Sanchez-Negron, Russell-Rodriguez added to Wilder-Helenius undercard

Two exciting high-stakes showdowns have been added to the jam-packed four-fight FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View event headlined by the return of former WBC Heavyweight World Champion Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder as he takes top-rated Robert “The Nordic Nightmare” Helenius on Saturday, October 15 from Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

The telecast will feature undefeated Cuban sensation Frank Sanchez battling Puerto Rican Olympian Carlos Negron in a 10-round heavyweight duel, while top bantamweight contenders Gary Antonio Russell and Emmanuel Rodriguez meet in a 12-round rematch opening the pay-per-view telecast at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.

In the co-feature, former IBF Super Middleweight Champion Caleb “Sweet Hands” Plant faces two-time WBC Super Middleweight Champion Anthony “The Dog” Dirrell in a WBC Super Middleweight Title Eliminator between 168-pound rivals.

An amateur standout from his native Cuba, Sánchez (20-0, 13 KOs) now trains in California with renowned trainer Joe Goossen. The 30-year-old has remained 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 caught boxing fan’s attention when he scored a career-best win in October 2021, dropping the previously unbeaten Efe Ajagba on his way to a unanimous decision victory. Sanchez kicked off the New Year with a 10-round decision triumph against Christian Hammer in his last fight.

“Carlos Negron is a dangerous opponent, but I will be ready for whatever he brings. I intend to look for a knockout against Negron to demonstrate to boxing fans that I am both a boxer and a puncher,’’ said Sanchez. “I feel I am the best heavyweight in the world and October 15 will bring me one step closer to the very important goal of becoming mandatory contender for a world title opportunity in 2023.’’

The 2008 Puerto Rican Olympian Negron (25-3, 20 KOs) was scheduled to meet Sanchez on January 1 but had to withdraw from the fight after testing positive for COVID-19. Negron rides a five-fight winning streak into the match against Sanchez, 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. He scored an eight round unanimous decision over Scott Alexander in his last fight in May 2021. Negron has fought professionally since 2009 and now lives in Miami where he trains alongside Luis Ortiz.

“I know Frank, and I’ve never been a fighter to call any other fighters out or speak of any other boxer, so I don’t know why he asked to fight me,” said Negron. “When my coach told me he wanted to fight me, I didn’t take it personally. I took it like a challenge. It gave me incredible motivation, and now I want to fight him. Let’s see what I can do against good competition. I have always done my best against better opponents. So come October 15, let’s see who’s the better man.”

The 29-year-old Russell (19-0, 12 KOs) originally met the former champion Rodriguez in August 2021, but an accidental clash of heads ended the fight as a no-contest before the first round was completed. The middle brother between WBC Featherweight Champion Gary Jr. and 2016 U.S. Olympian Gary Antuanne, Russell returned to the ring after the Rodriguez bout to earn a decision victory over Alexis Santiago in November 2021. Fighting out of Capitol Heights, Maryland, Russell also owns a decision victory over former world champion Juan Carlos Payano in December 2020.

“I’m glad that Emmanuel and I will get our chance to have a redo on October 15,” said Russell. “Nothing has changed as far as my objective. I’m coming into the ring at Barclays Center to do whatever I have to do in order to finish this fight victorious.”

Fighting out of Manati, Puerto Rico, Rodríguez (20-2, 13 KOs) has also added a victory since his first clash with Russell, knocking out Roberto Sanchez Cantu in March. The 30-year-old won the IBF Bantamweight World Title with a unanimous decision victory over Paul Butler in 2018 and successfully defended it against then-unbeaten Jason Moloney. Rodríguez went on to lose the title to unbeaten champion Naoya Inoue in their May 2019 title bout.

“I’ve been training in Mexico for a long time and away from my family so that I can focus on this fight that will define my future,” said Rodriguez. “Russell is a good fighter who has been avoided throughout his career, but I’ve come to show that I’m on another level. I will win hands down and be back on top of the bantamweight division. On October 15, he’s going to realize that he’s not on my level.”

Wilder: ‘I’ve had a great career, and now I’m back again for my second reign’

Former WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder(42-2-1, 41 KOs) is back and will return to the ring after a year away to battle heavyweight contender Robert Helenius(31-3, 20 KOs) on October 15 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn(FOX PPV).

The 36-year-old Wilder is looking to return to his winning ways after getting stopped in his last two fights against Tyson Fury. 

For this fight against Helenius, who has won three straight, all by TKO, Wilder is training in Las Vegas, and according to the Alabama native, he’s doing things differently in this camp.

“We’ve put in over 400 rounds so far, and training camp has been great,” Wilder said via satellite on Monday. “I’m trying to do something different with adding Don House to the team working in Las Vegas. We wanted to change up some things, go more rounds and see what happened.

“This training sounds like it could be a lot on your body, but when you’re in shape physically and mentally, nothing is impossible.”

Wilder has sparred with Helenius over years, so the two have a relationship. However, for Wilder, this is business.

“I’m looking forward to October 15 and sharing the ring with Robert,” Wilder said. “I highly respect Robert and his team. We’ve always had a connection, but unfortunately, in this business, you have to go against each other sometimes. But make no mistake, just because we know each other, it doesn’t mean this fight won’t be interesting…

“I know what Helenius is capable of doing, and I know what kind of heart he has. He’s coming to bring his best, and I always bring mine. This is a serious fight between two warriors in the heavyweight division. We’re coming to put it all on the line.”

The Barclays Center has been good to Wilder. He’s 4-0 in that arena, including four knockouts. The last time he was at Barclays, he knocked out Dominic Breazeale in one round.

“Every time I fight, you’re on the edge of your seat because I’m going in there 110%,” he said. “I’m looking forward to this fight and coming back to Barclays Center, where some of my most exciting knockouts have occurred. I have remarkable memories there, and I can’t wait to display my talent.”

This summer, “The Bronze Bomber” got a statue erected in his hometown of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. That statue motivated Wilder to get back in the ring.

“Getting a statue in my hometown let me know that there was more work to do. I have to continue to fight and motivate and inspire. This reign is going to be a special one because it’s going to be dedicated to the people…

“I’ve had a great career, and now I’m back again for my second reign. It’s amazing to reminisce about all the years and about how I got to where I am now. It’s been an honor. We had a game plan, and we executed that game plan.”

Wilder still has an opportunity to make a lot of money. There are still big fights out there for him, including big-money fights against Anthony Joshua, the winner of Andy Ruiz-Luis Ortiz, and even possibly a battle with unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk. However, if Wilder wants those big fights, business must be handled against Helenius.

Kownacki on loss to Helenius: ‘It wasn’t my night’

Robert Helenius (30-3, 19 KOs)scored an upset victory over previously unbeaten Adam Kownacki (20-1, 15 KOs) by stopping him in the fourth round of a WBA Heavyweight Title Eliminator headlining FOX PBC Fight Night and on FOX Deportes Saturday night from Barclays Center, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING™.

“I want to thank everyone who gave me this opportunity,” said Helenius. “Kownacki is a tough fighter. I worked hard in training camp and it paid off.”

Brooklyn’s Kownacki was fighting for the 10th time at Barclays Center in front of his hometown crowd, but was unable to keep the taller Helenius off of him after being hurt early in the fourth. A clean Helenius right hook hurt Kownacki, before a left hook put Kownacki down.

“I knew that I hit him hard and I knew I just had to continue,” said Helenius. “I knew he was still hurt after that punch.

“Kownacki just kept coming and coming. He’s a good fighter I have to give it to him. My strength is to punch back when people come at me. It was a good fight and a tremendous opportunity for me to be here.”

While Kownacki outpaced Helenius landing 84 punches to 49 according to CompuBox, it was Helenius’ 12 power punches landed in round four that made the difference. Helenius kept up the relentless attack, consistently hurting Kownacki and pushing him around the ring until referee David Fields waived off the fight 1:08 into the round.

“It wasn’t my night,” said Kownacki. “It’s boxing. It’s a tough sport and things just didn’t go my way tonight. It was a learning experience, and I’m going to go back to the drawing board and get back to work.

“He hit me with a good shot. I knew what was going on, but I’m just upset with myself. It is what it is.”

Watch fight highlights here and here.

Photo: Stephanie Trapp/TGB Promotions

Jermall Charlo: ‘If I hit Hogan with something flush, he’s going to sleep’

WBC Middleweight Champion Jermall Charlo received extra motivation last Tuesday with the birth of his daughter Journi, as he nears his title defense against Dennis Hogan live on SHOWTIME Saturday, December 7 from Barclays Center, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING™, as he headlines a Premier Boxing Champions event.

“It’s really all about family these days,” said Charlo. “I’m fighting even harder for my family now. I feel like I’m on cloud nine and on top of the world right now. We’ve been ready for the arrival of my daughter and I’m so happy she’s here in time to see her father fight on December 7.”

For Charlo, he will be making the second defense of his title, looking to get back to his knockout ways after winning back-to-back unanimous decisions that snapped his string of knockouts in five of his last six fights.

“You hear fighters say that they’re not going for the knockout, but I am,” said Charlo. “If I hit Hogan with something flush, he’s going to sleep. I’m in shape. I’m strong. I’m going for the knockout if it’s there. If he thinks he can bully me, then I’ll show him he made a big mistake. I’m back where I want to be. It took me a little while to fill out into a true middleweight, but I’m here now.”

In Hogan, Charlo will be up against a fighter who has competed everywhere from super welterweight to light heavyweight, and most recently made a splash in dropping a controversial decision in a 154-pound title fight against Jaime Munguia in April.

“I know everything about Hogan,” said Charlo. “I know he’s been in Florida thinking that he’s getting ready for me. He has no idea. He’s a small slugger who’s got to worry about his weight, but I’m going sit right there and fight with Hogan. I’m not going anywhere. My mind is sharper than his also, but if he wants to make it a brawl, I’m ready.”

This will be Charlo’s fourth appearance in the ring at Barclays Center in his last five fights, with the exception being his homecoming defense in Houston that he made last time out in June. His first two fights in Brooklyn saw him deliver devastating knockouts of Hugo Centeno Jr. and Jorge Sebastián Heiland, before he won a unanimous decision over Matt Korobov in December.

“Everybody in Brooklyn knows when we come there, we come to shut it down,” said Charlo. “We’re bringing the heat! I love Barclays Center and I’m glad to be back fighting where I’m extremely comfortable. That’s my house in Brooklyn and everyone there is going to get a chance to see that I’m back for real.”

Despite this Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday, Charlo has no plans to slow down his preparations and is well accustomed to training this time of year. Charlo has fought seven of the last eight years either in December or after Thanksgiving in November, including a holiday weekend knockout of Wilky Campfort November 28, 2015.

“I haven’t had a fight away from Thanksgiving in years, so I’m just totally used to it at this point,” said Charlo. “My personal chef is going to cook me exactly what I need to enjoy the holidays with my family.”