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November 21, 2013

SANTA CRUZ, SEDA AND THE EMERGENCE OF SAN ANTONIO AS A MAJOR FIGHT TOWN

Golden Boy Conference Call Transcript

Press Release: Publicist Kelly Swanson: This call is to talk  about the undercard for the Adrien Broner and Marcos Maidana fight, which is scheduled for December 14th at the Alamodome in San Antonio. We're going to start off today with Cesar Seda and Leo Santa Cruz... To get this call going, I'm going to introduce Richard Schaefer, Chief Executive Officer of Golden Boy Promotions.

Richard Schaefer: Thank you, Kelly. Before I get started to talk to about this sensational card, I  just want to make another quick comment. There were some great fights this weekend. We had pound-for-pound great Andre Ward looking quite spectacular in defending his world title, but there was another fight which really stole the weekend. We had Kelly Swanson look more than spectacular in her first victory. I know she said it's going to be a one-off; I'm trying to talk her into signing with Golden Boy and have offered her a very lucrative contract. We'll see, but she was just devastating in her amateur debut this past weekend, so congratulations, Kelly.

K. Swanson: Thank you very much.

R. Schaefer:  This is the best card we've ever put together in a very long time. It's Broner and Maidana, but it's not just Broner and Maidana, which really I believe is still a pay-per-view-worthy fight, especially if you team it  up with three other world title fights - Keith Thurman and Jesus Soto Karass, Leo Santa Cruz and Cesar Seda, and Beibut Shumenov defending his his light heavyweight title against Tamas Kovacs. For this card to be able to be enjoyed for free, live, on Showtime, is just absolutely spectacular thing. I want to say a big, big thank you to Stephen Espinoza and everyone at Showtime and CBS Network for coming up with the required financial contributions to get this fight card going. I want to thank very much, as well, our partners in San Antonio, Mike Battah and Jesse James Leija from Leija*Battah Promotions. They're doing a terrific job as always.

We have scaled the Alamodome for 30,000 people and there are well over 10,000 tickets sold already. Ticket prices are available for as little as $10, as little as $10... Make sure, write about, tell your readers and listeners and so on that this great, great fight card, for as little  as 10 bucks, you can go and enjoy.

The fight will be televised live on Showtime Championship Boxing, beginning at 8  p.m. Eastern, 5 p.m. Pacific. I really can't wait for all of those fights, even  the non-televised portion, with Ricardo Alvarez, Saul's brother, Jamel Herring,  Robert Easter, Rau'shee Warren. It's an all-star lineup. There is a special other treat there, Jermain Taylor will be fighting against J.C. Candelo on that card as well. Really, a terrific lineup.

A little bit of everything, and I think the perfect ending to what I consider to  have been the best year of boxing since I've been involved back in 2000. Just an absolutely terrific year with great, great fights. Talking about great fights, we have today Leo Santa Cruz and Cesar Seda on the call. This is the classic Mexican/Puerto Rican matchup.

Cesar Seda has a record of 25-1 with 17 knockouts. He's from San Juan, Puerto Rico, promoted by Miguel Cotto Promotions and Golden Boy. His one loss was against WBO Champion Omar Narvaez in 2011. Since then the 27-years-young Seda has gone up in weight and won five bouts straight, two by knockout, earning him the opportunity to fight for the world title against Leo Santa Cruz on December 14th. It's a pleasure for me now to introduce to you, Cesar Seda.

Cesar Seda: First of all I want to thank Oscar and Richard for this opportunity. I also want  to thank Leo Santa Cruz. This is the fight I was waiting for. This is the fight  that I'm going to prove that there is still a lot of talent in Puerto Rico, so thank you very much.

R. Schaefer: Great, thank you. I'm going to be introducing you to now a fighter who doesn't need much introduction. He is one of the most action-packed fighters in any weight class. He has a record of 25 and 0, with 15 KO's. Originally from Huetamo, Mexico, now living in Los Angeles. He broke into the international boxing scene in June 2012  when he won the IBF Bantamweight World Championship with a unanimous decision over Vusi Malinga. Then he went on to defend the title three times in 2012 with exciting wins over Eric Morel, Victor Zaleta and Alberto Guevara, the last one being the highest watched boxing event over the last 12 months. It was aired live on CBS network following  the Butler-Indiana basketball game. Over 1.8 million homes were watching that fight and really elevated Leo Santa Cruz to even higher levels.

He then faced Alexander Munoz on May 4th in Las Vegas on the big card, with Mayweather and Guerrero, and then with a TKO, where he won with a TKO in the fifth round and continued his undefeated record. Most recently, Leo Santa Cruz earned the WBC Super Bantamweight Championship after a knockout win over former champion Victor Terrazas at the StubHub Center in Carson, Los Angeles.

As I said, his accomplishments in the ring are absolutely amazing, but outside of the ring, as I said so many times, he really is one of my favorite fighters. He's just a terrific, terrific young man and it's a pleasure for me to introduce to you the WBC Super Bantamweight World Champion, Leo Santa Cruz.

L. Santa Cruz: Thank you, Richard, for all your words. They mean a lot to me. Thank you very much. I want to say hello to everyone and I also want to thank Richard, Golden Boy, Showtime, my manager Al Haymon, to the other people that have been making this possible. I'm just happy and I'm ready. I'm ready for December 14th. I've been getting ready already like for a month and a half, two months. I've been training and I want December 14th to come so I can show everybody ... and what I got. I'm very motivated and ready for December 14th.

R. Schaefer: Great. Thank you very much, Leo. We are going to open it up now for questions for the media. If you guys have any questions for Leo Santa Cruz or Cesar Seda, please go ahead.

Q: Richard, this card in San  Antonio, I'm not quite sure how to word it, but has this motivated other cities  to get in touch with you, because you've really helped build San Antonio into a  fight town. I just want to know if the plan is just to look for other areas in 2014 to keep it going throughout the country?

R. Schaefer: We started to host fights in San Antonio when we did some of the Fox shows and this has been a process with James and with Mike for the last couple of years, and then obviously, the goal was to bring big fights, world championship fights, on a regular basis. The key word here is "regular basis." That's how you develop the market. Obviously with the kind of turn out we have, it has worked.

We've done exactly the same in Brooklyn, New York, where a lot of people felt like a West Coast Los Angeles-based promotional company, how can they capture that market? But the key word again is consistency, and to have partners in those markets which share the same vision and are passionate about the sport. With Mike and with James we have those partners in Texas which are passionate about the sport and are willing to invest in the sport as well... There are many other markets, which I believe are waiting to be hosts on a regular basis for boxing. It's a matter of finding the right local promoters and friends and partners to develop those markets. For example, I can see a Chicago being one of the next targets for us, but again, we want to have the right partners, loyal partners, who want to work with us.

Q: My first question, Cesar Seda, I know you moved up to 122 a couple of years ago. I just want to know what  difference it's been for you since moving up from 115 and if there is anyone you've fought that you feel compares to Leo Santa Cruz in terms of the volume of punches that he throws?

C. Seda: I moved up in weight kind of like Leo did. Leo was the champion at 118. He moved  up to 122. I also moved up. I kept my eye on him and the truth is, I feel a lot  stronger at 122. I feel a lot stronger and I'm going to prove it on the night of the fight.

As far as Leo's style, no, I've never fought anybody that throws so many punches, but I have fought guys that are very strong, aggressive and punchers. I want to prove that I have the talent and the power to beat a Leo Santa Cruz and to compete in this division. It's the most important fight of my life.

Q: Cesar, you noted earlier that he wants to prove that there is plenty of talent in Puerto Rico. Does that add any pressure to this fight?

C. Seda: No, not at all. In fact, it motivates me and gives me hunger. Right now, in Puerto Rico, there are not too many champions. There aren't too many champions and I want to prove that we have the talent and we can compete and be champions. I have hunger and I can't wait for December 14th.

Q: Leo, I kind of have the same question for you, just how you  feel since moving up to 122. You had a spectacular year last year, but I noticed against Guevara, you kind of looked a little sluggish. Was it just because you fought so much in 2012 or was it just that it was time to move up in weight?

L. Santa Cruz: No. I think at 122 I feel stronger. I feel better. Everything's good. I didn't have that much problem going up, making 118. The only thing that, for the Guevara fight, it was I fight in November and then in December again, it was-it seemed like a month. I didn't really have that much time to train and probably my body was tired. I didn't let my body recover. I think that was the main primary concern; I didn't let the  body rest. That's why I looked kind of tired and sluggish. Other than that, I feel stronger at 122 and I feel stronger. The weight is way. I feel strong and inspiring. I feel great now.

Q: My first question is for Cesar Seda, picking up on what he said about Puerto Rico not having any champions, how much pressure does he feel given that he's fighting a really tough guy in Leo Santa Cruz, with all that that's gone on with the Puerto Rican fighters?

C. Seda: No, no pressure at all. That's what we're working hard for. We're working very hard in the gym. We're working very hard in the conditioning, strengthening, and remember I fought Narvaez. I lost my undefeated record to him and that gave me a great deal of experience.

Q: Yes, I wanted to pick up on that. Narvaez is more of a crafty fighter. Can he compare and contrast what he thinks he'll be able to do with a guy like Santa Cruz, who comes to you and will be there, maybe allow him to use his southpaw skills.

C. Seda: We learned a lot from that fight. You have to understand, Narvaez had tremendous  experience, a great deal of experience. He was an Olympian, and during the fight, we were winning. We were comfortably ahead of the fight, but then they started deducting points, calling low punches, and that frustrated me a little bit and made me look for just one punch. We learned a lot from that, gained a lot of experience, and that will show come the 14th.

Q: Leo, many of us who have been watching you, we just come to expect an exciting fight from you every single time out. No different this time. Do you embrace that pressure? Do you embrace that and does it make you fight better, or do you feel some pressure?

L. Santa Cruz: Yes, that's why I train 100% in the gym. Every time I work harder. Every time I try to improve, I try to improve because I know that the fans, that's what they want to see. For me to go  and do what I always do, I have to train 100%. I have  to dedicate and that's what I do. I'm always - most of my time, I'm in the gym.  In the morning I'm in the gym, and then I go home, eat, rest, and then I come back. I do my strengthening and conditioning.

We could say that I live in the gym because I like to please the fans. I like them saying good things about me, and when I go out there I like to give them a great  show. I never want to disappoint them. I try my best not to do that. I try my best to be at 100% and that's what I'm doing right now.

Q: Obviously, you saw what happened to Abner Mares and he feels the same way. He felt like - even when I asked him, should he have held on when he got back up? He said no, you got to understand, I'm a fighter. Your reaction to his loss? I know you thought maybe you would fight him someday. What is your reaction to his loss, and does that make you understand the sudden nature of this sport and how it can turn on a dime?

L. Santa Cruz: Yes. I was surprised. I couldn't believe that he got knocked out. I thought he was going to win, that's why. But things happen and it didn't really affect me. It was just like a quick knockdown to fight him. We don't know how it would have gone if it would have gone the distance. Maybe he would have won, or at that point, he wouldn't have come. Maybe ... to happen between me and him and nothing has changed it. I think we ... fight.

Q: Last question for you. When was the last time you fought a southpaw? I was trying to look at your record. Do you think his style will be at all difficult for you?

L. Santa Cruz: Yes. Southpaws are more difficult, their style. But the last time I fought a southpaw was Vusi Malinga. That was when I won the IBF title. I could fight southpaws, too.
I could get used to their style and I've been fighting southpaws in the gym. I've been practicing hitting to the right and I've been doing things that how you have to fight a southpaw.

Q: I saw where on the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation website, you already have half-a-dozen dates reserved for next year. That indicates you have a lot of  confidence in this market here. Talk about how that came about. I think you touched on it earlier, talking about Mike Battah and Jesse James Leija. What is it about  this market that can support that kind of activity?

R. Schaefer: San Antonio was always a good market for boxing, but I think what we've done, together with Mike and with James, we really have taken it to a totally different level. When I was, a couple weeks ago, in San Antonio with all the fighters to do the press conference, I had mentioned it right there when I said that, and I really mean that, that there is Las Vegas - and I'm not listing these in any particular order.

There is Las Vegas, the MGM, obviously. There is the Staples Center and the StubHub Center in Carson, Los Angeles. There's the Barclays Center in New York and then there's the Alamodome Antonio. I really believe that San Antonio fits and belongs in that group of premier fight towns in the United States. For us to have been able to develop the market the way we have, with our local partners there, with Mike and with James, it's obviously fantastic, and I that's why we are holding a number of dates for San Antonio.

The continuity is extremely important and we want to continue to bring big world  championship fights to San Antonio. One of the fights, who I mentioned that at the press conference as well, who made it clear to us, who wants to fight there again next year is Saul "Canelo" Alvarez. He felt extremely comfortable and welcomed in San Antonio. It's a great fan base and it's great that you come to San Antonio.

Q: How much did his fights against Trout, Austin Trout, play into this when it drew  40,000 people? Did that really cement San Antonio on the map?

R. Schaefer: I think it was more than that. You look at Dallas, which had hosted a Pacquiao fight, and then you pretty much don't hear anything about Dallas anymore where he won it was a one-off. Or you remember when Oscar fought in El Paso and it was a huge crowd. I think those big fights are important, but one-offs really are not. You cannot build a market with one-off events no matter how big they are. Those one-off events, they don't do anything. Are they important in the scope of the entire year, where you're going to bring smaller fights and bigger fights? You need to bring a mix of everything and that is ultimately much more important than that one-off big fight.

Q: Finally, how important is the Hispanic market in this town, and in boxing in general, in driving the Bedrock of Boxing? Are they still the most important element?

R. Schaefer: Oh, absolutely. I think the Hispanic market is extremely important to the help of boxing. We recently had commissioned a study from the leading research company in
the United States, Carrboro Research, which is, they work with Fortune 500 companies. We have commissioned the research, an independent research to ask them about the demographics of boxing and how boxing is perceived. And the fact that the Hispanics are important, but I have to tell you, the urban market, the African American and the urban market, is almost equally important.  I think a lot of people have not really realized that. But there is a reason why a Canelo fight against a Mayweather fight, where you have an urban, African American fighter with Mayweather, and a fighter who has a lot of overall, general market  appeal, and you have him against the most popular fighter from Mexico, Canelo. You have those two and they break all sorts of records.

There are - I think boxing, it's the Mexicans ... the Latinos. It's the urbans,  but more and more, we see that the general market is getting really behind boxing again in ways we haven't seen it before. We see that with increased sponsor commitments,
but we see it as well with the ratings on Fox Sports Life, the Monday night boxing series, which several of those dates are, and will be, in San Antonio as well. The ratings Fox is getting is double, and I'm not making this stuff up, it's double
what they expected. Boxing as a sport, I think, has really had a huge, huge comeback year in 2013. The biggest I've seen. I think San Antonio is a big, plays a big role there, because  if you can bring fights to those kinds of venues like San Antonio has, like the Alamodome, or the basketball arena, and all those, and the smaller venues as well, you basically elevate the sport, and I think that's what has happened this year.

Q: Yes, sir. Richard, I guess we're echoing the same sentiment in reference to San Antonio being a hotbed for boxing, and definitely your undercard is very impressive with Leo Santa Cruz and then Keith Thurman fighting Jesus Soto Karass. That particular, the last fight that you all had in San Antonio with Omar Figueroa on the undercard, it turned out to be something absolutely amazing.

R. Schaefer: Absolutely. You saw the Omar Figueroa against the Japanese kid, Arakawa. That was like a fight-of-the-year candidate. It might very well be the fight-of-the-year,  just an absolutely fantastic fight. So yes, you have great local talent in San Antonio, which is coming along, and Mike and James are doing a terrific job there to keep the pipeline going.

I think what it does as well, for a market, when these young kids, who are training in the gyms as amateurs, and they see that boxing is coming on a regular basis to their town, that encourages them as well to train even harder, and eventually hopefully
sign with a Mike Battah and a James Leija, and then with the Golden Boy. I think  that's a big motivator as well, and the big benefit of having big cards on a regular basis in a particular market. I think all that is very encouraging. I think it helps to really grow the sport as well from the roots up, by giving these amateurs something to look forward to  when they turn pro, that they can fight in their home towns.

Q: Hi. My first question is for Cesar Seda. Cesar, do you feel you can win a decision in San Antonio, considering that it's going to be Leo Santa Cruz throughout, and sometimes when that happens, every time he throws a punch or lands a punch, people go wild. Do you feel you can win a decision in San Antonio?

C. Seda: Yes. We know and we understand it's going to be pro-Santa Cruz, but there are ways to get around that and to keep the crowd out of it.

Q: Leo, what do you think are the strengths and advantages that Cesar has?

L. Santa Cruz: I know that he's a very good fighter. Seda is a very good fighter. He has all the qualities to be a champion. He's a good boxer. He's a good puncher. He can box, punch. He can do a lot. But I'm training very hard. I'm training very, very hard,
and like any good Mexican, I'm going to fight against a Puerto Rican, and you're  always going to get a war. I'm preparing very well for this fight. May the best man win.

Q: Richard, first of all with you, being at Fox and really  the national TV scene no more, like the ABC and NBC and stuff like that, and even though you have set up these for Fox Sports and for those who have cable can watch it. Is that one of the terms why you all decided to bring the ticket prices down like $10 to $20; because it's working? Are you all going old school with the prices to help those that can afford a little bit more to come out and see, and show more support?

R. Schaefer: Well, you want to create an environment where people can take a family and they can take their kids, and the kids can get excited about going to a big boxing event,
sporting events. Some of the baseball stadiums once in a while you do have these cheap tickets, but other than that, there are very, very few sporting events, period, where you can go and get for $10 to go and see a world championship fight. Now, let alone here, we're talking about four world championship fights. So from a pricing point of view that must be setting a record in itself. I think pricing is important, but we didn't really have to go as low as $10. I mean, we could have gone with $20 for cheapest ticket, and it still would have been extremely inexpensive, but we really want to make a point here that, don't blame it that you can't afford it, and if you're a family of four or five or six for 50, 60 bucks you can go and take your family there, and this is what we wanted to do, and that is what we're going to continue to do. And when you go to those bigger venues, then you have the advantage as well that you do have the ticket inventory, the seat inventory to accommodate fight fans, and I think that's all part of the Golden Boy story, to really bring boxing back one fight at a time.

Q: Cesar, the question I have for you was, in your loss to Omar Narvaez, what did you learn from that fight that's going to help you in this fight?

C. Seda:
What I learned from that fight is to keep my rhythm, and to keep my game plan, basically. Don't get discouraged and just keep the game plan and keep the rhythm and volume of punches.

Q: Right, and with that, Cesar, you're pretty big for bantamweight, super bantamweight at 118, 122. With that, you're 5'6", but Leo is actually an inch taller than you, and got the same-pretty good reach as you. How do you plan on out working and out punching Leo, because he's merciless when he gets mad; it's like he doesn't stop punching?

C. Seda: Yes, I have the tools, the smarts, and the ability to beat a fighter like him, and you're just going to have to wait and see on December 14th.

Q: Right, and last question is for Leo Santa Cruz. Leo, if anybody who watches Cesar Seda knows that he's a precision body puncher, and even though a couple times a ref will take a point away saying he hit kind of low, do you go back and replay it; he does hit kind of close to the belt line, but he's really good at taking that body out. Do you expect him to do that to you; to take you out and keep you in the deep waters? And what do you feel about him being almost as tall as you, as well as a long-arm reach as you?

L. Santa Cruz: I like fighting taller guys than me or the same as me. I think it's easier for me to resist them and to go out there and fight better, because I have trouble with  shorter people, and it's a lot difficult to fight shorter people if it's hard when they move a lot, and it is hard to find their head. But to fight somebody as tall as me and almost the same, I think it makes a much better fight, and is better for both of us because we see the fans and we give them what they want, a better show, and if he comes with the body, I think it's going to be even better for me because
I like people to stay there in length, and if he does that, we're both going go at it and give it a war. I think the fight is not going to finish, not going to go the distance, not going to go to 12 rounds if he stays there and tries to go to the body, I think it's going to go the distance, going to finish before the 12 rounds.

R. Schaefer: Great. Okay. Thank you very much to the two fighters, to Leo and to Cesar. We'll see you guys in a few weeks down in San Antonio. Continue training hard, and I know it will be a great battle. I know that Cesar Seda is coming to win the title,
and I know that Leo Santa Cruz will be in great shape, and will continue to build his legend as one of the best fighters in the sport.



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