Robert Easter, Javier Fortuna, Marcus Browne & Adam Kownacki Media Conference Call Transcript & Audio Recording

Robert Easter, Javier Fortuna, Marcus Browne & Adam Kownacki Media Conference Call Transcript & Audio Recording
 
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Lou DiBella         

Thanks for joining us.  Greetings from the blizzard in New York City.  I know that Marcus Browne and Adam Kownacki are both local right now, so they’re experiencing this insanity with me, and I guess a lot of you are also.  So we’re going to try to warm up this blizzard afternoon and talk boxing for a little bit.

 

Errol Spence versus Lamont Peterson, terrific fight Saturday, January 20, 2018 on SHOWTIME, 9 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT, presented by Premier Boxing Champions and of course at the beautiful Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

 

Tickets for the event are priced starting at 50 bucks, and they can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com, BarclaysCenter.com, the box office at Barclays Center or by calling800-745-3000.

 

We have a terrific undercard, and we’re going to talk to the principals on that undercard on this call.  We’re going to start with two gentlemen that are going to be in two fights that are going to start our televised evening off on SHOWTIME Sports YouTube channel and SHOWTIME Boxing’s Facebook page.

 

Marcus Browne, 20-0, 15 KOs in Staten Island, New York, coming off a sensational knockout of Seanie Monaghan, rated Number 3 by the WBC, 7 by the WBA, 6 by the IBF, 4 by the WBO.  One of the rising stars at light heavyweight, making his 12th appearance at the Barclays Center and pretty much fighting and waiting out his chance for a huge fight and a world title fight that will be coming, I think, shortly in 2018.

 

But first he’s got to get past the tough Francy Ntetu.  Ntetu is 17-1.  His only loss was at the Barclays Center in a hotly contested bout with David Benavidez, the WBC 168-pound champion.  The fight was stopped very controversially.  Ntetu is a legitimate guy and a guy that’s going to try to test Marcus Browne.

 

But in getting in the ring with Marcus Browne, he’s getting in with one of the very, very best in the world. Marcus, want to say a couple words?

 

Marcus Browne

Thank you guys.  How you doing?  Most importantly, I’m just honored to be able to continue my career on the undercard with guys like Robert Easter, Jr., Adam, myself, and a couple other young fighters.

 

I know Francy’s a very tough, tough live game guy and we’re prepared for that.  And we’re prepared for what he brings to the table.  Come January 20, I just can’t wait to go to work, show my skills and continue that march towards the world title.

 

This is a guy that that’s definitely going to test me.  He’s definitely going to be there all night and we got to convince him to not be there.  That’s the plan.

 

L. DiBella            

Thanks Marcus. Marcus has really been one of the cogs of the BROOKLYN BOXING® program at Barclays Center.  This will be Marcus’s 12th appearance at Barclays Center.  So he’s one of the fighters that’s brought the most in the building.

 

The other fighter on the stream telecast is one of the up-and-coming young heavyweights in the world.  He’s already got a huge fan base with Polish fans and Polish-American fans.  He’s got a history as a New York Golden Gloves fighter and a young fighter that’s been developed in the New York area, Adam Kownacki, 16-0, 13 KOs, out of Brooklyn.

 

Born in Lomza, Poland and he moved to Brooklyn with his family when he was 7-years old.  Two-time Golden Gloves champion, rated Number 13 by the WBC.  In his last fight, he had a sensational four-round knockout of world title challenger Artur Szpilka.  That was on the same show that Marcus fought at at the Nassau Coliseum.

 

On the 20th of January, he’s going to take on a tough kid Iago Kiladze, Number 15 in the IBF.  Kiladze is 26-1 with 18 KOs. This is really another step in the road for Adam toward a heavyweight championship opportunity.  Adam?

 

Adam Kownacki

Thanks for the introductions Lou. I can’t wait to get back in the rings on January 20.  I would say I’m very hard.  I’m ready to shine and prove that I belong with the best heavyweights in the world.  This fight will take me one step closer to being heavyweight champion of the world. I’ll prove it once again on January 20 that we’re ready to fight with these top-notch heavyweights. I’ll keep climbing up the ranks.

 

Q

Adam, how much do you feel that your win against Szpilka kind of legitimized you in being a heavyweight contender and show people that you might be ready for a title shot?

 

A. Kownacki       

I think I showed that I’m ready to shine at the bigger stage.  It took Deontay Wilder ten rounds to take Szpilka out of there.  It took me four.  So that was a big statement, and I’ll continue to improve on that statement on January 20.

 

Q

Obviously Deontay Wilder fights a lot at Barclays Center.  It’s a place where you’ve also fought a lot.  He’s probably going to fight there on March 3.  But how much have you thought about the possibility of somewhere down the line maybe you challenging Deontay for the WBC title there?

 

A. Kownacki

My goal is to be world champion.  Whoever has the title, that’s who I want.  If it’s Deontay, then it’s Deontay.

 

Q

Marcus, what do you know about your opponent specifically since I know you just got him secured a couple weeks ago?  But what have you been able to find out about him and what he brings to the table?

 

M. Browne          

He’s a real scrappy guy in the category of a Sakio Bika kind of.  He’ll make a fight ugly if you allow him to do it.  Another thing is he throws a high line of punches and he’s real crafty.  He may not look like what he seems in the ring on tape.

 

So I’m just prepared and ready for whatever he brings that night.  And I’m just ready to implement our game plan that we have in order to break him down.

 

Q

Marcus, you obviously had a very good 2017 with some spectacular wins on your record.  How important is it for you to kind of start this year off in a similar way and build toward a title shot later in the year?

 

M. Browne

It’s super important because at the end of the day this is the first actual big card of the year.  I have to put the light heavyweights out there on notice that I’m here and I’m not playing.

 

Q

Marcus is there one guy more than the other that you want to fight or is it just whoever gives you the opportunity to fight for the title?

 

M. Browne

No, no one guy more than the other.  I’m just ready and willing and waiting my turn for whoever gives me the chance at fighting.  And I have no picks.  I ain’t got no favorites right now.  It is what it is.  I’m at the point where you either eat or get ate, and I’m ready to eat.

 

Q

Hey Lou, can you speak on how far Marcus has come and maybe where he’s now in position to get a title shot later this year?

 

L. DiBella

I think when you look at the light heavyweight division there’s a tremendous demand for quality contenders, guys capable of taking on the top of the division.  It’s sort of a division that’s got a little bit heavy at the top and there aren’t a lot of Marcus Brownes.

 

Marcus is one of the elite prospects in the division.  But he’s past the point of prospects.  He’s really at the point of contender right now just waiting for the biggest fight out there to materialize.

 

There’s some big light heavyweight fights on the horizon.  Some of them I think will be announced fairly soon. I think in 2018 Marcus is going to get that huge opportunity. He deserves it because he’s really in that handful of top guys.

 

There are the champions and there’s like a handful of other guys out there.  And those guys are all going to be competing in the next year and Marcus is going to get that opportunity.  He’s also a professional.  He knows he has to take care of business onJanuary 20.

 

Ntetu, who’s moving up in weight for this chance, really doesn’t have anything to lose.  So Marcus can’t look past that.  He’s just going to go out there, do his thing.  He knows that the title shot is waiting for him later this year.

 

Q

Can you speak on what Adam showed in the Szpilka fight, especially getting rid of him the way that he did and kind of opening some people’s eyes in that fight?

 

L. DiBella            

I love Adam as a fighter.  I’ve always loved Adam as a fighter.  He’s a tremendously skilled boxer for a heavyweight.  His natural build is not like King Kong.  So people look at him and they tend to underestimate them.  But what he has is everything – movement, speed, power, boxing skills.

 

This guy’s a legitimate heavyweight contender, like not like only just a prospect.  He’s a legitimate heavyweight contender, and he showed that when he wiped out Szpilka.  He didn’t just beat Szpilka, he destroyed Szpilka.  No one expected that kind of victory.

 

Artur Szpilka was a perennial top 10, 15 kind of guy in recent years and a guy that everyone viewed as a tough, rugged heavyweight, certainly a huge test for a young heavyweight. Adam didn’t only pass the test.  Adam blew him out of the ring.

 

In my mind, a couple of more performances like that just keeping the winning track he’s on is going to earn Adam a shot at a world title, particularly with the huge following he has in the Polish and Polish-American communities and the number of people he can bring out when he does eventually challenge for a title, particularly if that bout takes place at the Barclays Center.

 

Q

Against Szpilka, were you were sure that you were going to do what you did to him?

 

A. Kownacki

Yes, I told you that before it happened.  I’m a man on a mission.  That mission is becoming the first Polish, Polish-American heavyweight champion of the world.  No one will stop me.

 

Q

It seems like you have a killer instinct in you that no one really sees until you like get into the ring.  Can you talk about that?

 

A. Kownacki

Yes, as humbly as I can say it, I’m blessed with the talent that God has given me with boxing. I’m trying to build on this, maximize my potential and give my family a better life.  But like you said, boxing is a war zone.  We put our lives on the line when we fight.  So it’s me or him, and I’m just going to keep putting the pressure on guys and making them fold.

 

Q

What have you heard from the Polish community since that fight? How much has that inspired you further?

 

A. Kownacki       

A lot of doubters turned to believers.  I was in Poland a month ago.  The love I got there was ridiculous. I really liked that. I have to keep working hard, keep training hard and my goal is be world champion.

 

So I’m very focused on Iago Kiladze right now. I have to pass this next test on January 20 on my way to become world champion.

 

Q

Marcus, what does it mean for you to fight in your home state?

 

M. Browne

At this point, being an Olympian and just being an amateur who fought in different countries, the earth is my turf. Of course it’s cool to fight in New York and it’s a plus.

 

But it’s annoying at the same time because people ask you for tickets and things of that nature.

 

So I’m just at the point in my career where I’m just blessed to have the opportunity to fight in general. Fighting in New York is great though.  It’s always a great thing to come out and see your people, your family and your friends. But where I’m at in my career right now and mentally, I really don’t care where I’m fighting honestly.

 

Piggybacking off of Adam, we’re all on missions.  His mission is to be the first Polish heavyweight champion and mine is to be the first world champion from where I’m from. We’re on that mission and nothing going to stop that.  Whether it’s fighting in New York, Guam, or Dubai, it doesn’t matter.

 

Q

Marcus, your last fight in Brooklyn, there wasn’t the definitive victory that you wanted. Do you want to return to Brooklyn and be more definitive than that?

 

M. Browne          

Correct. There’s no pressure for me honestly.  At the end of the day, we got the win and, everybody has their opinions and everyone’s entitled to their opinions.

 

But I’m just ready to go in there, implement our game plan, not put on a show for anybody, be defensively sound, be smart and take care of business and just break the tough guy down.

 

He doesn’t come to play.  He comes to work and he’s a real live game guy.  He’s not going to give you nothing so you got to take it.  And that’s where I’m at with it mentally, physically and spiritually at this point in my career.

 

I don’t really have anything to prove to anybody. I’m going to just let my skills speak for themselves and not put pressure on myself to do anything that I don’t need to.

 

Q

But wouldn’t it be nice to keep that streak going?

 

M. Browne          

Of course. It’s always good to knock this guy out.  But like the great Bernard Hopkins always told me, take them how they come because they’re all not going to be that easy. So I’m just prepared. I’m prepared for however many rounds we’ve scheduled to fight.

 

If a knockout comes, it comes.  I’ll be implementing our game plan and setting him up and doing what I got to do.  I’m not forcing any issues. Because that’s when you get caught up with lunging and fighting outside of yourself and trying to impress people.

 

I’m going to just stay within myself and be the best Marcus Browne on January 20.  I can’t wait to fight.

 

L. DiBella            

One other thing to clarify.  You said that Ntetu had been knocked out in his last time at Barclays Center.  If you watched the fight, the fight was stopped in a tremendously controversial manner that caused the SHOWTIME announcers to call it one of the strangest stoppages they’d seen.  No disrespect to the winner of the fight but I would say if Marcus was able to knock out Ntetu on January 20, he’d be the first person who ever did that.

 

Q                          

Marcus, you look really on the cusp of a major fight. If the two most likely fighters you’d fight I would assume would be Adonis Stevenson and Badou Jack.  Just wondered if you could give your quick thoughts on each of those fighters.

 

M. Browne          

Quick thoughts on each of those fighters.  I’m super focused.  I’m not super locked-in on Francy Ntetu at this point. I’m a fighter at heart.  So I don’t see no special effects in either of those guys. Adonis is super strong.  Badou is a work horse.  He comes and he works.

 

But I don’t see any of them beating me personally. Speak to me after January 20.  Then we’ll talk about it more.  We can elaborate on it more, but at this point I’m focused on Francy. Those guys are definitely in my sights and I don’t really see nothing crazy impressive.

 

Q

Adam, can you talk about what we can expect in the fight with Kiladze?  Kiladze had been a cruiserweight up until a few years ago.  How will that affect your weight and what can we expect for this fight?

 

A. Kownacki

Like you said, Iago was a cruiserweight. I’m a real heavyweight, so he will feel the difference in the size.  I plan to be around 250 come fight day.  I’m in great shape though.  Sparring ten rounds easily.

 

I put in great work with a lot of great guys.  I’m going to have Bryant Jennings come spar with me. I’ll do what I did to Szpilka, get on the W and keep proving myself.

 

Q

Adam, where do you think you are in the heavyweight division?  Because this year we’re going to see a lot of talk of various title fights, maybe unification fights and all of that.  Where are you in the picture and what’s your timeline for getting a title shot?

 

A. Kownacki       

I’m on top. It’s just a matter of time till I get my shot to prove it. That’s what my mind’s telling me. I think I’m the best heavyweight fighter.  It’ll take fight after fight to prove it. Iago has it coming on January 20.

 

Q

Do you want to make a prediction for that fight with Kiladze?

 

A. Kownacki

Listen, like I always say, if I don’t knock him out, then I’ll take the punishment for ten rounds.

 

L. DiBella            

So let’s start with Robert Easter.  The IBF lightweight champion 20-0, 14 KOs, proudly represents Toledo, Ohio, where he’s got a huge following.  A lot of his fans travel, so Robert I know we’re going to see a lot of your fans from Toledo there at Barclays Center on January 20.

 

This is his return to the Barclays Center for the first time since his fifth pro fight in 2013.  He won the IBF lightweight title in September ’16 in a terrific fight against very talented Richard Commey.  He defended that belt twice by unanimous decision since then.

 

Trained by his dad Robert, Sr., and he was a U.S. Olympic Team alternate in 2012.  The IBF lightweight champion of the world and one of the best young fighters of the world, Robert Easter.

 

Robert Easter     

It’s always a pleasure to fight in Brooklyn in front of my fans on the East Coast. I have a big fan base out there.  You’re going to expect the same or even greater in this fight for me. Another victory, it may come by knockout.  It may come by knockout.

 

Q

Do you feel like you are a little bit of a forgotten guy in your weight division and you want to wake people up to the fact that you shouldn’t be?

 

R. Easter             

I wouldn’t actually say I’m the forgotten guy. I’m just the guy they don’t want to fight. You heard these interviews, these guys talking.  They always bring up everybody else names except for mine.  You cannot forget about me.

 

I’m tallest in the weight class, maybe the fastest and probably one of the strongest.  Of course they’re not going to mention my name because they don’t want to fight me. I’ve been calling these guys out.  I know they see that.  So how can they not acknowledge that.

 

Jorge Linares and Mikey Garcia, they’re doing their thing.  They’re winning these fights like champions supposed to.  But it’s time we unify these titles like I’ve been trying to do.

 

Q

Can you tell me from your side of things how serious that discussion about fighting Mikey Garcia was and what that was about?

 

R. Easter             

I wanted to fight.  It was serious on my side.  I wanted to fight.  I didn’t care where at.  I don’t care about any of that.  I wanted to fight.

 

At first it was I didn’t produce enough fans or the fight didn’t make sense, which that didn’t make sense, and some other excuses the guy came up with.  But like I said, I was ready to fight whenever, whatever, how much.  It didn’t even matter.

 

We didn’t actually get an offer. I guess they made an offer towards him.  Like I said, I didn’t really care.

 

Q

Do you feel like you’re just a huge favored in this fight against the smaller guy?

 

R. Easter             

Yes.  But, I’m taller than most of my opponents.  That’s nothing new.  Of course I’m the favorite.  I’m the champion.  And he’s a former world champion.

 

These guys haven’t faced nobody with the skills of mine so you’re going to see another great performance from me in this fight.

 

I would like to make the same statement I’ve been making and that’s why these guys are scared to fight me.

 

Q

How much longer do you think you can hold 135?

 

R. Easter             

I can hold it just as long as they want me to.  But like I said, I’m trying to unify these titles and then move up after that until my goal is reached. For now, I’m going to be at 135, giving these guys trouble.

 

L. DiBella            

Javier Fortuna, 33-1-1 with 23 KOs.  Born in the Dominican Republic.  Now lives in Braintree, Massachusetts.  Promoted by the illustrious Sampson Lewkowicz and Sampson Boxing.  He’s a former two-time, two-division world champion.

 

He was a champion at featherweight and at super featherweight.  Now he’s moving up to lightweight to challenge Robert Easter, Jr.  So translator, if you could ask Javier to say a few words please.

 

Javier Fortuna

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