Jake Paul on Tommy Fury: ‘I’m going to knock him out’

Jake “The Problem Child” Paul and U.K. reality TV star Tommy “TNT” Fury continued their war of words at a press event Wednesday in Morecambe, England. The two professional boxers will settle their months-long rivalry in the ring when they put their undefeated records on the line in the main event of a SHOWTIME PPV event live from AMALIE Arena in Tampa, Fla. on Saturday, December 18.

 Fury was joined on stage by his older brother, WBC Heavyweight World Champion Tyson, and father and trainer John. Paul, who is in the midst of training camp in Puerto Rico, joined the event virtually. Fury’s promoter, Frank Warren, also appeared at Wednesday’s event virtually.

Here is what Paul and Tommy Fury had to say:

Jake Paul

“Training camp is good. I’m pretty much on vacation. We started this training camp two months before these professional fighters started theirs. So we got a head start and we’re cruising along. We’re coasting and this is the best I’ve ever felt.

“They are underestimating me to the highest degree. They can try to teach this kid up as much as they want in a short amount of time but that’s not the way boxing works. Tommy is green. Tyson is trying to train him like a champion but the kid is not a champion.

“I think Tyson should be paid Tommy’s purse because he’s promoting the fight more than Tommy is. It’s nice to have somebody on the other side of the promotion who actually has a following because I’ve been promoting all of these fights by myself. Finally Tyson Fury steps up to the plate and does some promoting. I’m sick and tired of carrying promotions by myself so thank you Tyson, I tip my hat to you. But I’m going to steal all of your fans. I’m going to knock out your brother and be on my merry way. Another payday. Another speed bump on the way to becoming a world champion and the biggest prizefighter in the world.

“These people think they can come in and beat me because they have amateur careers or they’re professional this or they’re UFC that. They don’t understand what they’re getting in there with. It’s funny to see each and every one of them fail in front of the world and the same exact thing is going to happen to Tommy. To me, this is an easier fight than Tyron [Woodley]. This is a young kid who has never had a real fight and I’m going to knock him out. He doesn’t have a chin. He’s never even been hit hard by anybody.”

Tommy Fury

Photo: Stephen Dunkley/Queensberry Promotions

“I’m feeling good. Fit, ripped and ready to go as always. I’ve done hard work on the road. Hard work in the gym. I’m sparring top-quality operators. Olympians, world champions.

“Hype doesn’t win fights. Talking doesn’t win fights. Fighting wins fights. That’s as simple as it is. I’m not engaged in all this. I’ve not been on Instagram because I don’t care. I don’t care what he says, does or thinks. It’s not important because when he jumps through them ropes on December 18 and he realizes I’m not a YouTuber, I’m not a basketball player, I’m not a wrestler, I’m not a UFC fighter, and he gets hit with a nice sharp jab square in his jaw, he’s going to be thinking, ‘What have I signed myself up for here?’”

“I can guarantee in four or five rounds, he’s going to say, ‘B.J. [Flores], pull me out!’ This is easy money for me. Thank you for taking the fight. I’ve won the lottery. I’m going to rob the bank and I’m not going to go to jail for it. So thank you very much. Don’t pull out and I’ll see you December 18.

“You want to pay me millions of pounds to go over there and fight somebody that looks like him? 100 percent, sign me up. This is easy money because this is a bum who cannot fight. I’m going to show that on December 18. When he gets in that ring against me, he’s going to find his level. He’s going to be out of there in the first round because he cannot fight. He can’t dream about beating me.”

 

Davis: ‘(Isaac)Cruz coming forward could make the fight a lot easier for me’

Five-time world champion Gervonta “Tank” Davis held a “Turkey Giveaway” on Tuesday, as the WBA Lightweight Champion, along with Mayweather Promotions, handed out 150 turkeys, plus gift cards and more to Las Vegas residents.

The giveaway took place following Davis’ media workout in preparation for his world title defense against hard-hitting contender Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz taking place Sunday, December 5 live on SHOWTIME PPV from STAPLES Center in Los Angeles in a Premier Boxing Champions event.

Here is what Davis, his trainer Calvin Ford, and Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe had to say Tuesday from Mayweather Boxing Club:

GERVONTA DAVIS

Photo: Dave Mandel/SHOWTIME

“I really didn’t have a family that was together to celebrate Thanksgiving when I was young, but now I have my two little daughters, so I’m definitely looking forward to the holidays. I’m going to miss Thanksgiving because of the fight, but Christmas is going to be big this year.

“It’s always great to be able to help out. I was always looking for someone to help me when I was a kid, so to be in a position to help others now really means a lot.

“This is going to be an exciting fight. Cruz comes to fight each and every time. I’m just waiting to see what he brings to the table on December 5, and we’ll capitalize off of his mistakes.

“Cruz coming forward could make the fight a lot easier for me, but there are definitely challenges with that style too. He comes forward with his head a lot. I’m definitely going to be ready for that.

“The change in opponent didn’t really affect my mindset or my game plan. Trash talking doesn’t matter to me anyway. We all have to get out there and perform when it’s time to.

“Anything that he does dirty in there, I’ll be ready for. He better be prepared, because whatever he dishes out, I’m going to give it right back to him.

“He’s an explosive fighter. We have to see what he brings on December 5. I’m looking forward to it. I want to give the fans another action-packed fight.

“Fighting at STAPLES Center is big. I’m happy to be in this position to be able to go out there and put on a great performance. I’m just a kid from Baltimore city who’s trying to make something out of boxing, and we’re here now headlining at STAPLES Center. I’m definitely using that motivation to my advantage.”

Teofimo Lopez on Kambosos: ‘I have no respect for him at all – at all’

Teofimo Lopez has warned George Kambosos Jr. that ‘God will humble him’ for disrespecting his family when he defends his IBF, WBO, WBA, WBC Franchise & Ring Magazine World Lightweight titles on Saturday night (November 27) at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York, live worldwide on DAZN.

Lopez (16-0 12 KOs) finally puts his belts on the line against his IBF mandatory, ending a long-running saga between the champion and the unbeaten Australian, with two previous attempts to stage the fight having fallen through.

‘The Takeover’ has been out of the ring for over a year since adding Vasiliy Lomachenko belts to his IBF crown in Las Vegas last October in a stunning display and returns to his city of birth where he set up that fight with a brutal KO win over Richard Commey at MSG in December 2019.

The 24 year old is out to prove that he’s the new people’s champion following in the footsteps of the great Muhammad Ali – and he’ll show that with a punishing KO win over ‘Ferocious’ Kambosos Jr.

“You have to know your place and on Saturday, God is going to humble this man, through me,” said Lopez. “A lot of these people are so ambitious and that’s OK, you have to be. But the thing is, sometimes you don’t get it because you probably won’t carry it the right way. You’re not going to be a people’s champ. You’re going to spend your money on yourself rather than giving back like a lot of fighters do.

“It’s all about being the people’s champ. Ali was the greatest of all time for those things. He made a strong, strong impact on the sport, so for George, I have no respect for him at all – at all.

“The amount of disrespect from him, you disrespect my Mother? I told them, I warned him, his manager ‘don’t talk about my family’. I said they can say anything else, talk sh*t about me, say I am a cockroach, an ant. But once you cross that line, that barrier; f*ck his manager Peter Kahn and f*ck George Kambosos Jr.

“I’m thankful that DAZN has picked up this fight, I’m thankful for Eddie Hearn and everyone that has played a role in this one. I’m in the zone and on DAZN. It’s a blessing to be here but it’s time to start putting people in their place, and time that they sit down and be humble. I’ve been humbled and I am humble. There comes a point that you just have to smack these guys.”

Lopez and Kambosos clash on a huge night of action in New York, with chief support provided by the battle for the vacant IBF World Super-Featherweight title between Azinga Fuzile (15-1 9 KOs) and Kenichi Ogawa (25-1-1 28 KOs).

Raymond Ford (9-0-1 5 KOs) clashes with Felix Caraballo (13-3-2 9 KOs) over ten rounds, Reshat Mati (11-0 7 KOs) fights on home turf against Nicholas Pablo Demario (15-5-3 9 KOs) over eight rounds, Chinese Heavyweight Zhilei Zhang (22-0-1 17 KOs) takes on Craig Lewis (14-4-1 8 KOs) over eight rounds, Ramla Ali (3-0) makes it back to back fights in America in a six rounder against Isela Vera (1-0) and there’s a second female fight on the card with New York’s own Christina Cruz (1-0) meets Maryguenn Vellinga (3-1-2 2 KOs) over four rounds.

Photo: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom

Fulton, Aleem preview their fights on Saturday night

Undefeated WBO 122-pound world champion Stephen Fulton Jr. and unbeaten top contender Ra’eese Aleem previewed their respective showdowns during a Las Vegas media roundtable on Saturday, before they enter the ring in separate attractions live on SHOWTIME this Saturday, November 27 in a Premier Boxing Champions event from Dolby Live at Park MGM in Las Vegas.

Fulton will square off against WBC Super Bantamweight World Champion Brandon Figueroa in the main event, while Aleem battles Mexico’s Eduardo Báez in the co-main event of the telecast, which begins at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.

Here is what Fulton and Aleem, who are both training in Las Vegas for Saturday’s matchups, had to say at the media roundtable this past weekend:

STEPHEN FULTON JR.

“When I fought out in Nevada during the amateurs, I knew I would be back here fighting in Las Vegas one day as a pro. This has a totally different feel to it but I’m just focused on getting the job done and winning.

“I feel like this is what I’m supposed to be doing right now. I’m here for a reason. I’m not going to let the bright lights get to me. I was made for this and I take that mindset into the ring.

“Once I turned pro, I was on the path to becoming world champion. I’ve won a world title in the division I turned pro in, and now I’m unifying in my first fight as champion. I want to keep pushing forward and become undisputed at this weight class.

“My ability to adjust and outthink Figueroa is going to be the difference. That’s not to mention my speed and underrated power. I know Figueroa is going to throw a lot of punches, but I’m going to make him miss and capitalize on his mistakes.

“Everyone has a different path and for me that’s been taking dangerous fights against undefeated opponents. That’s made me a better fighter. Maybe I shouldn’t have taken some of those fights, but now I’ve got this resume that can stack up against anybody.”

 

RA’EESE ALEEM

“I’m extremely excited to be back doing what I love to do and to be fighting on a big SHOWTIME card. I’ve been getting great sparring out here in Las Vegas and I’m absolutely ready for Saturday.

“I’ve been working on really taking my time in the ring. Even if I’m being aggressive, I’m still taking my time while doing that. If I had taken my time against Vic Pasillas in my last fight, I would have stopped him in the sixth round. I was pushing the pace when I didn’t have to.

“I would love to fight Stephen Fulton. I believe that I’m the best in the division and some people think that he’s the best. If he wins this fight and I win Saturday, that’s the fight I want next. I’m ready to make it happen.

“I just have to keep winning and make big statements in every fight. I’m going to keep earning more recognition. I’m just starting to show people who I really am and I can’t let up.”

Cruz on Davis: ‘When I win, I know he’s going to want the rematch’

Lightweight contender Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz has embraced the underdog role heading into his showdown against WBA Lightweight Champion Gervonta “Tank” Davis which headlines a SHOWTIME PPV on Sunday, December 5 in a Premier Boxing Champions event from STAPLES Center in Los Angeles.

“I have proven time and time again that my drive and desire to be champion is too big to be ignored,” said Cruz. “This fight won’t be the exception. I am going to pull off the upset and a brand new star will be born on December 5.”

The 23-year-old Cruz has put together a 21-fight unbeaten streak heading into his first world title clash, including most recently defeating former champion Francisco Vargas by unanimous decision live on SHOWTIME in June. Now, as he prepares to face the fast-rising star Davis, Cruz brings the hunger of an underdog into every aspect of his training.

“My motivation to be at my very best for this fight is the biggest key for me day in and day out,” said Cruz. “This is the fight that I’ve always dreamed of. The work we do in the gym, the runs I go on and the conditioning drills I push through, are all fueled by my motivation to make the most of this opportunity.”

The Mexico City-native is the latest in his family’s deep history in the sport, as he follows in the footsteps of his grandfather Memo, his father Isaac Sr., his uncles Eduardo and Guillermo, and his older brother Diego, who all fought professionally. Despite that familial pressure, Cruz was actually initially interested in the sport to keep himself on a positive path in life.

“Boxing was always in my blood, but my main motivation to get into boxing as a kid was steering myself away from bad role models and influences in my neighborhood,” said Cruz. “I was six-years-old when I decided to tag along to the gym one day with my grandpa, and I really liked it. A passion for the sport was born, and now it’s just a full-blown love story between boxing and I.”

In addition to his family, Cruz had heard from the legendary Mexican champion Julio César Chávez before securing the Davis fight. The conversation turned out not only to be prescient, but added another motivating factor for Cruz heading into this fight.

“Chávez told me to make sure I’m always staying ready in case that fight with Gervonta was going to become a reality,” said Cruz. “Afterwards, he told me that I have the courage needed to defeat Gervonta. The fact that he said that to me speaks volumes about the strides I’ve made as a person and as a fighter.”

Cruz will be looking to take advantage of the strong contingent of Mexican and Mexican-American boxing fans in Los Angeles who will surely be in his corner on fight night against Davis. Despite that expected edge, Cruz knows he can’t rely on it to help him in the ring.

“I am so happy to be fighting in Los Angeles with all of the Mexican fans,” said Cruz. “But I have to remember that in the end, it’s just going to be me and Gervonta face-to-face in the ring. Of course it motivates me that I’m going to feel right at home. But I just can’t let it distract me or trick me into becoming overconfident.

“Defeating Gervonta Davis is the only thing on my mind. When I win, I know he’s going to want the rematch and I can promise that I will train twice as hard for that fight when it happens.”

Porter: ‘He’s (Crawford) the best out of everybody I have been in the ring with’

For nine rounds on Saturday night, in front of a sold-out crowd of 11,568 at Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, we had a very close fight between Terence Crawford and Shawn Porter, but in the 10th round, it turned when Crawford dropped Porter twice, and ultimately, Porter’s father and trainer, Kenny Porter, decided to stop the fight.

With the win, Crawford retains his WBO welterweight world title 

Mikey Williams /Top Rank via Getty Images

Porter(31-4-1, 17 KOs) was Crawford’s (38-0, 29 KOs) best opponent at 147, and after five rounds, Porter, who appeared to give Crawford trouble, led 48-47 on all three scorecards.

However, according to Crawford, he figured Porter out very early.

“(I figured him out in) Round 1,” Crawford said. “I figured that I had the reach, and he had to take chances, and he did what he normally does. He tried to maul and push me back, but I used my angles, and I pushed him back at times as well. Shawn Porter is a slick fighter. He was doing some things in there and made me think.”

According to Porter, who lost to Errol Spence Jr., Crawford is the best fighter he’s ever faced.

“My timing was off, and he wouldn’t allow me to get my rhythm,” Porter said. “He’s (Crawford) the best out of everybody I have been in the ring with.”

Despite the knockdowns, it appeared Porter could continue, but his father decided otherwise, which he explained why after the fight.

“He didn’t prepare like I wanted him to prepare,” Kenny Porter said. “So that makes me say, ‘You know what? I don’t want him in that situation.'”

Crawford and Porter are friends, so this was not a fight Crawford wanted to make, which Crawford discussed after the win.

“I love him. Shawn Porter is a real good friend of mine,” Crawford said. “I didn’t really want to fight him. We always said we would fight each other when the time was right, and I guess the time was right for this fight to happen. I tried to fight the other champions in the division, and that didn’t happen, so I went to the next best thing.”

At the post-fight press conference, the 34-year-old Porter announced his retirement from boxing. Boxers retire often in the sport and come back, so we’ll see if Porter stays retired.

Regarding Crawford, whose contract with Top Rank is done, he could move to the PBC side and go after Spence, who was in attendance on Saturday night. Spence-Crawford is the biggest fight at 147 and maybe the biggest fight in boxing, so let’s hope it happens sometime in 2022.

Fundora: ‘I’d love to fight Charlo or Castaño’

Unbeaten super welterweight contender Sebastian “The Towering Inferno” Fundora plans to make the most of his opportunity stepping up in competition when he faces fellow unbeaten Sergio Garcia in a WBC Super Welterweight World Title Eliminator Sunday, December 5, which serves as the SHOWTIME PPV co-main event for Gervonta Davis vs. Isaac Cruz live from STAPLES Center in Los Angeles.

“Of course I see this as a step up fight,” said Fundora. “He’s ranked number two by the WBC for a reason. I want to show that I’m going to become a world champion. This is the next step toward reaching my goal.”

The 23-year-old Fundora has shot up the rankings and made a name for himself as must-see T.V. by engaging in numerous action fights. Since an August 2019 split-draw against Jamontay Clark, Fundora has won four-straight fights, including three in a row by stoppage. Amongst those three stoppage triumphs he became the first person to stop Nathaniel Gallimore and most recently dominated veteran Jorge Cota in May.

“We just want to keep winning and moving up with each fight,” said Fundora. “I’m just staying on the same routine so that I’m always ready for what’s coming next. We went right back into the gym after the Cota fight. I don’t ever worry about overtraining or anything like that, because we stay on a consistent routine of training hard.”

Fundora comes from a deeply-rooted boxing family, as both of his parents were fighters, in addition to his 19-year-old sister Gabriela, who sports a 4-0 professional record. That familial support has helped him remain focused on his goals while navigating his professional career.

“My parents taught me to respect the sport and it’ll respect you back,” said Fundora. “They also taught me that hard work pays off and that it shows up in every fight. I’ve learned that I just have to stick with the plan and keep improving day by day.”

A Coachella, California-native, Fundora will return to fight in Southern California for the second-straight fight after beating Cota in Carson in his last fight. Fundora is relishing the opportunity to again fight on friendly terrain, this time on the big stage downtown at STAPLES Center.

“This is home for me,” said Fundora. “It’s great to be fighting back-to-back times in Southern California. I went to STAPLES Center for a Vasyl Lomachenko fight before and it was a great atmosphere. I’m sure it’s going to be even more lively on December 5. I’m super excited for the opportunity to put on a great show for my fans that are there on fight night.”

With the 154-pound title belts currently held by unified WBC, IBF and WBA champion Jermell Charlo and WBO titlist Brian Castaño, who fought to a draw in July on SHOWTIME, Fundora plans to keep making steady improvement until his opportunity to fight for the belts arises.

“When the time comes to fight for the title, I’ll be more than ready,” said Fundora. “I’d love to fight Charlo or Castaño, but I’m just focused on taking it one fight at a time and facing whoever has those belts when my number is called.”

Andrade: ‘I’ve been training to be destructive’

Demetrius Andrade has vowed to destroy Jason Quigley and make a big statement as he makes the fifth defense of his WBO World Middleweight title on Friday night (November 19) at the SNHU Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire, live worldwide on DAZN.

Andrade (30-0 18 KOs) has been circling his fellow champions at 160lbs on the hunt for unification battles that have yet to surface, but continues to remain active and fighting hungry challengers like Quigley (19-1 14 KOs), with the 30 year old aiming to become the fourth Middleweight world ruler from Ireland.

‘Boo Boo’ meets his fifth European opponent for his crown and the two-weight World king is determined to send him back empty handed like he’s done to all-comers so far – and deliver a performance that will have fans and pundits clamoring for him to land the big fight he craves.

“I’ve been training to be destructive,” said Andrade. “Someone is going to stop this fight. Put your house on it.

“I look to give everybody a beating in a sense, to outclass them. Going in and knocking people out is cool but I also like to get rounds in and show my skill level. We just saw Canelo and Caleb Plant, it took him 11 rounds to end the fight but I’m not Caleb Plant. There’s a whole lot more in me than what Caleb showed. That’s the type of fight that I would like to get in and do though, to show my skills, my heart, my conditioning, what I am made out of.

“Anyone can get caught with a lucky punch or caught cold and fight’s over. I know KOs sell and that’s cool, but the wealthiest athlete in the sport was Floyd and he didn’t knock anyone out for a long time at the end. So, it’s funny how KO’s sell, but when I get KOs I don’t get the fights; I think that they would rather fight me thinking that I don’t have power rather than having power. At the end of the day, do they want to get in the ring with me? Jason Quigley said yes.

“I have a good contract, I am making good money and at the end of the day, I can’t get frustrated and be emotionally driven as it’s out of my control, I am just focusing on me and right now that’s Jason Quigley on November 19 and I am happy for that as it’s one step closer to show people how much longer are they going to keep avoiding me, but I don’t get paid if I don’t fight so it’s not about them, it’s about me, what am I doing? How do I keep showing people that yes, Demetrius should be fighting them, and we want to see it?

“I’m excited, boxing is back in full force, the fans are back in the arena, and we’re near my hometown and we’re going to bring championship boxing to a state that’s never had it before, that’s a real honor and I am ready to get back in there and show people what I am about.

“My fight in Providence was amazing and I would love to fight there again but New Hampshire is next door so that’s cool too, it’s just a little drive for me so that’s good too!

“Jason was an Olympian, he’s 19-1 and his name was in the mix to fight Canelo at one point, so for me to step in the ring with someone they have to be good and for Canelo to consider fighting someone he must be pretty good – we’re going to do what we are going to do and that’s make quick work out of Quigley.”

Andrade’s clash with Quigley tops a quadruple header of World title action, with Murodjon Akhmadaliev (9-0 7 KOs) defending his WBA and IBF World Super-Bantamweight titles against José Velásquez (26-9-2 19 KOs).

It’s Mexico vs. Puerto Rico in the long-awaited showdown between WBC World Flyweight champion Julio Cesar Martinez (18-1 14 KOs) and McWilliams Arroyo (21-4 16 KOs) and the fourth World title bout on the bill is the second step on the path to crowning an undisputed women’s champion at 140 pounds as Kali Reis (18-7-1 5 KOs) takes on Jessica Camara (8-2) for the WBA, IBO and vacant WBO straps.

Photo: Matchroom Boxing

Ortiz-Martin headline FOX PPV on New Year’s Day

The new year will kick off with a heavyweight bang, as five exciting heavyweight matchups take center stage on a jam-packed FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View on New Year’s Day live from Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

The main event will see top heavyweight Luis “King Kong” Ortiz take on former world champion Charles Martin in a 12-round IBF Heavyweight Title Eliminator. In the co-main event, unbeaten rising heavyweight star Frank “The Cuban Flash” Sanchez will square off against Puerto Rican Olympian Carlos Negron in a 10-round attraction.

The pay-per-view telecast begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and will also see heavyweight contenders Jonnie Rice and Michael Coffie battle in a 10-round rematch, former title challenger Gerald “El Gallo Negro” Washington in a 10-round showdown against Turkish Olympian Ali Eren Demirezen and unbeaten Viktor Faust facing Iago Kiladze in a 10-round attraction to open the pay-per-view.

With exceptional power and sublime technical skills, Ortiz (32-2, 27 KOs) has been a fixture atop heavyweight rankings for years, with his only defeats coming in memorable contests against former longtime heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. Born in Camaguey, Cuba and trained by longtime coach Herman Caicedo in Miami, Ortiz won three bouts between Wilder contests, defeating Travis Kauffman, Christian Hammer and Razvan Cojanu. Prior to that run, Ortiz picked up victories over the likes of Bryant Jennings, Tony Thompson and Malik Scott to build up his heavyweight resume. Most recently, Ortiz blasted out Alexander Flores in the first round of their November 2020 bout.

“I can’t wait to give my fans in South Florida a great show on New Year’s Day and earn another shot at the heavyweight title,” said Ortiz. “Charles Martin is a good fighter, but he’s standing in my way. The only thing on my mind is getting in the ring and making a big statement in this fight to show again why I’m feared by the heavyweight division.”

The 35-year-old Martin (28-2-1, 25 KOs) became heavyweight champion in January 2016 when he won by TKO against then unbeaten Vyacheslav Glazkov. After losing his title to Anthony Joshua, Martin has won five of his last six fights, with all of his wins coming inside the distance. Originally from St. Louis, now living in Las Vegas and currently training in Southern California with Manny Robles, Martin bounced back from a narrow decision defeat to Adam Kownacki in 2018 to earn three-straight victories, including most recently knocking out Gerald Washington in February 2020.

“Nobody wants to fight me and nobody wants to fight Ortiz, so we’ll fight each other,” said Martin. “I’m going to show the world on January 1 why I deserve a title shot. I’ve paid my dues and I want my belt back. Beating Ortiz is going to get me one step closer to that goal. In order to become two-time heavyweight champion, I have to get past Ortiz first, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”

An amateur standout from his native Cuba, Sánchez (19-0, 13 KOs) now trains in San Diego with top trainer Eddy Reynoso. The 29-year-old has stayed busy on his rise up the heavyweight rankings, scoring three victories in 2020 as he earned a unanimous decision over Joey Dawejko and stopped Brian Howard and Julian Fernandez. Sanchez most recently scored a career-best win in October, dropping previously unbeaten Efe Ajagba on his way to a unanimous decision victory.

“I’m happy to be back so soon after beating Agjaba, but the work is only beginning,” said Sanchez. “There’s much more to be done. I believe I will be the first heavyweight champion in Cuban history. Negron is a strong, dangerous opponent. I’ll have to be my best, but I’m confident that I will come out victorious. I believe in my team, and my team believes in me. We’ll start the New Year off getting to 20-0, remain busy and make a strong case for a world title by year’s end.”

The 2008 Puerto Rican Olympian Negron (25-3, 20 KOs) rides a five-fight winning streak into January 1, including four wins by stoppage. The 34-year-old bounced back from defeats to Dominic Breazeale and Brian Howard to put together his win streak, which includes a March 2020 knockout over previously unbeaten Robert Alfonso. Negron has fought professionally since 2009 and now lives in Miami where he trains alongside Luis Ortiz.

“This is a great opportunity for me to get a win over a strong up-and-coming fighter and show everyone what I’m capable of,” said Negron. “I’m training hard and I’ve had great sparring in order to be ready for anything that Sanchez is going to bring. My experience and preparation are going to be the difference. I’m extremely motivated to give the fans a great fight and put myself in position to get a world title opportunity.”

Born in South Carolina and now fighting out of Los Angeles, Rice (14-6-1, 10 KOs) will look to repeat a career-best performance in the rematch against Coffie, after he stopped the previously unbeaten fighter in the fifth-round in July. Rice won six of seven fights from 2018 through 2019  before a pair of losses in 2020 against then unbeatens Efe Ajagba and Demsey McKean. In a pro career that dates back to 2014, the blemishes on Rice’s records have all come against previously unbeaten fighters.

“In my last fight against Coffie, I went in there to prove myself and do what I had been training to do,” said Rice. “It was sink or swim, and I came out on top. Now I have to go out there on January 1 and show that it wasn’t a fluke. This is a great stage for me to display my talents and prove that I’m capable of big things. I’m looking to give the fans a great performance and I know that Coffie is doing the same. Don’t miss this fight.”

Coffie (12-1, 9 KOs) hopes to bounce back from his first career defeat after dropping the first matchup against Rice in July. A Marine Corps veteran who picked up boxing after returning from overseas, Coffie quickly impressed in amateur tournaments enough to earn sparring assignments with Deontay Wilder and Adam Kownacki. He was born in the Bronx, but now trains in Orlando, Florida and broke through in 2020 with three dominating stoppage victories, including knockouts over previously unbeaten opponents Darmani Rock and Luis Pena.

“I want to get it back and make it an actual fight this time against Jonny Rice,” said Coffie. “Last time, I was in a position where I faced some adversity, and I had to make a decision to go through with the fight. I know that I can fight through adversity, and on January 1, I will be ready for whatever way the fight goes. On January 1, there will be a fight.”

Washington (20-4-1, 13 KOs) is a six-foot-six heavyweight contender who was a former college football standout at the University of Southern California and a U.S. Navy veteran. Born in San Jose, California, Washington most recently lost a contest against former heavyweight champion Charles Martin in February 2020. Prior to that fight, Washington had delivered a knockout of veteran contender Robert Helenius in July 2019. Washington was unbeaten in his first 19 pro fights before dropping his world title challenge to Deontay Wilder in February 2017.

“I’m looking forward to stepping back in the ring on January 1,” said Washington. “I’m ready to go to work and get myself back in position for some big time fights. My experience is going to be the difference in this fight. It’s going to be a great night of heavyweight action!”

A 2016 Olympian for Turkey, Demirezen (14-1, 11 KOs) has fought out of Hamburg, Germany in the professional ranks since turning pro in late 2016. The 31-year-old won his first 11 pro fights, including a second round stoppage of Rad Rashid to capture a European heavyweight title in 2018. Demirezen made his only other U.S. start in 2019, when he became the first person to go the distance against Efe Ajagba, losing by decision. Since that defeat, Demirezen has scored three-straight victories, most recently stopping Nikola Milacic in March.

“I learned a lot from my loss to Ajagba and I’m looking forward to getting another chance to box in the U.S.,” said Demirezen. “I’m still angry about the Ajagba fight, because I know that I could have won. I want to show now that I belong on this stage. I’m proud to be in this position to show what I can do and I’m going to make the most of the opportunity.”

The 29-year-old Faust (8-0, 6 KOs) turned pro in February 2020 after an extensive amateur career fighting out of his native Svitlovodsk, Ukraine. Faust knocked out his first four opponents, before winning dominant six and eight round decisions. After a first round knockout over previously unbeaten Jacek Piatek in May, Faust made his U.S. debut in October, dropping Mike Marshall twice on his way to a third-round TKO victory.

“I’m really excited to be back fighting in the U.S. again on January 1,” said Faust. “I’ve been welcomed warmly and fighting stateside already feels like my living room. I love the atmosphere. This is a great chance to show myself on this pay-per-view show against a very high-quality opponent. I won’t disappoint fans when I step into the ring.”

Kiladze (27-5-1, 19 KOs) returned to the win column in September, with a knockout victory over Mathew McKinney. Since he began fighting stateside full time in 2017, Kiladze’s losses have come against top heavyweights Adam Kownacki, Michael Hunter, Efe Ajagba and Joe Joyce, who sported a combined 45-1 record heading into their matchups against Kiladze. Originally from Georgia and now fighting out of Los Angeles, Kiladze owns a 2019 draw against then unbeaten Robert Alfonso and won six straight fights between 2014 and 2018.

Williams on fight with Gore: ‘It’s a good challenge for me’

Three-time NBA All-Star Deron Williams and legendary NFL running back Frank Gore faced off for the first time following a press conference announcing their professional heavyweight boxing debuts on Tuesday at Edison Ballroom in New York City.

Williams vs. Gore will take place on the undercard of Jake Paul vs. Tommy Fury, live on SHOWTIME PPV on Saturday, December 18 at AMALIE Arena in Tampa. The four-round heavyweight bout will be contested with a 215-pound contractual limit as the two legends make their professional boxing debuts.  

Also appearing at Tuesday’s event was seven-division world champion and current unified featherweight champion Amanda Serrano, who will face 135-pound titleholder Miriam Gutiérrez in the co-feature of the SHOWTIME PPV event.

Below are quotes from Williams and Gore:

Deron Williams

Photo: Stephanie Trapp/SHOWTIME

“I’ve always wrestled all the way until high school and always been a big boxing and MMA fan. I’ve done a lot of training at my gym, Fortis MMA, in Dallas for the past six years.

“I’ve always wanted to do an MMA fight. I had one that I was training for before Covid hit but my opponent pulled out. It was always in the back of my mind and I’ve always stayed in shape and stayed training. I got a call from Nakisa (Bidarian) who I hadn’t talked to in five years and he said Frank Gore was training and looking for an opponent, and I felt like it was a great opportunity. I felt like if I didn’t take it I’d be kicking myself for the rest of my life.

“Frank looks good. If I’m going to do a fight I’d rather do it with someone who is capable and who has been training. The man is tough, there’s no doubt about that. Anyone who can take that many snaps in the NFL has to be tough. It’s a good challenge for me and something that I can check off the bucket list.

“Most people are behind me. I’ve had some people say, ‘You’re fighting Frank Gore. What are you doing?’ But that’s OK. There are a lot of unknowns in this game, so it makes it exciting. I’ve been training for years and doing a lot of MMA, and a lot of it has been boxing.

“I first started wrestling when I was like five. I didn’t really know what it was and I spent the whole season being dragged on the mat by my mom crying because I was so scared to go in there. But she said I had to because she had already paid for it and said you’re going to do this every weekend. So I basically went out there crying, got pinned, walked off the mat and then did it again for the whole year. The next year she asked if I wanted to sign up again expecting I would say no, but I actually said yes for some reason. I did that for about a half year before I turned into a little animal. So I think that year and a half of getting pinned made me tougher. Wrestling is a tough sport, and it was a great base for me and I’m really glad I did it and was able to go to the state tournament in Texas as an eight-year-old and 12-year-old. And I would have loved to have kept going but it was in the same season as basketball.

“I loved watching the heavyweights. Growing up in the ‘90s and watching (Mike) Tyson and all those wars they had. And watching (Evander) Holyfield. It was just a special time in boxing and there were still other fighters, but those were the ones I was watching and who I was excited to see.

“I jogged four miles yesterday and that was the first time I’ve ever run four miles. It’s getting out of your comfort zone and it’s a different feeling. Basketball, and football for him, we’re comfortable with that work. It’s learning to get hit in the face and being OK with it. It’s just a new challenge. I’ve been retired for four years now. You just miss competing. You miss having something to train for.”

 Frank Gore

“l have always loved boxing. I’ve been training since 2005. I was doing it because it would save my legs since I play running back. I just fell in love with it, how hard it was and I’m very competitive. I was just doing it for the cardio. My first time I didn’t think I could do it, but I kept getting better and better at it.

“I’m definitely not doing this for the money. I’m blessed. I’m good and blessed with football and off-the-field stuff.

“I’ve always been an underdog my entire life. I was raised in a one-bedroom apartment. I blew out both of my knees and many thought I wouldn’t make it to the NFL. Sixteen years later and I’m No. 3 on the all-time list.

“I’m happy to be here and I respect Deron. He’s coming from the NBA and I always say any man who gets into the ring has got to be different. I don’t care what sport you play. I’m training my behind off for December 18.

“I know he’s trained in MMA and coming over from the NBA but he’s no Nate Robinson. He’s been doing MMA for six years so I have to respect that. He’s been wrestling since he was a kid. I’m training my behind off and the only one I can worry about is myself. I’m looking forward to the challenge and let the best man win on December 18.

“Football and boxing are totally different. When you watched me play I never really got hit. That’s why I was able to last so long. I played off of angles. Now, with boxing I’m going in there with guys that have had 300 amateur fights, are 10-0 as pros. So I can’t just dodge all the shots they are throwing because they have more ring experience.

“I would say jogging has been the toughest thing. In football we never jogged. We always did sprints and pulled the sled but I had to really train myself to jog. I had to put my mind somewhere else and work on it.

“My favorite fighter is Floyd (Mayweather, Jr.). There are a bunch of guys I like to watch now. I like Terence (Crawford) and I like Errol Spence, Tank (Davis), Shakur Stevenson. I just want to be the best of me. Whatever my coach tells me to do I’m going to go out and try to do and do my best to get this win on December 18.”