(photo credit: Jose Pineiro/Main Events)
(November 18th) 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."
The fight will take place at the Theater at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, November 25, is presented by Main Events and Krusher Promotions in association with Golden Boy Promotions and will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing® beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.
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.
(November 15th) 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!"
(November 15th) An energized, reinvigorated Sergey "Krusher" Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KOs) spoke with Southern California's leading boxing journalists and websites and put on a show of skills at a media workout on Tuesday, November 14. The event also featured Kovalev's new trainer, Abror Tursunpulatov; Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events, and Egis Klimas, Kovalev's manager.
Sergey "Krusher" Kovalev - former unified light heavyweight world champion
"Right now, God has blessed me and given me this opportunity to get back to this level. Maybe in the future, we can do unification fights between every champion. In every division, there must be one champion. I follow this goal, and right now I'm working on it."
"I worked hard by myself, but with Abror, these workouts are different dosages, intervals. If today we're working very hard, then next day is a little bit lighter, working on my style. When I work myself, I work hard every day. I didn't give a rest to my body, it wasn't good."
"We're just working on my strengths, what I can do the best. We are working on my body, my style, and what I can do much better."
On his new diet regimen:
"More natural, more organic. I like it. If you cook right, it's very delicious and very healthy. You're feeling this, I'm feeling what I'm eating. I am what I'm eating. You are what you eat. Really, I feel this and my energy is much better with the right food."
"I'm very glad to work with Abror. We understand each other; we speak the same language. It's the most important thing. I understand what he wants. If he says something about an exercise and I don't agree, we discuss it and we find compromise, some solutions. It's almost never happening, because what he's giving me, I understand it can help me. We are the same mentally, I understand where we go, for what, and why. I feel very comfortable to work with him and very happy has control of my training camps and my conditioning for my shape."
"Slava Shabranskyy is a real fighter. The fight is going to be interesting. He is ready to fight and I am ready, too. He is very motivated because it is a title fight for the WBO title. We're both happy and very motivated. It will be a great fight."
"Let me show you November 25 different boxing, the real Sergey "Krusher" Kovalev. I've changed a lot of things. I've deleted a lot of mistakes. It's time to change."
Abror Tursunpulatov - trainer, Sergey Kovalev
"We come from the same training facility, we have the same manager, Egis Klimas. We live there like brothers, and if someone is in a bad situation, someone is hurt, all of us is hurt."
"I don't have no pressure. Of course, I want to prove he is the best. I can do it and I feel very comfortable."
"The main important thing is for Sergey to work under my supervision, under my plan, and if works under my plan and my supervision, that is when we are going to get results."
"We are just changing right now a little bit, we need more time to make more changes. We're trying to add, I hope until the fight is done."
Kathy Duva - CEO, Main Events:
"We're having fun now, it's a job but it's always better when you can enjoy your work."
"Sergey's made it very clear that this was all a wake-up call for him. He's decided to get it together. You can't be the champion of the world and out with your friends."
"The day he won the title from Bernard Hopkins, Bernard told Sergey, 'You're going to be a champion as long as you want to be. As long as you keep focus, nobody's ever going to beat you. You're going to lose when you lose focus.'"
"He's got a chance now to hit the reset button. He's still the man in the division. There are a lot of talented fighters in the division. They are all climbing up to beat him. Now they are all going to have to chase him. It's a more comfortable place to be. We'll see what happens on November 25."
"Everybody else in the top ten, all those young guys coming up, they stand there and fight. We're going to have some amazing fights in the light heavyweight division, it's going to be entertaining."
Egis Klimas - manager, Sergey Kovalev
"I see a completely different person. He is more concentrated, more focused, more dedicated, he's training hard, he's watching his diet. He made the big changes in his head."
"Because of theses couple of losses, I can even blame myself for some of it, it was my mistake ... I realized he needs to get out of his comfort zone. Everything is for the better."
(November 14th) 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.
(November 6th) Former unified featherweight champion Yuriorkis "El Ciclon de Guantanamo" Gamboa (27-2, 17 KOs) will step in to fight Jason "El Canito" Sosa (20-2-4, 15 KOs) in a 10-round super featherweight fight at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in the televised opener to Kovalev vs. Shabrankskyy. The event takes place Saturday, Nov. 25 and will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Gamboa, a 35-year-old native of Guantanamo, Cuba, is an Olympic Gold Medalist who shot to the top of the Featherweight rankings to win two world titles, defeating the likes of Orlando "Siri" Salido and Daniel Ponce De Leon before officially moving up to 130 pounds. Gamboa has also faced stiff competition as a super featherweight, with wins against Darleys Perez and Rene "El Gemelo" Alvarado under his belt. Gamboa is replacing Robinson "Robin Hood" Castellanos, who pulled out of this fight due to an injury.
"I'm excited for this great opportunity to fight Sosa on the undercard of Kovalev-Shabranakssy," said Gamboa. "A win over Sosa on HBO could push me back into title contention. I'm a fighter with many aspects and dimensions, and that's what I'll bring in my fight against Sosa. For my last fight, I wasn't prepared well. This time I will be very much prepared, so I can walk away with my hand raised."
"I'm excited for Gamboa," said Zeferino Ramirez of ZR Entertainment. "This is the fight we wanted. And I expect big things in 2018. He'll be ready for any 130-pound champion if he is successful on November 25."
The 29-year-old Sosa, of Camden, NJ, is the former WBA World Super Featherweight Champion. He earned his title by handing Javier "El Abejon" Fortuna his first loss as a pro with an 11th-round knockout in Beijing, China in June 2016. Sosa successfully defended his title with a 12-round decision win over Stephen Smith in Monte Carlo in November 2016 before returning several months later in a tough fight against Vasyl "Hi-Tech" Lomachenko in April 2017. Sosa is also known for fighting to an impressive majority draw against former WBA Super World Featherweight Champion Nicholas "Axe Man" Walters and for stopping former world title challenger Jerry "The Corpus Christi Kid" Belmontes in only one round.
"People think we have an easier opponent in Gamboa since Castellanos beat him, but we're not buying into that," said Sosa. "Maybe Gamboa didn't take Castellanos seriously. We expect to see the very best Gamboa on Nov. 25. Having said that, this is not about who we are fighting; this is about why. We are fighting to make Puerto Rico proud after what all the people who live there have been through recently."
"This should be a solid fight between two guys, the same size, who like to hurt people," said Russell Peltz, Hall of Fame Promoter of Peltz Boxing Promotions."It's a better matchup, style-wise, than the one between Jason and Robinson Castellanos."
(L-R Tursunpulatov, Kovalev and Sedov photo credit: @SergeyKrusherKovalev)
(October 27th) Former unified light heavyweight world champion Sergey "Krusher" Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KOs) did a lot of soul-searching after his controversial loss to Andre "S.O.G" Ward over the summer in Las Vegas, Nevada. He travelled back to his home in Russia for several months with his wife, Natalia, and his son Aleksandr and even spent time meditating at a monastery in Greece. After months of contemplation, he decided it was time to sever his relationship with long-time trainer, John David Jackson.
When Kovalev began the first half of his training camp in Big Bear Lake, California for his upcoming bout with Vyacheslav "Lion-Heart Chingonskyy" Shabranskyy (19-1, 16 KOs), he had not yet settled on a new trainer, but he did have his eye on someone. One of the first fighters signed by Sergey's promotional company, Krusher Promotions, is a middleweight prospect from Grozny, Russia named Bakhram Murtazaliev. After Bakhram began training at the Boxing Laboratory in Oxnard, California with Kovalev, Sergey became impressed by his trainer, Abror Tursunpulatov of Uzbekistan.
Tursunpulatov is best known for working with 2016 Olympic Gold Medalist Fazliddin Gaibnazarov and other members of the Uzbekistan Olympic Team. Seeing what Tursunpulatov did for Murtazaliev in his last two fights, Kovalev decided that Abror was the perfect person to train him for his upcoming battle with Shabranskyy.
Tursunpulatov is a quiet man who does not actively seek the spotlight, so Kovalev decided to announce his choice in a simple Instagram post where he said, [translated from Russian] "I'm presenting you my coaches of physical conditioning, Aleksandr Sedov, and boxing coach, Arbor Tursunpulatov. I feel very comfortable to be working together and preparing for Kovalev vs. Shabranskyy at MSG in New York City. Hope our connection will bring us new success for my boxing career."
When asked about the personnel change, Kovalev's manager, Egis Klimas replied, "I'm just happy that Sergey found someone who can train him and I'm happy that Sergey is listening to somebody, which means a lot because I believe the trainer needs to have the respect from the fighter and it can't be the other way. If fighter goes to the trainer and tells him what to do, he's not the trainer. The trainer needs to tell the fighter what should be done."
Klimas added, "Arbor is a real trainer. He's not a showman going for the camera and getting into the press talking about it. He's just helping Sergey to get him into better shape and to get him ready for boxing. And he reminds Sergey of his old trainer from the beginning in Russia, Roshchenko. Especially because Sergey wants to hear Russian language spoken in his corner. That is important to him."
(October 26th) The World Boxing Organization voted today at their annual convention to sanction the upcoming battle at the Theater at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, November 25 between former unified light heavyweight world champion Sergey "Krusher" Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KOs) and Vyacheslav "Lion Heart" Shabranskyy (19-1, 16 KOs) for the vacant WBO Light Heavyweight World Title.
The fight will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing® beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT and is presented by Main Events and Krusher Promotions in association with Golden Boy Promotions.
(October 24th) The upcoming battle between former unified light heavyweight world champion Sergey "Krusher" Kovalev and Vyacheslav "Lion Heart" Shabranskyy already has fans buzzing. Now this much-anticipated event on Saturday, November 25 at The Theater at Madison Square Garden will also include another exciting bout in the light heavyweight division between Cuban Sullivan Barrera (20-1, 14 KOs) and former WBA Interim Light Heavyweight Champion Felix "Mangu" Valera (15-1, 13 KOs) of the Dominican Republic. The bout will serve as the televised co-feature of HBO World Championship Boxing telecast which begins at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT. This bout is presented by Main Events in association with Shuan Boxing Promotions, LLC.
Sullivan Barrera, 35, is ranked number one at light heavyweight by the WBA and, if he can defeat Valera, will be first in line for Dmitry Bivol's WBA Light Heavyweight Championship belt as the mandatory challenger. A former member of the Cuban National Team who defected from Cuba in 2009, Barrera made his professional debut in 2009 in his adopted hometown of Miami, Florida. He quickly made a name for himself in the light heavyweight division winning his first 17 bouts, with 12 of those wins coming by way of knockout.
Barrera's only career loss was last year against the recently retired former two-time super middleweight and unified light heavyweight world champion Andre "S.O.G." Ward. Despite the unanimous decision loss to Ward, Sullivan stood toe-to-toe with the former pound-for-pound king for 12 full rounds. In his most recent fight, Barrera came back from a first-round knockdown to unanimously defeat Joe Smith Jr. and claim the WBC International Light Heavyweight Title.
When asked about this match-up, Barrera responded, "I am happy to be back in action, happy to be fighting in New York where boxing is big. Felix Valera is a tricky and tough fighter. He is just another obstacle in my way towards fighting for a world title."
Valera, 29, from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic is a knockout artist with 13 KOs in only 15 professional wins. He made his professional debut back in 2012 and won his first 13 contests with 12 of those wins coming by way of the stoppage. Last year, he travelled to Russian and upset Stanislav Kashtanov to secure the WBA Interim Light Heavyweight Title. In his next fight, also in Russia, he suffered his only career loss to the reigning WBA Light Heavyweight Champion Dmitry Bivol in Bivol's home country. Since the Bivol bout, Valera is 2-0 with 1 KO. This will be his first professional bout on US soil.
"I appreciate the opportunity offered to me by my promotional company, Shuan Boxing Promotion, and Main Events," said Valera. "But I am warning Barrera right now that I am not going to New York for a vacation! I am going to score that upset and get the win. After my win against Barrera, I am then going to call out Sergey Kovalev because I want to fight the best fighters in my weight class. I am going to put my country, the Dominican Republic, back on the map and make them proud!"
Main Events CEO Kathy Duva said, "The light heavyweight division is wide open right now! Within a few short months, we'll probably have four champions in the division. Sullivan Barrera and Felix Valera have both worked very hard over the last couple years to stay in the mix while taking on really tough fights. That experience will be an advantage for the winner of this fight, who will almost certainly fight for a world title next. More importantly for the fans, this is a great match up that will deliver in the ring on November 25 at Madison Square Garden."
Valera's promoter and CEO of Shuan Boxing Promotions, Bélgica Peña, added, "We have been waiting for an opportunity of this magnitude in the United States for a long time and we want to thank Felipe Gomez from El Matador Management, who has been the person helping us find a fight like this and he is the one who made this connection between us and Main Events. We know that Valera is not going to disappoint anyone with this fight. My fighter is a boxer with a lot of amateur experience and, with only 12 professional fights, he gained a world title in Russia. We know that Barrera is a great fighter, but he is in for major surprise come November. In all, the fans will be the true winner with this fight because Valera is coming to put on a spectacular show!"
(October 19th) Two of the most experienced fighters in the stacked 130-pound division will continue the heated Puerto Rico vs. Mexico rivalry when Jason "El Canito" Sosa (20-2-4, 14 KOs) takes on Robinson "Robin Hood" Castellanos (24-13, 14 KOs) in a 10-round super featherweight fight at the Theater at Madison Square Garden on the televised undercard for Kovalev vs. Shabrankskyy. The event takes place Saturday, Nov. 25 and will be televised LIVE on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Although the competition between Puerto Rico and Mexico runs deep in the ring, Latinos come together and support each other in times of need. In light of the natural disasters affecting Mexico and the Caribbean, a portion of the proceeds of the ticket sales form this event will be donated to relief efforts for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the earthquake in Mexico City when ticket buyers use the code LATINOSUNIDOS to purchase their tickets through Ticketmaster.
"With the terrible natural disasters that have impacted Puerto Rico and Mexico recently, it was incredibly important to us that we find opportunities in boxing to give back to those affected," said Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. "Though Puerto Rico and Mexico are rivals when it comes to boxing we stand together united to help these communities recover and rebuild their lives."
The 29-year-old Sosa, of Camden, NJ and of Puerto Rican descent, is the former WBA World Super Featherweight Champion. He earned his title by handing Javier "El Abejon" Fortuna his first loss as a pro with an 11th-round knockout in Beijing, China in June 2016. Sosa successfully defended his title with a 12-round decision win over Stephen Smith in Monte Carlo in November 2016 before returning several months later in a tough fight against Vasyl "Hi-Tech" Lomachenko in April 2017. Sosa is also known for fighting to an impressive majority draw against former WBA Super World Featherweight Champion Nicholas "Axe Man" Walters and for stopping former world title challenger Jerry "The Corpus Christi Kid" Belmontes in only one round. Sosa's aggressive style should produce fireworks against Castellanos.
"Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico," said Sosa. "I have been living there for the last few months and I opened a business there. Now to see the destruction and devastation that my people are going through, it breaks my heart. It was very difficult for me to leave and begin my training camp back in New Jersey to get ready for the fight against Castellanos. This fight is important for many reasons. It is the beginning of the road to becoming champion again and it is my way of giving Puerto Rico a reason to smile and be proud. They are my biggest supporters and that little island shows me so much love. I can't do much but I can show them that this win is for them. I want to thank Castellanos and HBO for this opportunity."
Castellanos is a battle-tested warrior who is coming off a spectacular performance against current WBA Super World Super Featherweight Champion Jezreel "El Invisible" Corrales in July of this year. The 35-year-old native of Guanajuato, Mexico also handed super bantamweight contender and world title challenger Ronny Rios his first career loss, stopping him by TKO in October of 2014. Before challenging for a world title, Castellanos stopped Cuban former unified WBA and IBF Featherweight Champion Yuriorkis "El Ciclon de Guantánamo" Gamboa on the May 5 edition of Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN. After having been so close to winning a world title in his last outing, Castellanos will look to make sure that he gets another crack at the top of the division with a victory on Nov. 25.
"What has happened in Mexico and Puerto [Rico] has been devastating," said Castellanos. But it has also reminded us that we are strong and united. The crisis won't be resolved from one day to another, but however long it takes we will lift ourselves up. I know little about Jason [Sosa], but I know that he was a world champion. He has already accomplished a dream that I am still looking to accomplish. I know that I'll need a victory to fight for a world title again. Both of us will have to leave everything in the ring, and I hope that the people in New York really enjoy our fight."
All right, everybody, welcome. We are here today to officially kick off the promotion for a fight that's going to take place at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, November 25. That's the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Sergey "Krusher" Kovalev is going to fight Vyacheslav Shabranskyy in a fight that is going to be a little departure for what Sergey's gone through lately. It's going to be a fight where both guys stand in the ring and throw punches at each other.
I think it's going to be entertaining and fun for all. We're thrilled to be bringing Sergey to the Mecca of Boxing for the very first time. It's something we've been wanting to do for a while and I want to thank Joel Fischer, Sal Federico and, of course, Larry [Torres] of Madison Square Garden, who is here with us today.
It is the number one destination for boxing in the country as far as I'm concerned and we're really looking forward to putting on a tremendous show. Sergey, of course, the former unified light heavyweight world champion, with a 30-2-1 record, with 26 knockouts; he's anxious to get back to his "krushing" ways. It's been over two years since he's fought on regular HBO in the United States. It is time to get back on track and based on what we've heard this morning, apparently, he's the man in the light heavyweight division again! Sergey said he was going to retire Ward; I guess he did.
He's going to be fighting Vyacheslav "Lion Heart" Shabranskyy, 19-1, with 16 knockouts and he is the current WBC USNBC Light Heavyweight Champion. This bout is scheduled to be a 10-round light heavyweight matchup and it will be in the Theater live on HBO Boxing After Dark® beginning at 10:00 PM, Eastern and Pacific.
At this moment, tickets have already gone on sale. Our presale was very good and you can still get them at ticketmaster.com and the MSG box office. They start at $50 and range up to $350 for ringside, so this is a very nicely priced event. I think it's going to be terrific. We're going to have lots of other fighters on the undercard, you'll hear more about them in the coming weeks, but we've got a lot of guys who will be from New York who are just starting out with Main Events, some others who've been with us for a while. Every fight, as a usual, Jolene puts together the best undercards in boxing, as far as I'm concerned, and I'm sure she won't let us down because she never does.
It is my pleasure to introduce my friend Ray Stallone, HBO Vice President of Media Relations.
Ray Stallone: Thank you. Not too many comments but I just want to obviously say thank you to our host here today, the Renaissance. This is a really, really nice venue. This is so bright, so airy, so classy, it is just lovely. The next time someone asks for recommendation where we should go in New York, this would certainly be considered.
The second thing is there's always a formula in boxing where you feel like something special could happen. I feel like we have something special perhaps on November 25th. You've got promotional firms like Main Events and Golden Boy. You've got Madison Square Garden as the venue, HBO Sports as the television company, those add up to a formula where we really could see something special on the night of November 25th.
The other element that makes that night interesting people say, "Gee, Thanksgiving weekend, people are busy." HBO has traditionally found that that Saturday night is a really solid sports entertainment evening for viewership. Maybe it's because people are traveling Wednesday and Thursday, maybe because by Friday they want to settle in on Saturday night and just stay home and watch live sporting events. It is actually a terrific sports viewing night. So, anyone who's thinking, "Oh gee, it's going to get buried on Thanksgiving weekend with family celebrations," there's a window for some real live sports entertainment and we think we're going to hit it.
The other thing I wanted to mention is, on behalf of Peter Nelson, Tony Walker and Jonathan Galst and the rest of the HBO family, we do have a tripleheader, this Saturday night on HBO at 10:00. Many of our people and executives are on the West Coast today, but as I mentioned to Sergey, they will certainly be back in New York and at the final press conference. All of our executives will be back and we want to welcome Slava to the HBO broadcast. He has been on HBO Latino, I believe, twice now. He's actually familiar to the HBO subscriber family, with the HBO Latino platform, but this will be his debut on HBO Boxing After Dark®.
Last comment I wanted to make: I was doing a little bit of research, if that's the right word, and I think everyone, especially fight fans and boxing media, love it when fighters fight frequently. This fight on November 25th will mark the 10th time that Sergey has fought since January of 2014. This will also be on November 25th, Shabranskyy"s 10th fight since January of 2015. So, that kind of frequency, I think is ideal for boxing fans to connect with these fighters. And obviously, from a television perspective, the more they're on TV, the more you can showcase them. We're pumped up for November 25th. We will see you then.
KD: Thank you so much, Ray. Again, I can only just echo what Ray had to say about bringing together Main Events, Golden Boy, Madison Square Garden and HBO. These are the crown jewels of the sport. I think that it's wonderful to know that after-- my company is coming up on its 40th anniversary, and most of that time we've spent-- we've been working with HBO, and it's always a pleasure. I can't tell you how important it is to us to be able to do that.
Now, I'm going to bring up an old friend. Long, long ago Rolando Arellano was the manager of Fernando Vargas. As part of that journey on HBO, he must have fought, I don't you know how many times?
Rolando Arellano: Many, many times. I think since he was 19 years old.
KD: Yes. And Vargas had a spectacular career there. And Rolando, as I said, was half the fun, really, of working with Fernando. And it's wonderful to have him back here today, now that he is the executive in charge of fighter relations for Golden Boy Promotions, and I'm going to bring him up to introduce Slava Shabranskyy and tell us all about what he expects to have happen.
RA: Actually, my boxing birth, was given over at Main Events, and I've learned so much from Kathy, and from Patrick English, from Jolene, and many of the other staff members. But, good afternoon, my name is Rolando Arellano on behalf of Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions and all the staff members, it's a great pleasure to be here. We thank all of you for joining us today. It's also an absolute pleasure to be working with my dear friends again over at Main Events, of course, HBO, and the one and only Madison Square Garden.
As we all know in the recent years, there has been a complete portfolio of Eastern European boxers that have taken boxing by storm. Golden Boy now has a pleasure to represent one of these boxers by the name of Slava Shabranskyy. He's actually from the Ukraine. Slava has a record of 19-1, with 16 by way of knockout, he is currently the WBC USNBC Light Heavyweight Champion. It is my pleasure ladies and gentlemen, at this point in time, to introduce a champ, Slava Shabranskyy.
Vyacheslav Shabranskyy: Good afternoon, it's a great pleasure to be at New York. I'm excited to be fighting at Madison Square Garden and on HBO. I'm excited to be fighting a great ex-world champion Sergey Kovalev. I look forward to bring the best in me for this fight is the only thing. Thank you, see you November 25th.
KD: I want to make a point of saying that, we worked really hard to find someone who was willing to fight Sergey Kovalev; it's not easy. A lot of people didn't want to even take our call, a lot of people didn't even ask, how much? They just weren't available. But when we called Golden Boy, we had an answer in about an hour and that speaks to the professionalism of the people over at Golden Boy. It also speaks to the professionalism of this gentleman to my side, Mr. Shabranskyy. This is the way boxing is supposed to be. Fighters are supposed to want to fight each other and it's refreshing when it happens and, generally, those turn out to be the best fights. Now I am going to introduce to you Sergey's manager, and also my friend, Mr. Egis Klimas.
Egis Klimas: Good afternoon everybody. I am very happy to be back here in New York City and Madison Square Garden. In Sergey's career, he has never fought here in New York, so is very excited. We have a lot of fans. A lot of people that when he fights somewhere else like Las Vegas or Los Angeles, many people are coming from New York to see him. Now we're going to be able to bring Sergey's fights to New York, so we're going to have a lot of fans.
There are a lot of Ukrainian fans here in New York, so hopefully Madison Square Garden Theater is going to be sold out. We would like to thank HBO for giving us this opportunity. Especially thanks to my fighter Sergey Kovalev for coming back after all those nonsense things. I believe he is clear-headed completely. I would say completely clear-minded coming for the next fight.
As far as Slava, I have known Slava for some time. He was coming to my gym sparring with-- actually never sparred Sergey, but he was sparring with some other of my fighters. The one thing he has for sure is his nickname "Lion Heart"; he has a heart. So, I know that fight is going to be really good fight for both of the guys, and I just wanted to wish good luck to both of them.
KD: Thank you, Egis. A man who I've had the pleasure of introducing many, many times, he is the former unified light heavyweight champ of the world and I think he's going to be that again, sooner than perhaps we thought, and this is the next step in the road to achieve that goal, and so here he is, Sergey Kovalev.
Sergey Kovalev: Hi, everybody, we're happy to be here in New York for first time. My fight coming up November 25th and really happy to fight in East Coast again. I've fought in New Jersey, Atlantic City, but never fought in New York. I want to say thanks to my team, promoter Kathy Duva and my manager, Egis Klimas, and HBO. Also, to Team Slava Shabranskyy. Personally, to Slava Shabranskyy, that he approved to fight me November 25th. I will back stronger than I was before. It's my goal right now to prove everybody and for myself that I am still strong fighter and I can be world champion again.That I have two last losses, it's just like a huge lesson for me. Not like for the boxer, just in my life. I made a lot of analysis from these losses and I hope I will be much stronger than I was before. Thank you very much for your support and see you in November. Thank you, very much.
KD: Thank you Sergey. One little plug I want to put in. We have a nice little show coming up on October 5th at the Mohegan Sun. It's another Main Events' Mohegan Sun's Rising Stars show. If you can make it out, you should come. It's a beautiful card with Vaughn Alexander fighting Elvin Ayala in the main event. It's going to be tremendous.
Question: Tim Dalberg from AP would like to know your reaction to the announcement of Andre Ward's retirement.
SK: If it's 100% true, it's good for the boxing. It's good for the boxing. We're ready for fighting again for these titles and makes interesting fights between great fighters. Right now, in our division, a lot of good and strong fighters who wants to get this title. This would be very, very good fight for the boxing fans.
Question: Do you think his retirement is real or it's for publicity?
SK: I don't know. I don't think about him at all. Because I'm looking forward to get my goals. That was my last two fights, it is already history. I forgot about those.
Questions: Are you disappointed of the possibility that you would not get a third fight?
SK: Yes and no. If this fight can happen very quickly, I'm happy. If like long time waiting, just to fighting close to titles, it's no good. I want to be best in this division. I wanted to fight with the best fighters in this division.
Question: Do you have an update on your trainer search?
SK: I'm not looking for a coach. Just like everything counts as camps. Just have patient. My team will be complete in my training camp and in the ring also.
Question: When do you begin training?
SK: When? Next Monday.
Question: Do you go to Big Bear first like you normally do?
SK: It depends from the weather. From the weather in Big Bear.
Question: I would like to know if you find the timing of Andre Ward's retirement strange. Is he trying to upstage you?
SK: His team and his self can't play, he's like mentally the games as they did before rematch. I don't know, I don't care at all.
Question: You said that you are starting next week at Big Bear. Is there a possibility that you work with Abel Sanchez?
Question: Supposedly Andre Ward left those titles vacant. Of course, everybody is looking towards vacant titles. If you don't reach that goal, would you go after Superman Stevenson?
SK: I'm ready fighting anybody, but my goal to fight for the title as soon as possible. But right now, my fight is against Slava Shabranskyy and I have a focus on this fight. After this fight, will be understanding for me next way.
Question: Virgil Hunter had reached out, I think, and you kind of humored the idea of having him as your trainer if Andre was to move to cruiserweight or retire. Is that still a possibility to have Virgil Hunter be your new trainer?
SK: I thought about it, but didn't decide it. I still thinking, but is good offer maybe, or maybe not. Who knows? I can't get back to team of my opponent who I hate. Right now, two persons inside me like wrestling yes or no. It's not easy to say yes or no. Just I keep going myself right now. I already almost understand who will be in my team. But I not ready announce it, because I'm not sure 100% ready they or not. But I already decided who I want to see in my training camp, in my team.
Question: Sergey, will this match-up with Shabranskyy determine if you stay at light heavyweight or move up to cruiserweight after this match-up?
SK: Cruiserweight very good because you can eat more in your diet. I understand now that I'm small for cruiserweight. Guys are losing weight from over 200 pounds and in the fight, they can have a weight like 210, 215 and more pounds. I am 185 to 190 maximum, it's difficult to make 175 for one day; after this I get weight back and I feel good. I think so no.Maybe in future will try but not right now.
SK: Thank you very much.
KD: All right, thank you, everyone. Thank you for your time and we'll see you in November 25th and I hope October 5th.
(September 9th) Former Unified Light Heavyweight World Champion Sergey "Krusher" Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KOs) returns to the ring Saturday, November 25 at The Theater Madison Square Garden to take on hard-hitting contender Vyacheslav "Lion-Heart Chingonskyy" Shabranskyy (19-1, 16 KOs) in a ten-round light heavyweight showdown. Kovalev vs. Shabranskyy will be promoted by Main Events and Krusher Promotions in association with Golden Boy Promotions, and televised live on HBO Boxing After Dark beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Tickets for this exciting event will go on sale soon.
The Krusher, 34, from Chelyabinsk, Russia, rose to the top of the pound-for-pound rankings as he quickly tore through the light heavyweight division, stopping 26 of his 33 opponents. He won the WBO Light Heavyweight Title from Nathan Cleverly in 2013 when he stopped the then-unbeaten champion in Cleverly's backyard. After three straight title defenses, all knockouts, Kovalev dominated future Hall-of-Famer Bernard "The Alien" Hopkins in a unanimous decision shutout to add the WBA and IBF belts to his collection. He continued his run as the unified light heavyweight champion for two more years before meeting undefeated champion and Olympic gold medalist Andre "SOG" Ward in Las Vegas and on HBO pay-per-view. Kovalev dropped two controversial and hard-fought losses to the current pound-for-pound king.
Now, Sergey Kovalev is ready to write the next chapter of his career. Before returning to the United States from a summer in Russia, he spent time at a monastery in Greece to clear his head and prepare mentally and spiritually for his climb back to the top of his division. Kovalev said, "I learned a lot from my fights with Andre Ward. When you don't win and when you suffer adversity, it makes you stronger. It also shows you who your real friends are. I feel like I cleaned out my life and now I'm ready to start fresh. I'm very excited to get back in the ring, and fight at Madison Square Garden for the first time, and I'm focused on the future. I'm not looking back."
Shabranskyy, 30 of Zhytomyr, Ukraine, has quickly made a name for himself in the light heavyweight division. Vyacheslav made his professional debut in 2012 with 17 straight victories and 14 knockouts. His only career blemish is a hard-fought TKO loss to Sullivan Barrera, the Cuban sensation who is currently ranked #3 by the WBC and #2 by the WBA at light heavyweight. Since his loss to Barrera, Shabranskyy has two straight wins both coming by way of knockout including his most recent win over Todd Unthank May where he secured the WBC USNBC Light Heavyweight Title. This is Shabranskyy's opportunity to shoot to the top of his division if he can pull off an upset of the former unified champion.
"I've been waiting for this fight a long time. I will take this chance to show everyone my abilities and qualities in the ring," said Vyacheslav Shabranskyy. "My coach, Manny Robles and I have been working on movement and defense, which together with my natural power will be more than enough to defeat a great fighter such as Kovalev. I'm proud to represent USA and Ukraine at this fight."
Main Events CEO Kathy Duva said, "The Theater at Madison Square Garden is really a perfect place for Sergey to start the next chapter of his career. He needs to go out and remind people why they love the Krusher. Sergey is an exciting fighter who is a pleasure to watch in the ring and that's what everyone is going to see on November 25th."
"Vyacheslav Shabranskyy is back, and ready to prove he will do everything to climb to the top, including facing a top-level fighter such a Kovalev." said Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions Oscar De La Hoya. "Shabranskyy is stronger and smarter inside the ring, and will show off his mastered talent when he faces Sergey. We are excited to partner with Kathy Duva and the Main Events team yet again for an amazing show that will no doubt bring the action."