29 January, 2011

World Title Fight: Rigondeaux v "Big Bang" Casey Sparring Session and Press Conference in Cork city today:

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This photo is what all the fuss is about...oh and the World Title belt as well!
James Clancy & the WBA Bantamweight Champion of the World
Reigning WBA Super Bantam - weight World Champion and two-time Olympic (2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens) Bantam - weight Gold Medalist: Guillermo Rigondeaux conducted a sparring session and press conference with Willie "Big Bang" Casey in Cork city (Ireland) today. Today's public event took place ahead of the pair's World Boxing Association (WBA) Title Fight at City West Convention Centre in Dublin on March 19th. The Special Event today was held in the Montenotte Hotel in Cork city in front of some 1,200 lucky fans, who were admitted free into the venue as a special "Thank you" for the continued support that has been shown for both fighters. The pair will conduct a further unconfirmed press conference in Dublin ahead of the fight on Saint Patrick's Weekend. 
             The World Champion conducted a light to moderate training session at the Montenotte Hotel today - though his trainer (Rick DeCubas) punching him on the stomach while he did sit-ups; didn't look like it felt light to moderate. Shortly after Rodrigeaux finished his 60 minute sparring session, Ireland's Willie "Big Bang" Casey came on stage and he
Me & WBA Bantamweight Title Challenger: Willie Casey
really filled the room with his bubbly personality. The (World) Champion (who fought in front of 80,000 plus fans at Cowboys Stadium on the undercard of Pacquaio v Marghareeta a few months back) was more quiet and under-stated, going about his business without any fuss. 
The look of a World (and two-time Olympic) Champion
Champion and Challenger:  ready for war
             In what was a refreshing change from the "norm" in pro boxing, both fighters spoke with respect of and to each other, though the fact that neither fighter speaks the same language might be partly responsible for that. When asked if he'd win by knock-out, the Champion replied by saying (in Spanish):  "For me, the knock-out is not important. What I am here to do is to go home with the (World Title) belt still in my posession. If the knock-out comes, it comes. As long as I win, I don't mind how I win. I have a lot of respect for Casey. I know he has worked hard to get where he has gotten. I will not be intimidated by the home crowd however. Professional sport is not allowed in Cuba, so I am used of fighting all over the World and loud, intimidating audiences are not a problem for me."
               Willie "Big Bang" Casey was more ebullient and certainly seems more than confident heading into what is unquestionably the biggest fight of his career. When asked how it would feel to join such Irish fistic greats as Barry McGuigan and Steve Collins by winning a World Title, "Big Bang" interjected: "It'd be incredible.
Guillermo  Rigondeaux's trainer translates
All my life I've worked to get this (World Title) chance. Irish fight fans are truly special and they will have a massive impact on March 19th. To know that everyone in the arena is behind me, willing me to win and almost jumping into the ring, will make for a very special ocassion. To win a World Title in Ireland would be a dream come true. I respect Rigondeaux and he is a great fighter, but March 19th is my night and the (World Title) belt will not be leaving Ireland with him."

Trainers - but not enemies - together
             Both fighters squared off before posing for photos and aoutographs. Both fighters (and trainers) appeared to have tremendous mutual respect for each other and I asked "Big Bang" Casey if I could get a photo of both fighters shaking hands. However, Rigondeaux had vanished in the blink of an eye, lightning fast in and out of the ring evidently. Both trainers talked openly to each other in an atmosphere of mutual respect, which was very pleasant to see in the often distasteful world of professional boxing.
World Champion for one second!

This is what we're here for: the WBA World Title Belt...and a curvy lady
          WBA Super Bantam - weight Champion of the World (and two - time Olympic boxing gold medal winning king at Bantam Weight): Guillermo Rigondeaux will defend his World Title against Willie "Big Bang" Casey at the City West Convention Centre in Dublin on the evening of 19th March, 2011. Tickets are on sale now at www.ticketgroup.ie and are priced at €50, €70 and €130 [ringside].

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