Category Archives: Press

December 27, 2017
December 27, 2017
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MOGENS PALLE, who was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2008, celebrates his 60-year anniversary as a boxing promoter with an action-packed event at Frederiksberg Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark on Friday January 5.

Together with Denmark’s popular former pro heavyweight Brian Nielsen, the 83-year-old promoter runs the Danish Fight Night boxing shows, which they started two years ago, with mainly all new talents billed as ‘Tomorrow’s Champions’.

The January 5 show will mark the 60th anniversary since Palle began his long career in professional boxing back in 1957 – a stint that has produced numerous European and world champions, like Ayub Kalule, Johnny Bredahl and Mikkel Kessler.

In the main event, Lolenga Mock is chasing a world title bout and his 11th victory in a row, when he takes on Dmitrii Chudinov in a super-middleweight contest.

Chudinov is currently ranked at No. 15 by the WBC and No. 8 by the WBA, and is best known in the UK for fighting Chris Eubank Jnr at the O2 Arena in Greenwich in February 2015.

The now-Danish citizen Mock used to fight all over the world as an opponent, going up against the likes of David Haye (at cruiserweight) and Lucian Bute, among others.

Despite setbacks early in his career, the 45-year-old is in the best form of his life. He has won his last 10 fights due to his extraordinary discipline. Also, at this time in his career, he finally has proper backing from a promoter.

Also on the bill, Swedish light-heavyweight Sven Fornling meets Danish southpaw Jeppe Morell in an interesting collision dubbed ‘The Battle for the Nordic Crown’.

In a domestic clash between two undefeated Danish fighters, 22-year-old light-heavy Jonas “Tiger” Madsen faces 24-year-old compatriot Andreas “Discofinger” Lynggaard over 10 rounds.

Meanwhile, the slick and fast-handed Enock Mwandila Poulsen battles Mexican Guadalupe “El Lupe” Acosta. Also in action is the 22-year-old hard-hitting slugger Ditlev “D-Struction” Rossing, who is trained by Sherman “Tank” Williams.

The undercard features heavyweight Pierre “Pretty Ricky” Madsen, talented welterweight Oliver Meng, who is only 18 years old and a European Youth bronze medallist as an amateur, plus Danish Dancing with the Stars winner Sarah Mahfoud, who competes in a featherweight contest over six rounds.

December 27, 2017
December 27, 2017
2017-12-27-PHOTO-00000141

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SWEDISH heavyweight Adrian Granat stopped Georgia’s Irakli Gvenetadze in his comeback bout on Friday December 22 following his shock loss to Alexander Dimitrenko in March.

Against Gvenetadze at Hamburg’s Sporthalle, Granat controlled the fight with his jab from the outset, although Gvenetadze did manage to land a few punches. In round four, Granat connected with a right uppercut and Gvenetadze went down. Referee Timo Habighorst wisely stopped the contest.

After the victory, Granat said: “It felt really good to be back in the ring. I followed the instructions from Armand Krajnc and Danny Cramner [in the corner]. I wanted to have control, but after a while my trainers said, ‘Knock him out’, and that is what I did.

“Now, my next fight will be against Otto Wallin at the end of February. This is a fight I have been asking for for a long time, but [promoters] the Sauerlands and Wallin have been scared. They got somewhat braver after my loss in March, and then they proposed this fight. And to be honest, I think they regret it now. Wallin is not on my level.”

Granat’s head coach Krajnc was satisfied after the fight: “Granat did a great job. What I like about this guy is that he listens. After the Dimitrenko fight, Granat came to my gym and said, ‘Armand, I am moving back to Scandinavia and you are the best trainer here. Let us work.’ I said yes. I was the one who made Adrian turn pro in 2013, and I am the one who can take him to the top.

“Our next fight, against Wallin, will be a good fight, but Granat will win. After that we
want a rematch against Dimitrenko. And after that, we are ready for the top 10.”

The all-Swedish clash between Wallin and Granat will most likely be held in Stockholm or Sundsvall, since the Sauerlands won the purse bid.

December 27, 2017
December 27, 2017
Sergey Kovalev

Stacey Verbeek

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SERGEY KOVALEV returns to New York on Saturday March 3 to defend his WBO light-heavyweight title against southpaw Igor Mikhalkin, originally of Russia, but now fighting out of Hamburg. A skilled boxer, Mikhalkin puts his 10-bout winning streak on the line as he challenges one of the most fearsome punchers in boxing at the Theater at Madison Square Garden.

In the co-main event, WBA light-heavyweight champ Dmitry Bivol of Russia makes the second defence of his title against Cuba’s Sullivan Barrera – his mandatory challenger. Bivol-Barrera matches a young, explosive champion against an experienced campaigner hungry for his first world title.

Last month, the Big Apple welcomed Kovalev with open arms as he made his New York debut with a stoppage of Vyacheslav Shabranskyy in the second round to reclaim the (vacant) WBO title at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. “Krusher” thrilled his large following of Russian fans last month, and he expects an even bigger contingent to greet him in March.

Kovalev said: “I really enjoyed fighting at Madison Square Garden in November. It feels like my home. I’m very excited to go back to MSG and to fight on HBO. Everyone should have a great time watching my fight!”

Kovalev’s manager, Egis Klimas, added: “It’s still very difficult to find light-heavyweights who want to fight Sergey. I’m surprised! Many thanks to Mikhalkin, who is confident enough to take on the ‘Krusher’ and get a big opportunity. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Shabranskyy is Ukrainian and Igor is Russian. They’re tough! Not afraid!”

Mikhalkin made his professional debut in 2007 with a second-round stoppage of Stefan Stanko, and went on to win his first 11 bouts, with seven of those wins coming inside the distance. The lone blemish on Mikhalkin’s record is a unanimous decision loss to Aleksy Kuziemski in 2010. Ex-EBU titlist Mikhalkin will be making his US debut against Kovalev.

When asked about his upcoming title shot against Kovalev, Mikhalkin replied: “It is a great honour for me to fight in the United States. This will undoubtedly be the biggest and hardest fight of my career. Kovalev is, for me, the strongest man in this weight class. But I feel ready. The fight against Kovalev comes at the perfect time. I feel stronger than ever and I want to show the American boxing audience a great fight.”

Mikhalkin’s promoter, Erol Ceylan, added: “We are happy to organise this fight, together with Main Events. Kovalev is a big name in the light-heavyweight division. Igor has absolutely earned this fight and he has the class to defeat Kovalev. Igor has already won many great foreign victories in his career and I’m sure that he will be successful again.”

In the co-main event, Bivol makes his New York debut against Barrera, who has become a fixture on HBO. Both men have been very focused on making this fight and facing each other.

“This is not the first time that I am training for the most important fight of my career, and this motivates me and makes me happy. Barrera is what we wanted and I am glad that we will meet in the ring soon,” explained Bivol.

Andrei Ryabinskiy, Bivol’s promoter, explained: “We have planned a very active schedule for Bivol, and we are happy to start the year with an event at Madison Square Garden.”

Bivol’s manager, Vadim Kornilov, added: “We are glad that our first appearance in 2018 will be against one of the best in the division in the legendary Madison Square Garden. Barrera is a serious test for Bivol and we have a lot of respect for him taking this fight. We want to prove to the world that it was not by accident that this young kid became a world champion in only his 12th ring appearance. Bivol has already been mentioned as a possible pound-for-pounder by many, and we will continue fighting the best out there to prove this.”

Barrera said: “I came from Cuba with one dream and that was to win a world title. I know it won’t be easy and I know I chose the toughest road than anyone to get here.  But I know all of the hard work will pay off. On March 3, I will become the most deserving light-heavyweight champion in boxing.”

Main Events CEO Kathy Duva remarked: “We’re ready to showcase the light-heavyweight division again at Madison Square Garden. We have Kovalev and Barrera both returning to The Theater after big wins in November, and we’re adding another light-heavyweight champion to the card. Bivol is a young champion with a bright future ahead of him if he can get past Sullivan, which is no easy task. And Sergey is taking on Mikhalkin, who is a young but experienced southpaw, and that [stance] has given him some trouble in the past. We’ll round out the show with another line-up of prospects and local guys in great fights to make sure the fans see a really entertaining and satisfying night of boxing.”

December 22, 2017
December 22, 2017
Robert Easter

Andy Samuelson/Premier Boxing Champions

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UNDEFEATED 135-pound world champion Robert Easter will defend his IBF Title against former world champion Javier Fortuna in the co-main event of Errol Spence Jr. vs. Lamont Peterson live on SHOWTIME (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) on Saturday, Jan. 20 from Barclays Center, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING® and presented by Premier Boxing Champions.

Easter vs. Fortuna rounds out the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING doubleheader that features IBF Welterweight World Champion and 2012 U.S. Olympian Spence making his first title defence against former two-division world champion Peterson.

In the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING PRELIMS, unbeaten light heavyweight Marcus Browne, from Staten Island, will take on once-beaten Francy Ntetu in a 10-round fight and undefeated heavyweight sensation Adam Kownacki, who fights out of Brooklyn by way of Lomza, Poland, will face once-beaten Iago Kiladze of Kiev, Ukraine in a 10-round bout.

The live digital offering will be exclusive in the U.S. on the SHOWTIME Sports YouTube channel and the SHOWTIME Boxing Facebook page.

Easter (20-0, 14 KOs) will be making the third defence of his lightweight world title since he won it with a split decision over Richard Commey on Sept. 9, 2016. The 26-year-old Easter successfully defended the title twice in his hometown of Toledo, Ohio last year, defeating Luis Cruz by unanimous decision on Feb. 10 and then following it up with a unanimous decision victory over Denis Shafikov in his last outing on June 30.

“When I first won the title I knew that many obstacles would be thrown at me, but that’s what the game is all about,’’ Easter said. “I’ve successfully overcome them and defended the title in some tough fights and on January 20 we’re looking to do the same thing. I believe every fighter can give you problems, but professionals make adjustments and take over the fight. That’s what I’m going to do. I know he’s a former world champion looking to regain a title, but this time he signed up for the wrong guy. We always work hard and we’ve turned it up a notch since we found out who the opponent would be. I’m just excited. I’m ready to go today if I have to.’’

Fortuna (33-1-1, 23 KOs) is returning to the scene of his first world championship victory when he defeated then champion Bryan Vasquez by unanimous decision for the 130-pound title at Barclays Center on May 29, 2015. Fortuna lost the title to Jason Sosa by technical knockout in Beijing, China on June 24, 2016 in a fight Fortuna led on the scorecards. The 28-year-old southpaw who fights out of Braintree, Mass. by way of Dominican Republic, has won four straight since his lone loss to get in contention for a title at 135 pounds, including triumphs over then undefeated fighters Omar Douglas and Nicolas Polanco.

“I’m just very gracious, appreciative and honoured for the opportunity to fight for the world title again,’’ Fortuna said. “I feel really good about this fight. With God first I will be a world champion again. Easter is tall, active and he’s strong. But I feel like I’m stronger and I can punch much harder. Training is going smooth now, but the intensity will pick up as we get closer to the fight.”

Browne (20-0, 15 KOs) has put together back-to-back impressive knockout victories to continue his rapid rise up the highly competitive 175-pound division. The 27-year-old southpaw knocked out Thomas Williams, Jr. in Cincinnati on Feb. 18, and followed it up with another stunning knockout victory over then unbeaten Seanie Monaghan in Long Island on July 15. The 2012 U.S. Olympian will look to put himself in position for a world title fight with a convincing win on Jan. 20.

Ntetu (17-1, 4 KOs) was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo but lives and trains out of Quebec, Canada. The veteran won his first 16 pro fights, including victories over experienced challengers Milton Nunez and Oscar Riojas. Ntetu previously fought at Barclays Center in June 2016 when he went toe-to-toe with current super middleweight world champion David Benavidez before eventually suffering the first loss of his career.

Kownacki (16-0, 13 KOs) has made steady progress up the heavyweight ladder, scoring knockout victories in his last three matches. The 28-year-old Kownacki will be fighting for the sixth time at Barclays Center in his hometown of Brooklyn. In his last fight he knocked out former world title challenger Artur Szpilka at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. on July 15 in a matchup of top Polish heavyweights.

Kiladze (26-1, 18 KOs) will be fighting for a second straight time at Barclays Center after the 31-year-old scored a TKO victory over Pedro Rodriguez in his last fight on Nov. 4 in the non-televised undercard of Wilder-Stiverne II. The only loss of his career came via knockout to Youri Kayembre Kalenga in Berlin, Germany in 2013 back when he was fighting at cruiserweight. Kiladze is unbeaten since campaigning at heavyweight full time and looks to mark his arrival on the division on January 20th.

December 22, 2017
December 22, 2017
Gamal Yafai

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GAMAL YAFAI will defend his WBC International super-bantamweight title against Gavin McDonnell in a must-win clash at the FlyDSA Arena in Sheffield on March 3, live on Sky Sports.

The duo are gunning for major honours in 2018 and their Steel City showdown takes the winner straight to the top table in the 122lbs division.

Unbeaten Yafai made his first move in the world rankings in May when he claimed the title he defends, stopping Sean Davis on his Birmingham home patch. ‘The Beast’ will taste six-round action in January before heading to Sheffield, and believes he’s ready to roll the dice and mix it with McDonnell to prove his credentials for major honours.

“The path is laid out now,” said Yafai. “I’ve been waiting for something like this to get stuck into. I got the win at York Hall recently but fighting in January and then straight into the McDonnell fight gives me some momentum. It’s been a bit stop and start for me, but it’s a New Year and I can’t wait for it.

“I know I’m good enough for the big nights and this is certainly a big fight. I believe I’m good enough to beat the likes of Gavin. It’s experience against youth, but I bring something different to the table than what he’s seen.

“Gavin is a good fighter. He’s fringe World Level, he just fell short against Vargas. I’d like to think I’m slightly above prospect level now so, if I get the win it catapults me up a level or two. He’s still got a good world ranking which I can take – this is possibly his last shot to get back up to world level.

“We were looking at the British title but this opportunity has cropped up. It’s something we couldn’t turn down. We’re not going into this fight to just get a bit of money or whatever, I’m very confident. If you think you can win, why not take it? It doesn’t matter where you are in your career.

“I remember watching Gavin coming through, I made my pro debut on a Leeds card in which he was fighting higher up the card. I think I’m good enough to beat him.

“He’s a nice guy, we’ve sparred and I get on with his brother but at the end of the day boxing is a business. We’ll go in there, have the fight and then shake hands after.

“It’s going to be a good fight. He’s tough and will come forward non-stop and I’ll be there ready to mix it with him. This is what we’re in boxing for, to get the fans excited and to progress and step up in class.”

McDonnell faced Rey Vargas for the WBC World title in Hull in February, losing out to the classy Mexican via majority decision, but the Doncaster man took plenty from his first performance at World level – and is determined to get another crack at a big belt next year.

“I’ve learnt so much in and out of the ring in the past year,” said McDonnell. “I feel like I’m a much better fighter now and the loss has bought me along – It’s given me a taste of the big time and I want more.

“These domestic dust-ups are the type of fights which gets the bit between your teeth. It’s a massive fight compared to my last fight which has got my juices flowing. These are the fights that I want. All going well, I’ll get the win and look to maybe have a World Title eliminator before getting into contention at the back of the summer – I want another World title shot in 2018.

“Gamal’s a good fighter – I have respect for him and his brothers but I genuinely believe I’m going to do a number on him but he’ll think the same. I’m going to make the most of these big fights now because by the time it comes around it’ll have been a year since my last real big one. He’s got a lot more to gain than me, it’ll be a competitive fight. We sparred over a year ago, they were good spars – I’m not going into it but if that’s anything to go by it’ll make for a fan friendly fight.

“I said to the team, whoever gets me next has got me at the wrong time. I am not losing again, I can’t lose again. I’m still feeling young and fresh to the game but now I have the experience and drive.

“That world title defeat, I couldn’t have done much more. I had a great camp, I got beat by the better man and there’s no shame in losing to Vargas, he’s gone on to show how good he is. If I can get a big win here, it sets me up for a massive year. I know how this boxing game works, it will snowball.

“I put a tweet out the other day about fighting Gamal and the reaction was great. I’m not one for putting it out there but I wanted to get this fight nailed down before Christmas. I didn’t want to be going into this period with just a talk of a fight, although I’m disciplined I might have just slipped slightly. Now it’s done I’m going to be on it, I’m focused already and I hope Dave Coldwell is going to throw me into sparring straight away – I’ve raring to go.”

Gavin McDonnell vs Gamal Yafai

McDonnell and Yafai clash on the undercard of Sheffield hero Kell Brook’s debut at super-welterweight, where he faces former European champion and WBC number seven Sergey Rabchenko.

December 22, 2017
December 22, 2017
Anthony Joshua

Lawrence Lustig/Matchroom

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LAWRENCE OKOLIE and Isaac Chamberlain are predicting KO wins when they put their unbeaten records on the line at The O2 in London on February 3, live on Sky Sports presented by Eddie Hearn in association with AJ BXNG.

The pair met at a heated press conference in central London yesterday, and with the show dubbed ‘British Beef’, there was no shortage of tension between the talented duo as they were introduced to the media by Eddie Hearn and Anthony Joshua MBE.

Team GB Rio Olympian Okolie believes his amateur pedigree will be the difference-maker in the fight, while former Southern-Area champion Chamberlain wants to dent his London rival’s ego and points to sparring with the likes of Oleksandr Usyk as to how he’ll handle Okolie’s fearsome power.

“I am better than him in every single department,” said Okolie. “If he comes at me, it’s over quickly. If he boxes on the backfoot and look to take me rounds, I’ll show my boxing pedigree. Anything he brings to the table, I will answer it and do so with a brutal KO.

“He’s motivated by money, I’m motivated by my ambitions as a fighter. I’m nine months into my career and I feel ready to have a fight with someone in the top five in Britain, so this is normal really.

“It comes from jealousy from him and his coach, Ted Bami. They said that they’ve been watching me since I went to the Olympics. We’ve known each other for a long time and they see me as a big money fight and now they’ve got it – let’s see if it’s too early for me or if it’s too early for him.

Lawrence Okolie

“The people in his gym know what it takes to get to the Olympics, because they tried and failed. He’s never taken a risk as an amateur or a pro so he can’t talk about levels or pedigree as he’s done nothing to show it and he’s only boxed at Southern Area level. I haven’t boxed at that level yet but I’m taking that step-up now.

“Can Isaac take my power? Can Isaac take me into the later rounds? We’re going to find out. I see Isaac as a good fighter, very fast, a solid boxing IQ and he’s resilient, but that’s not enough against me as I going to get to him and get to him viciously.”

“I’m very confident,” said Chamberlain. “We’ve been preparing for this fight for a while, I can’t wait.  People will see on how I deal with him and adapt in the fight.

“I’ve sparred and boxed big hitters already, he waffles a lot and he talks to much, his ego is too high and when I beat him, it’ll knock him down a peg.

“I’m not the one that talks, that’s him. I know the way he acts and in the face to face, I could see through him. He has no heart and that will show on February 3.

“I’m in a good place and the excitement is real for this fight. It’s going to be an amazing night and to headline at The O2 after coming from nothing, I am so thankful and humbled.”

Okolie and Chamberlain top an action-packed bill in Greenwich as Watford’s Reece Bellotti puts his Commonwealth Featherweight title on the line for the first time against Crawley’s Ben Jones.

Rising Essex force Ted Cheeseman faces a real step-up in international class against a familiar face in Carson Jones, the Oklahoma man who twice met former Welterweight World ruler Kell Brook and Brian Rose, and won on his most recent visit, stopping Ben Hall last November and comes into the fight after facing modern great Antonio Margarito in September.

Hackney’s big punching Super-Lightweight Ohara Davies will be looking to record a sixth KO win in Greenwich as he continues his hunt for more title shots, Team GB Rio Olympian Joshua Buatsi laces them up for a fourth time in the paid ranks and Felix Cash is full of confidence after moving to 7-0 with a second successive first round KO win last week and is looking to land a first title shot at Middleweight in 2018.

December 22, 2017
December 22, 2017
Danny Garcia

Darryl Cobb/King's Promotions/Premier Boxing Champions

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TWO-division world champion Danny Garcia returns to the ring to take on former world champion Brandon “Bam Bam’’ Rios in a welterweight showdown on Saturday, February 17 live on SHOWTIME at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas and presented by Premier Boxing Champions.

In the co-feature, boxing’s youngest world champion David “El Bandera Roja” Benavidez will defend his WBC super-middleweight world championship for the first time against Ronald Gavril in a rematch of their thrilling September 2017 bout in which Benavidez won the vacant title by split decision.

The card is promoted by Mayweather Promotions and TGB Promotions in association with DSG Promotions. The Benavidez-Gavril rematch is co-promoted by Sampson Boxing.  Tickets for the live event go on sale Saturday, Dec. 23 at 10 a.m. PST and will be available at AXS.com.

“I’m excited just to get back in the ring,” said Garcia, who was reigning world champion for the better part of six years dating back to his win over Hall of Famer Erik Morales in 2012 through March 2017. “I needed the time off to recuperate and let my body heal.”

Garcia (33-1, 19 KOs) was a unified world champion at super lightweight and welterweight and has fought and defeated many of the most formidable opponents in both divisions spanning two generations—Morales, Zab Judah, Kendall Holt, Amir Khan, Lucas Matthysse, Paulie Malignaggi and Lamont Peterson among them.  Four of his five opponents in the welterweight division were world champions and 10 of his last 14 opponents were world champions or former world champions.

“I was the reigning champion for six years, so I needed the rest,” continued the 29-year old Philadelphia fighter.  “I’m ready to kick off the year in style and take over the welterweight division.”

In his last fight, a welterweight clash of world title holders, Garcia lost via split decision to now unified 147-pound world champion Keith Thurman in a hard-fought, exciting fight that aired live on CBS. The SHOWTIME BOXING on CBS broadcast drew the biggest boxing audience of the year, more than five million viewers which remains the largest audience to witness a primetime boxing broadcast since 1998.

Now, Garcia looks to re-establish his once dominant position at welterweight, a division that boasts more top-10 pound-for-pound fighters in the sport than any other weight class; fighters including world champions Errol Spence Jr., Thurman, Shawn Porter, Kell Brook, Lamont Peterson and more.

“What’s interesting in this fight with Brandon Rios is our styles. We both like to come forward. This kind of matchup will bring out the best in both of us. I’m excited to be back in Las Vegas. I’ve had some of my best performances and some of my biggest fights there. I beat Lucas Matthysse and Amir Khan in Vegas. You fight in Las Vegas, you’re a superstar,” added Garcia.

Like Garcia, Rios has fought many of the top welterweights of this era including world champions Timothy Bradley and Manny Pacquiao. The hard-nosed slugger from Oxnard, Calif., has 34 wins, 25 by knockout. The 31-year-old Rios always comes prepared to battle. With an aggressive style and granite chin, he is one of the most entertaining boxers in the sport. In his last fight he scored a TKO victory over Aaron Herrera on June 11. A victory over Garcia, a top-10 welterweight in his own right, would immediately change the course of Rios’ career and demand that he be placed among the top-ranked in the division.

“I’m excited to prove my critics wrong again,” said Rios. “I’m bring a ‘Bam Bam’ Rios slugfest to my fans. Danny is a great fighter, but I will beat him just like I have beat others in the past. I am focused and will make this a classic Mexican-Puerto Rican battle!’’

“SHOWTIME is poised to start the year with two crucial welterweight main event matchups,” said Stephen Espinoza, Executive Vice President and General Manager of SHOWTIME Sports®. “Following the January 20th event pitting Errol Spence Jr. vs. Lamont Peterson, Garcia vs. Rios features two of the most battle-tested and ferocious 147-pound fighters in the world. Add in the Benavidez vs. Gavril II co-feature, a fight that is guaranteed to deliver dramatic action, and we are picking up right where we left off in 2017 delivering the most compelling and important matchups in boxing’s deepest divisions.”

danny garcia

“We’re looking forward to the action at Mandalay Bay Events Center in February,’’ said Leonard Ellerbe, CEO Mayweather Promotions. “Both Garcia and Rios are seasoned fighters that have faced the toughest competition in the welterweight division and they are both very hungry for a big win. The co-feature rematch between the youngest reigning world champion David Benavidez and challenger Ronald Gavril we already know will be thrilling. All four of these men have proven that they’ll put it all on the line in the boxing ring to leave no doubt about who the better man is. In addition, we are working on a crowd-pleasing undercard now. Everyone on this card will need to bring their ‘A game’ to Las Vegas in order to be victorious on February 17.”

“Danny Garcia is one of the most battle-tested, skillful boxers in the sport. What he did in running through the 140-pound division before moving up to welterweight is simply amazing,’’ said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “’Bam Bam’ Rios is a throwback warrior. He never met a fight that he backed down from. Putting Garcia and Rios into the ring against each other promises nothing but fireworks in a match that should provide maximum entertainment for fans.  It’s the kind of fight that belongs in Las Vegas, a classic battle that harkens to welterweight wars of the past.  The first match between Benavidez and Gavril left enough room for doubt that a rematch should settle any remaining questions. I’d expect both boxers to come in with something to prove and that translates into a fan-friendly match.’’

The 21-year-old Benavidez (19-0, 17 KOs) became the youngest reigning world champion in boxing and the youngest 168-pound champion in history at 20-years, nine months old when he scored a split decision against Gavril to win the super middleweight title on September 8. The bout featured multiple swings of momentum, thrilling exchanges and a wild 12th round. Benavidez and Gavril pushed each other to deliver the best performance of their respective careers thus far.

“I feel I won the fight,” said Gavril immediately after the decision. “I dominated the pace. I can’t say anything else… The only thing I can do is to ask for a rematch.”

On February 17, Gavril will get it.

“No excuses this time,” said Sampson Lewkowicz of Sampson Boxing. “The minute Benavidez finished the fight I requested the rematch—on behalf of the winner—for the sole reason that he needed to win by emphatically and not by split decision. I wanted the public to be able to have the rematch so that everyone will know who the best is. I expect this time Gavril will say that he’s really been beaten. As the youngest reigning champion in the sport today, I want no doubt that Benavidez is the better man. It was a great fight the first time and this time we’ll see who the best truly is. No excuses. No doubt.’’

Fighting out of Phoenix, Ariz., Benavidez had scored 10 straight knockouts leading up to the match against Gavril. His eight-round KO victory over Rogelio Medina put him position for the vacant title.

“This is a fight that my father, my team and I decided to take again to show everybody that I’m really the champion and there’s more to me than just being the youngest world champion,”  Benavidez said. “I feel like I’m the better fighter and I’m going to definitely show it this time. I learned from that first fight that he puts on a lot of pressure. He likes to throw at the same time that I’m throwing. There are a couple different approaches to take against that. It’s going to be a great night of fights. Danny Garcia and ‘Bam Bam’ Rios, these are two fighters I look up to in the sport and it’s an honor to fight in their undercard. My training has been going well. We decided to bring in a strength and conditioning coach and I feel really strong. I believe I’ll be very prepared.”

Gavril (18-2, 14 KOs) rose rapidly through the ranks by scoring seven straight victories including four by knockout since 2015. The 31-year-old Gavril was born in Bacau, Romania and now lives and fights out of Las Vegas. He fought a brilliant match against Benavidez, seizing control in the middle rounds and even dropping the young contender in the 12th with less than a minute left in the fight. Ultimately, it wasn’t enough as Gavril lost on two of the three judges’ scorecards.

“I can’t wait to get into the ring again and take that belt,” said Gavril. “I learned his game plan quickly during the first fight, I blocked it well then, and I plan to do the same again. He has fast hands and power, I won’t take that from him, but I am prepared for whatever plan he comes in the ring with. I know I have what it takes to win this time. Preparing for this fight the second time around has been different, training has been more intense, and my team is preparing me to take him out once and for all. I can’t let him win. Some people said I won back in September, and were surprised by my performance. I thought it was close, and I thought the knock down gave me the advantage to win. All I can do is be ready. I don’t think either of us will upset the fans on fight night. I want to thank Floyd Mayweather and Leonard for another opportunity against Benavidez. He’s a great fighter and tough competitor and this will certainly be a great fight.”