"They were there. The skills were there. There were splurts in all my fights when I showed 'em, I just didn't stick to that game plan, because I am a fighter. I love to fight, to show that I'm a warrior, to show my heart and skills. This time around, I'm going to make it an easier fight."
How can you stay in the moment without letting it overwhelm you?
"I just keep that same focus that I had throughout the whole camp. I had a very good, strong, tough sparring partner, that put that pressure on, and tried to make me fight the whole time, but I kept that same focus to fight the way I want. That's gonna win this fight."
Usually when you win a fight like that, it's a life-changing experience. You lost, and it was a life-changing experience, because people have so much respect for your courage that night. Can you talk a little bit about how it has changed you?
"It has changed me. I'm a winner, I'm used to always winning. I never would have thought I would be defeated like that. The ref was doing his job. I still thought it was prematurely stopped. Now I have another chance to redeem myself, the same style fighter with the same name. In a neutral place, out here in Las Vegas, we're gonna have a lot more fans on my side this time around. It's gonna be different atmosphere."
One of your greatest performances came here against (Breidis) Prescott, a fight you were losing, a fight you needed a knockout to win, and you found a way in that 10th round. When you look back on that fight, did it help you grow as a fighter by knowing that staying with it, you can find a way to come out on top, even when it looks bleakest?
"Yeah, when I have to dig deep, the moment comes in that fight when I really have to dig deep and show my heart, that's when I fight best. Up to this point, even through these last couple fights, even that fight with Brandon, my skills are superb. They only made me that much better. My movement. I've developed more of a tactic to add to my arsenal this time around to utilize it and win."
Brandon doesn't think you can change. How do you prove him wrong this Saturday?
"He's gonna feel it. By frustrating him. He's gonna believe it, like, man, this dude's really moving on me. What do I do? He's just gonna keep coming forward and do what he does every time. I'm gonna move on him and set traps on him. He's gonna be shocked at how I've really changed it up. I'm very creative with my style. I've never really brought it out. I've always showed the warrior in me, the fighter in me. This time around, it's gonna be different."
Was there a point in that first fight where you were like, oh, God, this could be one of those Fights of the Year, and then that warrior mentality took over?
"Yeah, it did. It sure did. My preparation was just to fight the way I do. That's just the way the fight ended up. Being out there in the ring at that time, it was amazing, man. I was hyped to be in that kind of fight, that war. I was excited."
I know a lot of folks are gonna buy tickets or pay-per-views (editor's note: No) because they think they'll see a duplicate of six months ago. I know sequels in the movies never live up to the original. Is there pressure on you to go out and have another toe-to-toe, mano-a-mano fight?
"I don't have no pressure at all with that. I've always done better under pressure, but I don't look at it as pressure this time around. I know what to do. My game plan, the strategic adjustments I made, I know I just have to stick to it. I'm just so focused on what I trained for, and how I trained for this fight."
How long did it take you to watch the film? Did you watch it a week after, a month after?
"It took me a little over a month. I didn't really care to watch that fight. I was still disappointed in the outcome and the way it was ended."
You're a fight fan, were you like, wow, look at that, this was awesome?
"I think I watched it once I found out that we were gonna have a rematch. I was like, oh, OK, yeah, alright, let's do a little film study. I watched it a couple times and it brought me right back to that fight. I know I was winning that fight, I know what I need to do. I just kept on my skills I needed to use to win this fight."
Looking back at that fight, Brandon was coming up from 135 to 140. Do you think you might have underestimated his strength?
"I might have. I think I did. I kind of underestimated him. I was a little overconfident. I was like, he's coming up to my division. I was feeling like, this is my division, I own this division. Kinda made me more humble this time around. More focused, more motivated as far as being on top of my game. If you slip at any point in that ring when somebody's trying to go after you, anybody can take that from you. This time around, I'm on top of my game, 100%."
You mentioned how you were winning the fight, a lot of people had you up four rounds to two after six rounds, then you were hurt. Do you look back at the good stuff you did when you were fighting on the outside, and you were tagging him, and he just seemed to have that iron chin--
"Yeah, he was taking some good shots."
Do you feel like if you keep repeating that, then maybe you're not gonna get the knockout you're accustomed to, but you'll win a 12 round decision?
"I'm not going for the knockout. I'm going for the win. If the knockout comes, it comes, but I'm coming to win this fight. I'm here to redeem myself. I'm not trying to make up for it, I just want to redeem myself."
You mentioned that the referee might have stopped the fight early. Did you see the fight on the 16th, Tim Bradley looked like he was very hurt a lot of times?
"Yeah, it was the same ref. He got more of a chance to pull through and show his heart. ... I was kinda mad, I was like, man, why didn't he just give me another 10-15 seconds or so? Maybe a couple more shots, even a knockdown or something. Then count me out if I stand up and I can't walk. Then count me out. Don't just, 'No!' When I'm trying to pull through a situation like that, you don't just stop the fight. I'm sure he heard a lot of criticism. I heard what people were saying. I think he kinda made up for it with the Bradley fight. Good for him."
Are you comfortable with Tony Weeks refereeing your fight on Saturday?
"Yeah, I think he reffed one of the Castillo-Corrales fights. Him being in a fight like that, I'm OK, if worse comes to worst and we're slugging it out, I'm sure he'll let us slug it out until somebody's really knocked out, and not just oh, he was almost knocked out, I should have stopped the fight. No, I'm sure he'll let us fight until someone's unable to really protect themselves."
Do you feel Rios had the strongest punches you've tasted? How would you compare his power?
"He's strong. He has a good punch on him. He has power. I am not going to underestimate him. He caught me, he hurt me, but I was just overwhelmed that whole last fight. I got in that ring, I had trained in a bigger ring, I looked around, and I was like, wow, we're gonna fight. The whole atmosphere, it was just way different. Something I wasn't used to. It was a learning experience for me. But I'm not underestimating him at all. I know what he's capable of, so I'm prepared for it."
Would you consider taking a knee if you find yourself hurt again like that?
"Yeah, if I know I'm really hurt, and I know I should. I'm gonna be more smart this time around. There are no standing eight-counts in California, there are standing eight-counts in Nevada. Are there? I dunno, I thought there was. I don't care, that ain't gonna matter. But that would seem like the smart thing to do, to take a knee if you're hurt, to save you from losing the fight."
Bradley and Provodnikov, people are saying they might have something taken out of them from that fight--
"They might have. That's on them, they know the way they feel from that fight, they know what they have. I think it'll only be shown in fights. It takes time to really see that in a fighter, what they really have and what they show. We'll see."
How much of your camp was spent in Colorado this time, and how much was spent in California?
"It was all in Colorado, I just went out there for footage for HBO. I thought they were gonna come meet us in Denver, but I guess the schedule was already set up for LA, so they weren't able to make it out there. I had to go to them. ... Everything was good. Mile high. Traditionally, that's what I would do. If I would have trained out there throughout the whole camp, I would've went home and acclimated to the elevation. That's just something I always did. It was something I always felt better -- it was in the back of my head, even going into the last fight, I was like, man, I didn't get the elevation in me. So I was like, alright, whatever."
Do you ever think of relocating for the rest of your boxing career to keep the distractions and any potential problems away?
"That's why I did change my camp and went to LA or Houston or somewhere else other than Colorado, but at this point in my career or my life, everything that I do, I'm just so focused on what I'm doing here. I'm a family man, I don't put myself in those situations anymore. Everything's to a different level in my life. ... I could see myself doing it. I've done it before. I'm comfortable with what I'm doing now."
What did Rudy Hernandez bring to your camp this time?
"Rudy brought a lot to the table this time around. He implemented a lot of training techniques that are going to help out tremendously in this fight. He brought in a lot of good tactics that I'm gonna use in this fight. He brings a lot to the table. I'm blessed that Rudy came out to my camp and stayed in Colorado. I'm thankful for that."
Brandon Rios brought in (Memo) Heredia into his camp, and we know how he worked with Juan Manuel Marquez, got the knockout on Pacquiao, linked to steroids in the past. Does that concern you?
"It's on the tests. Why cheat it? You know what you're doing. That's his karma. I'm 100% natural. I'm not worried about it. I think he's natural. I don't think about it. I think he's gonna go in focused, whatever he's doing."
What are all the fans gonna see Saturday night?
"They're gonna see a great show, a huge performance. They're gonna see a redemption happen. Look forward to a great fight and a good performance."
Part of why the fans responded so much when your first fight was announced is because you're both known as sluggers. After watching that Provodnikov-Bradley fight, would you like to fight either of those two?
"I would. At that level, for that title, yeah, at this top level. As great fighters, they're both tough fighters. Bradley would be a great fight. He won that fight, so he's the one to go after. He's the one with the title."
He's at 147, though. Would you move up seven pounds to fight him?
"I would. Great fights, good, big name fighters. I would move up."