Cuban heavyweight slugger Luis “King Kong” Ortiz shared his final thoughts from training camp before he steps in to rematch WBC Heavyweight Champion Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder Saturday, November 23 in the FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View main event from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Here is what Ortiz had to say from training camp in Las Vegas with his head coach Herman Caicedo and strength and conditioning coach Larry Wade:
On his training camp:
“I feel really good going into this fight. All the hard work is finally coming to an end and now it’s time to get the proper rest to be at my best on fight night. As a team we worked smart during this training camp. We did things a little different with my diet and I believe that will make me perform at a high level on fight night. My weight is right where I want it. All in all, it’s been a very productive training camp.”
On his rematch with Deontay Wilder:
“As I’ve said before, Wilder is the best heavyweight of this decade and until someone beats him, he will remain the top dog. We have a different strategy in place that I believe will be the difference in this rematch. I have plans to end this fight before the final bell, but if we need to go the distance, I’m well prepared to take it all the way.”
On fighting for his family and his Cuban legacy:
“I have to say it’s been really hard being away from my family during training camp, but I know coming out to Las Vegas was the right move. If I’m going to become the heavyweight champion of the world, I must make these types of sacrifices. Everything I do in the ring is for my family. To become the first Cuban heavyweight champion in boxing history would be a dream come true, not only for me, but for my countrymen back home. I’m going to leave every ounce of blood, sweat and tears in the ring come November 23.”
On fighting on FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View:
“This is a big opportunity to show the world that I’m the best heavyweight on planet earth. All the fans watching are going to see one of the best heavyweight fights in boxing history. Wilder is coming to fight just like me, which makes for a very entertaining night of boxing. The fans are going to be the winners in this fight.”
The Delaware Blue Coats (2-1), the NBA G League affiliate of the Philadelphia 76ers, posted the second-highest point total in franchise history in the team’s 152-137 road victory over the Long Island Nets (1-2) on Friday night. The team previously scored 156 points in a victory over Westchester on April 3, 2015. In his first game of the season while on assignment from the 76ers, Jonah Bolden posted a game-high 34 points (12-18 fg, 5-9 3fg, 3-5 ft) with nine rebounds and three steals in 31 minutes of action.
Bolden was one of four Blue Coats to score 25 points or more in the contest. 76ers two-way contract player Marial Shayok continued his hot start to the season by netting 29 points (9-25 fg, 2-8 3fg, 6-8 ft) and grabbing a season-high 13 rebounds in 33 minutes for his first career double-double. Shayok currently leads the G League in scoring average at 35.0 points per game through the team’s first three games. Haywood Highsmith scored 19 of his 26 points (11-18 fg, 2-4 3fg, 1-1 ft) in the second half, while Jared Brownridge poured in 22 of his 25 points (9-14 fg, 6-10 3fg, 1-1 ft) for Delaware during the game’s final 24 minutes.
Delaware trailed 78-74 at halftime.
Xavier Munford notched his first double-double of the season for the Blue Coats with 16 points (5-15 fg, 3-4 ft) and a career-high 17 assists (one assist shy of Delaware’s franchise record) in a game-high 36 minutes.
CJ Massinburg paced Long Island with a team-high 28 points (10-14 fg, 1-2 3fg, 4-5 ft) to go along with six rebounds and three assists in 21 minutes off the bench. Jaylen Hands posted 21 points (8-14 fg, 3-5 3fg, 1-2 ft), four rebounds and four assists in 27 minutes as a starter for the Nets. Both Brooklyn Nets two-way contract players—Henry Ellenson and Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot—made their season debuts for the home team. Ellenson finished one rebound shy of a double-double with 18 points (7-14 fg, 2-7 3fg, 1-1 ft) and nine boards in 30 minutes, while Luwawu-Cabarrot added 16 points (5-11 fg, 2-7 3fg, 2-3 ft) in 26 minutes of work.
The long-awaited showdown between undisputed middleweight world champion Claressa Shields and former champion Ivana Habazin has been rescheduled for Friday, January 10 live on SHOWTIME from Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, N.J. Shields and Habazin will face off for the vacant WBC and WBO 154-pound world titles as Shields attempts to make history as the fastest fighter in boxing, male or female, to become a three-division world champion.
Shields and Habazin were scheduled to fight on October 5 in Flint, Mich. The bout was called off less than 36 hours from the opening bell following an altercation at the official weigh-in that resulted in an injury to Habazin’s trainer, James Ali Bashir. This is the third date for Shields and Habazin. They were first scheduled to meet on August 17 before Shields withdrew due to a minor knee injury.
The January 10 SHOWTIME BOXING: SPECIAL EDITION telecast begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and will feature a WBA Super Lightweight World Title Eliminator between Shohjahon Ergashev (17-0, 15 KOs) and Keith Hunter (11-0, 7 KOs). The winner becomes the mandatory challenger for WBA Super Lightweight World Championship currently held by Mario Barrios.
Shields vs. Habazin is promoted by Salita Promotions in association with T-REX BOXING PROMOTIONS. Ergashev vs. Hunter is promoted in association with Greg Cohen Promotions. Ticket information for the live event will be announced next week.
The 24-year-old Shields (9-0, 2 KOs) became the undisputed middleweight champion with a near-shutout victory over previously undefeated world champion Christina Hammer in April on SHOWTIME. In doing so, the two-division titlist joined Terrence Crawford, Jermain Taylor, Bernard Hopkins, Oleksandr Usyk and Cecilia Braekhus as the only fighters to have unified all four major world titles in any weight class (Katie Taylor has since joined the prestigious list). On January 10, Shields will seek to make even more history in her sixth headlining appearance on SHOWTIME. With a win over Habazin, Shields would become a three-division champion in just 10 bouts, breaking the record of Vasiliy Lomachenko and Kosei Tanaka, who both accomplished the feat in 12 fights.
“My goal is to become three-division champ faster than any man or woman in history,” Shields said. “This is a very significant fight for both of us. We have both trained really hard twice and great opportunities await the winner, so hopefully three times is the charm.”
Habazin (20-3, 7 KOs), of Zagreb, Croatia, is ranked No. 1 by the WBO at 154 pounds. The 30-year-old, who will be making her U.S. debut, won the IBF Welterweight Title over Sabrina Giuliani in 2014. In her next fight, Habazin dropped a unanimous decision to Braekhus in a historic unification bout where Braekhus picked up all four major world title belts. Most recently, Habazin avenged one of only three losses in her career to Eva Bajic in Zagreb.
Habazin will train in her native Croatia and has dedicated the fight to Bashir.
“I’ve been thinking about this since October and I have more of an incentive now given what happened,” Habazin said. “I feel like I’m fighting for James Ali Bashir, as well as for my own pride and respect. I’m also fighting for my country. I want to make Croatia proud that I am their daughter, and I feel that I now have their full support. Claressa is just a brief stop on my journey. I have bigger dreams and bigger shoes to fill in my life. I’m on my way to fulfilling my personal legend – being crowned the undisputed women’s junior middleweight champion. This is just another step on that journey. Given my faith, I feel that while what happened in October was incredibly unfortunate, this was God’s plan. And I have faith that my hand will be raised in victory in January.”
Shields was the first American boxer in history – male or female – to win consecutive Olympic gold medals. She turned professional following the 2016 Olympics and headlined the first women’s boxing main event in premium television history in just her second professional fight in 2017. Shields became unified women’s super middleweight world champion in just her fourth professional fight, and a two-division champion in her sixth professional contest. She was crowned the undisputed 160-pound champion in her ninth fight, less than three years after turning professional following the 2016 Olympics.
Hard-hitting super lightweight Shohjahon Ergashev (17-0, 15 KOs), of Uzbekistan, is ranked in the top-15 in three of the four major sanctioning bodies. The 27-year-old Ergashev is coming off an impressive fourth round knockout of veteran Abdiel Ramirez this past August on ShoBox: The New Generation. In his previous appearances on the prospect developmental series, the former member of the Uzbek national team scored a third round knockout against then top-10 rated Sonny Fredrickson, and a 10-round unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Mykal Fox. The hard-hitting southpaw currently trains in Detroit with Javan “Sugar” Hill at the new Kronk Gym with stablemate Vladimir Shishkin.
“My goal is to be the junior welterweight champion of the world in 2020,” Ergashev said. “After I win this fight I will be just one step away from realizing my dream of bringing the world title home to my country Uzbekistan.”
The 27-year-old Hunter is ranked No. 12 in the WBA. A native of Las Vegas, the 6-foot Hunter will make his national television debut against the first undefeated opponent of his career. Hunter, who is the younger brother of former Olympian Michael Hunter, trains at Bones Adams Gym in Las Vegas and is co-managed by former heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman.
“I’m looking forward to making my national television debut on Showtime,” said Keith “The Bounty” Hunter. “Boxing is in my blood and January 10 will be my chance to take my career to the next level. Ergashev has a bounty on his head, I’m here to collect!”
WBC 154-pound champion Tony Harrison and Jermell Charlo don’t like each other, and that was on full display at a heated press conference in Los Angeles on Thursday, as they previewed their rematch taking place Saturday, December 21 in the FOX PBC Fight Night main event and on FOX Deportes from Toyota Arena in Ontario, California.
“Every time I see Jermell, I just feel like he’s pretending,” Harrison said. “He’s convinced everyone he’s the toughest guy in the world. He gets up here and barks and makes excuses. I beat you the first time, and I’m here again.”
Last December in Brooklyn, Harrison beat Charlo by a controversial unanimous decision. However, Charlo believes that losing that fight got him back on track.
“The judges that gave him the first fight woke me up,” Charlo said. “It’s motivating me. I’m past all the talking. I don’t need to talk trash about him.”
According to Harrison, Charlo’s talking is motivating him even more in the rematch.
“There’s no respect,” Harrison said. “I’m going to show him each and every time. I’m not the one to play with. This isn’t Jorge Cota. You have somebody from Detroit. Whatever you want to do, we’re ready to do it at any given moment.
“His words definitely sparked the fuel in me that’s on fire now. He talks loud, but he’s not going to do anything. He doesn’t have the skillset to beat me.”
In the end, both Harrison and Charlo expect to go home the winner.
“I know that I won that first fight, and I’m going to do things in a more dominant fashion this time,” Charlo said. “I’m going to be overpowering and ferocious. It will be the best Jermell Charlo. My plan is to show everyone that Tony Harrison is not on my level.”
Harrison added: “I could beat him anywhere, it doesn’t matter. We could fight in this room right now. Nothing is going to change.”
The animosity between these two fighters could make for a compelling fight. Whether you agreed with the scorecards or not, the first fight was very competitive, so expect the same in the rematch.
Last season, the Philadelphia Eagles were seemingly out of playoffs contention when starting QB Carson Wentz went out with a back injury, but just like Nick Foles did in 2017, when he came off the bench to lead the Eagles to a victory in Super Bowl 52, Foles was able to come off the bench and lead the Eagles to the playoffs, which included a win over the Bears in the wild card round.
Fast forward to 2019. Foles, who is now with the Jaguars after signing a four-year, $88 million contract in the offseason, will return as the starting QB for Jacksonville after breaking his collarbone in Week 1 when the Jaguars travel to Indianapolis to face the Colts.
Foles is a very religious man, and it is his faith, according to Jaguars OC John DeFilippo, that fuels Foles’ confidence.
“I don’t want to speak for Nick, [but] I think his faith gives him tremendous ease,” Jaguars OC John DeFilippo said on Thursday. “And me being around him, that’s very genuine. I think his faith gives him a lot of confidence in himself, confidence in the system. And the fact that he believes that he’s going to go out there and do well.”
During his time in Philadelphia, Foles’ teammates lauded him for his leadership ability, and according to DeFilippo, who was Foles’ QB coach in Philadelphia in 2017, players are drawn to Foles.
“I think Nick is, because of the topics you guys have asked earlier – the leadership style, people gravitating towards him – I think he has a tremendous amount of belief in his teammates,” DeFilippo said. “And so, I think when you have a firm belief in yourself and a firm in your teammates, I think you have a chance to go out there and play well. And the other thing that Nick does a fantastic job of is he is in the moment all the time. When you talk to guys about taking it one play at a time, he literally takes it one play at a time. And I talk about short-term memory in here a lot; he defines short-term memory. If he goes out and has a bad play on Sunday, we’re going to move on and get better from there.”
Jacksonville paid Foles for times like this, and hopefully, for the Jaguars, he can deliver.