Cruiserweight Richard “Popeye the Sailor Man” Rivera of Hartford, Connecticut who currently trains out of Hartford Boxing Center will be making his pro debut in Worcester, Massachusetts at the Worcester Palladium against Devonte Hopkins (0-2-0) of Pennsylvania on Thursday night, January 19, 2017.
Pattee Mak: Congrats on you making the transition from amateur to pro. It seems like everyone is moving on up from the amateurs to the pro division. Why not wait one more year and compete in the gloves?
Rivera: At this point I figure it's time to start making money for what I enjoy doing. I'm 26 years old and believe it'd be better now rather than later.
Pattee Mak: Was this your decision to now turn pro or you and your team?
Rivera: It was more a team decision to turn pro.
Pattee Mak: Who have you been sparring with in preparation for this fight?
Rivera: I feel like I have been getting amazing sparring. I have been getting sparring from “Boo Boo” Demetrius Andrade (23-0-0, 16 kos), Joe Smith, Jr (23-1-0, 19 kos), Chad Dawson (34-4-0, 19 kos) and other world-class fighters. I've been getting spark from everybody at the Hartford Boxing Center and other local prospects.
Pattee Mak: And Smith just won by TKO victory against another fighter was the last name of Hopkins, Bernard Hopkins.
Pattee Mak: I was at Hopkins last fight on the 25th up in Boston. Hopkins received the count in the 1st round, then gets dropped by a body shot in the 2nd at 37 seconds into the round. Have you seen him in the ring before or do you know anything about your opponent?
Rivera: I don't know my opponent but I don't take any opponent lightly.
Pattee Mak: Hopkins hasn’t won a fight yet in his career. Do you feel this fight might be too easy for you?
Rivera: I have the opportunity to fight Devonte Hopkins which I'm extremely excited for. Yes he has a losing record but I don't believe any fight is easy. Every fight needs to be taken seriously. Training has to be top-notch nor can any fighting be taken lightly. The bigger fight would be between me and myself.
Pattee Mak: Predictions on this fight?
Rivera: My predictions on this fight is an optimistic one. I believe I will identify his style quickly, adjust and capitalize.
Pattee Mak: Tell me about your amateur back background.
Rivera: My amateur career was a very good one. Not as good as outsiders may view it but I have beaten the number one kid in the country, the number 4 kid in the country, number 8 kid in the country. I've been to the Olympic trials and made it to the semi-finals. I was able to get only two belts as an amateur. One for the Rocky Marciano Tournament and one for the Hartford boxing Tournament. So could my amateur career went better? Yes, but I am not disappointed in what I have accomplished.
Pattee Mak: Are you and Hartford Boxing Center selling tickets? If so how can people buy them?
Rivera: We are selling tickets here at the Hartford Boxing Center $35.00 for regular admission and $65.00 for ringside seats you can come get them from Tony or from myself.
Pattee Mak: Thanks so much for the interview. It’s always exciting when you are making your pro debut. I’m very happy for you.
Rivera: Thank you Pattee Mak.
(The above bout is subject to change. Feel free to share this interview or comment below or on social media.)