By Miguel Rivera

The postponement of Felix Verdejo’s title fight does not mean that he will leave the gym entirely.

Ricky Marquez, coach and manager of the Puerto Rican pugil, said yesterday that he will not stop his pupil’s training regime and that he will keep abreast of the injury of Terry ‘Turbo’ Flanagan, lightweight champion (135 pounds) of the World Boxing (WBO).

“We continue to work and train to see what comes next,” Marquez told Carlos Gonzalez. “We are going to wait for the WBO to make its protocol according to the situation and if there is a fight that arises, an eliminator or maybe some regional title fight, we will look at it. For me, the important thing is that Felix stays as active as possible.”

Last Monday it was reported that Flanagan suffered a leg injury. The combat, originally scheduled for September 16, however, was postponed for a future date to be determined.

For Márquez, the change is not cause for concern.

“Felix has the focus and concentration to do the job. As every athlete wants to compete,” he said.

He also did not rule out the plan to move to Big Bear, California, to complete part of the training program at the gym of Abel Sánchez, whose main pupil is Gennady Golovkin.

“I would not know at this point because we do not yet have everything to make that decision. If a fight arises soon between August and September, I do not rule out Felix going to California,” said Marquez.

“It all depends on whether they tell us when the fight would be … when they give us a safe date.”

On the other hand, Márquez expressed caution regarding the alleged injury of Flanagan and hopes that the WBO receives the document that certifies the same.

“From what I understand, there was dissatisfaction on the part of Flanagan’s representatives. It is a coincidence that the injury happened so fast. It generates suspicion. I can beieve that it is a genuine injury because Flanagan is a warrior, but from I understand it is purely a matter of business,” said Marquez.

Even Francisco ‘Paco’ Valcárcel, president of the WBO, said yesterday that he had not received the medical certificate with details of the Flanagan injury.

“We had problems with the internet service during the past few days, so we have not yet been able to verify if we received it,” Valcárcel concluded.–118799?print_friendly=1

Kovalev - Mohammedi Presser  Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas

Kovalev – Mohammedi Presser
Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas

Credit:  Photos by David Spagnolo/Main Events –

The final press conference was held Thursday for the HBO-televised clash between WBO/WBA/IBF light heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (27-0-1, 24 KOs) and mandatory challenger Nadjib “Irondjib” Mohammedi (37-3, 23 KOs) on Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas, Nevada. The co-feature will include a ten-round light heavyweight match-up between Jean Pascal (29-3-1, 17 KOs) and Yuniesky Gonzalez (16-0, 12 KOs).

Sergey Kovalev: “Thank you to WBO. This was my first belt and mean a lot to me. Thank you for this ring. Thank you for everybody that came here today. Thank you Kathy Duva my promoter, Egis Klimas my manager and Nadjib Mohammedi. I want to show this Saturday who I am. I would like to still be champion as long time as possible. I did not get all my goals in my career yet. My amateur career I didn’t give me a lot of opportunities. I was hurt in amateur career and I had to try not to closed doors. Some of my dreams in the boxing and my goals not finished. For my dreams, my goals this Saturday is the next step in my career…I cannot say who is the best. I try to be better with every day, fight and build my career as I would like.”

Nadjib Mohammedi: “I am very excited and happy. Thank you Sergey Kovalev, Main Events and HBO. I have hard work in my training camp for this fight. I am very happy. I promise Saturday a good fight. I am ready. Thank you very much.”

Kathy Duva/CEO of Main Events: “There has been a lot of discussion lately about where the best fighters fight. The place that has developed every major fighter in the last 30 years is HBO and that is why Sergey Kovalev is an HBO Fighter. This event is going to be promoted with a group of great promoters. Krusher Promotions, Sergey’s promotional company, will be our new partner going forward. Our sponsor is Myagkov Vodka. It is so nice to be back here at Mandalay Bay. We have had a long relationship with Mandalay Bay going back to Fernando Vargas. It is in my view my favorite place in Las Vegas to come. It is associated with the great people at MGM International and my good friend Richard Sturm.”

“Our first time in Nevada was in 1981 when Sugar Ray Leonard fought Thomas Hearns. This is my first time working with the current commission here in Nevada. We are forging a good relationship with them. I want to thank Cisco Aguilar and Bob Bennett.”

“The first time Sergey Kovalev fought in Las Vegas it was on an undercard. Those fighters work just as hard as everyone else. We have a great undercard for this Saturday’s event and it is always fun to watch the undercard fighters because you never know if one of them could be the next Sergey Kovalev. The opening bout on HBO World Championship Boxing telecast will feature Jean Pascal, the former light heavyweight champion of the world, against the undefeated Cuban Yuniesky Gonzalez. Pascal is truly a warrior in the best sense of the word. His promoter is InterBox and he also has his own promotional company, Jean Pascal Promotions.”

“We got to know Nadjib Mohammedi a year ago when he fought Anatoliy Dudchenko on one of our shows. He came in as the under dog and came away as the mandatory challenger. I thank God every day for the day I met Egis Klimas and he brought me Sergey Kovalev. He has a great team around him. Sergey Kovalev’s trainer is a former world champion. I have known John David Jackson for a long time and he is one of the best trainers in the world. Bernard Hopkins said to me that Sergey is getting better with every fight. He is powerfully fast and shockingly dominating. He is the kind of guy that people want to see. Hopkins warned Sergey not to get complacent. I think a mark of a great fighter is no matter what you do you are never satisfied and that is the best way to describe Sergey.”

Bob Bennett – Nevada Athletic Commission: “On behalf of the Nevada Athletic Commission, we are pleased and privileged to bring you this fight. We would like to thank Main Events, HBO, Richard Sturm and Mandalay Bay and last, but not least, we really want to thank the fighters because without them none of us would be here.”

Paco Valcarcel – WBO President: “Sergey Kovalev was a sensation. Sergey, we have something for you. He is a great human being. He is a great fighter, outstanding. You going to have a lot of excitement in this fight. We have a real diamond ring for him. This is something we give to our champions.”

Egis Klimas – Sergey Kovalev’s Manager: “Good afternoon. First I want to thank Don Turner who gave me my first steps in boxing. He is the man who introduced me to this sport. He noticed Sergey and told me I had to sign him. Coming back to Vegas brings back a lot of good memories because this is where Sergey won his first belt. He won the NABA Light Heavyweight Title. We were celebrating here and he grabbed his belt, put a shirt over it and brought it downstairs. He said he wanted to give it to me. He gave it to me and said it was our title together. I still have it at my house, he never took it back. I want to thank HBO and Nadjib Mohammedi for taking this fight, Mandalay Bay and media for coming for this good event. We are looking for one of the best fights in the light heavyweight division. When Sergey came to United States in 2009 the light heavyweight division was dead and nobody was talking about it. I strongly believe the division is burning today and that is because of Sergey. There is not a match in this division that happens without mentioning his name.”

John David Jackson – Sergey Kovalev’s Trainer: “I am not going to talk too much. I am going to let Sergey do the talking in the ring Saturday night. But I was a WBO champion during my career and where is my ring, Paco? (laughing)”

“I think Sergey Kovalev is in the top five fighters pound-for-pound and he can become #1.”

Vince Caruso: “Nadjib Mohammedi, a lot of people didn’t know who we were not too long ago. After Saturday he will be known everywhere. I can make two guarantees: He will weigh 175 pounds tomorrow on the scale and he will have the best game plan possible. That is because of Abel Sanchez, who I believe he is the best trainer in the business. When Nadjib’s trainer couldn’t make it into the country back in November, I had the chance to call Abel to step in. It is like putting sugar in the Duncan Hines…Nadjib Mohammedi is Saturday’s challenger but he will be Sunday’s champion.”

Jon Ali – Nadjib Mohammedi’s Co-Manager: “I am glad to be here with my brother, Nadjib Mohammedi. I am very proud of him. Back in France he came a long way to get here. Saturday night will change his life forever.”

Abel Sanchez – Nadjib Mohammedi’s Trainer: “Nadjib earned this right by moving up the ladder to become the #1 contender. I believe we are fighting the best light heavyweight in the world. We know we are fighting a very tough guy. I hope everyone enjoys the fight.”

Jean Pascal: “Hi everybody. There is no place like home. I have been fighting at home my whole career. I am glad to be in Vegas, it is my first time fighting here. Every fighter on my level wants to fight at least one time in Vegas. This is my chance to make a statement on Saturday night. I know am still among the best in the world and best in my division. I know Yuniesky Gonzalez is hungry and he wants to make a statement. I want to give you guys a great show on Saturday night.”

“My philosophy is the best must fight the best. I believe I am still among the best in the world. I am the best light heavyweight in the world but I had a bad night on March 14.”

Yuniesky Gonzalez: “Good afternoon. Thank you to Jean Pascal team, HBO and Joe DiGuardia and Kathy Duva of Main Events for this opportunity. Gracias. We are going to see high quality boxing from Yuniesky Gonzalez Saturday night.”

Pierre Duc – InterBox Promotions: “Good afternoon. InterBox has been one of the lead promoters in Canada for a long time but this is our first time in Vegas, so this is a great thrill for us. Thank you to HBO, Kathy Duva and Main Events for having us here. Following Jean Pascal’s fight with Sergey Kovalev one of Pascal’s requests was to step back into the ring as soon as possible. We are so happy to make this happen for him. You are going to see a very exciting fight on HBO. Jean Pascal is a former light heavyweight champion. Kathy Duva described him as a warrior. This is going to be a long and very difficult fight for both fighters.”

Marc Ramsay – Jean Pascal’s Trainer: “Thank you for being with us today. After the fight with Sergey Kovalev, Jean Pascal requested a fight right away on HBO with the best opponent available. With the style of both fighters we are going to have a great fight. We had a great training camp and it should be a great fight Saturday night.”

Joe DiGuardia – Star Boxing, Gonzalez’s Promoter: “Thank you. It is great to be back here at Mandalay Bay where I have also had some great fights and my best success stories. I want to thank Kathy Duva and Main Events from having us, Peter Nelson and HBO for giving this opportunity to Yuniesky Gonzalez. Jean Pascal is a great champion. Sergey Kovalev is one of the greatest of our time. Yuniesky Gonzalez is pleased to have this opportunity. Yuniesky Gonzalez is an exciting fighter. I guarantee you will see an exciting fight with Yuniesky Gonzalez and Jean Pascal. Yuniesky Gonzalez has been clawing his way to get this opportunity and he will take advantage of it.”

Kovalev - Mohammedi Presser  Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas

Kovalev - Mohammedi Presser  Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas

Kovalev - Mohammedi Presser  Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas

Kovalev - Mohammedi Presser  Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas

Kovalev - Mohammedi Presser  Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas

Kovalev - Mohammedi Presser  Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas

Kovalev - Mohammedi Presser  Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas

Kovalev - Mohammedi Presser  Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas


By Brian Campbell –

Despite being a heavy underdog, Nadjib Mohammedi is undaunted by the challenge ahead of him on Saturday.

Mohammedi (37-3, 23 KOs) challenges unified light heavyweight titlist and knockout sensation Sergey Kovalev (27-0-1, 24 KOs) at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas (HBO, 10 p.m. ET/PT).

The native of France, who enters his third fight under the tutelage of trainer Abel Sanchez, has steadily improved in recent years.

Mohammedi, 30, has won 13 straight fights since his last defeat in 2011 against Dmitry Sukhotsky. He upset Anatoliy Dudchenko by seventh-round TKO in June 2014 to become the mandatory challenger for the IBF title.

Speaking through a translator, Mohammedi recently talked with about his mindset entering the Kovalev fight.

It has been more than a year since you became the mandatory title challenger. Why was now the right time for you to challenge Kovalev?

I took my time because I needed to change my team. It was time for a change and now I have an American team with Abel Sanchez as my trainer. I needed to become more famous in America to make my name here. That’s why I waited.

In what ways has Sanchez helped you improve your fighting style? 

Abel Sanchez did not change my style but he upgraded it. With Abel Sanchez’s experiences, he brought to me a lot of things from his own style.

How would you describe your fighting style and the balance between being a boxer and puncher? 

I have made changes and am more powerful now. Also with the way I move in the ring, I am more of a target.

Sanchez has experience as Kovalev’s former trainer. How much of an advantage will that be for you in this fight? 

Abel Sanchez knows the style of Kovalev. He knows his talent and his mistakes. But for now, we can say that the style of Kovalev has changed a bit [since joining new trainer John David Jackson]. He has always been a straight boxer — jab, right, left, jab. But at the end, we never know.

Considering the platform available to you with this fight, what do you hope to teach American fans about who you are as a fighter?

I can bring to American boxing fans a new story and a new generation of light heavyweight champions. I can really show them that everything is possible if you work hard because I came from a hard and mighty long way. I want to show them that everything is possible, a little bit like “Rocky.” It’s not the same story, but I will be Rocky against [Ivan] Drago.

Kovalev is an extremely large betting favorite in this fight. What does that do to motivate you? 

It is normal that everybody thinks that Kovalev will beat me. He is No. 1 and a favorite. But it motivates me a lot because at the end I will show them that because Kovalev is No. 1, I want to beat him. I want to show to the boxing fans that, once again, anything is possible. You never know what can happen, even if it’s against the No. 1. You never know.

In his last fight in March, Kovalev was hurt at times before going on to score a stoppage against Jean Pascal in Montreal. What was your opinion of his performance in that fight?

I was at this fight and I saw the same thing that you saw: Kovalev was hurt, and I saw a lot of possibilities against his boxing style.

What it is about your childhood or upbringing that has prepared you to take on the kind of challenge that you’ll face against Kovalev? 

My life prepared me to fight because I have had to fight for a living and work hard since I was very young. My life prepared me to fight for everything. This is my shot and I’m ready.

Outside of the ring, what do you like best about being in America? 

First of all, I love the weather in California. I love the women in California and I love the American style of living. I feel free here. Because in some way in France, a lot of people look at you because of your origin or ethnicity. I don’t feel the same way here in America. No matter what my origin is, I am a champion of the people. I like the American style and I love California.

Kovalev is currently ranked among the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. Do you believe he is worthy of all the hype he has received? 

Kovalev deserves his place in the ring as No. 1 and light heavyweight champion. But at the end, he’s just a man.

Above all else, what needs to go right in order for you to pull the upset against Kovalev?

There are many factors. One of the most important factors for us to stay close in this fight and keep good distance. That will be the key.


Credit:  Photo: David Spagnolo/Main Events –

Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev, WBO, WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight World Champion

On coming off big fights against Pascal and Hopkins but now facing a lesser known fighter:

“For me, any fight means a lot because it is the next step. Who I am and how I do my job means a lot. He is the #1 IBF contender. He deserves this fight. I very excited that I have three titles and I have the opportunity to defend it against Mohammedi. He deserves this fight. He is #1. He is very motivated. When a boxer is motivated or any man is motivated it makes him very dangerous.”

On training in Oxnard:

“Oxnard is different place compared to my last training camp. I am very happy here and everything is comfortable. Everything is good. Big Bear training camp is conditioning and physical training camp. Now training camp in Oxnard is boxing camp with sparring and heavy bags. For the boxing, I feel very comfortable here. My sparring partners help me. I feel good.”

On his last fight against Pascal:

“I had some problems in my training camp for Pascal. I made some mistakes. I started to make my weight very late. I was very happy after Hopkins fight. It was a lot of things. I celebrated New Year and Christmas in Russia. Christmas is biggest holiday in Russia. I got a lot of overfull. It made for me big trouble to make the weight for the fight. I didn’t have a good sparring partner for the fight. It was a lot of things. Right now everything is clean and going very well.”

On the possibility of a Pascal Rematch:

“I don’t want to speak about Pascal because he does not deserve to get attention. He lost my respect for him even before the fight. I cannot respect even his team. He is piece of shit. Same as Stevenson. I think all fighters make terrible fighters in Canada. I don’t respect and I want to kick his ass again and much, much bigger this time. If it will happen rematch, he will sleep in four rounds because he is a piece of shit.”

On the added pressure of headlining a fight in Las Vegas:

“No for me it doesn’t matter where I am fighting. I don’t have any problems. I feel very comfortable and happy that my fight is in Las Vegas. I wait a long time for my fight. I wanted LA or Las Vegas and it will happen July 25. I am very happy and excited because I wanted to give to my fans who long time waited to watch my fight live and now it will happen. Las Vegas is biggest place for the fight and Las Vegas is terrific place a lot of people from everywhere come to Las Vegas to get more fun. July 25 they will be very happy and very fun day.”

On Nadjib working with Abel Sanchez, Kovalev’s former trainer:

“Who is this Abel? I don’t know any Abel.”

On Adonis Stevenson:

“He is a piece of shit.”

On where he stands among all current boxers:

“I don’t think about this at all. I don’t care where I am. It is most important what I have, not where I am.”

On his opponent, Nadjib Mohammedi:

“I can say that I will kick his ass.”

On the added pressure to impress:

“I want to be better and want to be improved for every fight because a boxer can never to be perfect. 100% everything is good, no. Every boxer wants to be better, better, better. My goal in my preparations is to get better and remove all my mistakes from last fight. To show to people I can not only to punch, I can do boxing. I am disappointed people couldn’t see in my first 14 or 15 fights. I can do boxing. I just started to get good opponents when I signed contract with Kathy Duva. Very big respect with Kathy Duva and her team that they got attention on my boxing. I am very happy that I signed contract Main Events and right now my career is going up. It will continue be going up because we are together right now. We are a team – Egis Klimas, Kathy Duva, Main Events and Krusher Promotions. We are going up. We give to boxing fans good boxing fight because right now it is very seldom in real fights. Because a lot of fighters are making business but not making boxing. I can count on my left hand who are the real fighters in boxing: Gennady Golovkin, Miguel Cotto and Keith Thurman and I don’t remember more. And maybe me. I don’t want to push me that I am the best, but if people are thinking it I am very happy. I wake every morning and get running and working hard. I happy that people are thinking that I am good boxer.”

Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events

“We are very pleased to be working with HBO and Mandalay Bay where we have had such a great history here at Main Events. Sergey Kovalev is a throwback fighter who wants to take on every challenge. He has fought the #2 and #3 guys in his division in Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal. Now he is fighting his mandatory against Nadjib Mohammedi. It will be a great fight. It always is when Sergey gets in the ring.”

On why fans just want to see Sergey Kovalev fight no matter who he is fighting:

“It is the same thing that makes fans wants to watch Mike Tyson or Gennady Golovkin. Fans want to see knockouts. This is a blood sport. Sergey brings all of that. Sergey is a bad, bad man. He’s got that edge and that danger to him. My barometer has always been when I get excited myself to watch a fighter after the thousands of fights I have seen. I still get excited when Sergey fights. Every fighter when he becomes accomplished enough will have to get themselves up for absolutely everybody. He needs to prove this too. He is still on the way up, but he is a lot further along the way. He has had two difficult and challenging fights and there is a natural tendency to taper off in that situation. He needs to stay focused on Nadjib.”

On Mohammedi’s hunger:

“He has nothing to lose and everything to gain. He has had a year to focus on nothing else but this fight. Sergey has had to face two huge challenges. He also had a child and moved across the country. Nadjib has had nothing to do except focus on this fight. He is working with Abel Sanchez, who used to work with Sergey, and they don’t like each other very much.”

On Sullivan Barrera and Isaac Chilemba fighting on the undercard:

“Jolene [Mizzone, Main Events’ matchmaker] was still working to find opponents for them. I believe they are still on the card. Jolene is the best and she will figure it out. If Chilemba can’t fight on this card, he will be ordered to fight as mandatory for the WBC title soon.”

On the current status of ticket sales for this fight:

“There has been a tendency in boxing lately to give all the tickets away. Tickets are in no way sold out. It will take a lot of time before the damage to this market can be undone. We are hoping for a big walk up. I have no thoughts at all on the show down the street. Giving tickets away on the same night that people are charging for a fight down this street is another example of anti-competitive behavior. Our prices are reasonable, tickets start at $25. Sergey is well worth the price of admission and you get what you pay for.”

On why Main Events signed Mohammedi:

“When we met Nadjib, he fought on one of our NBC cards against Anatoliy Dudchenko and became the #1 challenger. As Sergey’s promoter I became interested in him. We struck a good relationship with him and his team. It made sense for us to work with him. When he came here for his fight on the Hopkins’ undercard, his trainer couldn’t make it so he ended up working with Abel [Sanchez]. He decided to wait very patiently for Sergey’s other fights. He is exciting and aggressive and that is what we like to see.”

On the odds for this fight:

“We don’t set the odds. The odds don’t reflect the competitiveness of the fight but certain people’s willingness to bet on the fight.”

On the possibility of a rematch with Pascal:

“I think Sergey just made it a lot more interesting with his comments about Pascal. From a business perspective, it is a great fight. We are keeping Pascal close. He is fighting in the co-feature but first Pascal has to defeat Gonzalez.”

On the possibility of a fight against Andre Ward:

“We have been talking to Andrew Ward’s people all week. We all agree the fight is going to happen; it is just a matter of when. Sergey’s schedule for his next few fights is planned. That fight should happen by the end of next year. Sergey wants to fight the best. The best fighting the best is what people want to see. We want to complete that deal in the foreseeable future.”

On the other potential opponents for Kovalev in the light heavyweight division:

“There are plenty of opponents. There are always new fighters coming along. The landscape of boxing changed six months ago and I am willing to bet that in another six months it will change again. I think between the fighters in the light heavyweight division and guys at 168 that are going to moving up there will be no shortage of opponents for Sergey. When you have that kind of star power in the division, they are going to draw together like magnets. Sergey has a contract with HBO and his career is mapped out for the next three years.”

On Nadjib Mohammedi:

“He has had an education with Abel that he didn’t have before. He came in as the opponent and he showed up on his own and did the job. You have to respect a guy that can do that. He has had a year to focus on this while Sergey has been focused on 1,000 other things over that same year.”

On Mohammedi working with Abel Sanchez:

“He fought on the undercard of the Hopkins-Kovalev fight and worked with Abel on that fight as well. He has been in the gym with other tremendous other fighters. I give Nadjib a lot of credit.”

On Sergey’s improving English:

“I don’t have to tell him that it is important. He came to me about it. Every time I talk to him it gets better. He finds ways to express himself. That is just part of the fun of Sergey Kovalev. He is working with a teacher. I had a similar situation with Tomasz Adamek and now he can express himself as well as anybody. The perfectionist part of Sergey will drive him to continually improve. What you don’t see is when he is in a relaxed setting he is much better. You will see more of that as time goes on.”

John David Jackson, Sergey Kovalev’s Trainer

On Nadjib Mohammedi:

“He is unconventional. He has his own style. He’s wild with some of his shots. Getting ready for him isn’t an easy task. We have to prepare correctly. Now that Abel is working with him they may have a formidable fight plan to combat what Sergey is brings to the table. However, once he gets hit we will see what he is made of. We know they are going to prepare the best they can and so are we.”

Egis Klimas, Sergey Kovalev’s Manager

“Welcome to conference call and we are looking forward to the fight.”

Vince Caruso, Nadjib Mohammedi’s Co-Manager

On Nadjib’s ethnicity:

“Nadjib is of Algerian descent but he was raised in France.”

On the odds for this fight:

“HBO told me that they were up to 45-to-1 and that is about as high as Buster Douglas was. I think we are about 100-to-1 shot. We are in with a guy who doesn’t make mistakes. Odds are against us but this will be the last time he will be overlooked.”

On how Mohammedi started boxing:

“His older brother took him to a boxing gym and he fell in love with it. He was 14 years old and was working in the markets. He’s been in love with it ever since.”

On Nadjib’s preparation for this fight:

“This is the first training camp where I know nothing. Nadjib is secluded with Abel. They are going to do it their way. He is up there doing their thing. I am down here dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s. I can tell you this, his weight is on target and he is in tip top shape.”

About Kovalev vs. Mohammedi

WBO, WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight World Champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (27-0-1, 24 KOs) will compete in his first mandatory title defense against Nadjib “Irondjib” Mohammedi (37-3, 23 KOs) on Saturday, July 25 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas, Nevada. The co-feature will include a ten-round light heavyweight match-up between Jean Pascal (29-3-1, 17 KOs) and Yunieski Gonzalez (16-0, 12 KOs). Tickets are on sale now and start at $25. Tickets can be purchased through TicketMaster and all MGM Resorts Properties Ticket Offices. The HBO World Championship Boxing® telecast begins at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.


Credit:  Photos by David Spagnolo/Main Events –

WBO, WBA and IBF light heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev and IBF mandatory challenger Nadjib “Iron Jib” Mohammedi, along with their camps, addressed the media Saturday at a press conference in Los Angeles to formally announce their world title clash on July 25 at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.

Sergey Kovalev: “Hello everybody. Thank you for comes here. What I can say? I already said enough for my side. I am sure it is going to be very interesting fight. Why? Because Nadjib has very good and big motivation to be champion and my desire is to get my four titles. I think that will happen this year, that I fight a unified fight. Fight against Nadjib is for me next step. I am not going to say that I will, I will and I will, is words of trash talkers. I am going to show what I can in the ring.

“Everyone welcome to Vegas July 25 to Mandalay Bay and have a nice time. Thank you very much for your attention, for my promoter, Kathy Duva, and manager [Egis Klimas] that they turn their attention to me, sign me and now my career is in their hands. I like it. Everything I have right now is good.

“Also I am very happy that my fight is on HBO. I am happy and I am going to be best in my division. I am not finished of my collection of all of my belts. I shoot and I must to get one more, WBC title. Just give me opportunity to fight against WBC Champion. I don’t care whether it be Adonis Stevenson or another guy. I don’t care. Right now I am not even thinking about this because my next fight will be big fight and not an easy fight against Nadjib Mohammedi. I think so enough to say. Thank you very much again.”


Nadjib Mohammedi: “For me is big opportunity. My first time in USA just one years now. I respect Sergey Kovalev now is champion of light heavyweight but I don’t come here for joke or for play or for game. I want be world champion. I work with Abel Sanchez in Big Bear for this. I am not stupid. I know what you think about me. I am not naïve. This fight is very, very difficult for me but I say it is very difficult for Sergey. It is not difficult just for me because I am very smarter, I am faster.

“On 25 of July I am ready with my team, I am ready for this fight. I am ready for Sergey. I am the new generation of light heavyweight because I don’t want the same fight of another opponent. Thank you very much to Kathy Duva, my promoter. Thank you very much my team. Thank you very much my co-managers, Vince Caruso and Jon Ali. Thank you, Abel Sanchez. I will see you 25 of July for the big fight. I promise you this is a big, big fight. Thank you very much.”

kovalev-mohammadi-kickoff2  kovalev-mohammadi-kickoff3

Main Events Promoter Kathy Duva: “Less than two years ago Sergey Kovalev was a struggling fighter trying to make a name for himself. Since then he has fought on HBO six times. He is about to go into his seventh fight on HBO. He has become, not just the light heavyweight champion of the world, but he has unified three of the light heavyweight titles. Last year he was named the fighter of the year by Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report, The New York Post, USA Today, SherDog and UCN Live. Some of you are here today and thank you so much. It I a hell of an accomplishment to be the Fighter of the Year, you can’t do that every year, no matter who you are. To go from being completely unknown to being the man in the light heavyweight division in less than two years is a remarkable accomplishment.

“I don’t think any of us would be here without the support of the fine people at HBO. Today I get to proudly announce that Sergey Kovalev gets to remain with HBO, the company that has taken him this far. It is his intention and our intention to remain with HBO for the rest of his career, if that is possible. This is the company that has led boxing for the last 30 odd years in this country. It is unquestionably the #1 boxing network in the world. It is the place to be if you want to have a high-profile career in this sport and maintain it for a long time.

“About a year ago Nadjib Mohammedi came to the United States for the first time. He earned his shot at a title by becoming the #1 contender. He has worked hard over the last year to maintain that position and prepare himself for the opportunity to fight for the world title. Now he gets the privilege of fighting for all three of those belts.

“Now that Sergey has moved to the west coast and has made a home for himself and his family here in Los Angeles we are moving his home base. I had a lovely meeting with Richard Sturm at MGM a few weeks ago and he confirmed to me that MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay want to be in the Sergey Kovalev business. As I see a vacuum opening up in Vegas for big names I think Sergey Kovalev is the kind of guy who can step in there and fill that vacuum. His fights are electrifying and exciting and thrilling. That is what boxing fans should expect when they put their money down to come and see a fight.

“Main Events has a great history with Mandalay Bay which is one of the best facilities in the country, in the world. On a personal note it is great to be going back there. We brought Fernando Vargas there years ago and had some great, great nights there and some great, great memories there. We are going to make some new ones now. It is a new beginning. It is a new beginning with HBO. It is a new beginning with Mandalay Bay. Yet it all feels very familiar because this was the same team that was making Fernando one of the biggest box office attractions in the country.

“Peter Nelson from HBO is not here because of your famous LA traffic but if he were here he would tell you that the event will start at 10:00 PM on July 25 on HBO. There will be a co-feature and we are still working on what that is going to be and we will announce that when we know. The tickets will be going on sale next week and will be priced very affordably for the fans from $25 up to $300. We want to fill up the room. We want to encourage the true boxing fans. Something that I noticed when I went to the big fight a few weeks ago at MGM that the crowd was missing the true fight fans but I want to see those people come out for this fight. Those fans will be very pleased. I have had the great pleasure to be ringside a number of times for Sergey’s fights and it is thrilling.

“This will be a 12-round fight for the WBO, WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight World Championships. It is an IBF mandatory bout. Sergey is 27-0-1 with 24 knockouts from Russia and Nadjib is 37-3, with 23 knockouts from France.

“To Vince’s point, that is one of the things that is great about boxing, everybody has a story. Everybody has been through adversity. If not for miracles I think everyone standing on this dais, myself included, would not be standing here right now. I think that is part of what keeps this sport alive and is what makes it so compelling is the stories behind everybody. The truth is Nadjib came here last June as an opponent basically. He came here and won a fight he wasn’t expected to win; he earned his place and has worked for a long time with Abel Sanchez. He has taken advantage of this time to work with a great trainer in Abel Sanchez and believe me we are very well aware of it. With an awkward style and a great trainer, his great heart and drive that this is not going to be an easy night for anybody.

“Having said that, Sergey Kovalev is something very special, we all know that. To me he is exactly what boxing is supposed to be, somebody who goes out there and gives their all gives 1,000% every time. He keeps the crowd entertained. He keeps the fight exciting. He makes it fun to be there. That is why we tend to focus on him and his future. We don’t mean it as an insult to anybody. That is what we have, it is called a star.”

Kovalev Manager Egis Klimas: “Good afternoon everybody. Thanks for coming for this press conference in the beautiful city of Los Angeles. Thank you Kathy [Duva]. She is doing a very good job. When I brought Sergey to Kathy a couple of years ago at that point nobody knew him. Some people knew Kovalev in boxing but not much and not like he is known today.

“Vince [Caruso] was talking about how we have not seen bad days in Sergey’s career but I would say it is completely the opposite. I brought Sergey in 2009 from Russia I put him in Don Turner training camp in North Carolina which is in the middle of nowhere. The closest store is about five miles away. All around there are corn fields, bugs, bears, snakes and he stayed where Don had built his boxing gym. At that time I had many fighters going to that camp and besides Sergey and Gradovich I would say the longest somebody was there was like three months before they would call me and tell me they were done. They would go to New York or Chicago and today they are nobody and I have not even heard about them. Some are taxi drivers now but this gentleman stayed there and didn’t complain a single word for a year and a half.

“I used to go to Don’s camp, me and Don would jump in a van and drive around the country just to get the fights. I saw big talent and Don Turner saw big talent in him but I could not convince any of the promoters. I talked to Top Rank. I talked to Golden Boy. I talked to Lou DiBella. I talked to everybody about giving him a chance until one day Don Turner introduced me to Kathy see said she would try and see what is going to happen.

“The biggest fight that we had in our career was Darnell Boone. Sergey wasn’t ready for it so it went all eight rounds and was not a good fight. Main Events asked me how I felt about fighting Darnell Boone again. I thought Sergey was no going to like that. I called Sergey and I told him, he said he it was great and he wanted to do that. He said, ‘I want to see how I improved from almost two years past. That’s a fight I want.’ That was when I realized I really had a good fighter here with a good heart. Of course the second time he did a great job with Darnell Boone. It was two rounds. He was a completely different guy. He was on TV. He was on the big stage. He has had hard times.

“I want to thank HBO for giving us this very good opportunity for the rest of his career. I wanted to thank again Kathy and Mandalay Bay for having us there. Don’t miss fight on July 25.”


Mohammedi Co-Manager Vince Caruso: “There is not much to say when you fight the #1 guy. Whether I like him or not Sergey Kovalev is the #1 guy in boxing today, especially after what we saw two weeks ago I would say he is undoubtedly #1. He is the top tier. He is a very bad dude and we are going in there with that in mind.

“I am not going to get up here and say that Nadjib is going to come in there and do this or we are guaranteeing a win. You can’t guarantee anything in this business. The only thing I can guarantee you is that on the 25th of July Nadjib Mohammedi is going to make the 175 pound contracted weight limit, that will be a guarantee. #2 he is going to come in there with a game plan that if he does execute and he does listen to Abel Sanchez, his trainer, he has a very good shot at winning this fight. Because even though Sergey might be stronger, and he might be bigger, and he might have been on the big stage a lot more than Nadjib has, there is one thing that I believe we have the edge in, and that is desire.

“When you have been held down your whole life, your whole career, a career that started in 2005, and you have to fight in rooms that are smaller than this, with no TV coverage, no press, that is hard times. I don’t think Sergey Kovalev goes through hard times. Nadjib Mohammedi has gone through hard times. He came to Big Bear before his fight on the Hopkins-Kovalev undercard back in November. His trainer that he has been with for 14 years got detained at the airport and could not get in for that fight. So me and his co-manager, Jon Ali, had to figure out who was going to work the corner. Sullivan Barrera, our friend who is also here today, was on that card already and he was working with Abel Sanchez. I have always said after I watched Nadjib on June 21st of last year, that he is the perfect style fighter for Abel Sanchez’s training methods. He fights that Mexican style. He is a straight-ahead blood and guts fighter. There is nothing really special about him. His strength is his heart. Show me a guy with heart who is sick and tired of being broke and sick and tired of getting the short end of the deal and I am going to show you a winner. Nothing ever lifts adrenaline more than the desire to change your life. That is what we need to look at going in against this guy because he is a killer. He is #1, the big cheese. That is what we want. We want high risk because we want high reward.

“With all due respect to Kathy, she talks about all these great future plans she has with Kovalev but I would have waited until this Mohammedi fight was in the books before you made any long term plans. I know nobody gives us a chance and he is probably a 15-1 underdog. We are the dog but everybody on this team has overcome something. This guy has overcome the temptations of the mafia-ridden streets of France. He went into the food business and took care of his mother and his brothers and his sister. He worked hard. He wanted to become a professional fighter. He is here. Jon Ali, my co-manager, is a professional singer. He is a great pop singer and that is why he is not here today. 11 years ago I was a junkie and I was in a Las Vegas rehab. I never thought I would be on the big stage again but I am. This team has a lot of desire. We are going to win this fight and we are going to win it with heart.”



By Alexey Sukachev –

Abel Sanchez, the trainer of ex-WBO light middleweight champion, Zaurbek Baysangurov (28-1, 20 KOs), revealed the reasons behind his protégé’s recent withdrawal from the fight with a mandatory challenger Demetrius Andrade, scheduled for July 6 in Kiev, to .

“Zaurbek was training very hard, trying to get in shape. On the Wednesday of that week, we had an open workout, which included an eight-round sparring session, and Zaurbek felt pain in his back afterwards. On Thursday we did a bit of jogging, but his condition worsened. I think it was an old injury he had received in the past. Then we had a light training session and another period of jogging. His back gave up; he was in sharp pain, so he had to visit a doctor”.

“Zaurbek had been training so hard for the fight, but this cancellation will be a blessing after all. He would have been unable to complete his task against Andrade without proper ring movement. I guess he could be back in five or six months from this point”.

Baysangurov’s WBO title was declared vacant, with undefeated former US Olympians Demetrius Andrade (2008) and Vanes Martirosyan (2004) being the frontrunners for the vacated belt. The winner of this bout will have to take on Baysangurov right after that.–67247


On July 6 (Palace Of Sports, Kiev, Ukraine) all boxing fans will get an opportunity to enjoy a big show promoted by K2 Promotions (Klitschko Brothers Company) and supported by TM Khortytsya and Inter Channel. WBO Junior Middleweight Champion Zaur Baysangurov will face American challenger Demetrius Andrade. It will be the third title defense for Baysangurov.

At the moment Zaur continues his training camp with Abel Sanchez at The Summit (Big Bear Lake, CA).

“I arrived to Los-Angeles two months before the match. Andrade is high rated boxer and I do perceive that this fight is very serious. I started working from my first day in California, so now me and Abel are focused on strategy and physicals and in few days I start to spar.  I’m very satisfied with our cooperation. Sanchez is unique man, very good person and excellent teacher.  I know that there are a lot of people in my native land and Ukraine, who support me and expect my victory, so I’ll do my best not to disappoint them.   It will be not a cakewalk, but I`ll do it. ” – said Zaur Baysangurov.

“The contract is signed. Now July 6th is official. This time we will make a show never seen before in Ukraine. The main event itself worth much and the undercard is not lagging behind – Rudenko – Baktov(heavy), Salamov vs Djabbarov (light-heavy), Tereshkin (heavy), Spyrko (light-middle). We will show the fight in Ukraine, Russia, Chechnia, Europe and USA. Housands in attendants in Kyiv Palace of Sports will derive pleasure from the world class show! Everyone can allow visiting as the ticket price starts from 30 hrn (4 USD).”- said director general “K2 Promotions” Aleksandr Krasyuk.