Eddie Hearn, Chairman of Matchroom Sport:
“What a delight to be here in Manchester ahead of a huge night of boxing this Saturday from the AO Arena, live on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK and on DAZN around the world. This is the card of the year so far. There’s so much to talk about here today, from the big Heavyweight main event to the Undisputed World Championship, to the World Light-Heavyweight Championship, and much more.”
(Photo credit: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing)
Derek Chisora – Finchley, London – 32-10, 23 KO’s – fighting Joseph Parker for the vacant WBO Intercontinental Heavyweight Title:
“I love fighting; throwing yourself in the World Title shot is okay. Dillian Whyte has been in the World Title shot for the last five years; he hasn’t gone anywhere. I don’t put myself in those positions; I want to put myself in positions where I get to fight good fights. This is right, I’m fighting Joseph Parker, and after that, we’ll see what happens.
“I want to do what I do best, come forward, fight, chuck hell and do what I do every day. Roll the dice and rock and roll – go at it. I’ll come out of the gates and just go.
“The guy has a spider bite, we can’t deny it, we don’t know if it’s true or not, but he had it, and now he’s here – we’re not going to cry over spilled milk. David made a good impression wearing the spiderman suit early in the morning; it was okay. The fight is here now, so we’re not going to talk about history anymore; that’s why it’s called history.
“It’s going to be a great night; good things are happening. It’s a big card, but we don’t have that little edge on with the fans; it’s depressing, but what can we say.
“The king is back, long live the king – I’m back. I’m buzzing to all those fans at home; I’m going to bring smoke, and I know my opponent will bring something that will be on his bike – but it’s going to be okay. He’s going to be cycling back to Australia, but it’s all good. I know right now I’m still laughing and joking, but when I come tomorrow, you’re going to know what time it is.”
David Haye, Hayemaker Promotions:
“Derek wants the biggest fights; he wants to leave a legacy and wants to go out there for people to know Derek Chisora means war and destruction. We pushed it to the wire with Usyk last time out, someone who’s ranked number one in the world. I thought he won the fight. It was a close fight; two judges only had it by two points; this time around, he’s not going to leave it to the judges. No mindset to try and win this fight on points.
“Joseph Parker, we know, is an excellent boxer, one of the best jabs in the business. Ask Andy Ruiz, Carlos Takam; it’s a killer. So, it’s a simple solution; we do not have a boxing match with Parker; it must be a fight. I can guarantee a knockout in this fight; this is not going the distance. This is about how much Joseph Parker can take.
“He’s got a great chin; he went twelve rounds with AJ, twelve rounds with Dillian Whyte, who hit him on the button many times. Derek’s going to have to do something extraordinary on Saturday night, and he’s brought in the big guns – Buddy McGirt, Hall of Fame trainer. We’re adding whatever we can to give Derek what’s needed to do the impossible.
“A lot of people are not giving Derek a shot in this fight, but when you see how Derek comes across the ring in the first round, I think you’ll understand where this fight is going and going in a very destructive manner. It’s going to be an all-out explosion from the first round, and get your popcorn and don’t go to the toilet.
“Anybody who watches Derek Chisora will want to keep him on the outside because once Derek’s on the inside – ask David Price, who said when Derek was inside, he didn’t know where the punches were coming from. When you’re inside with those little gloves, a big Heavyweight with short cuffing shots. He’s been practicing this stuff; his inside game is very destructive.
“Joseph Parker is going to be in a situation he hasn’t been in before, he’s fought come forward fighters before, but he’s been able to keep them at arm’s length. Derek must do his work on the inside, drag him into the deep end from round one. It’s going to have to be brutality from round one, and I’m excited.”
Buddy McGirt, trainer of Derek Chisora:
“It’s been interesting, but it’s been great – I have no complaints. Derek, David, and the team have made me feel at home, welcomed me well, so I really can’t complain.
“I expect Parker to do both; Andy Lee has got an old way of thinking. I think they’re going to box and try to fight on the inside when they want to fight on the inside – they want to dictate it. That I know, because they’re not going to try and box all night, I know guys like Andy and how he thinks. Sometimes you’ve got to try and beat a guy at his own game a little while; we’ve got to get down and dirty.
“We’ve got to drag it down like that; it’s no secret. He’s got to be Derek, just smooth the rough edges. They’re going to try and box, yeah, but I also know in the later rounds they’re going to fight him in the inside and break our man down – we’re prepared for that.”
Joseph Parker – Auckland, New Zealand – 28-2, 21 KOs – fighting Derek Chisora for the vacant WBO Intercontinental Heavyweight Title:
“I’m very prepared for this fight; I’ve had a great training camp with Andy in Ireland, then we moved over to Morecambe and got some great sparring under our belt, great pad work, bag, everything. I feel like with this fight, physically and mentally, I’m in a great place – probably the best I’ve been in a while.
“Two totally different styles, Junior Fa’s style was move and hug, punch now and then. With Derek, it’s no secret; he’s going to come forward and apply the pressure, throw punches everywhere. My hands are going to have to be up, down, and all around.
“I think this is the perfect fight at the right time. We’re right there, get a good victory, and there are many other great fights out there to be made and to position yourself when the titles are free to fight for. This is a big card; not only the main event but the undercard fights are inspiring; I’m looking forward to Saturday.”
Andy Lee, trainer of Joseph Parker:
“I can only see the fight playing out one way, with Derek coming forward and bringing war which he has done over numerous fights in recent years. I see Joseph boxing a smart fight; if he can put in practice what we’ve been rehearsing in training, I can Joseph winning by late stoppage. We don’t want to leave anything to the judges; the only way to guarantee victory in this game is by getting a knockout; as much as they’re going for it, we’ll be going for it as well.
“We might surprise you, we surprised everybody with Tyson Fury against Wilder, we just might do the same, but you’ll have to wait and see.”
Katie Taylor – Bray, Ireland – 17-0, 6 KOs – defending her WBC, WBA, IBF, WBO, and Ring Magazine Lightweight World Titles against Natasha Jonas:
“This is why we’re taking the fight; we don’t take any easy fights. I’m in this sport to fight the best, in terms of training camps every one’s the same, we train for every single fight as if it’s going to be my hardest. My mindset and mentality don’t change from fight to fight, so I’m looking forward to a great fight on Saturday.
“The fight was nine years ago; we were both very different fighters to what we are now. I think we’ve both developed and matured into great pro fighters. The fight is going to be completely different Saturday night than it was in the London Olympics. What works in the pro game doesn’t work in the amateur game – this is a completely different fight.
“I think my last few performances have shown I’m at my peak; I’ve shown my best in the last few performances. My last three fights were probably my best performances as a pro, so I feel like I’m definitely improving and getting better each time.”
Ross Enamait, trainer of Katie Taylor:
“We’re here to win the fight; we train hard for every fight. This is Katie Taylor’s twelfth World Title fight; this is their twelfth fight period. Every fight is a big fight, we’re coming to win, and we’re here to win on Saturday.
“She’s going to be as sharp as ever; we looked great the last fight; we beat Persoon clear in the second fight regardless and what he’s [Joe Gallagher] saying over here. The fight before that, we looked great; there’s no slide; you’re going to see the best Katie on Saturday.”
Natasha Jonas – Liverpool, England – 9-1-1, 7 KOs – challenging Katie Taylor for her WBC, WBA, IBF, WBO, and Ring Magazine Lightweight World Titles:
“Every time I’m asked to step up, I do, and I perform. Being the underdog for me is no different; I’m always the underdog on the big night. The more you tell me I can’t do it, the more I’ll prove to you that I can.
“You’ve got to remember that going into the Harper fight, we’d just come off a lockdown, financially I didn’t know when I was going to box again, I had the baby 24/7 because the schools were shut, and I was in a bit of pickle of where I was going to go or where my opportunity was going to arise.
“Obviously, we got that opportunity, and the baby came along to all the sessions; she was a big part of that camp. It was great to be back, and I started from down the mountain mentally, physically, emotionally. Now I’m not there; after the Harper fight, I’m at the top of the mountain. I’m starting at the Harper fight and building up from that. Everything says that I’m much better than from the Harper camp, and I know I had to be there.
“I think in boxing, one punch changes everything. I believe I have power; I don’t want to make a prediction or disrespect anybody by saying that. After the traumatic experience of round 8 against Harper, I promised myself that they are learning curves and that they will never happen again. If I get that opportunity, it’ll be the end of the fight.”
Joe Gallagher, trainer of Natasha Jonas:
“It’s good to see the bookies are giving Natasha a better chance against Katie than they did against Terri Harper; that’s good for a start. Its friends reunited, Katie Taylor – what can you not say about her. What she’s achieved, she’s a national hero back in Ireland, what she’s done for female boxing across the world, nothing but respect for her.
“This is the fight business; come Saturday night, this is strictly business. Katie Taylor, she’s the media darling, Natasha Jonas, is going into the fight after a great career performance. She won the WBC Super-Featherweight title, only two people in the world didn’t think she got it, but apart from that, she’s a World Champion in my eyes.
“Natasha Jonas now moving up to Lightweight, here she is now, taking on what people describe as the greatest all-time female fighter. This is a fight that if there were three-minute rounds for women’s boxing, this would be it. If you go back and watch their London 2012 Olympic fight, it was brilliant. But to show how much both have improved since then, it would be better in a 12 x 2 or 10 x 3 contest.
“We’ve got a ten-round sprint here; we’re seeing that with Natasha fight of the year with Teri Harper. We’re going into this fight with the bookies siding with Natasha more; the judges are to come and do what they need to do, not to be here in awe of Katie or Matchroom. They come here and score what happens; Sky has got to commentate on punches landed, not where they’re from or what’s going around.
“Natasha is a strong live underdog, I’m telling you now, Katie Taylor, whether she wants to say it or not, this will be the hardest and most disciplined training camp she’s ever had for any of her fights. She knows the serious threat Natasha Jones brings. They know the threat; what we want in this fight is fairness by the judges and the commentary to score on what’s seen. If everyone does their job, including Natasha and me, we’re going to have a new Undisputed World Champion come Sunday morning.
“Sit back, enjoy your popcorn and enjoy what it is – it’s the biggest female fight the UK and Ireland have ever seen. We’re privileged to be part of it and see this event. We’ll roll onto Saturday night.”
Dmitry Bivol – Saint Petersburg, Russia – 17-0, 11 KOs – defending his WBA Light-Heavyweight World Title against Craig Richards:
“I missed fighting; I’m really looking forward to getting in the ring and making a great fight for all of the boxing fans. I dream of being the Undisputed Champion; I have goals to fight in Saint Petersburg, fight in America, and fight in England. Now I’ve accomplished one of my goals.
“I just believe in my skills; I believe I can beat him and move forward again. Of course, I think about my life; I’m living until May 1st, then we’ll see what will happen. I believe, I trained all my life, I’ve boxed since I can remember, and I have to be the winner.”
Vadim Kornilov, World of Boxing:
“It’s been frustrating for everybody with COVID and everything going on, there are a couple of opportunities, but I’m really excited for Dmitry to have his first debut in the UK. The fans here are great; we’ve had a lot of success with Povetkin, getting a lot of attention.
“This is important for him and his career; I can see the ambition on the other side; I can see the professional team that will make the fight even more exciting. Both guys are coming to win, and both guys have a lot of confidence. We feel very excited, and we look forward to Saturday.”
Craig Richards – Crystal Palace, England – 16-1-1, 9 KOs – challenging Dmitry Bivol for the WBA Light-Heavyweight World Title:
“I believe that I can become the next champion. I’ve come off a good win for the British Title, it’s not like I was in a dark place in my career, and this was the only opportunity. I’ve got momentum in my career; I only took the fight because I believe I can win, and I want more momentum.”
“People talk about me stepping up from the British scene and moving on. My careers have been a bit backward; although it looks like I’ve just won the British and moved on, I’ve been beating unbeaten guys early on in my career.
“If you look at all the other Brits that have pushed on, they’ve had one domestic dust-up and then moved on to the world scene. I’ve had loads of experience; when’s the time to move on – I can’t keep fighting domestically; it’s time to push on; I’ve got enough experience. I’m ready to go.
“I think he’s [Bivol] one of the greatest fighters in the Light-Heavyweight division. This is why he’s perfect for the job. People mentioned the other Light-Heavyweights, sometimes I wasn’t getting mentioned, but I believe I was getting overlooked. Beating someone like Dmitry Bivol, who’s one of the best out there, I’ll get the credit I deserve.”
Peter Sims, trainer of Craig Richards:
“We had a conversation before the Shakan Pitters fight, and I said to him, it’s not about if you win this fight, it’s how you win this fight – this will define whether you’ll step up or stay at the British level for a little while. The way he dismantled Shakan Pitters was a sign for him to step up.
“He’s fifth in the WBO rankings; he’s 3rd or 4th in the British rankings. I believe he’s the best British Light-Heavyweight at the moment.”
“Boxing is made of upsets if we go back to Nigel Benn vs. Gerald McClellan fight, or recently Andy Ruiz Jr and Anthony Joshua, conspiring to upset the boat and beat Dmitry Bivol – I think he can.
“You can’t deny that Dmitry Bivol is a class fighter; his amateur pedigree is absolutely spot on. We’re going into the fight with a total of 100 respect for Bivol. He’s the WBA Super Light-Heavyweight World Champion for a reason.
“His speed is good, he’s got great feet, he’s got the whole package, but we believe with the assets Craig’s got, and what he’s developed and how he’s progressed in the gym, he can do the job and upset the boat.”
Campbell Hatton – Manchester, England – 1-0 – fighting Levi Dunn in a four-round Lightweight contest:
“I learned a lot; the whole week was a great experience for me – I enjoyed every minute. I learned just how hard a game it is, the opponent I faced was a tough, durable lad. I got the 8-ounce gloves on and thought he’s not going to last two rounds with these on. They are tough blokes; you don’t just knock them over. Now I know to keep calm and not try and force things.
“I’ve known Levi, I’ve sparred him and know what to expect. It’s a good thing at this stage in my career to put a bit of a game plan together, which you don’t normally get. That will help me stay calm as well; I know the specific things I need to do. The United top makes things a lot better.
“I think in my first fight, I showed little glimpses of what I can do. I set a high pace to fight, but I didn’t show my boxing brain and the classy work I can do. This time I do want to show that patience and put in a more classy performance.”
Levi Dunn – Prestwich, England – 0-4 – fighting Campbell Hatton in a four-round Lightweight contest:
“I only started boxing when I was 17. From when I started, I always saw myself on Sky and Matchroom. I didn’t think it would happen this fast, but now I’m here.
“I’m just blessed to be here in the first place; with this pandemic, I didn’t think it was going to happen like this. The only fights have been hard out there, but I’ve got to win and try my best. Each fight, I know I’m improving a hell of a lot; it’s only a matter of time before I feel like I’ll be able to beat everyone in my weight class.
“Since we sparred, I’ve had 3 pro fights since then and sparred a lot of top kids, so I feel like I’ve improved a hell of a lot since then.”
Chris Eubank Jr – Brighton, England – 29-2, 22 KOs – fighting Marcus Morrison in a ten-round Middleweight contest:
“That’s what this fight is about, to see if that sauce is still there. I haven’t fought a ten-round fight in a long time; I’ve been out of the ring for a long time. My last fight was in New York end of 2019 and lasted two rounds, so the last real fight was in February 2019. So this is my opportunity to get back in the ring and showcase everything Roy, and I have been working on over the last year and a half.
“We’ve done a lot of work; I have been inactive in terms of not being in the ring fighting, but in terms of what I’ve been doing with Roy at his gym, super active – every day, week in week out. Learning, improving, I’m one of the only fighters in the game that can say during COVID I improved as a fighter, I think I’ve ascended, so it’s just up for me now to go out there and show off the skills.
“What I was doing work for me for a long time, but I got to a point where I realized that once you reach a certain level, you need as much support as you can get, as many eyes on you as possible. Going into the gym on your own schedule, doing what you want, controlling the gym, it’s not necessarily the best way to do things – especially if there’s somebody that can guide you better than you can guide yourself.
“I had a tough time finding that in a trainer, which is why I chose not to have one for so long. In meeting Roy, I found someone I fully trust; when he tells me to do something, I can second guess it. It’s been a very eye-opening experience. Everything happens for a reason, and I think this is the perfect time we met during COVID; I’m pleased.”
Kalle Sauerland, promoter of Chris Eubank Jr:
“That’s what boxing’s about, and it’s about opportunities. But you know it’s exciting to be working with Roy. What a legend and one of my all-time favorite fighters. Roy came in as a bonus, we were talking with Jr before, and we weren’t sure about the relationship between Roy and Chris because everybody was in lockdown and working behind closed doors.
“Chris is one of those talents and personalities that only come around so often, and he reminds me of a throwback to the days of the UK where his dad performed. He’s a combination; he’s a throwback fighter, he’s got the charisma and warrior like his father’s approach, he’s got the bang of Benn, he’s got the speed of Naseem, he’s got the set on him like Collins.
“You’ve got everything you need in a fighter, and now he’s got Roy in the corner. He’s got Wasserman Boxing in his corner, a powerhouse, no disrespect to the other side, but we are here to take over and Saturday in the first step of a massive year.”
Roy Jones Jr, trainer of Chris Eubank Jr:
“I really love the atmosphere, really loved being here. For Joe and me outside the ring, we’ve got to play mental chess as well. We’re here to give our athletes the best opportunities to go out and showcase what they are. This kid has the ability to be anything he wants to be in boxing; I’m sure his kid feels the same.
“When you get a horse that can win the Kentucky Derby, you’ve just got to get him with the right trainer and situation, and the sky’s the limit. That’s what’s happened with Chris; he’s been doing so much on his own and got so far on his own; you’ve got to take your hat off to it. Now that he came to my gym, and he stayed there, he wants to get better; he wants to the top of the heat and wants to win the triple crown.
“I’m so glad to him get this opportunity, so glad to see Marcus get this opportunity; I’m looking forward to being a part of this.
“You never know what God has in store for you; you never say never because you never know. Because we didn’t become rivals [Chris Eubank Sr] or enemies, I’m able to help his son.”
Marcus Morrison – Hattersely, England – 23-3, 16 KOs – fighting Chris Eubank Jr in a ten-round Middleweight contest:
“This is a massive fight for me, and I’m well aware this is levels above what I have previously been in with before. When I got the phone call, there was no way I was turning it down, this is a great fight, and I think it’s going to be full of excitement come Saturday.
“I don’t think being inactive is going to play a massive part in this fight. If you’re a true athlete and professional, you’ll stay in the gym. Even if you’ve not got a fight, you’ll stay in and work on your craft. Both of us are that type of fighter; I believe Chris has stayed in the gym and stayed busy; it’s the same with me. I can’t wait, and the fans are in for a treat.”
Joe Gallagher, trainer of Marcus Morrison:
“It’s a huge opportunity, in my opinion, it will be a rough, tough, rugged type of fight – all action. Obviously, you’ve got Roy Jones Jr; what a legend of a fighter but also a gentleman outside the sport. It’s fantastic to have him here in Manchester; he’s always gracious, kind, and has time for people. Having him involved has added that little bit of spice.
“Marcus has been at this arena 8 or 9 times now. We’ve pushed him once before with Welborn; it was man against the boy at the time. Welborn then went on to win a British Title. Marcus then had a win in Italy, which showed he had power late.
“It’s hard this fight, and I’m a huge fan – I like the kid; he reminded me of Callum Johnson last week. He’s coming for it; he’s having a straightener with you whether you like it or not. It’s a fight. That’s what we like, and I think that’s what boxing is missing nowadays, fighters that want to fight – this kid wants to fight.
“Marcus Morrison, he likes to fight as well; this is going to be a good one. Marcus carries power in both hands, we know he’s an underdog, but when anybody in a fight can punch, you’ve got to be wary and respectful of that. Marcus will be going in there hoping to land; if he lands, it’ll be what happens next. Can he finish? We don’t know. Can Chris survive? We don’t know. We will have a moment in this fight; how the fight plays out after that remains to be seen.
“We had Marcus going over some of Chris’ old fights early one, very sharp. We’ve had Chris in the gym before, I know him, and I can’t talk badly of him; he’s a good fighter. He carries himself well and is a personality in boxing. When the bell goes, it’s down to both Marcus and Chris; Chris will try to implement things Roy has taught him. I’m not going to say they’ve overlooked Marcus, but if eh they have, they could come unstuck Saturday night.”
James Tennyson – Belfast, Northern Ireland – 28-3, 24 KOs – fighting Jovanni Straffon for the vacant IBO Lightweight World Title:
“It’s a huge opportunity for me to put myself up there and earn some fights with the top Lightweights in the world.
“This is it; this is the belt that I need to get me up there. This will put me in a great position; as you said, the other belts are taken, and I want a piece of the action.
“I’m looking forward to a good fight, and these Mexicans have got a reputation for their toughness and durability – they bring it every time. I’m excited, and I love these kinds of fights. This is what I’m up for.
“This has got the makings to be an exhilarating fight. I’m praying, ready, and very confident – I’m looking forward to it.”
Jovanni Straffon – Mexico City, Mexico – 23-3-1, 16 KOs – fighting James Tennyson for the vacant IBO Lightweight World Title:
“I come here for the upset, I come here for the win, and I want all the people in the UK and world to watch me fight.
“He [Tennyson] might fight like a Mexican, but he’s never faced a Mexican so that he can expect a war.”
Scott Fitzgerald – Preston, England – 14-0, 9 KOs – fighting Gregory Trenel in an eight-round Super-Middleweight contest:
“I’m buzzing to be back. It’s been a long time, 18 months; this is all new to me. That’s how long it’s been. I’m looking forward to getting in there Saturday, doing a job, and getting myself back in the mix.
“At one point, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be back in the ring. I’ve been working hard, and I’m happy to be back here and about to get back in the ring. I’ll do a job Saturday night, and I look forward to what’s to come.
“I know that a lot of people want to see that fight again [Fowler]. I think I can do a better job on it as well. I want to get this fight out the way; you’ve mentioned another fight in July; look for one of those big fights, whether it’s the Fowler rematch of whatever – for October time.
“Sometimes things aren’t going great, but it’s not going to be like that for the rest of your life. You get up and keep trying; you’ll get back.”
Gregory Trenel – Dainville, France – 13-6-2, 3 KOs – fighting Scott Fitzgerald in an eight-round Super-Middleweight contest:
“This is the perfect moment for me against a beautiful opposition. I am dangerous for Scott because I’m crazy.”