LAS VEGAS — Before their WBA Lightweight Championship matchup this Saturday, Feb. 26 LIVE on SHOWTIME at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast), champion Miguel Acosta (28-3-2, 22 KOs) and challenger Brandon Rios (26-0-1, 18 KOs) spoke with the media at the promotion’s final press conference today from the Key West room at The Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, just across the casino from Saturday’s venue, the Pearl Theater.
The night of boxing will begin with a 12-round co-feature between another pair of lightweights, Antonio DeMarco (24-2-1, 18 KOs) and Reyes Sanchez (20-3-1, 11 KOs) from the Heartland Events Center in Grand Island, Neb. Below are the highlights from Acosta, Rios, Rios’ trainer Robert Garcia and Hall of Fame Top Rank promoter Bob Arum.
“To be here in Las Vegas, it’s always been a dream of mine to fight here. I know this is a great opportunity because many people will be seeing me for the first time. I’m coming to show people that I could be the best lightweight in the world. It’s something that I will show on the 26th; I am the best lightweight in the world because we know how good Brandon Rios is.
“This is without a doubt the toughest challenge… but, you know what, I’m ready for it and I will pass this challenge.”
“My mentality is to fight the best lightweights in the world and this is the first big test and there will be more to come. And I know I’ll be coming back to make my second defense in Las Vegas.”
“I’m ready to become a world champion and Saturday, I believe in my heart that I could become world champion and I think I’m going to pull it off. I’m going to show the world that I’m ready for all the best lightweights out there. I’m ready for anybody.”
“I’m ready for the 26th. Everybody is going to see a new champion and it’s going to be back in the United States. The belt is coming home, baby.”
“I’m just a friendly guy, a guy that likes to enjoy what he does. I like the fans to enjoy watching what I do. Miguel Acosta is no joke. He is a strong fighter but he’s just another guy. He’s human, nothing I can’t handle.”
“On paper, [this Saturday against Acosta] does look like my toughest fight. All of my fights, I consider them tough. One punch can end your career. All of my fights, I take seriously. This one, I’m taking more seriously because of the fact that he is a champion and he didn’t become a champion for no reason.”
“The main event [between Acosta and Rios], you’ve read about it, is a tremendously competitive fight for the lightweight championship of the world.”
“I want to thank SHOWTIME for televising the main event. I want to congratulate them for picking this fight because it will be such a good, competitive fight.”
“Miguel Acosta is a true champion, one of the hardest punching lightweights in the world today. He has a knockout win over Urbano Antillon. He has really good credentials. He went to Africa to fight an undefeated [Paulus] Moses, a terrific fighter and he came away with another knockout victory so he is the real goods.”
“The challenger, Brandon Rios, has been fighting under the Top Rank banner for a number of years. In the last year and a half he has really come into his own with a tremendous victory over Anthony Peterson. He had a KO win [over Omri Lowther] in Texas, Cowboys Stadium on the Pacquaio-Margarito card and now he’s ready to fight for the WBA lightweight championship.”
“Brandon is in tremendous shape. He’s been waiting for this for a while. He wants anybody at lightweight, the best in the lightweight division; that’s why we picked Acosta. I truly believe Acosta is the best lightweight in the world so we’re in for a real fight but Brandon has trained hard and his mind is set to become world champion and that’s what’s going to happen Saturday night.”
Steve Albert will call the action with Al Bernstein serving as color commentator in Las Vegas and Jim Gray reporting from ringside. Curt Menefee will handle the lead role from Nebraska and will be assisted by expert analyst Steve Farhood.
The fights are being promoted by Top Rank Inc. and Gary Shaw Productions.