The verbal warfare launched and nuggets of knowledge were dropped at the inaugural press conference for a star-studded night of action Saturday, March 30, in a PBC Pay-Per-View Available On Prime Video.
They lined up on Wednesday afternoon in Los Angeles behind two tables as part of history: The inaugural four-fight Premier Boxing Champions pay-per-view debuting on Amazon Prime Video, Saturday, March 30 (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT), from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
At one table sat left-to-right, Sebastian “The Towering Inferno” Fundora, Erislandy “The American Dream” Lara, Rolando “Rolly” Romero and Keith “One Time” Thurman. Opposite them were Tim Tszyu, Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz and Serhii Bohachuk.
Verbal jabs were fired, things got tense and everyone came away entertained—and picked up a few additional nuggets of knowledge once the dust plumes settled.
WBO 154-pound World Champion Tim Tszyu (24-0, 17 KOs) vs. Keith Thurman (30-1, 22 KOs)
What we learned: Thurman hasn’t fought above the welterweight limit since 2012, when he weighed 151 ¼ subsequent to his fourth-round TKO over Carlos Quintana. The move up in weight will not affect the 35-year-old Florida native, who fought at 152 and 154 pounds during the majority of his amateur career. He dropped to 147 as a pro, where he was a two-time world champion.
Australia’s Tszyu, the son of Hall of Famer Kostya Tszyu, will be making his U.S. return and his Las Vegas debut.
We already knew that Keith Thurman has one of the coldest mouthpieces in boxing. What we learned is that Tszyu, 29, possesses a pretty mean verbal game as well. “It’s an honor to be in this position. You only launch something like this once, and I want to launch it in spectacular fashion," said Tszyu.
“I want him to bring this same energy to the fight, and not run around like a gazelle. Because I’m definitely knocking him out in under 12 rounds.”
We also found out two years away from the ring has not changed “One Time” at all. Dressed to the nines, Thurman was as confident and defiant as ever.
“Moving up in weight is just something that happens in boxing. I love the legacy at 147 pounds and I got what I could get out of that division," Thurman said.
“He’s a slow-footed fighter with a Mexican style. I’ll meet him in the middle of the ring. He’s gonna go home crying. They say Tszyu comes from ‘Down Under.’ Well, I am trying to put you under, mate. He might have watched the video on me, but he doesn’t know. He might have signed the contract, but he doesn’t know what he just did. Bitter for you, but sweet for me!"
WBA 140-pound World Champion Rolando “Rolly” Romero (15-1, 13 KOs) vs. Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz (25-2-1, 17 KOs)
What we learned: The ingredients are here for this to be the best fight of the night—and a potential 2024 Fight of the Year. At Wednesday's presser, we discovered that Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz does not like being verbally prodded, as Romero attempted to do. He doesn’t have any concerns about making the move from 135 to 140 either.
“Look, I just feel like I’m ready for this challenge,” said the 25-year-old Mexican superstar. “I want to show everybody that I am one of the best in the world and I am one proud Mexican fighter that can do anything. I want the fans to be the true winners on this night. That’s why I want to go take the belt from ‘Rolly’ and give the fans what they want.”
We learned Romero, who won the WBA title by stopping Ismael Barroso in nine rounds last May, is not afraid of plunging into the deep end in his first title defense. Though he is coming up in weight, Cruz is a handful. The 28-year-old Romero feels he can handle Cruz although oddsmakers rate him a slight underdog in this fight.
“Odds are just statistics,” Romero said. “They’re making him the favorite because he’s had more wins since fighting Gervonta Davis than I have. I’ve been an underdog before and I’m gonna keep betting on ‘Rolly.’
“The other fighters at 140 pounds are irrelevant. I’m only focused on being a part of this huge show with a huge platform.”
Romero vowed a knockout, which he believes might make him Prime Video’s first boxing superstar. Pitbull, we learned, has no problems talking the talk. He sat there stoically, beaming lasers at Romero, vowing Rolly is “gonna be the one crying like a chihuahua when the fight is over. My goal is to shut ‘Rolly’ up and show the world that I am a true Mexican world champion. I’m bringing that belt back home.”
WBA Middleweight World Champion Erislandy Lara (29-3-3, 17 KOs) vs. Michael Zerafa (31-4, 19 KOs)
What we learned: Erislandy “The American Dream” Lara, the Cuban southpaw, ages like fine wine. At 40, Lara is currently the oldest reigning world champion. Lara was already 16 fights into his pro career when Zerafa made his pro debut in March 2011. An Australian, Zerafa, 32, is riding a four-fight winning streak, and like Tszyu, he will be making his Las Vegas debut and fighting for the second time in the United States.
Lara is on a three-fight winning streak and making his fourth title defense since winning the vacant WBA middleweight title over Ramon Alvarez, Canelo Alvarez’s brother.
“I’m going to put pressure on my opponent.” Lara promised. “I’m coming full throttle. The fans can expect me to make this a very difficult night for Zerafa. I’m trying to knock him out.
“I feel good and I feel strong. I don’t think I need to prove anything. I just have to showcase who I am. I don’t think I’m going to have much trouble showing that. I’ve gained so much experience in this sport and that’s allowed me to pick the right times to go for knockouts. Lately that’s what I’ve been able to get done.”
Vacant WBC Super Welterweight World Title: Sebastian “The Towering Inferno” Fundora (20-1-1, 13 KOs) vs. Serhii Bohachuk (23-1, 23 KOs)
What we learned: This will be Bohachuk’s first world title fight. In every victory, he’s stopped each of his opponents, against one loss. Today, we learned 28-year-old Bohachuk and Fundora have a history together.
“I have experience sparring Fundora and I know that this is a serious fight,” revealed Bohachuk, who is on a five-fight win streak. “This is the biggest fight of my career. This is my first title fight and it’s the fight of my life. I’m giving 100 percent. I know that I have to be my best. I’m going to be ready. I’ve learned a lot from mistakes that I might have made in past fights. It all makes me a better fighter today. That’s what I’ll bring into this fight.”
We discovered that Fundora, 26, had his own take on his seventh-round stoppage upset to Brian Mendoza last April. “I don’t think I necessarily learned anything from the loss, but it was a reminder that you can’t mess around,” he admitted. “I fell asleep for a second and I paid for it. I’ve had a year to regroup and now I have this opportunity to fight for this title. We’re gonna show up.
“Everyone that I fight is a big hitter. I only fight the best of the division. I’ll fight Tim Tszyu next. I want to be the best 154 in the world.”
Fundora may be fighting for personal family history, joining Chris and Tracy Byrd as the only brother-sister tandem to simultaneously hold boxing world championships.
“Everybody keeps telling me there’s never been a brother and sister duo to be world champion at the same time,” Fundora said. “So, if my and [IBF Flyweight World Champion] Gabriela can do it, it’d really be historic.”
For a closer look at Thurman vs Tszyu, check out our fight night page.