JOE SMITH, JR. Tips Scales at 173 lbs., ANDRZEJ FONFARA Weighs in at 174.5 lbs. for PREMIER BOXING CHAMPIONS ON NBC – Star Boxing’s Long Island knockout artist Joe “The Irish Bomber” Smith Jr. (21-1, 17 KOs) weighed in at 173 lbs. for his national television debut against another power-puncher, Andrzej Fonfara (28-3, 16 KOs), who tipped the scales at 174.5 lbs. for tomorrow night’s (Saturday, June 18) 10-round main event on Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on NBC from UIC Pavilion in Chicago.
The broadcast begins at 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT and will feature a bantamweight world title rematch that sees current champion Juan Carlos Payano (17-0, 8 KOs) take on three-time U.S. Olympian Rau’shee “Nuke” Warren (13-1, 4 KOs) as they rehash their rivalry that began in August 2015 when Payano won a narrow split-decision to retain his title. Also featured on the telecast is rising star Erickson “The Hammer” Lubin (14-0, 10 KOs) who faces powerful Mexican Daniel Sandoval (37-3, 34 KOs) in a super welterweight contest.
The fighters faced-off at the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza and spoke with media about their upcoming primetime bouts. Here is what the fighters had to say Thursday:
JOE SMITH, JR.
“I’m very excited for this fight and opportunity. I’m here to prove myself to all those who think I shouldn’t be here. Im taking the victory home. I want to prove it to the world.”
“I’m amped up to get in the ring with a high quality fighter like Andrzej Fonfara and put on a show.”
“Our styles are going to make for an exciting fight. I expect a war, but I’m prepared for anything. All I know is, I’m going to end the night with the hand raised.”
“Every fight I go into the ring with the same mentality. Everything is on the line and I want to prove myself to the world.”
PROMOTER JOE DEGUARDIA
“Smith and Fonfara have truly exciting styles. In boxing, to make it to the top you have to beat the guy you’re supposed to beat. Joe Smith knows that this is his opportunity to do just that. I am looking forward to a thrilling fight here in Chicago, be sure to catch it nationwide on NBC.”
“I want to thank everyone who brought this show to Chicago. I’m ready. We’ve had a very long camp. I’ve had great sparring after traveling two weeks in Big Bear and three weeks in Houston. The rest of our camp was in Chicago and it was outstanding.”
“I’m ready for this opportunity. Joe Smith is a young guy who is here to bear me. I have to show him I’m a better fighter in the ring. What we say now doesn’t matter we’ll see everything on Saturday night.”
“I’ve been in a lot of fights, I’ve been the favorite and I’ve been the underdog. I know this is a big fight for Joe Smith and that he’s trained very hard. He is going to be very motivated but I will be too and I will be ready on fight night.”
“Each fight is different. I can’t give him a lot of space to punch. I want to wear him down and finish him. Im taking it round-by-round to get the win.”
“I know he has a big punch, because he wins fights by knockout. But who has he knocked out? The guy who was a little bit better, Will Rosinsky, he went the distance. He has heavy wide punches and we will be ready for him.”
Andrzej Fonfara fights Joe Smith Jr. this Saturday
NBC’s Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) travels to Chicago, Ill., in primetime this Saturday, June 18, live at 8:30 p.m. ET, highlighted by a 10-round light heavyweight bout between Andrzej Fonfara (28-3, 16 KOs) of Poland and New Yorker Joe “The Irish Bomber” Smith Jr. (21-1, 17 KOs) from UIC Pavilion.
NBC’s coverage also features a bantamweight world title rematch between title holder Juan Carlos Payano (17-0, 8 KOs) and three-time U.S. Olympian Rau’shee Warren (13-1, 4 KOs). Having already met in the amateurs, the two faced off again in August 2015 when Payano won a narrow split-decision to retain his title. Also featured on the telecast is rising star Erickson “The Hammer” Lubin (14-0, 10 KOs) facing Daniel Sandoval (38-3, 34 KOs) in a super welterweight contest. Boxing coverage will continue on NBCSN following the NBC telecast at 11 p.m. ET.
Marv Albert calls the action alongside analyst B.J. Flores. Liam McHugh hosts the telecast, with Kenny Rice reporting from ring-side. In addition, 2012 Olympian and undefeated welterweight Errol Spence Jr. will make his broadcast debut as a guest analyst on Saturday’s card. Spence most recently defeated Chris Algieri by knockout on PBC on NBC’s primetime telecast in April.
A LOOK AT THE MATCHUPS
Andrzej Fonfara returns to the ring after defeating Nathan Cleverly in October at UIC Pavilion in a fight that garnered Fight of the Year consideration. That fight featured a record number of punches landed (936) and thrown (2524) for a light heavyweight fight according to CompuBox. Previously, the 28-year-old defeated Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., and lost a decision to world champion Adonis Stevenson in a fight during which both men hit the canvas. A Polish-native but training out of Chicago, Fonfara will fight in the Windy City for the 20th time when he enters the ring on Saturday.
Representing Long Island, N.Y., Joe Smith Jr. looks for his 16th straight victory on Saturday. The 26-year-old won the 2008 New York Golden Gloves with a victory over Sean Monaghan. Smith Jr. picked up the most impressive victory of his career when he defeated veteran Will Rosinsky in Brooklyn.
Two-time Dominican Olympian Juan Carlos Payano defends his title for the second time since winning a technical decision over Anselmo Moreno in September 2014. An accomplished amateur, he won gold at the 2006 Central American and Caribbean games.
A three-time U.S. Olympian from Cincinnati, 29-year-old Rau’shee Warren is determined to make the most of his second shot at a world title. Warren is the 2007 amateur world champion, and the only three-time Olympian in U.S. boxing history. He was the first member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic team to earn a world title shot, and looks to become the first member of that team to capture a world title.
A highly-regarded prospect, the 20-year-old Erickson Lubin fights out of Orlando, Fla. He owns wins over experienced veterans including Orlando Lora, Ayi Bruce, Michael Finney and Norberto Gonzalez. Most recently, he knocked out Alexis Camacho on PBC on NBC in November, and headlined his first card in January, dominating Jose De Jesus Macias in his first 10-round bout.
A winner of 19 of his last 20 fights, Daniel Sandoval enters this fight coming off of stoppage victories over Grady Brewer and Francisco Villanueva. The 25-year-old has won his previous two starts in the U.S. with decision victories over Richard Gutierrez in 2013 and Larry Smith in 2012, and looks to take down the undefeated Lubin on Saturday.
The Premier Boxing Champions series is created for television by Haymon Boxing. The PBC on NBC will feature many of today’s brightest stars, in their most compelling matches.
NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app – NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, tablets, and connected TVs – will stream Premier Boxing Champions coverage. The NBC Sports app, Powered by Playmaker Media, is available on the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Windows Store, Roku Channel Store, Apple TV and Amazon Fire.