By Ryan Burton
LAS VEGAS, NV.-- Say "adios" to the niceties. The main event fighters headlining this week's edition of MetroPCS Friday Night Knockout on truTV have only one thing on their minds -- their opponents! At their media workout at the Top Rank Gym today, the four young warriors -- super middleweights GILBERTO "Zurdo" RAMIREZ and GEVORG KHATCHIKIAN, and lightweights SAÚL "Kid Dynamite" RODRÍGUEZ and IVAN "Bam Bam" NAJERA, who boast a combined record of 88-2 (55 KOs) -- took time out to discuss their Friday night battles which will be televised live at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on truTV from The Chelsea inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Here's what they had to say:
Ramirez (32-0, 24 KOs), of Mazatlan, Mexico. The Mazatlan Mauler with the matinee idol looks, risks his No. 1 world rating and mandatory challenger position for the World Boxing Organization super middleweight world title as he defends his WBO International and NABF super middleweight titles:
"It's easy to talk like my opponent is doing. I like it. No, my team did not make a mistake agreeing to fight Khatchikian. He's going to find out the hard way. Fights are won in the ring. I wanted this fight to be better prepared to fight Arthur Abraham for the world title. I have no desire to sit it out waiting for my title shot. That's what this fight is all about."
Khatchikian (23-1, 11 KOs), of Heerlen, Netherlands. Six of his last seven victories have come by way of knockout. His lone blemish, an 11th-round TKO to former Olympic gold medalist and reigning International Boxing Federation (IBF) super middleweight champion James DeGale. He will be challenging Ramirez in a 10-round super middleweight rumble.
"Team Zurdo made a big mistake taking this fight. All of the pressure is on him, not me. I have more power. James Degale, who I fought, is 10 times better than Zurdo. And Degale is a southpaw too. I plan to figure out Zurdo real quick on Friday night, then I will strike. When I get done, Zurdo won't have to worry about Arthur Abraham anymore."
Rodriguez (18-0-1, 13 KOs), of Riverside, Calif. He has gone the distance just twice in his last 10 fights, a testament to his one-punch knockout power and his ring name, "Kid Dynamite."
"Ivan Najera talks how great it was to go all of the rounds against Verdejo. But I don't think Najera won a round so what does that mean? Najera has heart which means he will coming straight at me. I have a great trainer in Robert Garcia and a great manager in Cameron Dunkin. I am in Robert's gym which has a lot of champions, contenders and rising stars. There is a hunger to win in that gym. That's what I am taking into the ring Friday night."
Najera (16-1, 8 KOs), of San Antonio, TX. He is known for his crowd-pleasing aggressive style of fighting and good punching power. Texas boxing fans have been flocking to his fights because he always delivers all-action performances.
"Verdejo is a monster. Saul Rodriguez isn't half the fighter Verdejo is. I plan to replace the "0" with a "1" in the Rodriguez loss column the same way Verdejo did to me. Let's see how Rodriguez handles not being undefeated anymore. It's going to hurt him. I'm going to hurt him."