By James Slater
Photo: Chris Cozzone
At yesterday’s “Making History” press conference ahead of Saturday’s IBF bantamweight title fight showdown between Doncaster’s Jamie McDonnell and Mexico’s Julio Ceja, Fightnews.com had the opportunity to speak with legendary trainer Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain. Working with 20-year-old Ceja, the trainer of so many great fighters – Ricardo Lopez, Gilberto Roman, Daniel Zaragoza and Oscar De La Hoya to name just a few – feels he has a new champion in the making. The 73-year-old, arguably the finest active boxing trainer in the world today, speaks highly of Ceja, and of McDonnell, and he expects a great fight on Saturday.
Speaking via his translator, Nacho had the following things to say:
How long have you been with Julio now, Nacho?
“I have been with Julio for 8 months now, this is my second fight with him.”
Is Julio going to be the next in your long line of great fighters/champions?
“Right now, Julio is the best bantamweight in Mexico. But Mexico produces so many great champions and fighters in lots of different weight divisions, right now we have 14 world champs. There are many other stars in Mexico right now.”
Who has Julio been sparring with for this fight?
“Julio has sparred a lot of fighters who are tall, like Jamie, and with fighters who have a style like him. Julio has also sparred with former champion Jhonny Gonzalez, and the Mexican junior world champion, Ray Vargas. All the fighters he has sparred are much taller than him and with a similar style to Jamie.”
Aside from his great punching power, what else impresses you about Julio?
“Besides his punching power, Julio is a great fighter already – he knows how to box really well. All he really needs is more experience, but I believe he is a great fighter already. I know about the good quality of the English fighters. Years ago, I brought some of my Olympic fighters to England. Saturday is going be a tough fight because Jamie is a great fighter also.”
Of all the great fighters you have worked with, is it possible for you to name your greatest fighter?
“Right now, Juan Manuel Marquez keeps on impressing me a lot, a four-time world champion in 4 different weight divisions. Also Gilberto Roman (former two-time WBC super-flyweight champ) who, at the time, had the best technique of any boxer in the world. And Daniel Zaragoza (former WBC bantamweight and former three-time WBC super-bantamweight champ). I’ve had 24 world champions and these three I consider my best.”
Speaking of Marquez, has the fight with Tim Bradley been finalised yet?
“It is not signed yet but we are negotiating, and I think the contracts will be signed.”