BOB ARUM: Top Rank has a reputation of developing its fighters from scratch, from its earliest fight onward and we don’t usually co-promote a fighter with anyone. But we’ve know Russell Peltz for many years and Russell is a true boxing promoter, who knows what he’s doing as witnessed by the tremendous job he’s done developing Mike Jones to where Mike is one of the rising prospects in boxing on the cusp of becoming a star in the sport. When we looked at Mike we saw a fine young man who had great ability who believed we could help Russell develop him on the next stage against the elite fighters in the sport. We are so proud and happy to be aligned in this venture with Russell Peltz, who has developed more fighters in the Philadelphia area than the Phillies have pitchers and they have a lot of great pitchers and Russell has developed so many.
RUSSELL PELTZ: Bob, I’ve known you for 36 years and I think you’ve known me longer than you’ve known anybody in boxing with the possible exception of Don Chargin.
BOB ARUM: I think it’s about the same time.
RUSSELL PELTZ: I think Mike is probably the best prospect to come out of Philly since maybe Bernard Hopkins. His management came to me a couple years ago asking to please use Mike Jones on a show, who I had never heard of. I put Mike with a New York Golden Gloves champion named Jason Thompson who was undefeated and after Mike knock him out I was deluged with calls from out of town asking who this kid was. I figured I had something and now he is ranked as high as No. 2 in the world and Top Rank has an entrée with most of the top 147-pounders in the world and it can be a good working relationship. For Mike to have a chance to fight in Cowboys Stadium, and we did have an offer to go to England to fight Kell Brook and probably for more money but this is a better stage for him, and we are all looking forward to this.
BRUCE TRAMPLER: At Top Rank we make it a practice to track the careers of up and coming fighters from around the country and always looking to get involved with the best young fighters. When Russell started telling me about Mike Jones a couple years ago our ears perked up because Russell doesn’t get high on too many guys. We had an opportunity to put Mike on a couple of shows we did in conjunction with Russell this year. He beat Bruseles in a fight I thought gave Mike a lot of experience and a kid in Albuquerque, Hector Muñoz, and he’s fought since and we agree with Russell. He’s got everything it takes. He’s got a great body for a welterweight; very good boxing skills and you can see the improvement in each fight. He could be the face of Philadelphia boxing and we are very thrilled to be involved with him.
BOB ARUM: Everyone knows about this storm coming out of Philadelphia and we are proud to have him on this card in Cowboys Stadium on November 13, so speak for your self now Mike.
MIKE JONES: Thank you and I’m happy to be on board. I am honored to be called one of the best prospects since Bernard Hopkins. I am honored to be on the November 13 card against Jesus Soto-Karass and I’m a work in progress. I get better in each and every fight and I will be one of the best out there. I’m in the gym every day trying my hardest in the gym and giving my best in each and every fight.
Can you tell me your familiarity of history of Philly boxing?
MIKE JONES: I grew up in Joe Frazier’s gym so I know about Joe Frazier and some of the fighters that came from there. But I really wasn’t a boxing fan growing up – I played basketball. Some friends brought me to the gym and I am learning a lot now. I know there were a lot of great fighters in Philly, but I don’t know too much about the history.
RUSSELL PELTZ: I try to twist Mike’s arm to get him to look at some old tapes but he’s got a full plate with two young daughters and he still holds down a part time job and he likes to train 24 hours a day but I know he watched a tape the other day of Price Charles Williams beating Bobby Czyz for the title. I am trying to get Mike to use his jab more and that was a fight Prince Charles won with just his left hand.
What about the part-time job and the kids and training?
MIKE JONES: As of right now, I left the job alone to give 100% to boxing, so I have been training basically all day long. I gave the job up at Home Depot shortly before my last fight.
Why did you think the undercard should be so stacked for this fight?
BOB ARUM: We always try to do a good undercard. Sometimes fights that we think are going to turn out to be really great, don’t, like that Castillo-Gomez fight that we had on March 13, which surprised us that it was not that good. We always aim to do what we can to make a strong undercard and in this case we put together something that I am confident that it will absolutely be great I addition to Mike, Rigondeaux is in a title fight in his seventh professional fight. A lot of people say he is the equal or not better than Gamboa. Then there is Kelly Pavlik who is trying to right himself with this fight that he has against Brian Vera. So it is a very interesting undercard. Even the off-TV card is stacked with great prospects and interesting fights.
Is there an urgency to have your fighters showcased?
BOB ARUM: The difficulty with working with another promoter on a big fight is they ask spots on the televised undercard and because they re a co-promoter they are entitled to it. Therefore it is not always possible to present the best possible undercard dealing in a situation like that.
Mike, how do you see this opportunity?
MIKE JONES: This fight means everything to me right now. It will be watched by millions of people around the world and I am going to try my best so I can be looked at as one of the best out there.
BOB ARUM: Todd is over in Europe right now at Sportel and he has said the interest from TV from around the world is immense. It will probably be the biggest coverage we have had in years.
RUSSELL PELTZ: We talked about going to England and because of the lack of exposure and if Mike wins, which is Kell Brook and if he loses he is in a hole. It wasn’t even the money; it was just the opportunity to fight on this show that made the difference.
BOB ARUM: It may even be more advantageous if Mike fought Brook, to do the fight here in the states.
MIKE JONES: I haven’t thought about the crowd too much or how big the stadium is. I feel like I have always proven myself and it always feels like I have a lot of pressure on my anyway. The bigger the crowd, the more relaxed I get.
Where does the pressure come from?
MIKE JONES: The pressure from within. To be great is my calling. The pressure builds up inside and releases in the fight.
What would you like to work on to become a complete fighter?
MIKE JONES: I have an excellent jab and I barely use it. I could control a whole fight with the jab. I need to get it out there more. And I need to use the power jab. I use it as a range finder, a pity-pat, but I need to use that and it will be a lot better as a weapon.
What about your power?
MIKE JONES: Well, it is deceptive power right now. My style right now is to box and move and counter-punch. I feel I have both. I can box and move around or I can get a guy out of there as well. But I can use both.
What kind of fight do you expect?
MIKE JONES: I have seen tapes of him and I expect a tough fight. He reminds me of a baby Antonio Margarito. He comes straightforward and throws a lot of punches and works the left side a lot. I expect for him to come out and give it his all.
RUSSELL PELTZ: I have been on Mike’s back a lot lately explaining to him that with all the talent he has and to use the jab. When Mike was an amateur and everything that Joe taught him was power. Everything was hard and everything was heavy. He said when he left Frazer and went to Vaughn Jackson he became more of a boxer. He thought maybe he shouldn’t have completely disbanded the power game that Joe taught him and that he should revisit it. Use the jab as a straight left. With his size and ability if he starts developing that jab, he can control the whole Soto-Karass fight in my opinion just by letting that thing go out there and really snapping it. Chandler has a jab like that and this is the closest fighter I can find to Mike Jones.
Were you frustrated not getting the TV exposure?
MIKE JONES: I wasn’t frustrated at all. I just get ready for fights. Russell worries about that and he can make it happen one way or another with Bob Arum.
How soon do you expect to challenge for a world title?
MIKE JONES: Very soon. Given the opportunity. I definitely am going want to win this fight, no respect to Soto-Karass. But I come to win this fight and after that maybe I can get a piece of a title.
RUSSELL PELTZ: Mike became a cause-celebre because everyone found out that for some reason, Russell Peltz couldn’t get Mike Jones on ESPN. So people said who is this kid from Philly that keeps winning and is getting blackballed or shutout from TV, and it helped him. We turned a negative situation into a winning situation. I didn’t want television people telling me who Mike Jones could fight. They weren’t going to dictate Mike’s career path.
BOB ARUM: Remember the guy who no one would put on television and nobody would give a title shot to turned out to be one of the greatest middleweights of all time, “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler. This happens in boxing and the one thing we pride ourselves on at Top Rank if for any reason a network won’t buy a fight with one of our fighters, we do the fight ourselves. You cannot be beholden to the television networks because if you are you do a disservice to your fighter.
What was your job at Home Depot?
MIKE JONES: I was a forklift operator. My daughter’s ages are 6 and 4.
You said the last fight you wanted to step it up and get your guy out of there, so what is it for this fight?
MIKE JONES: I want to control the fight with the jab and I want to counter-punch and I want to move. I know he can’t fight a mover.
You thought you could knock Berto out, are you disappointed the fight did not come about?
MIKE JONES: A little bit, but I take what I can get. This fight here is not an easy fight. I am fighting a great fighter in Jesus Soto-Karass and this will be one of my greatest days yet. It is a great opportunity for me.
Bob, will it be easier to put the promotion together at Cowboys Stadium the second time around?
BOB ARUM: We learned a lot from the last time obviously. One of the things we learned was pricing tickets because we have so many seats there we can offer people the opportunity to see the fight for $50. People say you will be far away but you have one of the greatest screens, the greatest high definition screen in the world. You see it in high definition and you are there in the arena and no matter how far away you are sitting you can watch the fight closely on that big screen. It makes for a great experience. We are marketing the fights differently because of Margarito. We are reaching out more to the Hispanic community because last time we didn’t have a Hispanic main event and we are very bullish about the buzz that is taking over in North Texas and we know we are going to do more than the 51,000 we did before and how much more we will see. For us as boxing promoters working together with this Cowboy organization is a great experience. They are really a professional operation and too bad none of them can play quarterback because maybe the team would do better but they are really terrific people.
How much do you talk to Jerry Jones?
BOB ARUM: I keep away because he knows I am a crazy Giants fan and he tolerates that but with them losing and the Giants starting to look good I don’t think I am going to talk football with him until we finish this event.
Where do you see Mike fitting in the welterweight division?
BOB ARUM: The welterweight division is very strong. Even thought he is fighting this at junior middleweight, Manny is now a natural welterweight and where Manny is that’s where the money is. And Mayweather is a natural welterweight and he brings a lot of excitement and money to the table. Then there are guys like Berto and Williams who may still be a welterweight and other guys who make it a strong division that can give the public very strong and interesting matches. I know that HBO and Showtime have expressed a big interest in Mike and once we have the attention of the two premium networks, we can explain to a British promoter that the money is better fighting in the USA than fighting over in England. That’s why we are very excited because Frank Warren offered the Brook fight to Russell and Russell turned it down. I think with this exposure that Mike is going to get, I know that we can do some big, big fights on either of those premium networks.
Mike, who would you say is the top welterweight?
MIKE JONES: Manny Pacquiao. I would match up pretty well against him. I know Pacquiao is pretty fast and moves a lot but I am fast too and I am much taller than him. I could jab him and I could get him too.
How far away is he from a fight like that?
RUSSELL PELTZ: I consider this a major fight. Every fight from here on, he could fight Berto, the Selcuk Aydin, he could fight Ionut Dan. Everything is riding on this fight in Dallas. The way he is looking in the gym and they way he is talking and thinking right now I think he is starting to fill in all the loose ends and I think 2011…remember 2009 was a wasted year for us. Pullouts, injuries, it was like the year didn’t even happen. I think 2011 is going to be his year and title…it’s about money and I envision him making a lot of money for himself regardless of who he is fighting and somewhere along the way he will fight for a world title.
Would Miguel Cotto fit in the welterweight group?
BOB ARUM: There is no question that Miguel Cotto fits into every situation. In addition to Miguel being a great welterweight and a big crowd pleaser, Miguel Cotto brings in the people and that certainly is a big possibility. I can’t get a Berto to step up and fight a Mike Jones because his management wants to do the safe-risk thing and as long as HBO is paying him the money to do that, he’ll continue to do it. But Miguel Cotto fights for Top Rank and Miguel Cotto will be at the fight on November 13 and that is surely a possibility. We have to get Mike some more exposure, which we will. Then I can see him going in with a Cotto, going in with a Manny Pacquiao. All these guys are looking for dance partners and all these guys are really athletes and they want to be involved in competitive fights and not walkovers.
Mike, where does the work ethic come from?
MIKE JONES: I have always been like that, ever since I was a kid. It’s just what I like to do. I work as hard as I can to get the best out of me and that carries over into boxing.
What about having a team that has been together for a while?
MIKE JONES: Ever since day one and I don’t need any distractions in this point in my career and I have been with these guys ever since I started. We all get along and we are looking forward to bigger and better things.
BOB ARUM: This has been a very informative call. We are going to have a media day and a workout on the 27th in Los Angeles at the Wild Card Gym and on the 28th media and workout for Margarito at the Fortune Gym in LA and that should be very interesting and we are going to do a press event that week in Houston, TX where Rigondeaux trains with Ronnie Shields and Mike Lee, the Notre Dame boxing champion who trains with Ronnie also. There is a lot of activity as we go into the home stretch. And on the 23rd will be the first installment of the 24/7, which the guys at HBO are telling me it, is the best they have ever done. It is one month to go and down the home stretch and I want to than everyone for being on the call.
Mike Jones (22-0, 18 KOs), of Philadelphia, PA., currently world-rated No. 2 by the WBA and the WBO and No. 4 by the WBC and the IBF, will defend his NABA/NABO welterweight titles against Jesus Soto-Karass (24-4-3, 16 KOs), of Los Mochis, México. Soto-Karass is the WBC’s No. 7-rated welterweight contender. Jones vs. Soto-Karass will open the Pacquiao vs, Margarito HBO Pay-Per-View broadcast.
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Cowboys Stadium, MP Promotions and Tecate, PACQUIAO vs. MARGARITO will take place Saturday, November 13 in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX. The $1.2 billion stadium is the largest, most technologically advanced entertainment venue in the world. Pacquiao vs. Margarito will be produced and distributed live on HBO Pay-Per-View®, beginning at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT.
Remaining Tickets to Pacquiao vs. Margarito are priced at $700, $500, $300, $200, $100, and $50, and can be purchased in-person at the Cowboys Stadium ticket office in Arlington, or by calling Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com.
HBO’s Emmy-Award-winning all-access series “24/7” premieres an all new edition when “24/7 Pacquiao/Margarito” debuts Saturday, Oct. 23 at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT. The four-part series will air for three consecutive Saturday nights before the finale airs the night before the super welterweight championship showdown in Texas.
For Pacquiao vs. Margarito fight week updates, log on to www.hbo.com or www.toprank.com