Undefeated WBA Interim Light Heavyweight Titlist Dmitry Bivol and streaking challenger Samuel Clarkson made weight on Thursday for their 12-round main event tomorrow/Friday on ShoBox: The New Generation live on SHOWTIME® (10p.m. ET/PT) from MGM Grand National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.
(Photo credit Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME)
The fast-rising Bivol (9-0, 7 KOs) earned his interim belt in just his seventh professional fight while Clarkson (19-3, 12 KO’s) enters Friday’s main event on a nine fight winning streak.
Undefeated welterweight prospects Malik Hawkins (10-0, 7 KOs) and Carlos Soto (13-0-2, 7 KOs) meet in the eight-round co-feature. Hawkins, a Baltimore native trained by Calvin Ford, is a stablemate of IBF Junior Lightweight Champion Gervonta Davis.
In the opening bout of the telecast, Baltimore native Glenn Dezurn (8-0, 6 KOs) takes on former amateur standout Leroy Davila (5-0, 3 KOs), of New Brunswick, N.J., in an eight-round matchup of undefeated super bantamweights.
Tickets for the event, which is promoted by Greg Cohen Promotions and Banner Promotions in association with World of Boxing and Uprising Promotions, are priced at $103, $73 and $48 and can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com or by phone at 800.745.3000.
Dmitry Bivol: 174 ½ Pounds
Samuel Clarkson: 173 ½ Pounds
Malik Hawkins: 146 Pounds
Carlos Soto: 148 ¼ Pounds
Glenn Dezurn: 120 ¾ Pounds
Leroy Davila: 119 ¾ Pounds
“The plan was to become world champion in my first 10 fights. We’re almost there.
“Clarkson is a big light heavyweight, but I have fought bigger guys. This is a tough fight, but we were willing to take a risk for this opportunity to fight on TV.
“I did have a transition from amateur to pros. The WSB helped that transition and gave me experience. I’ve been able to learn from fight to fight, and I’ve gained experience in each fight.
“I’ve been trying to be more aggressive and control the pace of the fight. I’m comfortable going forward and backward.
“We’ll feel out the power and timing in the beginning. I know what people expect of me – they want the KO – and if the opportunity comes I’ll try to finish him.
“Working at Wild Card has been a big difference. Training in the U.S. is completely different. In Russia it’s mostly amateurs, so you get used to the wrong style. Most of what I’ve learned has been from sparring with pros here in the U.S.
“Clarkson usually comes forward. He seems uncomfortable moving back. We think we can use our advantages to cap on his mistakes and get him out of his comfort zone.”
“I’m not an underdog. I’ve fought my way up here to this position and the winning streak. I feel like I’ve proven myself to be here. My losses have helped me get to where I am. I know I belong here.
“I’ve never been one to get knocked down and stay down. I’m ready for whatever comes. The pressure isn’t on me. I just need to do my thing.
“I’ve been in some wars. I know what it’s like to get knocked down. He hasn’t been there before. I need to stand my ground. I’m not backing up.
“I want to see what the hype is about. His whole career is my winning streak.
“I’ve been sparring with top quality guys. I’m ready for this fight. It’s a big opportunity and I don’t feel any pressure.
“He hasn’t been in wars like we have. It’s hard when you face a guy like me that isn’t afraid of you. He’s one dimensional. We want to make him as uncomfortable as possible.
“We’re coming to take his belt. He’s going to have to stop us from taking it. He’s never faced anyone like me – a really fast fighter with a lot of power.”
“I’ll do whatever it takes. If I have to come forward, I’ll come forward. If I have to box, I’ll box.
“Hawkins a smart fighter, fast, tall. He likes to fight at a distance. I need to pressure him to win the fight.
“I’ve faced fighters as tall as him before. This isn’t new for me.
“I’ve only been in the U.S. once before, and I’ve never fought here. I need to take advantage of this experience.
“My goal is to go for it. I want to be the best in my weight class. Everything starts now for me.”
“I grew up with Gervonta (Davis). I saw him win the title, I’ve seen his success, and now it’s my turn. It’s been great motivation for me. For him to become a champion motivated me even more.
“We’ve sparred 1,000’s of rounds with Gervonta. We’ve been in there with the champ and know it’s our time.
“We’re here to prove we’re ready. We don’t want to take any shortcuts. We’re taking this one fight at a time. We’re building and building.
“I’m tall, but I have an inside game. I fight inside better than a short fighter.
“People don’t want to take the chance to fight me. Credit to Soto for taking the fight, but he’s going to learn the hard way why no one wants to fight me.”
“We knew this was coming some day and now it’s here. We know all about Dezurn. He’s the perfect opponent for us. We know can break him down.
“When I didn’t make the Olympic team, I got right over it. But I wasn’t sure I was going to turn pro. I have a family to take care of and I can’t let anything distract me from being a father. But now I’m 5-0 and fighting on national TV. This is the moment I’ve been waiting for.
“Dezurn is an aggressive and has a lot of heart, but I’m not worried about him. I need to focus on myself.
“A win puts me in the conversation with the other up-and-coming fighters. A win could really change my career.”
“Sparring with my wife helps me. She hits like a dude. She’s taught me a lot – she taught me discipline. We push each other in the gym; we make each other better fighters.
“If you can make an adjustment with a sharp female woman, there’s no reason you can’t do it with a man.
“I like to break down my opponents. I become aggressive when I see a weakness.
“I’m ready to fight. I’m ready to get in there. I worked hard and now it’s time to have fun.
“I sparred with Rau’Shee (Warren) for this fight. He has tremendous talent. He’s an inspiration for me. We also sparred with Vasyl Lomachenko for this fight. You have to be physically and mentally in shape to fight him.”
Dmitry Bivol talks Samuel Clarkson
Undefeated former Russian amateur standout Dmitry Bivol will defend his Interim WBA Light Heavyweight Title against Samuel Clarkson in the 12-round main event of ShoBox: The New Generation on Friday, April 14 live on SHOWTIME (10 p.m. ET/PT) at The Theater at MGM National Harbor in National Harbor, Md., just outside of Washington, D.C.
Known for his aggressive style, the 26-year-old Bivol (9-0, 7 KOs, 2-0 WSB) was a decorated amateur and former Russian National Champion at 178 pounds, who is now determined to make his mark in one of boxing’s toughest weight classes. Clarkson (19-3, 12 KOs), of Cedar Hill, Texas, has won his last nine fights in a row and will make his third appearance on ShoBox.
Bivol is managed by Los Angeles-based Vadim Konilov and trained by Gennady Mashianov. He has recently ended his sparring sessions at both Wild Card Gym and Wild Card West in Southern California where he has been training in the same camp with fellow countryman and 2010 European super heavyweight amateur gold medalist Sergey Kuzmin.
Here’s a quick question and answer session through an interpreter after visiting with Bivol at the apartment where he has been residing for the past five weeks in the heart of Hollywood.
Question: Overall, how would you assess how your training camp went?
Bivol: “I think that training camp went very good. One of the reasons I decided to come to Southern California to train was that there are so many different sparring partners here. We had a very spirited camp and I consider myself ready for the fight.”
Question: What kind of fight do you expect from such a strong opponent as Samuel Clarkson?
Bivol: “I’m expecting for him to get in the ring and push himself and come forward. I know he’ll come out aggressive and try to put the pressure on me. We’ll see.”
Question: You are young and have only nine pro fights, but are already fighting to defend an interim world title. Are you happy with the way your pro career has started?
Bivol: “To be honest, I don’t really ever think about the belt and the interim title. For me the main WBA belt is the most important one and I want to stay at the top of the rankings to get it. As far as my career going too fast, I don’t believe so. I think I have more than enough experience in the amateurs and that I’ve aligned myself with the best trainer and sparring partners out there. So I’m happy where my career is at right now. I don’t think it’s progressing too fast.”
Question: There are some that are picking this fight as 50/50? Why do you think they are predicting this fight can go either way?”
Bivol: “This is boxing and I think there are a lot of fights that are 50/50. Anything can happen. You never know; upsets can happen at any time. For me this is step-up fight. Not only because of how good my opponent is, but also because of what it means to me. Winning this fight will open the door to many opportunities.”
Question: How important is it to put on a good show and put on an exciting performance fighting in your first main event on SHOWTIME?
Bivol: “Sure everything is amped up a little bit more because it’s on SHOWTIME. But every time I step into the ring I want to put on a good show for the fans. This time, probably a little bit more so, but the most important thing is to get the win.”
Question: Is there one weaknesses you have worked on during this training camp?
Bivol: “I don’t think there are any weaknesses, so it’s been like any other training camp. I can’t talk about what I’ve been preparing for from my opponent. You will have to wait and see it in the ring.”
Question: What do you think about training in Southern California?
Bivol: “I love everything about it. The best thing though is the weather. In my hometown city in Russia, St. Petersburg, we don’t have weather like this. I like the atmosphere here and the people and where we train. I just like it all.”
Question: You have a large collection of amateur medals. Where are they displayed?
Bivol: “I keep them all in one place in my parents’ home. We don’t think we deserve them all. It is something they are very proud of.”
Question: What do you think about the other top Russian boxers like Ruslan Provodnikov and Sergey Kovalev?
Bivol: “I respect them all. There are some that are very famous in Russia, but also very famous here. And I see that. They are really good fighters and I’m ready to be at that same level, if not even at a higher level. I’m not in this sport just to stay in shape, I’m here to show and prove that I can be the best in the world.”
Tickets for the event, which is promoted by Greg Cohen Promotions and Banner Promotions in association with World of Boxing and Uprising Promotions, are priced at $103, $73 and $48 and can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com or by phone at 800-745-3000.
Barry Tompkins will call the ShoBox action from ringside with Steve Farhood and former world champion Raul Marquez serving as expert analysts. The executive producer is Gordon Hall with Rich Gaughan producing and Rick Phillips directing.