Martinez: ‘Like my colleague Canelo, I’m going for all the belts’

Julio Cesar Martinez wants to unleash his frustrations out on Samuel Carmona when he defends his WBC World Flyweight title for the fifth time at the Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona, live worldwide on DAZN.

Martinez (18-2 14 KOs) was was set to face long-running rival McWilliams Arroyo in a rematch, but neck and back issues ruled the Puerto Rican out, opening the door for Carmona to land his first World title shot. The unbeaten Spaniard, who represented his country in the 2016 Olympic Games, has cruised to 8-0 in the paid ranks since turning pro in September 2019 and landed the WBA International title at 112lbs in just his fourth pro fight.

Martinez, who is back in action for the first time since challenging one half of the headline fight, Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez for the WBC Diamond Super-Flyweight title in March, has also been itching to get unification fights in the books against IBF champion Sunny Edwards and WBA king Artem Dalakian but as yet to no avail.

‘El Rey’ remains focused on the job at hand though, to keep hold of his famous green and gold belt, and in turn, putting pressure on his fellow champions to meet him in the ring.

“We weren’t expecting this fight, but we were preparing for any type of fighter, a technical boxer, a come-forward fighter,” said Martinez. “Now we’ve got an ex-Olympian, we’re prepared and as always, we’re willing to give everything in the ring.

“I’ve not seen a great deal of him, but he has also fought Joel Cordova like I have, and I’ve seen that he can take shots and can also come forward. At times he really likes to trade but it’s going to be a good fight and let’s see what he brings and how he counter punches.

“I never underestimate my opponents because we know that it’s all about hunger and desire and everyone comes to win, nobody comes to lose. We know that everyone comes to get their victory and like always, I’ll leave everything in the ring, and we’ll never discredit any opponent.

“As I always say, I’ll fight anyone anywhere. We’re ready for whatever comes and if he likes, we can fight whenever Arroyo wants to. We’re ready to win. But what most interests me is to unify titles and go after the other belts.”

“I want to unify, to go after the other champions. There are various champions and a vacant WBO title, so there are various belts that I would like and I’m ready to fight for them.

“I’ve never ducked anyone. We’ve been ready for a while to unify and go for all those belts. I would like the Edwards fight. It’s what we’re looking for, those big fights and more than anything to unify and go after all those belts. I’ll fight anybody anywhere.

“I also want to go up to Super-Flyweight but I want to do all I can at Flyweight. There are various options and fortunately we’re in good shape. So, we want to do all we can at flyweight and then go up to Super-Flyweight. As I always say, wherever and with whoever, we come to fight.

“I felt good at 115 pounds. I’ve even fought up at Super-Bantamweight because fortunately I adapt well and more than anything I feel strong, tough and consistent at that weight. I think I could even fight up at Bantamweight with God’s blessing and if I look after myself.”

Martinez’s desire to achieve greatness is not surprising given the company he keeps daily. The 27 year old trains alongside Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez in San Diego, and having teamed up full-time with Eddy Reynoso, who also manages Martinez, the all-action champion believes the improvements he’s made in California will be on full display.

“Like my colleague Canelo, I’m going for all the belts,” said Martinez. I want to be a unified champion and more than anything to leave a legacy.

“I worked with Eddy Reynoso for four months for this camp. He is my trainer now and we’re putting a lot of effort and dedication into camp so that things go well, and we can go after all those belts.

“Being constantly with Eddy is the difference now. We work on technique and on many things which are helping us. We’re improving in terms of defence, technique in many things.

It motivates me a great deal to train alongside Saúl and more than anything I don’t want to let my team down and I’ll keep giving my all.

“It’s very different working with Eddy. It’s that attention he gives you. He looks out for everything. We’re not missing anything out, examining every detail and thankfully I’ve been well looked after by Eddy.

“With God’s blessing we’re going in with everything except fear, against whoever wherever because we are men, not clowns. Thank you for supporting me. We won’t let you down.”

Jake Paul: ‘I want Nate Diaz, Canelo(Alvarez)’

Jake Paul has done it again and got the best victory of his young career.

Paul(6-0, 4 KOs) was able to drop Anderson Silva(3-2, 2 KOs)) in the final round and would defeat the former UFC star by an eight-round unanimous decision on Saturday night in front of 14,430 fans at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona(Showtime PPV). 

The judges scored it 78-73(2x) and 77-74, all in favor of Paul.

The 47-year-old Silva did get off to a quick start and was having success in the early rounds, but Paul was able to win the later rounds and close the show in this cruiserweight affair. In the eighth round, Paul dropped Silva with a looping overhand right for the second time in his boxing career with 2:20 left in the eighth round. 

Fight Night Jake Paul vs Anderson Silva/Esther Lin/ SHOWTIME

“We were just fighting in the clinch, and he got caught on the way out,” Paul said of the knockdown. “He took so many hard shots throughout the whole fight. The dude is a real dog. You see what happens to everyone else that gets hit with that. He’s the toughest guy in the world, but I just wanted it more. I’m a real dog, and I left it all in the ring.”

Again, Silva had his moments as he landed more power punches(66-51) than Paul, but Paul landed more with the jab(32-13). In total, Paul outlanded Silva(83-79).

After the win, Paul called out UFC star Nate Diaz and Canelo Alvarez.

“They’re going to find something to say. ‘Fight a real boxer.’ I tried,” he said. “If I were walking on water, people would say that I can’t swim. There’s always going to be haters. There’s always going to be critics. It’s an everyday part of life if you’re doing something and being successful. I don’t worry about it. This is just the start. I want Nate Diaz. Canelo, you too. You guys said, ‘You can’t beat a striker; you can’t beat a legend like Anderson Silva.’ I just did it. So why can’t I beat Canelo?”

Give Paul credit; he dropped Silva and had some decent moments in this fight. At 25, he’s still developing as a fighter. However, even though he may have tried, it’s time for a real boxer, and hopefully, that’s next for Paul.

Boxer Ammo Williams talks mental health

Austin Williams has got his career back on track and targeting the big guns at Middleweight – but first, must see off Kieron Conway as he looks to claim back-to-back vacant titles on the undercard of the epic trilogy clash between Canelo Alvarez and Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night (September 17).

Williams (11-0 9 KOs) picked up his first title in his last outing in April, blasting Chordale Booker away inside the opening round to pick up the WBA Continental Americas title at Madison Square Garden in New York.

‘Ammo’ now meets Conway for the WBA International title and should improve on his #6 rating with the WBA if he can see off the Briton who appears on his second Canelo Alvarez undercard.

Victory for Williams would be the latest step in a positive return to the ring for the Houston talent after he took time out from the sport in April 2021 to concentrate on his mental health. The 26 year old has made some changes to his training team ahead of, but believes he’s in a great frame of mind in and out of the ring and will seize the chance to impress on a huge platform.

“It is my honor and a dream come true to open up the Canelo vs. GGG III Pay-Per-View telecast,” said Williams. “I will deliver an unforgettable experience and capture my second consecutive title in the most sophisticated way imaginable.

“I fought on a Canelo card before and I got a brilliant reaction to my performance that night, so Eddie Hearn knows that the more energy that is in the place, the more I can use it and give it back to the fans.

“Eddie signed me as a young kid, I was just 22, and they introduced me to the world. Everyone has seen my maturation into a man, and the team understand that you sign kids, and you are watching them grow. You learn every day and you learn what you go through and become a man from it.

“I decided to make a change and go back to my regular team. I learned so much from Kevin Cunningham, it was a great place for me to be at the time with the struggles I went through with my mental health, to be with someone that is very structured.

“Kevin was in the military and a police officer; he’s lived in harsh environments and was the right man to polish me up and taught me a lot about the business. He saw I had the boxing ability and talent, he took another route and taught me the game, how much of boxing is in the mind, because he’s been there, and I was receptive to listening to it.

“I’ve had to prove my loyalty back to me team and show that I wanted to keep my ball rolling at a great pace. I was given the chance to go to south Florida and I always said the best thing for me is a great environment to keep me right in mind, body, and soul. So that was a real blessing, and he came into my life at the right time, and it was a mutual understanding to part ways.

“We all have stuff going on. The brain is so complex you don’t really take time to sit with it and understand it. Boxing is the loneliest sport in the world so we’re dealing with something that’s so high level, putting your life on the line for a living. You are out there to be judged in front of a crowd, your heart on your sleeve and showing your art to the world, and your physical health is attached to that.

“If you don’t learn how to manage that it’s so easy to fall into depression and things like that, so I love when athletes, especially boxers, open up and talk about it because acceptance is the first step to heal anything. People can think pushing things to one side and acting like nothing is wrong is the way to go, but it’s not at all and it pushes you to breaking point.

“It can be liberating, that’s how I feel now, because everybody knows me, to say ‘I’m not perfect’. I’m myself, I trust myself. I know what I need to do next, and I feel the confidence and courage to follow your dreams and be the author of your own book is the scariest thing to do, but the most fulfilling.”

Williams’ clash with Conway is part of a huge night of action in Vegas, topped by the epic trilogy battle between Canelo and Golovkin.

The co-main fight stars Super-Flyweight sensation Jesse Rodriguez defending his WBC World title against Israel Gonzalez, there’s fireworks promised as Ali Akhmedov and Gabriel Rosado will clash for the IBF North American Super-Middleweight title and Diego Pacheco fights for his first belt as he meets Enrique Collazo for the WBC USNBC Silver Super-Middleweight title.

Three more young talents complete the stacked card, as Marc Castro appears on his fifth Canelo undercard against Kevin Montiel Mendoza, Aaron Aponte mixes it up against Canelo Promotions’ unbeaten prospect Fernando Molina also over eight and Anthony Herrera gets the chance to bounce back to winning ways on the biggest stage as he takes on Delvin McKinley.

All that action leads into the third installment of the classic modern rivalry between Canelo and Golovkin, with the Mexican king putting his undisputed Super-Middleweight crown on the line against Kazakhstan’s reigning WBA and IBF Middleweight ruler in the most anticipated match up of 2022

Rodriguez: ‘Canelo is the face of boxing so to be the curtain raiser for that fight is amazing’

Jesse Rodriguez is relishing his role as the co-main attraction to the trilogy blockbuster between Canelo Alvarez and Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night, as he makes his second defense of his WBC World Super-Flyweight title against Israel Gonzalez.

Rodriguez (16-0 11 KOs) has enjoyed a stellar first half of the year, starting by becoming the youngest active World champion in February, stepping in late to meet Carlos Cuadras for the vacant WBC strap in Phoenix and then putting on a stunning display in his first defense, stopping Thai star Srisaket Sor Rungvisai on his San Antonio home turf in June inside eight rounds.

Those performances saw the San Antonio talent named as ESPN’s Fighter of the Year in their midyear boxing awards, and while ‘Bam’ spoke of his pride at the honor, he’s determined to show that there is much more to come in his calendar.

The 22-year-old has lofty ambitions to unify divisions and win crowns at multiple weights, and says that meeting Gonzalez (28-4-1 11 KOs) on the biggest stage he’s performed on to date will only shine a bigger light on his limitless potential.

“I don’t feel pressure because I feel I was born for this,” said Rodriguez. “I belong on these big stages, it’s where I feel comfortable. Headlining in San Antonio, co-main to Canelo-GGG III, this is where I want to be, it’s been part of the plan and it’s great to see it play out. There’s expectation on me, all eyes are on me, I know that I need to perform at my best but that excites me.

“Canelo is the face of boxing so to be the curtain raiser for that fight is amazing, so many fans are going to be able to see what I can do. I’m only 22 so to be doing the things that I am doing, beating Carlos and Rungvisai, two of the four kings at Super-Fly, I never look back and feel I need to appreciate what I do, but I do downplay what I do because I’m a humble guy.

“I’m right where I need to be, it’s just the beginning and the sky is the limit for me. I can’t tell you how far I can go because I don’t know how to stop. I want to be one of those fighters that 20 years from now, people say; ‘remember Bam Rodriguez, he was a bad dude’. One of those legends.

“I feel like I’m getting the recognition that I deserve, and Saturday is the perfect platform to show everybody that I am the real deal.”

Rodriguez’s clash with Gonzalez is part of a huge night of action in Vegas, topped by the epic trilogy battle between Canelo and Golovkin.

Fireworks are promised as Ali Akhmedov and Gabriel Rosado will clash for the IBF North American Super-Middleweight title, Diego Pacheco fights for his first belt as he meets Enrique Collazo for the WBC USNBC Silver Super-Middleweight title, Austin ‘Ammo’ Williams fights for his second pro title as he takes on Kieron Conway for the vacant WBA International Middleweight title.

Three more young talents complete the stacked card, as Marc Castro appears on his fifth Canelo undercard against Kevin Montiel Mendoza, Aaron Aponte mixes it up against Canelo Promotions’ unbeaten prospect Fernando Molina also over eight and Anthony Herrera gets the chance to bounce back to winning ways on the biggest stage as he takes on Delvin McKinley.

All that action leads into the third installment of the classic modern rivalry between Canelo and Golovkin, with the Mexican king putting his undisputed Super-Middleweight crown on the line against Kazakhstan’s reigning WBA and IBF Middleweight ruler in the most anticipated match up of 2022.

Canelo-GGG III to land at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas

Undisputed Super Middleweight World Champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and ​Unified Middleweight Champion Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin will clash in a blockbuster trilogy fight at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas Saturday, Sept. 17. The fight, presented by Matchroom, Canelo Promotions and GGG Promotions, will broadcast live on DAZN PPV in the U.S. and Canada as well as around the world on DAZN (excluding Mexico, Latin America, and Kazakhstan)​.

Alvarez and Golovkin will return to the scene of the​ir previous two epic battles, T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas – the first fight ​​in September 2017 ending in a draw and the second ​in September 2018 with Alvarez leaving victorious via majority decision.

​Canelo and GGG will come face-to-face for the first time since their last battle at​ a red carpet press and fan event in Los Angeles on Friday, June 24, followed by another press conference on Monday, June 27 in New York. ​Both events will be covered live on DAZ

Canelo-GGG III set for September 17

Undisputed 168-pound champion Saul’ Canelo’ Alvarez and unified middleweight champion Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin will meet in an epic trilogy clash on September 17(DAZN PPV). 

Recently, Alvarez, 31, dared to be great in his last outing but was beaten by WBA light-heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol.

The 40-year-old Golovkin, who is coming off a stoppage win over Ryota Murata in April, will fight at 168 for the first time in his career.

Alvarez and Golovkin have shared 24 thrilling rounds already in this hottest of rivalries. The pair will meet for a third time, five years after their first battle ended in a controversial draw and then the Mexican star edging out Golovkin via majority decision.

Both fights took place in the T-Mobile Arena, and while a venue for the trilogy bout will be revealed soon, what is in no doubt is that it will be the hottest ticket in sport when these two foes dance for the third and decisive time.

“I feel very happy and proud to be able to give the best fights, and this fight won’t be an exception,” said Canelo.

 “I hope to see you on September 17,” said Golovkin.

According to Eddie Hearn, Canelo-GGG 3 is the biggest fight in boxing. 

“The Canelo vs. GGG trilogy is the biggest fight in boxing, and I am delighted to get this made for September 17,” said Hearn. “These are two men that bitterly dislike each other and want to end this incredible series with a blistering KO.

“I truly believe this will be the most thrilling fight between these two great champions, and it will be fireworks from the first bell to the last man standing.”

 It’s not the biggest fight that can be made in boxing, but it’s definitely going to be interesting.

Kovalev felt making 175 was too hard, says he was physically spent against Canelo

 Sergey “The Krusher” Kovalev (34-4, 29 KOs), living in Long Beach, CA, will fight Tervel Pulev in his cruiserweight debut on Saturday, May 14 at The Kia Forum in Inglewood, CA and will be streamed live on Triller and

The Krusher says “My motivation to keep going?  First is money (laughing) and money is energy. Second is my son.  I want to become world champion once again so he can see that ‘don’t ever give up.’  Right now, it is all for my kids.  I tell them and show them to follow your dreams and your dreams will come true. If I ended my boxing career right now, I would feel uncomfortable for the rest of my life.

“Since I lost my title to Canelo, I am not on the top.  Since I changed to cruiserweight it has changed everything, most importantly I don’t have to worry about losing the weight. Actually, the last two years fighting at light heavyweight, and making 175, was miserable for me.”

2019 “was a crazy year” for Kovalev. In February, Sergey won back the title from Eleider Alvarez.  Then the WBO ordered a mandatory defense against Anthony Yarde that was first scheduled June in Russia.  He arrived in Russia one month before the fight and “was right on weight at 182.” The fight was soon cancelled the first week of June and rescheduled for August 24 “so I went back home to US and during those three weeks we celebrated my wife’s birthday and all the sudden I got back to 200 pounds,” which is his regular walk-around weight. Training camp for the new date began June 20 and on July 20 he returned to Russia. “The day after the Yarde win, I got the offer to fight Canelo, and two weeks later returned to training camp. Some fighters fight for their legacy, I fight to fight.  I have never turned down a fight.

“The night of the Canelo fight, we are at the door to begin the ring walk and a fella with a headset came to us and said, ‘we are not ready, we have to wait for the other fights (the UFC card) to finish.’ We waited for another hour. An hour!  I went to the corner after round seven and I said to Buddy ,”Buddy, I am spent, totally,” and he said “I see.”

“Now I feel fresh.  Making 175 was killing me.  I was at the point either quit or move up in weight. Now I can eat everything at any time.”

“This is a new step in my boxing career. I plan to fight a couple more years.  No more than three years.  I am not sure how many fights it will take to get a title. But if I win a title next year – then I will stop.  How long will it take to get a title shot?  It could be a two or three year wait, but we will see. I can fight into my 40’s no problem.  I just had two years off.  I am fresh.”

But on the other hand, after May 14, if Jake Paul wants to fight, I will be ready, and I will knock him out.”

Sergey is being trained by Buddy McGirt and his strength and conditioning coach is Teddy Cruz.  They are the duo that reinvented Arturo Gatti.

Bivol: ‘I’m glad I proved myself’

Undisputed 168-pound world champion Canelo Alvarez dared to be great, and over the past three years, he went to 175 and won and went through the 168-pound division and became an undisputed champion.

Alvarez continued to take risks as he battled undefeated WBA 175-pound champion Dmitry Bivol Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Bivol proved to be too much for Alvarez as he dominated the fight from start to finish to defeat Alvarez by unanimous decision.

Bivol(20-0, 11 KOs) won on all three scorecards, 115-113, to get the victory.  

May 7, 2022; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Dmitry Bivol during their WBA light heavyweight championship bout at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom.

This was Alvarez’s(57-2-2, 39 KOs) first loss since 2013, when he dropped a majority decision to Floyd Mayweather.

The fight was not as close as the cards indicated. Bivol had a great mix of jabs and combinations that frustrated the Mexican superstar. 

Alvarez had no answers for what Bivol brought to the table, and it showed. According to CompuBox, Bivol outlanded Alvarez in every round. Overall, Bivol threw more punches and outlanded Alvarez(152/710 to 84/485).

“I’m glad I proved myself today, I’m the best in my division, and I keep this belt,” Bivol said.

After the fight, Alvarez, who has a rematch clause for this fight, said he would exercise the rematch clause and would look to run it back.

“It doesn’t end like this,”  Alvarez said.

It appears that 175 is too big for the 31-year-old Alvarez, and Bivol would seem to be a difficult proposition for Canelo in the rematch. This was not a close fight.

If I were Canelo, I would continue with my plans to fight Gennadiy Golovkin next and stay at 168. However, Canelo is a competitor, so I see him fighting Bivol in the rematch, and based on how close the scorecards were in this fight(which is crazy), he would have to be just a little better to defeat Bivol in the rematch.

Benavídez: ‘If Canelo Alvarez wants to fight at light heavyweight, then he’s going to have to vacate’

Unbeaten two-time world champion David Benavídez and former world champion David Lemieux previewed their 12-round showdown for the vacant Interim WBC Super Middleweight Title with both knockout artists forecasting fireworks during a virtual press conference Tuesday before headlining live on SHOWTIME Saturday, May 21 from Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz. in a Premier Boxing Champions event.

The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® telecast begins at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT headlined by Benavídez returning to fight in his home state of Arizona for the second-straight outing after delivering a knockout victory over Kyrone Davis in November 2021 on SHOWTIME. He will be taking on a hard-hitting former champion in Lemieux, making May 21 a clash of power punchers, as the two fighters have combined for 58 knockouts in their 68 wins (85% KO rate).

Here is what the Benavídez had to say Tuesday:


“I’m very excited to go into this fight against Lemieux, because he’s a guy I’ve watched for a long time and I like his style. We both have similar styles because we go for the knockout. That gets me very excited and motivates me a lot.

“We’re also fighting for the interim title and that makes the stage that much bigger. I’ve been training hard in camp for about three months getting ready for this fight. I’m just ready to go back home and win that title.

“If you win the interim title that means the next fight has to be for the title. I don’t think it should be any difference in this case. If Canelo Alvarez wants to fight at light heavyweight, then he’s going to have to vacate. It’s only fair.

“I train extremely hard to make sure I get the knockout. I just feel like I’m at my peak right now. I have a lot of skills, power and great experience. I know it won’t be easy, but I’ve done everything right in the gym.

“I see flaws in David’s game and I’m sure he sees flaws in me. I know he wants to stop me, and I want to stop him. This is going to be a great fight for the fans. This could be the Fight of the Year because of what’s at stake and because of the type of fighters we are. We’re two bulls going in there to see who has the most heart.

“I just want everyone to see that I’m the best in this weight class. I’m only looking at the fight in front of me. I have to win this fight before I can win anything else. But I do feel like everyone knows where I stand in this division. I’ve been calling out the best and I respect Lemieux for stepping up to take this fight.

“I wanted to fight back in Arizona again because we had a great event in November. This is my first title fight back at home and it’s a dream come true for me. Everything has fallen into place for me. I’ve had an amazing camp and I’m preparing for a great opponent. This has all the makings for a great fight. The energy is right. This is one of the biggest fights of my life and that’s how seriously I’m taking it.

“We’ve been in camp for a long time and we’ve been feeding off of each other’s energy. I’ve been putting in the work and getting my miles in. Seeing Jose Valenzuela and Diego Pacheco have great victories gives me even more energy. We’re all like brothers and we all push each other.

“The main goal for myself is to become unified champion at 168-pounds. It’s not just about me. I have a lot of fans that support me, and I’m doing it for them. They’ve supported me so much, so I want them to know that I’ve put 110% into training camp every time they come to a fight.

“I feel like I deserve the biggest fights. I’ve paid my dues and I’ve been here for a long time. But I have plenty of fuel in the gym solely because of how big this fight is. I think the other top guys are making a mistake not giving me the fight now, because the more I’m in the ring, the more I’m learning. It’s going to turn around and bite them when it’s time to get in the ring with me. Everything is going to be through the roof.”

Love-Valenzuela, Hrgovic-Zhang added to Canelo-Bivol undercard

Montana Love and Gabriel Valenzuela will clash in a Super-Lightweight battle on the undercard for Canelo Alvarez vs. Dmitry Bivol at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, May 7, live on DAZN, excluding Latin America and Mexico. In the U.S. & Canada, the event will be offered exclusively on DAZN Pay-Per View (PPV). Tickets will go on sale on Wednesday, March 23.

Love (17-0-1, 9 KOs) will fight under the Matchroom banner for the second time and on back-to-back Las Vegas fights, having dispatched Carlos Diaz inside three rounds at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in December. The Cleveland man is ranked #12 with the IBF and will look to crash into the top ten in style on The Strip but will need to be on his A-game against Valenzuela (25-2-1, 15 KOs).

The Mexican crashed into top ten with a road-win over Robbie Davies Jr. in London last February and has recorded a pair of KO wins in his homeland since that night. The May 7 showdown is a huge opportunity for him to sparkle in the spotlight alongside his fellow countryman Canelo, in a fight in association with Clase Y Talento and Canelo Promotions.

“Nothing changes on May 7,” said Love. “He’s just another body in the way.”

“I’m so proud to be sharing a spot on the card with such a great Champion, Canelo Alvarez,” said Valenzuela. “We’re prepared for this and training very hard for this fight against Montana Love. He’s a tough opponent but we’re going to come very hard to get the victory. That night Mexico is coming with everything we have.”

Hrgovic (14-0, 12 KOs) sits #3 in the IBF rankings and the giant Croatian has been hunting a dance partner for a showdown to name the mandatory challenger for the title held by Oleksandr Usyk. The 29-year-old Olympic bronze medalist has cut a lethal swathe through the pro ranks to sit in a prime position for a deserved shot at the big prize, ending all but two of his fights inside the distance, and not going past the fifth round in his last seven outings.

A host of Heavyweights were offered the clash with the dangerous Croat, but not until it came to #13 ranked Zhang (23-0-1, 18 KOs) was a dance partner found, with the lofty Chinese star accepting the challenge. The 38-year-old has been circling for a major showdown, and ‘Big Bang’ gets his wish against Hrgovic in Sin City with the two KO artist promising to leave it all in the ring with the stakes so high.

“I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for more than year,” said Hrgović. “Finally, I have an opponent willing to face me for the chance to fight for the IBF World title. So many fighters turned down this challenge so credit to Zhang for being brave enough to accept.

“I know he’s a good opponent. He won silver at the Olympics so that means he’s a good boxer, but he is too slow on his feet, and I believe I have better the qualities. My speed, stamina and footwork will be too much for him. I will break him down and I will beat him.

“I’m now only one fight away from my dream of boxing for a World title and nothing is going to stop me. Canelo is the face of boxing and I’m excited to get this opportunity on such a big show.
I’m ready to show the whole world that ‘El Animal’ is coming!”

“I am very happy that this fight is going to happen,” said Zhang. “I’ve been waiting on an opportunity – now it’s here and I’m not going to let it pass. When no-one else from the top 15 wanted to face Hrgovic, I told myself I had to do it for me and for the sport of boxing. This is the most important fight of my whole career. I’m all in. Don’t miss it!”

“Finally, we’ve found an opponent willing to accept the challenge,” said promoter Kalle Sauerland. “Having gone through the IBF rankings twice, Zhang has stepped up to face Filip Hrgović in an IBF World title final eliminator. We now have ‘El Animal’ versus ‘Big Bang’ for a shot at the biggest prize in boxing. This epic battle is going to light up T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, where fans can witness the next Heavyweight Champion of the World in action.”

Love-Valenzuela and Hrgovic-Zhang lead the undercard for a blockbuster main event that sees pound-for-pound Mexican king Canelo looking to become a two-time World ruler at 175 lbs against long-reigning WBA champion Bivol on Cinco De Mayo weekend.