Daxx Khan

2016 Olympic bronze medalist Nico Hernandez & Hungarian champion Jozsef Ajtai have taken different paths into pro ranks “KO Night Boxing: Gold & Glory” for vacant IBA Americas flyweight title

PARK CITY, Kansas (November 20, 2017) – USA Olympian and hometown hero Nico Hernandez and Hungarian flyweight champion Jozsef “Little Red” Ajtai took completely different paths into the professional ranks.

Hernandez vs, Ajtai is the eight-round main event for the vacant International Boxing Association (IBA) Americas flyweight title fight, Saturday night, December 2, on the “KO Night Boxing: Gold & Glory” card, at Hartman Arena in Park City, Kansas.  
The action will be taped live for future airing on CBS Sports Network.
The 21-year-old Hernandez (3-0, 2 KOs), fighting out of Wichita, was a decorated amateur boxer who compiled a sterling 123-12 record, highlighted by his bronze-medal winning performance at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil. Hernandez made his pro debut last March. All his fights have been at home, each has been in the main event, and on national television. His fight against Ajtai, however, will be his first title fight, coming in only his fourth pro bout.
Ajtai, who is one year and six days younger than Hernandez, made his professional debut 2 ½ years ago, and he’s already fought in five title fights.
Hernandez’ amateur pedigree versus Ajtai’s pro experience?
“I feel like I’m already at the level of a lot of top pro fighters,” Hernandez said. The only advantage he has is he’s used to fighting more rounds than I (this is Nico’s first scheduled 8-rounder), but I don’t plan on letting it go the distance anyways.
“I feel blessed to have this IBA title fight opportunity so early in my pro career. It honestly couldn’t come any faster. I do believe it will be special and open a tot of opportunities to fight bigger names once I win this fight. A win should open-up additional title fight opportunities, both overseas and, hopefully, back here at home to help us continue building Wichita into a fight town.”
Ajtai (19-9, 12 KOs) has already had 28 pro fights, including a full 10-round distance loss by decision last year at Madison Square Garden in New York City to two-time Olympic gold medalist Shiming Zou, the former World Boxing Organization (WBO) flyweight world champion. The Hungarian has fought at home in Hungary, as well as on the road in the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, Ukraine and Slovakia. A trip to America’s heartland doesn’t faze him in the least.
“He will be at home, where everybody wants to fight, but this isn’t a problem for me,” Ajtai explained. “I know he is a good boxer, but I will try to be a bit better December 2nd. When my condition is good, as it is for this fight, nobody likes to fight me.
“This is a big opportunity for me. It’s always difficult to beat a good fighter but doing so is real success. Fighting Shiming Zou in only my fourth fight was very nice for me. I want that feeling again in this fight against Nico.”
Hernandez realizes that this fight could be his last at home for a while, due to the lack of quality American flyweights, and that most world-class fighters in his weight class are from Central America, Thailand and Japan.
“I don’t think I’ll have many more fights at home,” Hernandez admits. “I don’t think that will matter too much because I feel more pressure fighting at home than elsewhere. I will miss everyone cheering my name like they do at home. I think I’ll be traveling more to fight bigger names to work my way up the ladder until I’m at the top.
“I think the early rounds in this fight (vs. Ajtai) will be a chess match because, from what I’ve seen, he runs a lot. I feel that once I start landing my body shots, he’ll slowdown in the latter rounds. and, like I’ve said, I don’t plan on this fight going the distance.”
Ajtai, of course, isn’t traveling all the way to Kansas to visit Dorothy or the Wizard of Oz, he’s coming to win!
“Nico will not know where I will be in the ring,” Ajtai predicted. “When he looks to the left for me, I will go to the right; when he tries to find me on the right, I will be on the left. When he wants to rest, I will come forward punching; when he wants to punch, he won’t find me.
“I have a plan for this fight and I’m sure he does as well. But, in the ring, only one fighter’s plan can succeed. It’s going to be a good fight, but I can’t promise the public that Nico will be the winner.”
The full “Gold & Glory” card will be announced later this week. All fights and fighters are subject to change.


On November 25th, Joe DeGuardia’s Star Boxing is bringing fireworks to Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT. In the co-feature bout, Danny “El Gallo” Gonzalez (Woodhaven NY, 14-0 5KOs) puts his undefeated record on the line against the impressive Danny O’Connor (Framingham, MA 28-3 10KOs) for the vacant WBC Silver Super Lightweight Title. The main event is a title bout between current WBC International and Continental Americas champion Constantin Bejenaru (Brooklyn NY, 12-0 3KOs), defending his WBC International and Continental Americas Cruiserweight Titles vs #1 mandatory challenger from South Africa, Thabiso “The Rock” Mchunu (Kato Ridge, South Africa 18-3 11KOs).

The undercard for this exciting night of fights is not to be overlooked. New England prospect “Action” Anthony Laureano (E. Hartford CT, 5-0 3KOs) returns home to go toe to toe against Johnny “Hitman” Hernandez (Huntington NY, 8-2 1KO) in what is set to be a 6-round Jr. Welterweight showdown between two bangers. Laureano made his New York debut at the Paramount in September, earning a vicious knockout of James Lester. Hernandez earned the nickname “Hitman” due to his love for exchanging with opponents in the center of the ring. This is one bout you will not want to miss.

Returning to the ring after a three-year layoff, coming from Huntington, NY by way of Haiti, undefeated Jr. Middleweight Wendy “Haitian Fire” Toussaint (Huntington NY, 6-0 1KO) makes his return to the ring in a 6-round Jr. Middleweight bout against Daniel Castro (Yonkers NY, 2-1 1KO). Toussaint has fought 6 times at the popular Long Island series, Star Boxing’s Rockin’ Fights, and will be fighting for the first time at Mohegan Sun.

In a 6-round middleweight bout, former women’s middleweight world champion Kali “KO Mequinonoag” Reis (Providence RI, 12-6-1 4KOs) steps in against Tiffany Woodard (Wilson NC, 4-8-3 3KOs). The last time Reis took to the ring at Mohegan Sun, she fought her way to a unanimous decision victory over Ashleigh Curry, and will look to continue her winning ways on November 25th.

Carlos Marrero (Hartford CT, Pro-Debut) will look to begin his career with a win in his hometown, as he takes on Sequan Felton (Rochester NY, 1-2) in a scheduled 4-round super featherweight bout.

Valerio Nocera (Rome Italy, 3-0-1) will put his undefeated record on the line as he makes his United States debut, against Dan Murray (Lanoka Harbor, NJ/Boston, MA, 2-1) who is no stranger to big stages, as he recently fought on the undercard of Garcia vs. Broner at the Barclays Center. This bout is a scheduled for 4 rounds in the Jr. Welterweight division.

“From top to bottom, we have put on a top notch card for the deserving Connecticut fans at Mohegan Sun,” said Star Boxing head Joe DeGuardia. “Not only will we have two very competitive WBC title fights in Bejenaru vs Mchunu and Gonzalez vs O’Connor, but we are also excited to have Anthony Laureano back in front of his hometown fans against Johnny Hernandez in what should be a great bout between two bangers. From the time the doors open at Mohegan Sun Arena, we expect a rowdy and ready crowd, prepared for an exciting night of fights.”

Gavronski Captures NABA Title at Battle at the Boat 113

Mike Gavronski became the new WBA-North American  Boxing Association Super Middleweight champion by defeating Andrew Hernandez in  the main event of Battle at the Boat 113 on Saturday at the Emerald Queen Casino
in Tacoma, Wash. The scheduled 10-round bout went to the  scorecards after the eighth round due to an unintentional foul which caused  injury to Hernandez.

The incident occurred at the end of the eighth  round after Hernandez stumbled to the canvas following a tie up with Gavronski  Hernandez was unable to continue due to an  injured right foot. Gavronski appeared as the 78-74 winner on two of  the judge’s scorecards. Hernandez received a 77-75 nod on the third judge’s  card.

Gavronski, who has won five consecutive fights,  improves to 25-2-1 with 15 KOs with the victory.Hernandez dropped to 19-8-1. Andre Keys improved his record to 5-1-0 by  defeating Sean Gee by unanimous decision in their 144-pound semi-main  event.

The undercard saw a pair of bouts end in split draws. Steven Villalobos saw his unblemished record drop to 6-0-1 after fighting Eduardo Torres (1-1-1) to a draw in a battle of 152-pounds. The other split draw came in a 175-pound bout
between Cameron Sevilla-Rivera (7-5-3) and Kian Heidari (1-1-1).Niko McFarland notched his first career victory
with a third-round TKO win over Keith Wolf and Jorge Linares (2-0) remained undefeated by defeating Austin Springer by third-round TKO.

Barrera Miami Media Workout Recap

Sullivan Barrera – “Camp has been great. It continues to get better with my new coach, Derik Santos. Every camp we work on different things. I am enjoying camp because I am learning a lot from him and we mix well. Nov 25 expect a great performance from me!”
“The door is wide open for everyone in the light heavyweight division. There are a lot of great fights to be made and I’m just looking to continue being in the mix with all the great fighters we have in our division.”
“I’m very excited to be fighting for the first time at The Garden. I have a tough opponent in front of me, someone who is coming in with nothing to lose and everything to gain. Not only do I have to win but I have to win while giving the fans and HBO audience a good show.”
Kovalev vs. Shabranskyy is a 12-round fight for the vacant WBO Light Heavyweight World Title promoted by Main Events and Krusher Promotions in association with Golden Boy Promotions. Barrera vs. Valera is a 10-round light heavyweight fight promoted by Main Events in Association with Shuan Boxing Promotions. Gamboa vs. Sosa is a 10-round super featherweight fight promoted by Golden Boy Promotions in association with Peltz Boxing and ZR Entertainment. The event will take place at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City, and will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT. 

Evander Holyfield & Luis Collazo Ring 8’s Special Guest Speakers

NEW YORK (November 15, 2017)) – Hall of Famer Evander “Real Deal” Holyfield and former world welterweight champion Luis Collazo will be special guest speakers at Ring 8’s next monthly meeting,Tuesday night, November 21, at O’Neill’s Restaurant (64-21 53rd Drive) in Maspeth, New York, Because a large crowd is expected, only Ring 8 members will be allowed to attend this meeting, but membership may be obtained at the door for those interested in joining Ring 8.
“Evander Holyfield is one of the few living legends in our sport,” Ring 8 president Jack Hirsch said. “So, you can imagine how thrilled we are to have him as a guest speaker. We had planned to present Holyfield with the Ring 8 Legends Award at our holiday banquet, but a lucrative business opportunity will prohibit him from being there that afternoon. Instead, we will present him with that award at O’Neil’s. It says a lot about Evander that he adjusted his schedule to remain in New York to attend our meeting.
“Luis Collazo is a terrific fighter in his own right, having been a former world champion. His career seems to be on an upswing once again and we are anxious to hear about his future plans.”  
Holyfield has retired as a boxer with an outstanding 44-10-2 (29 KOs), but this past year he has operated a New York City-based promotional company, Real Deal Boxing. A U.S. Olympian, Holyfield is the only unified world cruiserweight champion, as well as a four-time heavyweight champion of the world.
He had a 16-7-2 record in world title fights and won 19 of 30 fights with two draws against past or present world champions, defeating a Who’s Who list of all-time greats such as Dwight Muhammad Qawi, George Foreman, Larry Holmes, Riddick Bowe and Mike Tyson (twice), among the more notables.
Born in Brooklyn and now a resident of Queens, Collazo (37-7. 20 KOs) captured the World Boxing Association (WBA) welterweight world title on April 2, 2005, winning a 12-round split decision over hometown favorite and defending champion Jose Antonio Rivera in Worcester, Massachusetts.
The 26-year-old Collazo, who has also defeated world champions Miguel Angel Gonzalez and Victor Ortiz, remains a world title contender having upset 21-1 Sammy Vasquez in his last action by way of a sixth-round knockout last February.
ABOUT RING 8: Ring 8 became the eighth subsidiary of what was then known as the National Veteran Boxers Association – hence, RING 8 – and today the organization’s motto remains: Boxers Helping Boxers.
RING 8 is fully committed to supporting less fortunate people in the boxing community who may require assistance in terms of paying rent, medical expenses, or whatever justifiable need.

Kovalev-Shabranskyy Non-Televised Undercard

Mix of Top International and NY Prospects Highlight the Sergey Kovalev vs. Vyacheslav Shabranskyy
Non-Televised Undercard
New York, NY:       Before fans at the Theater at Madison Square Garden are treated to the long-awaited WBO Light Heavyweight World Championship bout between Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev and Vyacheslav “Lion Heart/Chingonskyy” Shabranskyy on Saturday, November 25, they will witness an exciting mix of top international and local prospects on the non-televised undercard.
Brooklyn native and local philanthropist, Frank “Notorious” Galarza (17-2-2, 11 KOs), will face Jaime Herrera of Chicago, Illinois in an eight-round super welterweight battle.
Galarza, 32, made his professional debut in 2010 and did not face defeat until 2015. After nearly a year off, he has signed with Main Events and is looking to prove he is still a force to be reckoned with in the division. When he is not boxing, Frank dedicates most of his free time to his charitable organization, Youth Fighting Forward, which offers boxing lessons, as well as mentoring and tutoring to underprivileged kids in Brooklyn and Connecticut. His fight with Herrera on Nov. 25 will allow him to fulfill his life-long dream of competing at Madison Square Garden.
Herrera, 28, is as tough as they come and is a fighter who is known to fully embrace the spoiler role. He owns a victory over the previously undefeated Javier Flores. He was also responsible for derailing the comeback train of former title contender Mike Jones when he scored a 7th-round stoppage in 2014. Herrera has been in the ring with and has held his own against some of the sport’s toughest fighters in Adrian Granados and ranked welterweight Egidijus Kavaliauskas.
Middleweights Leshawn “Lightning” Rodriguez (7-0, 6 KOs) and Alex Sandro Duarte (7-2, 5 KOs) are scheduled for six rounds of action.
Rodriguez, 24, of Shirley, New York had an outstanding amateur career, amassing a record of 160-15 and winning two NY Daily News Golden Gloves before making his professional debut in 2016. He sustained a broken hand in his October 2016 bout against Courtney McCleave, which left him sidelined for nearly a year. Since his return to the ring in September, he is 2-0 with two knockouts.
Duarte, 37 from Sao Paulo, Brazil, is an active fighter who will meet any challenge that is offered. He started his career with a record of 12-0-1 before suffering his first career defeat at the hands of the heavy-handed Bakhram Murtazaliev. This bout will be Duarte’s 7th of this year and his chance to get back into the win column.
In the first championship bout of the evening Bakhram Murtazaliev (10-0, 8 KOs) of Grozny, Russia will face Carlos “The Warrior” Galvan (16-5-1, 15 KOs) of Apartado, Colombia for the IBA Super Welterweight World Title.
Murtazaliev, 24, has quickly made a name for himself since coming to the United States in 2016. He has an 80% knockout-to-win (8 KOs in 10 wins) ratio and has stopped his last six opponents in a row. Bakhram, originally signed to Krusher Promotions, recently added Main Events to his team as well. This will be his second fight under both the Krusher Promotions’ and Main Events’ banners. In his first fight, he stopped Robson Assis in the first round as part of the Mohegan Sun’s Rising Stars Boxing series at Mohegan Sun Resort and Casino last month.
Carlos Galvan, 26, is also a knockout artist with a 93% knockout-to-win ratio (15 KOs in 16 wins). He made his professional debut back in 2011 and stopped his first four opponents. Galvan has also stopped his last four opponents as well. Despite five career losses, Galvan’s defeats have come at the hands of opposition with a combined record of 58-1; it is a list that includes the likes of currently-ranked contender Caleb Plant and previously-ranked contender Immanuwel Aleem.
Astana, Kazakhstan native Meiirim “The Sultan” Nursultanov (4-0, 3 KOs) will face Eric Moon (7-0, 6 KOs) of Atlanta, Georgia.
Meiirim Nursultanov, 24, started boxing at the age of 13 after watching his brother compete in the sport. He made his professional debut last year and has stopped each of his last three opponents. Nursultanov will look to top his most recent performance, which resulted in a TKO win after knocking his opponent, Ismael Bueno, out of the ring.
Eric Moon, 26, was born in Alexander City, Alabama. He was street fighting at age 14 and started boxing at 16. After he graduated from high school in 2008, he took some college courses at Alabama A&M but decided to pursue boxing instead. Moon had 52 amateur fights with only 6 losses. Three of Moon’s six KOs came in the first round and he has a 85% (six of seven) knockout-to-win ratio.
Former kickboxing sensation Enriko Gogokhia (6-0, 3 KOs) of Zugdidi, Georgia will face Jose Antonio Abreu (13-2 8 KOs) of La Romana, Dominican Republic in a six-round welterweight match-up. As a professional kickboxer, Gogokhia, 26, was 42-7, 21 KOs and won the WKF World Title, the W5 Intercontinental Championship and the Tatneft Arena World Cup. He made his professional boxing debut in 2016 after six years as a professional kickboxer.
Abreu, 29, made his professional debut in 2012 and won his first 12 bouts with seven of those wins coming back way of knockout. After suffering his first career loss in 2016, Abreu redeemed himself in his next fight by scoring a second round TKO over Euri Gonzalez. After suffering his second career defeat in his most recent bout, Jose will once again be looking for redemption when facing the undefeated Enriko Gogokhia.
In the first bout of the evening, two-time NY Daily News Golden Gloves Champion Ismael Villarreal from the Bronx, New York will make his professional debut against Race Sawyer of Salt Lake City, Utah. Villarreal, 20, is the son of former super lightweight fighter Otilio Villarreal, who is best known for his match-ups against names like Zab Judah, Hector Camacho and Kermit Cintron. Ismael first began training with his father at the age of eight.
Sawyer, 33, is a professional boxer who also competes in mixed martial arts. He has spent his entire boxing and mixed martial arts career competing in his home state of Utah. This will be his first trip to New York, where he is ready to embrace the chorus of boos that he may face when battling Ismael Villarreal in his own backyard.
According to Main Events’ matchmaker and 2015 NABF Matchmaker of the Year, Jolene Mizzone, “These are the kind of undercards I love to make. This is a great mix of the local up-and-comers, hot prospects from Eastern Europe with the big amateur backgrounds and veterans looking to prove the losses on their records were just a minor setback. Every match that was made was made for a reason and these guys each have a story to tell. There are punchers, boxers and veterans with more experience than their opposition. Every fighter on this undercard has something to prove and this is the best platform for them to do it. The best thing about this undercard is, unlike most recent undercards, these bouts were made well in advance. Therefore, all the fighters had ample time to train. It should be an exciting night!”
Kovalev vs. Shabranskyy is a 12-round fight for the vacant WBO Light Heavyweight World Title promoted by Main Events and Krusher Promotions in association with Golden Boy Promotions. Barrera vs. Valera is a 10-round light heavyweight fight promoted by Main Events in Association with Shuan Boxing Promotions. Gamboa vs. Sosa is a 10-round super featherweight fight promoted by Golden Boy Promotions in association with Peltz Boxing and ZR Entertainment. The event will take place at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City, and will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT. 

Kovalev-Shabranskyy Now for IBA Light Heavyweight World Title

International Boxing Association Sanctions November 25 Fight Between
Sergey Kovalev and Vyacheslev Shabranskyy for
IBA Light Heavyweight World Title
New York, NY:       The International Boxing Association announced Friday that it will sanction the upcoming light heavyweight battle between former unified world champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KOs) and Vyacheslav “Lion Heart-Chingonskyy” Shabranksyy (19-1, 16 KOs) for the IBA Light Heavyweight World Title. This in in addition to the vacant WBO Light Heavyweight World Title which will also be on the line in this bout.
The IBA also announced that in addition to the Kovalev-Shabranskyy bout, the 10-round non-televised undercard bout between Bakhram Murtazaliev (10-0, 8 KOs) and Carlos Galvan (16-5-1, 15 KOs) will be for the IBA Super Welterweight World Title. This bout is presented by Main Events and Krusher Promotions.
Kovalev vs. Shabranskyy is a 12-round fight for the vacant WBO Light Heavyweight World Title promoted by Main Events and Krusher Promotions in association with Golden Boy Promotions. Barrera vs. Valera is a 10-round light heavyweight fight promoted by Main Events in Association with Shuan Boxing Promotions. Gamboa vs. Sosa is a 10-round super featherweight fight promoted by Golden Boy Promotions in association with Peltz Boxing and ZR Entertainment. The event will take place at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City, and will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT. 

Jesse Angel Hernandez Cements Himself as a Super Bantamweight Contender with Impressive Unanimous Decision Over Glenn Dezurn

The Fort Worth, Texas, super bantamweight express named Jesse Angel Hernandez continued to pick up momentum last Saturday night, as he took his second consecutive undefeated record away, this time from Baltimore’s Glenn Dezurn.

 Fighting on the Danny Jacobs vs. Luis Arias and Jarrell Miller vs. Mariusz Wach undercard at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York, Hernandez (now 10-1, 7 KOs) used his height and reach advantages to maximum effect while scoring an eight-round unanimous decision over Dezurn (now 9-1-1, 6 KOs).

 Despite a game showing from Dezurn, 26-year-old Hernandez was able to keep Dezurn at bay while landing long power shots. When Dezurn was able to make it inside, Hernandez would simply push him back. At the end of eight entertaining rounds, the judges’ scorecards read 79-73, 78-74, and 77-75, all for Hernandez.

 “It feels great. I think I looked impressive,” said Hernandez. “I was winning every round. The game plan worked very well. I was trying to stay on the outside, with me being taller than him. My defense was better than his. He did more running than I thought he would. It was a good experience to fight another undefeated guy.”

 The win over Dezurn was Hernandez’ “second 0 in a row.” Last August 4, at MGM Grand Detroit, and televised live nationally on ShoBox: The New Generation, Hernandez stopped Russia’s then undefeated Vladimir Tikhonov in five.

 “Taking somebody’s 0 gives me the confidence to keep doing it,” continued Hernandez. “These are tough guys I’m fighting now. As I pick up fights and rounds, I feel like my experience is making me better and better. I feel like it’s to my advantage to be in tough every time like this.”

 Hernandez’s promoter, Dmitriy Salita of Salita Promotions, says he was very impressed by his newest super bantamweight contender.

 “Jesse’s speed, power, aggression and ring generalship were very impressive in this competitive match-up. With this win, Jesse showed that he is one of the best 122-lb contenders in the world. Boxing fans will hear more and more about him in the near future. The plan is to keep Jesse busy while increasing his exposure, to get him in position for a world title shot next year.”

Things are going great. I feel like I’m with the right team,” said Hernandez. “Salita believed in me like I believe in myself. I will talk to my team and we’re looking forward to fighting again in January or February.”

Kovalev-Shabranskyy Conference Call Transcript

Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events: Welcome everyone to the Kovalev-Shabranskyy International Media Conference Call. Thank you to all the media who have dialed in to this call today to discuss the upcoming fight for the vacant WBO Light Heavyweight Title. This tasty Thanksgiving weekend boxing event is sure to thrill fans and will air on HBO World Championship Boxing® live from The Theater at Madison Square Garden on Sat., Nov. 25 at 10:00 PM Eastern and Pacific Time. The fight is presented by Main Events and Krusher Promotions in association with Golden Boy Promotions.
Sergey Kovalev, former unified light heavyweight world champion: Yes, I’m really good. My training camp is going really good, like always, and I’m happy to work right now with my new coach Arbor Tursunpulatov. He’s doing a great job and we understand each other because we speak and understand one language. We understand each other and I feel comfortable.
Question: Sergey, can you describe what it was like for you to put the losses to Andre Ward behind you? This is like a new beginning for your career. Can you talk about that?
SK: All life is like a lesson for me. After my last three fights, some felt that I should get more physically into my work life  with my boxing again. But right now, I feel all bad things are gone from my mind. Right now I concentrate, and I focus for the future of my boxing career. I’m ready to be again a world champion and collect my belts if somebody will be ready to unify the title.
Question: Sergey, when this fight was made with Shabranskyy you did not know it was going to be for the title. Andre Ward hadn’t retired, I don’t believe, when this fight was put together and you were going to go in and fight him to get back in action, score a win and get back on track. Can you tell me what it was like for you, as far as how excited you were that when you found out that it was going to be for one of the titles that Andre vacated when he retired? That you’d have a chance to regain one of your belts in your first fight coming off of a defeat?
SK: My next fight without the belt was going to be discouraging, because I must come back.(It) should be very exciting. I’m really excited and ready to get my belts back. It would be really interesting and really exciting, and I would fight anybody.
I was ready to fight Sullivan Barrera, but he didn’t approve the fight and we got Vyacheslav Shabranskyy. And, after this, Andre Ward vacated the title; it’s additional motivation. It’s like the most important (in) how my future boxing career is going to be. I’m really happy that this fight will be for the title and for the WBO, because this was the first title that I had already., But now this is like a new chapter in my boxing career. I am recharged. I am much stronger than last three fights and you will see November 25 in New York.
Question: Kathy, you’ve promoted a lot of fighters over the years. I just wanted your philosophy about what to do when you have a top-notch fighter, like Sergey Kovalev, and they have the situation where they lost a fight, lost maybe a second fight and your philosophy on how you go about bringing them back to prominence once again? What is your thought process when you meet with the fighter’s manager to put him back in a position to get him back on top?
KD: The first fight, I will say for the rest of my life, he didn’t lose. The second one, he was fighting the referee and the fighter, but he lost to the number one fighter in the world. That’s not coming back. You don’t fall too far when you’re that close with a guy who is that good. Ward has a style that is just very, very hard to beat, especially when he’s getting help.
My feeling about this is that Sergey is must-see TV. Sergey is still one of the most compelling, exciting fighters in the world. Having lost a debatable decision or a debatable stoppage shouldn’t really derail somebody’s career all that much. And as things turned out, Sergey is in a position right now to, not only be right back on top, but to be right back on top of one of the most exciting and perhaps the deepest division in boxing.
In my mind, you know, you hit the reset button. That’s what we did here. Sergey started out from absolutely nothing and in a few short years made it all the way to the top of the sport. I don’t know why everybody thinks he can’t do it again. He doesn’t have far to climb this time and it’s very nice the way the thing is starting to play itself out. You have exciting young fighters winning world titles in the division now. He’s going literally back to where we began with the WBO. He wins that belt first and I’ve already been hearing that some of the other champions want to fight him.
We’ve got some terrific fights to look forward to. I think, let’s put it behind us and move on. These are going to be exciting fights. This is an exciting division. I commend Sergey for reaching for that brass ring and fighting someone he really didn’t have to fight to try to grab that mantle of greatness. I think he got it, in essence, because he did it.
In this day and age, there are very few fighters who are going to go win a world title, put their titles on the line against absolutely everyone, one right after another and come right back and start doing it again. To me, this is a little interruption and we’re just moving forward now.
Question: Do you think all this leads, Kathy, to Sergey fighting the eventual winner of Bivol and Barrera?
KD: Of course. If he wants to win his belt back, he’s going to have to do that. If the Bivol-Barrera fight gets done. We’ve had talks. It is certainly makeable, but it is by no means a foregone conclusion at this point.
Question: Sergey, from a tactical standpoint, there were some things that were mentioned during the Ward fight, and I know you’re saying that you want to move on and you guys have hit the reset button. I agree, you don’t fall far off of the map or the ladder when you take a loss to another world champion. But just from a tactical standpoint, what are some of the things that you took away from the two fights with Ward that you may or may not have seen as things that you could work on moving forward now that you’ve hit the reset button?
SK: The most important thing in my boxing career that I should do during all my time here in America till I finish my boxing career: when I’m doing boxing, I should do boxing. Not another business or a lot of flights to come back and forth to Russia to spend free time. Because when I’m in Russia, I don’t have the time like for locals and doing the boxing. Just a lot of meetings, a lot of businesses, a lot of wrong things. I mean.not sport at all. But right now, I’m here in America, and started a new chapter in my boxing career.
Question: You think it was more or less you were having distractions from outside of the ring being in Russia with family and other businesses. Here in America you’re able to focus 110% on boxing. But then, once you are 110% zoned in here in America, with your training, what are some of the things that you’re doing inside of the gym? Or are you just getting back to the basics and working hard and going back to the things that got you all the way to where you currently are? Is there anything different outside of the training?
SK: By being in the U.S., I am a more disciplined fighter. All the traveling that I did, changing the time zones, doing the non-boxing business, it was hard for me to get back into the tip-top condition before my fight. When I do too much traveling and when in other businesses, I’m not 100% focused. By staying in the U.S., I would have been disciplined all the time. That’s what’s going to help me to have that reset button and to get to my next title fight.
Question: Kathy, do you see many big challenges for Sergey Kovalev at 175?
KD: Oh yes. My Lord, they’re just lining up. You saw Dimitry Bivol the other night, certainly, announce his rival very emphatically. You’ve got Artur Beterbiev, there’s that grudge match that hasn’t happened yet that certainly is still on the horizon between Sergey and Beterbiev. Particularly if Beterbiev is successful in his title fight that’s coming up shortly. You’ve got Sullivan Barrera who’s going to be on this card. He’s got Felix Valera who’s going to be fighting him in, we think, maybe the sleeper fight of the night. Of course, Gvozdyk, who is also managed by Egis Klimas is another one. You’ve got Eleider Alvarez who I’m hearing isn’t getting a title fight. So, who knows? Maybe he’ll arrive and, you never know, if that WBC titleholder ever grows a pair, we may see him some day. There are so many good fights in this division.
If you think about it, Dimitry Bivol is in his 20s. He is the only one, actually, who is in his 20s. The rest of these guys are in their 30s. There’s going to be a whole crop of new fighters coming up right behind them. I do mean it when I say I think this is the deepest division in boxing. I think it is.
Question: Sergey, with these names: Alvarez, Stevenson, Bivol, all the guys, do you feel that you are the main guy? You are the strongest guy in 175?
SK: Take your time. Let’s just see what will happen after next year. Right now I have a focus on my next fight and I do not say that I’m the best. But I want to be the best. And I already have proved a lot of things to myself and to lot of people, to the boxing fans, that I can be the best. But the three last fights, it was something is wrong with me. Next fight and next year I will show everything, who I am. But take your time. I’m working on it.
KD: That will be so much fun finding out.
Question: Sergey, I was just wondering if your upcoming opponent, if his style is going to offer you any problems, his movement and his defensive boxing?
SK: If I will be in the best shape and right now, everything is going very good with my training camp and I’m feeling very good and I hope that everything will be much better than the last fight, you know.. If I will be in the best shape, not any problem against Shabranskyy or anybody.
Question: Our Commander in Chief, Donald Trump, we are trying to get him to come to Bellator and he’s expressed some interest in fight sports. Will he have to buy a ticket or will there be a VIP pass if he wish to attend?
KD: [laughing] I’ll probably make him buy a ticket because the last time I made a deal with him, he didn’t pay us the whole amount of money he owed us. So he’s going to have to buy a lot of tickets before we make up that 2.6 mil.
Question: Do you think Sergey’s opponent can offer him any problems or present any challenges?
KD: Of course. Every time a fighter like Sergey has to take the next step in his journey, learn to deal with the loss, move on from it, the next opponent is obviously going to present a problem. Shabranskyy is a great big puncher and this is boxing, anything can happen. I know Sergey is taking this very seriously and putting 100% into it. Because you’ve got to do that every time when you’re in there with a world-class fighter, which is what he’s going be in with on November 25th.
KD: I would like to mention our undercard fight with Sullivan Barrera and Felix Valera. I think Eric can talk a little bit about the other undercard fight, which is terrific. It’s always a pleasure to deal with our friends at Golden Boy. It really does make this job a lot more fun when you actually genuinely like the people you’re working with. Welcome, Eric. Good to have you.
Eric Gomez, Golden Boy Promotions: Thank you, Kathy. The feeling is mutual over here at Golden Boy. Good morning to everybody as it is still morning on the West Coast. Happy to be on this call and obviously very happy for this fight for Vyacheslav Shabranskyy. We call him Slava for short. This is going to be a great card on November 25th. As Kathy mentioned, we have one of our fighters in the co-feature and that’s Yuriorkis Gamboa, who is going to be making a comeback fight on HBO. He’s got a tough fight against Jason Sosa and we’re looking forward to that. But we’re very happy for Slava. He’s finally getting an opportunity to fight for the world title. And obviously, he’s fighting the best light heavyweight out there in Sergey Kovalev. He has demonstrated to all of us at Golden Boy that he’s prepared for this fight. This is going to be a tough challenge, but he’s up for it.
Let me give you a little background on Slava. He made his professional debut back in 2012. He had 17 straight victories, 14 KOs. The only blemish on his record was a hard-fought fight against Sullivan Barrera, but he’s bounced back since and he’s had a couple of great wins.
He’s the current WBC USNBC Light Heavyweight Champion. This is his chance at stardom. If he can beat a guy like Sergey Kovalev, he’s going to be considered probably one of the top light heavyweights in the world.
Vyacheslav Shabranskyy: Training camp is doing good. I’m so happy for our preparation. Thank you very much, yeah. Everything is great.
Question: Slava, this is obviously such a big opportunity for you. Do you think that Sergey’s style of always coming forward and your style of classic boxing, does his style play perfectly into yours?
VS: I think we have a different style. It will be a more interesting fight because my style is a background Ukrainian amateur, plus Mexican here. So, I know what Kovalev’s style is like. I know his Russian background is strong and now he’s here. I think it will be interesting fight there for everybody.
Question: Are you afraid of his power at all?
VS: No, I’m not scared of nobody. Hey, bro, I have a wife and two kids. I’m scared of nobody. [Laughs]
Question: I asked Sergey if he did anything differently in this training camp since the Andre Ward losses as far as from a tactical standpoint. It seemed like he was having some trouble with the inside fighting. I know you said you have your amateur background and you also mentioned you like to apply Mexican style. Is that something that we can look forward to as far as your game plan? Can we look forward to the two of you banging on the inside, because it seemed as though there still might be some questions out there for Sergey as far as taking it to the body and then also the inside fighting.
VS: You never know how a fight is coming, but I believe it’ll be like good fight. I’ll bring everything what I know from Ukraine here but don’t want to give away too much, yeah.
Question: Eric, the other fight that you had mentioned, the Gamboa-Sosa fight, can you tell us a little bit about that? Because I know Gamboa, was announced yesterday as the replacement. Can you just talk a little bit about that fight?
EG: Robinson Castellanos was the original opponent that was going to fight Jason Sosa and he injured himself. He injured his back. This actually happened last week. He injured his back and the doctor gave him a few days off. He came back to training and he still had a lot of discomfort. And it looks now like he might have some surgery on his knee that was causing the pain. It trickled up from the knee to his back. He’s going to be out for a while, Robinson Castellanos. Gamboa came back after losing to Castellanos. He came back and he had a win and he was available. Gamboa is a former three-time world champion. He’s still very tough and he was able to come right in and replace Castellanos for the fight. I think it’s going to be a very good fight.
Question: Vyacheslav, do you feel that you are coming in a better moment than Sergey Kovalev after two victories?
VS: Everything will be in the ring, so, we will see our situation in the ring. Both guys are coming into this ring bringing everything that they have on the line and, just because I have two consecutive wins after unfortunate loss, doesn’t mean anything. So, both guys are probably in the same position as of now.
Question: Eric, do you see this division, 175, as one of the most interesting in boxing right now, and what do you think, like Kathy said, about Barrera, Stevenson, Bivol, Kovalev, these guys. How do you see the 175 category?
EG: No, it is. It’s one of the best divisions in boxing, obviously, when you have one of the top pound for pound fighters, Andre Ward, fighting in that division. He just recently retired, but for a long time it’s one of the best divisions. When you have a star like Sergey, who pretty much put the division on the map. A few years back, some of the top fighters were fighting there. Bernard Hopkins obviously spent the last part of his career fighting at light heavyweight. And ever since then it’s been very exciting. There’s many good fighters in that division, and you’ve got to give it to Kovalev. He’s probably the top guy there now with the retirement. It’s a very hot division and there’s many good a match as they can take place in this division and November 25th is one of the matches.
Question: Vyacheslav, I was just wondering what you thought of the Kovalev-Ward fight, the second fight in particular. Do you see vulnerabilities in Kovalev that maybe you hadn’t seen before?
VS: Ward did his homework, A+. I am prepared to see Kovalev in a different light for this fight because I am 100% sure that I learned a great lesson from what happened to him.
Question: What lessons did he learn from that fight?
VS: Ward made necessary adjustments. I am going to do my homework for this one. I am sure I am prepared for anything.
Question: Does Slava feel that Kovalev is maybe more vulnerable now than he was before, now that he’s been stopped in a fight and has lost? A lot of people thought he won the first fight, but now that he’s lost two fights in a row?
VS: He’s actually much more dangerous after a loss, because he has everything to look forward to in this fight.
Question: How does Slava view this opportunity for himself, being that he was stopped by Barrera in the big fight last December? How does he view this fight for himself in terms of making himself a world champion and thrusting himself into huge fights in the light heavyweight division?
VS: Up to this point every single fight, I treat it like a championship fight. And for this fight, I had no idea the belt would be on the line. And now that the belt is on the line, I am blessed to have this opportunity.
Question: Eric, I was just wondering if you could comment on the fight and what you think of Kovalev at this stage as opposed to before he fought Andre Ward twice and what are Shabranskyy’s chances of winning this fight?
EG: I can make the argument that Kovalev won the first fight with Andre Ward. That was a very, very close fight. I felt he won that fight. He made some technical errors in the second fight. I think he’s still the top guy. He’s still the top guy, especially now that Andre Ward retired. It’s going to be a very tough fight, but the key is Shabranskyy has been waiting for this fight his whole life. This is the opportunity. This is what he’s wanted ever since he signed with Golden Boy. He wanted the opportunity to fight one of the top guys, to fight for the title. Is he going to rise to the occasion? That’s the question. That’s the question. He’s doing everything right in camp. He’s looking great. Talking to his trainer he’s doing everything that he’s supposed to. He’s motivated. We’re going to have to wait and see November 25th.
Question: Eric, what do you think that he learned from the Barrera fight? Obviously, he had knocked Barrera down in the fight and then got knocked out himself. What do you think he learned from that and how has that made him a different fighter?
EG: To work a little bit more on his defense and you can’t just walk into a fighter. You got to come behind a jab and work on his head movement a little bit more. Those are some of the things that he’s been working on in the gym and I think that those are going to be beneficial. When you’re fighting a guy like Kovalev, he probably has one of the best jabs in boxing. He’s so long and he uses it so well. Slava has his work cut out for him. He’s going to have to get past that jab so he can be able to get on the inside and do some work.
Question: Eric, you mentioned the Gamboa fight. Can you comment on the opportunity that Yuriorkis is getting here coming off the tough loss and everything? What this chance means for him in his career and maybe being able to salvage his career here?
EG: This is probably like his last chance. This is do-or-die for him. And that’s the way he’s taking it. This is do-or-die. He’s still very exciting. He’s one of the most exciting fighters in boxing. He can bang. He can punch. He can box. He can move. He might not have the same hand speed he did when he was a little younger, when he first came on the scene, but he’s going to fight tooth and nail in this fight. This is going to be a great fight because his back is against the wall. And in order to get more paydays or be considered in title fights, he’s going to have to win this fight. Jason Sosa in many ways he’s in the same position as him. They make for great fights when you have two guys that are fighting for their future, and they want to stay at this elite level. I’m looking forward to a great fight.
EG: I just want to thank everybody that was on the call. Thank you very much, Kathy. I am looking forward to this great event, November 25th.
VS: Thank you guys, thank you everybody. I’m so excited for this fight here. See you on November 25th.
Kovalev vs. Shabranskyy is a 12-round fight for the vacant WBO Light Heavyweight World Title promoted by Main Events and Krusher Promotions in association with Golden Boy Promotions. Barrera vs. Valera is a 10-round light heavyweight fight promoted by Main Events in Association with Shuan Boxing Promotions. Gamboa vs. Sosa is a 10-round super featherweight fight promoted by Golden Boy Promotions in association with Peltz Boxing and ZR Entertainment. The event will take place on Nov. 25 at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City, and will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10 p.m. ET/PT. 
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