round, I got back on the game plan and started using my speed and just listened to my corner. That’s because he’s my second set of eyes in there. I got eyes in the ring. He’s got eyes that see from outside the ring. So, I just was following the game plan and looked what happened? So, I’m always focused and I’m a smart fighter in the ring. If I see a fighter’s weaknesses, I can pick it up real easy and capitalize on it. So, to answer your question, I just followed the game plan, and you see what happened in the eighth round.
It was a combination, to me, of just a real great performance, because number one, it was on HBO, number two, this guy had never been knocked out, had gone the distance with Andre Berto and really was never in trouble in that fight. And when you got–when you hit him, you hit him cleanly. It wasn’t like it was necessarily a power punch or punching the guy, but a well-placed accurate punch, a very educated situation.
Kevin Cunningham – –Let me add to that. That punch was set up. It wasn’t–everybody talked about a punch. It wasn’t a punch. It was a combination that set up the uppercut. The one-two over the top made him dip down into the uppercut, so that was set up.
How defining of a moment was that to go from struggling–maybe not struggling, but having a little bit of trouble in the third round and building toward that climax and then to look back and see how much of a defining moment that was for that fight, to happen against the guy who had never been knocked out before?
Devon Alexander – Well, I mean, it’s a great feeling, but most fighters–and all fighters don’t have that ability to adjust to every situation. I’ve got the ability. If you want to stay in and try to muscle me, I can do that, too. I mean, I can do it all. I can box, I got power, so, I mean, I’m multi-talented in the ring. So, it was a good feeling. I trained hard and I know I got power. People always say I got, like, some feather-fists, but they’d be surprised if they get in the ring. I’m pretty much multi-talented when I get in the ring, and I’m going to be ready each fight. I’m going to be ready, prepared and 100 percent with a 100 percent game plan.
Do you feel that you have gotten credit for that victory in terms of the respect that you think you deserve for being a two-belt champion and beating this guy the way that you did?
Kevin Cunningham – Definitely not. If Timothy Bradley or Amir Kahn would’ve performed like that, would’ve put on a spectacular performance like that, in a world title unification bout on HBO, they would be talking Mayweather, Pacquiao immediately. But Devon puts on a spectacular performance like that and it’s like, ‘Oh, well.’ So, I don’t think he got the proper credit for that performance, but we’re not resting on our laurels anyway. That was the Urango fight. That was the results of the Urango fight. Devon’s not Mike Tyson, so he’s going to get caught up in thinking that he’s out here knocking people out with one shot and that type of thing. He’s a boxer, puncher, he did what he had to do to get the knockout. He set the guy up. The guy ran into the shot. He set a trap and—pow!–there it was. So, I mean, we’re focused, he’s getting better. He’s only 23 years old, and these guys that’s running from him right now, they should come on and get this ass-whipping right now, because he’s only going to get better.
Devon Alexander – Well, I agree with what Kevin was saying. Like, Urango never been knocked out, and he went the distance with Berto and all that. And–.
Kevin Cunningham – –Ricky Hatton.
Devon Alexander – With all of them. And for me, I’m just going to continue to drive the car until people recognize who the best is. It was a guy the other day–my coach in there was talking about Rock Island–like, Rock Island. They were talking about Rock Island, how–it’s major politics in USA boxing and they chose him over me. I thought I’d beat him in the Olympic trials. They chose him for the Olympics, and look what happened and look where he’s at now. So, I think the best is going to prevail at the end anyway. I mean, you can’t stop fate, and I think I’m fated to be the best in the boxing game. So, hey, you can look–you can underestimate, maybe, and look past me all you want–but I’m going to be here for a long time.
Devon, how–where do you rank Kotelnik in the 140-pound division? Do you think he’s better than Bradley? Where do you put him?
Devon Alexander – Definitely. I mean, I think Kotelnik got more skills than Bradley to me, personally, because Bradley comes in with his head. He punches with his head down and don’t even know where his punches are going. So, I think…
Devon Alexander – Kotelnik definitely has more skill and is a more solid fighter than Bradley. So, this could be the two best 140-pounders fighting August 7th, because Bradley–he’s an okay fighter talent-wise–he has heart, he’s going to continue to come and work hard, but as far as skills-wise, Kotelnik is better. I think Bradley’s number three.
Andriy, you’ve had some bad decisions when you’ve been fighting in your opponent’s hometown before. Now, you’re coming in to Alexander’s backyard. Do you think you can get a decision here?
Andriy Kotelnik – Basically, I came here without worrying about somebody else’s or my opponent’s hometown. I came here to win. I came here to get the two belts. Everybody’s hoping for a fair decision, and I think that’s what going to happen. This is a fight, after all, in the United States, and I just came here to show a good fight and to prove that I am the only one, and I am the best at 140-pounds.
Andriy, do you think you could–are you going to predict you’re going to knock Devon Alexander out? I haven’t–I don’t remember if you’ve answered that question.
Andriy Kotelnik – –In a contrast to Devon Alexander and his trainer, I’m not going to make a prediction. I’m ready to go all the way. I’m ready for 12 rounds. If knockout happens, it happens. But, I am ready for 12 rounds. And how I get the belt, it doesn’t matter. The only thing is I want to prove that I’m the best and that the belts belong to me.
Kevin, are you sticking with your second round prediction?
Kevin Cunningham – Sure. Like I answered the question earlier, we’re going to jump on…
Stacey McKinney – –You’re just scared, Kevin. You’re just scared…
Kevin Cunningham – …him from the opening bell. And if he can take it past two rounds, he’ll just take an ass-whipping for 12 if he’s able to stand up for 12, but he’s getting an ass-whipping all night long.
Stacey McKinney – –Well, you sure don’t have to look for us. You ain’t going to have to look for it because we’re going to be in your nose holes.
Kevin Cunningham – –I don’t see him going the distance, but if he does, more power to him.
Stacey McKinney – –Well, you ain’t got to go looking for us. You’re right. You ain’t got to look. We’re going to be right in your nose holes all night long. And if you knock him out in two or three rounds…
Kevin Cunningham – –As far as the location, far as the site and location of the fight…It don’t even matter. He can fight–we could’ve fought in Tokyo. This boy’s getting his ass whipped.
Andriy Kotelnik – To answer your question, the closer the fight is, the longer it is going to be in our minds. And on the night of the fight, I think the fight is going to be endless because it’s going to be a very long night. And we are very happy that Kevin has experience in changing the birth certificate because you might as well just starting changing Devon’s name if you want to keep undefeated fighter after August the 7th.
Stacey McKinney – Now, our man is an Olympian. This man is silver medalist in the Olympics. He’s an Olympian.
Kevin Cunningham – This ain’t the Olympics, brother, and these are eight-ounce gloves that he going to be getting hit up side the head with!
Stacey McKinney – –I don’t care if they’re four ounces. You won’t be….
Kevin Cunningham – –He ain’t wearing, we ain’t wearing. head gear, and we ain’t wearing 10-ounce, 12-ounce gloves, so…
Stacey McKinney – –Watch and see. He’s coming. He’s coming. Ain’t no doubt about it. You ain’t got to look for him.
Kevin Cunningham – He coming and he going to be going with a real whipped ass!.
Stacey McKinney – –You don’t have to look for him. He going to be right in your nose hole. You ain’t got to look for him. All night. I want him to fight him inside. Stay on top of him. That’s what I want him to do. Where are you running?
Kevin Cunningham – The Ukrainian is going to have scrambled brains after this is over with.
Stacey McKinney – That Missouri catfish is going in the Mississippi River.
Devon, Andriy had a very good run recently where he defeated a couple of undefeated fighters: Gavin Rees and then Maidana. But, then, he dropped the decision to Amir Kahn. Are there any lessons you got from those fights that you could apply in your fight?
Devon Alexander – I haven’t tasted defeat. He has tasted defeat, numerous times, and I don’t plan on tasting defeat. So, I take that in the ring with me and I know he knows what it feels like to lose. And I’m going to use that to my advantage.
Did you watch his fight with Amir Kahn, because Kahn used a lot of speed to win and when a decision.
Devon Alexander – I thought Amir Kahn had too much unnecessary movement, too much running. I don’t think you have to do that with Kotelnik because he’s going to be right there to be hit. And with Amir Kahn, I thought he was just fighting scared because he had just been knocked out, and he did more than what he’s supposed to be doing.
Have there been any adjustments you’ve made after the Amir Kahn fight in order to fight Devon? Because that was about a year ago.
Andriy Kotelnik – Of course, I’ve made adjustments which–I hope you can understand that I don’t want to mention right now–but just so you know, Stacey and I have been working very hard on my past mistakes, and we’ve watched the video as well. And we made necessary adjustments that we feel will help us win in a fight.
Andriy, did you see weaknesses in Devon’s fight with Urango that you think you could take advantage of?
Andriy Kotelnik – I am also not in a position right now to discuss his weak points or strong points. I mean, every boxer has his weak and strong points, as you know, but every fight is different. And some of the mistakes that the fighters make also depend on the opponent that they’re facing. We are making our adjustments. That’s the most important thing. And training, hitting the bag or sparring is one thing, and showing what you can do in the arena is completely different. And basically, Devon has never faced an opponent of such caliber as Andriy Kotelnik, and we just focusing on that, and we’re going to show and expose all his weak points on August the 7th.
Don, some people say that the summertime is slow for boxing, but you’re putting on this major card with all these different title fights. Can you tell us why you think this–in the middle of the summer, why this is going to get the attention that it deserves?
Don King – Well, summertime is a time for leisure. And it’s a time for leisure and entertainment. And what better way to spend your leisure time than at an event where you know you’re going to have the pleasure of seeing a great event from the beginning to the end of the evening. You’re getting dollar value for your entertainment dollar. And this is what I look at–and if it’s an attraction in the middle of the summer–you had the World Cup. In the middle of the summer, you what I mean, you’ll have different type of games that end. Like with the Super Bowl that comes from the winter. In the fall, there’s baseball. As you know, they start the–playing baseball now. They’re–from spring training, they’re going on, they’re making their move. So, sports does not die because sports is attached to people. People are sportsmen, and people are the attendance in the audience to watch the sportsmens play. So, there’s a thing here that it doesn’t matter what time it be. It is a slow time for those who would do something that would be different, but if you bring an attraction, that attraction will bring them out. And that’s what I’m trying to prove is to be able to promote for the people. Give them something that they want, and they’ll come out to see it. That’s what makes this nation the great nation that it is today, you know what I mean? So, we are just going to be able to continue to work toward a better America by putting on better events and not trying to dupe the public, but to be able to give them something that they can identify and relate to and feel that they’ve gotten their dollar value for their dollar of entertainment.
Don King – –St. Louis, the Show Me city, Missouri the Show Me state. We’re coming to St. Louis with Mayor Francis Slay and Governor Jay Nixon.
How have you been able to take a great amateur and make him such a really, really fascinating professional? And he doesn’t show any of those deficiencies that Bradley or Ward or Dorrell have as professionals. How were you able to do that, granted, his lengthy amateur career?
Kevin Cunningham – Well, most of my young fighters, I kind of train them in a pro style. Even though they were in the Olympics on the computer-point system, I still prepared them in a manner in which that they could make that transition when the time came to turn professional, they could make the transition from amateur to pro. So, I’ve always trained on the pro style even though they were amateurs at the particular time.
Would you guys consider fighting Zab Judah after his great performance on ESPN last Friday?
Kevin Cunningham – Well, Zab Judah had a great performance against a what? We would fight Zab Judah. We’d fight anybody, but he’s got to beat somebody more than this guy he just beat. I mean, if Zab wins or gets a significant win, if he beats somebody like a Lamont Peterson or Juan Urango or somebody in the top five or six—if he could beat a top-five or -six 140-pounder, then he deserves a shot. But, he don’t deserve a shot at unified title just because he’s Zab Judah, and every major fight he’s had he’s lost other than the second fight with Spinks.
Kevin Cunningham – But, don’t you think he should do something to earn a shot, or you think he just should–“I’m Zab Judah? I deserve it. That’s pretty much the same thing Tim Bradley thinks, ‘I’m Tim Bradley. I deserve Manny Pacquiao, Mayweather.’ I mean, I’m from the old school. You should earn what you get. You should earn the opportunity. Hello?
Alan Hopper – I’d like to thank everybody for being on our call today. “Gateway to Greatness,” world championship tripleheader, four championship fights, Saturday, August 7th, Scottrade Center in St. Louis. Two of those fights, Alexander versus Kotelnik and Cloud versus Johnson, will be televised on HBO. Thank you very much, everyone, for…
Don King – –And the new–and the new Lou.
Alan Hopper – Thanks, Don.