Golden Boy Promotions hosted the final press conference Thursday for the big fight card this Saturday, March 2 live on SHOWTIME® (10 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast) and SHOWTIME EXTREME® (8 p.m. ET/PT) from The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in LasVegas.
In the main event of a SHOWTIME BOXING – Special Edition, Cuba’s Richar “El Tigre” Abril (17-3-1, 8 KO’s), of Miami, Fla., will make the first defense of his WBA Lightweight World Championship when he meets unbeaten Ugandan Sharif “The Lion” Bogere (23-0, 15 KO’s), of Las Vegas.
The co-feature on SHOWTIME will feature undefeated, world-rated southpaw Gary Russell Jr. (23-0, 15 KO’s), of Capitol Heights, Md., against Russia’s Vyacheslav Gusev (20-2, 5 KO’s) in a 10-round featherweight bout.
Preceding the SHOWTIME telecast will be live preliminary fights on SHOWTIME EXTREME. Hard-hitting Jorge Melendez (25-2, 24 KO’s), of Manati, Puerto Rico, takes on Ryan Davis (24-9-3, 9 KO’s), of Granite City, Ill., in an eight-round middleweight match and Thomas Williams (12-0, 9 KO’s), of Fort Washington, Md., risks his unblemished record against Kevin Engel (20-7, 16 KO’s), of St. Louis, in an eight-round light heavyweight scrap. Time permitting, Jeffrey Fontanez (10-0, 9 KO’s) of Caguas, P.R., collides with Daniel Attah (27-13-1, 10 KO’s), of Washington, D.C., in a lightweight bout slated for six rounds.
Tickets priced at $150, $100, $75, $50 and $25, plus applicable taxes, fees and services charges, along with a limited number of VIP suite seats priced at $125, are on sale at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Box Office, all Ticketmaster locations, online at www.ticketmaster.com or by phone at (800) 745-3000.
Thursday’s press conference was coming to a quiet and peaceful conclusion when Ken Adams, the veteran Las Vegas trainer of Bogere, stood up from his seat near the dais and asked permission to speak.
“When I watched tapes of your [Abril’s] fights, I couldn’t tell if you were on the track team (because you run so much), or if you were on the wrestling team (because of the way you fight inside),” said Adams, who has worked with numerous world champions including Eddie Cook, Kennedy McKinney, Freddie Norwood, Al Cole, Charles Murray and Stevie Johnson. “The Lion’s last meal is going to be Abril!”
Countered Ricardo Rizzo, Abril’s advisor who was standing off to the side of the dais. “With all due respect to the trainer, Abril isn’t running from anyone and he is ready to fight March 2!”
What the fighters said Thursday:
“I’ve waited for this fight a long time because of the postponements, so I’m happy we’re just two days away.
“I don’t really understand why Bogere talks so much (on Twitter), but I can tell you one thing: on Saturday, I am not going to run.
“I respect Bogere, I respect all fighters, but I’m just saying let’s put on a good show for the fans.
“He’s a lion, but I’m a tiger, and the real king of the jungle is the tiger.”
“I want to thank everyone for being here today. I knew if I stayed positive my time would come and now it’s almost here. I want to thank Golden Boy and my team for making this fight happen.
“On Saturday night, I’m going to take care of business. I’m 100 percent prepared and ready to go. On Saturday, I’ll become champion of the world.”
GARY RUSSELL JR.:
“I think I trained for six and a half or seven weeks, so I am definitely ready to go. I’m looking forward to Saturday, fighting again and fighting on SHOWTIME again.
“I had a good, exciting knockout in my last fight, but I don’t put pressure on myself to duplicate that kind of fight. My job is to perform and win fights.”
“I came all the way from Russia for this fight and I’m here to put on a really great fight. I’ve trained very hard for this. I know Russell is a good fighter. I’m excited about the opportunity that I’m getting.”
“I’d like to thank Miguel Cotto Promotions and Golden Boy Promotions for the opportunity. I want to thank Ryan Davis for accepting the fight. This victory is dedicated to all of Puerto Rico.”
“I want to thank Golden Boy for giving me another opportunity to showcase my skills. Fighting on the undercard of a world title fight brings me a lot more exposure. I’m excited and looking forward to putting on a good show.”
“I’d like to thank Golden Boy for bringing me in for this fight. I think this is a good matchup and that our fight will be the most exciting of the night.”
“It’s a great pleasure for me to be fighting in Las Vegas again. I want to thank my promoters, Miguel Cotto Promotions and Golden Boy for this opportunity. My team has me ready. Like always, I’m very well prepared. I have a tough opponent, but I’ll be the one coming out victorious. I look forward to a good fight.”