LAS VEGAS (August 20, 2020) — Light heavyweights Joe Smith Jr. and Eleider “Storm” Alvarez took the MGM Grand “Bubble” stage for the main event press conference Thursday afternoon in advance of Saturday’s WBO world title eliminator, which will stream live on ESPN+ (coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. ET).

This is what two of the division’s heaviest hitters had to say.

Eleider Alvarez

“I feel 100 percent. I feel no pain since the recovery {from an injured shoulder}, so I feel great.

“{The Michael Seals knockout} was my first fight in 11 months, so I’m happy to be back. I want to put on a good performance. I felt that with the performance against Seals, I tried. I would’ve been happy with a decision. I was trying different things, but I got the knockout.

“When Oscar Rivas and I first came to Montreal, we didn’t speak English. We didn’t speak French. I knew a little bit of English, but over 10 years, I’ve learned to speak French. I’m even better in French than English. It’s been a special experience for me and here we are talking in French.

“It was hard for all the boxers, especially in the first two months to train, because everything was closed. We had to adapt to that. Now, things seem to be getting a little more back to normal. The gym is open. It’s not what it was. Hopefully, the pandemic can be over, and we can get back to normal. There were challenges, but we had them like every other fighter.

“I want to be champion of the world for a second time. Whether it’s by knockout or decision, I know Joe Smith comes to fight. I’m going to do the best I can to win this because I want to be champion of the world for a second time.”

Joe Smith Jr.

“Being the underdog, I always feel like I have something to prove. I don’t mind it. I like getting in there and proving the world that I belong at the top and should be a champion.

“The {first-round knockout} over Fonfara, I was like a 20-1 underdog in that fight. I came out and definitely shocked the world with that knockout. It got me here. It got me all the fights and the opportunities that I’ve gotten since. It all led up to this, and this one’s the big one. I’m really excited to be here and looking forward to getting another shot at a title.

“Same thing with Jesse Hart. I was pretty much the underdog in that fight. He was talking a lot, and I just kept it cool. I went in there and did what I had to do, and I got the win. That’s what I gotta keep doing.

“This is the number one priority right now for me. I’m just focused on getting this win Saturday night, so I trained very hard. I’m well prepared. As far as the tree business is going {Smith and his father own and operate Team Smith Tree Service on Long Island}, it’s definitely doing well. Due to the storms, we picked up some work. It was a little slow for some time because of the COVID 19, but it definitely has picked up. My father’s out there every day. He’s doing all the estimates. He’s running the business. I just pop in here and there. I haven’t been doing much with the business. I’ve just been focused on this.

“The only thing, this guy over here is trying to stop me from accomplishing the goal that I have set for myself.

“I’m just going to get in there and give it my all. I plan on coming out on top. I just want to put on a great show for everybody and have a great night.”

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Purse Bid Minutes


Purse Bid was convened for August 14th 2018 at 11:30 am EST held at:

SAN JUAN, PR 00927 787-765-4444

Purse Bid Attendees:

  1. WBO President, Francisco Valcarcel, Presiding
  2. Mr. Dino Duva representing Maurice Hooker & Matchroon Boxing
  3. Mr. Carl Moretti representing Alex Saucedo & Top Rank
  4. Mr. Gardy Lopez from Top Rank
  5. WBO Attorney – Gustavo Olivieri, Esq.
  6. WBO Public Relations – Jose Sanchez Fournier

The Purse Bid Notice was issued on August 6th 2018 for the date of August 14th 2018 to all Bona-Fide Promoters. The Purse Bid officially began at 11:56 am.
Mr. Valcarcel greeted everyone present.

Mr. Carl Moretti, representing Mr. Alex Saucedo from Top Rank, Inc., handed Mr. Valcarcel his first envelope, thus initiating the Purse Bid. The envelope contained a check in the amount of $1,000.00 (One Thousand) Dollars for the Purse Bid Service Fee and proof that Top Rank is a bona fide licensed WBO Promoter.

Mr. Dino Duva, representing Mr. Maurice Hooker from Matchroom Boxing, handed Mr. Valcarcel his first envelope containing a check for $1,000.00 (One Thousand) Dollars to cover the Purse Bid Service Fee and proof of current WBO license.

Mr. Valcarcel stated for the record they are bona fide promoters.

Mr. Valcarcel then indicated for the record that Mr. Moretti was to provide the second envelope that held an offer of the Purse Bid amount of $1,625,000.00 (One Million Six Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand) Dollars. The proposed site for the bout is Oklahoma City, OK with the proposed date of November 16 or 17, 2018.

Then, Mr. Valcarcel opened the second envelope belonging to the representative of Mr. Hooker that contained a check in the amount of $155,555.00 (One Hundred Fifty-Five Thousand Five Hundred Fifty-Five) Dollars, representing 10% of the Purse Bid Amount of $1,555,555.00 (One Million Five Hundred Fifty-Five Thousand Five Hundred Fifty-Five) Dollars. The proposed sites for the bout are TP Garden in Boston Massachusetts, Stub Hub Center in Los Angeles, CA and the Madison Square Garden Theater in New York City with the proposed date of October 20, 2018.

The Bid was awarded to Top Rank, Inc.

Mr. Valcarcel then informed Mr. Moretti, winner of the Purse Bid, about Section 11.2.4 of the WBO Regulations for World Championship Contests that states, “…the date of the fight shall not be later than ninety (90) days or earlier than forty-five (45) days from the date of the Purse Bid…”

Mr. Dino Duva questioned the possibility of a higher percentage for the division Champion, Maurice Hooker. However, Mr. Valcarcel stated for the record that in accordance to the WBO Regulations of World Championship Contests. The Champion shall receive 75% of the purse and the Challenger shall receive the remaining 25%.

Finally, Mr. Valcarcel stated the following conditions:

  1. If the Champion becomes injured prior to bout, an Interim Title will be held.
  2. If the Challenger becomes injured prior to the bout, the next available contenderwill be selected.
  3. The fight shall be held within the time frame pursuant to the WBO Regulations ofWorld Championship Contests.
  4. If the winning bidder does not comply with our Rules, the Bid can be awarded tothe second highest bidder.
  5. The winner was informed that the signed contracts must be sent to the WBO nolater than ten (10) days after the Purse Bid.

Mr. Valcarcel then congratulated the winner, Top Rank, Inc., and thanked all present for their participation. The Purse Bid ended at 12:30 pm.