Eddie Hearn, Matchroom Sport Chairman:
“Good afternoon everyone. It’s an absolute pleasure and an honour to be here in Abu Dhabi at the incredible Pixoul Gaming facility. It’s the first time any major event has been held here and it’s an incredible turnout ahead of what is a historic moment for the sport of boxing, and of course for Abu Dhabi and Matchroom Boxing as well.
“A few months back we had the vision when we sat down with the DCT to change the face of boxing here, to make Abu Dhabi a destination for the elite level of the sport. On Saturday night we bring you an incredible night of boxing. There’s a lot of talk at the moment about fights falling through and not happening – Saturday night is a celebration of how good this sport is. Of course the main event, Dmitry Bivol, the WBA Light-Heavyweight World Champion and now on the pound-for-pound list after his victory against Canelo Alvarez, agains the former Super-Middleweight World Champion Zurdo Ramirez, 44-0. This is one of the best fights in boxing. But not just one of the best fights in boxing, one of the best cards in boxing from top to bottom.
“When we talked about coming here when we sat down with the DCT we wanted to make an impression. We wanted to show the people here and around the world on DAZN how great this sport is. This undercard is sensational. Women’s boxing is on fire right now on the back of Taylor vs. Serrano as Madison Square Garden and Shields vs. Marshall at The O2, we have a fight that I believe could potentially top them all. The Undisputed Super-Lightweight World Championship between Jessica McCaskill and Chantelle Cameron.
“The IBF Super-Featherweight World Championship between Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov and Zelfa Barrett. Olympic gold medallist Galal Yafai, former World Champion Kal Yafai, Campbell Hatton, Aqib Fiaz, Emirate fighters looking to progress onto the world stage as well. This is an incredible night of boxing at the Etihad Arena and we cannot wait to get the Champion Series underway with the DCT here in Abu Dhabi. It’s a big moment for us at Matchroom Boxing and a big moment for the sport.”
“Firstly, thank you for making this fight. I’ve been wanting to do it for a long time. What a place Abu Dhabi is. It’s unbelievable. Me and my team are all having a great time. Jessica, you think you’re going to hurt me? When I land on your chin, your face is going to drop. I’m telling you now. You’ll see. Anyway, talk is cheap. I’ve done all of my hard work, I’m enjoying this week and I’m enjoying this moment. Bring on Saturday and shutting her up.”
“I’m very excited about the opportunity, it’s definitely a dream come true. Once you get to that level, obviously you start thinking, ‘okay what’s the next biggest thing?’. For right now, being in Abu Dhabi is such a pleasure, everybody has been so nice and we’ve had such an amazing talk. When you talk about the fight itself, I have to say, Chantelle you really don’t understand what you’ve got yourself into on Saturday. The last girl I fought, she begged her coach to stop the fight. She argued with her coach after three rounds because she thought she was going to die. She wanted to go home to her kids. Now I’m moving down in weight I hope you don’t think I’m not going to bring that power. It’s coming on Saturday. Like the gentleman said on the end – this is the hurt game and I’m very good at my job. I take this very seriously.”
“Hello everybody. All glory to Allah. Thank you to my team. We are ready. 100%. We come here to take the belt. First of all, want to demonstrate myself at the top level. Respect to my opponent. I’m just trying to perform to the best I can. I’m the top of this weigh and I’m still there.”
“No doubt. I do believe I’ll become a World Champion. I’m in the ring with a great fighter. Rakhimov is a good fighter. I’ve studied him. He’s got good trainers behind him but I believe in myself. I’ve been in the gym. This is the moment I’ve been waiting for all of my life. Every single tool in my box is going to come out. I’m cool and I’m ready. It’s going to happen, and I’m ready to become a World Champion.
“Timing is everything in life. It’s just funny how it happened. Obviously with Joe and his hand injury, he got stripped and I’m next up. When I was thinking about the real side of boxing, I was thinking ‘hmmm I could be a World Champion next year or later on, Joe will fight Rakhimov and I’ll get the winner – there might be a unification fight so I might have to wait again’. It’s just come at the right time. Like I say, I’ve been in the gym. I’ve been training and I’m ready. My time is now.
“He’s a very good fighter. I respect him as a fighter. He won the IBO World Title. I keep saying it, he’s a good fighter – but I believe in myself This level is about belief. It’s not about anything else, and I believe in myself. I truly believe I’ll be a World Champion, I believe it.”
“Thanks for putting me on such a great show, I really appreciate it. It’s brilliant to be on such a big show in Abu Dhabi – it’s a great place. I’m with my brother Kal and all of these other great fighters. I’ve got a tough fight on Saturday but I’m hoping to get through that and just move forward.
“I’m professional, I don’t want to look past this guy on Saturday. It’s meant to be a step up, but it’s only a step up if I make it difficult for myself. Sometimes I think I’m not sure if you’re putting the pressure on me or you think I’m actually that good! I don’ t know if it’s a compliment or not. I’ve just got to keep winning, keep looking good and maybe I can fight the other guys in the future.”
Gohan Rodriguez Garcia:
“First of all I’d like to say thank you to everyone for being here and for the opportunity. I am going to get into the ring and give everything I have. The winners will be the public because they will see a good fight because I will give everything I have.
“It makes me very happy to hear some of the names Eddie Hearn is suggesting for me to fight next should I beat Galal Yafai on Saturday. That’s the opportunity that every fighter would be looking for so I hope that on Saturday I get the result that I have been working for.”
Majid Al Naqib:
“Thank you Eddie. I want to thank Matchroom, Frank and all of the guys around this great event. Thank you guys for having me, DCT, my coach – I love you and thank you for everything you have done for me. Honestly, I can’t wait for Saturday night. I want to show these gentlemen what I’ve got! It’s the hurt business Eddie, you know that. I’ve been here a long time. 7 years I’ve been hustling and it’s time to show what I have. I’ve got nothing to say. I just want to enjoy the moment, I want to fight and I want to give it all on Saturday night.”
“It’s been a long time but I’m glad and happy. I can’t wait for Saturday night. Two-weight World Champion, and I know you’re the man to make it happen. But Saturday night I’ve got to get this business done. It’s massive for us as an Arab family. It’s a pleasure to be here, and I wouldn’t mind fighting here again. I’ve been loving it so far. Abu Dhabi has been great to us this week. I just can’t wait for Saturday.
“Thank you for the opportunity Eddie. I’ve been preparing for this fight for six months and I’m ready to put on a performance on Saturday night. Jerwin Ancajas has been a sparring partner of mine and it has helped me prepare fully for this fight.”
“I’ve had a smile on my face all week. I’m having it off here. I can’t believe I’m here. I didn’t believe I’d be here until Monday. I’ve got quite a few people coming over as well. Thank you Eddie for the opportunity. I’m just ready to put on a show on Saturday. I cannot wait to go.
“I posted a photo the other day of me and Zelfa sparring six years ago and it was exactly to the day yesterday. I was talking to Pat, and we were talking about how people never show you where they come from. They always show you where they are and what they’re going. I take nothing for granted. God has been kind. We’re here and I’m just ready to go on Saturday. It’s going to be a big night for all of us.”
“It’s like a little holiday for us. Obviously the mind is on the job when we’re training and when we’ve got the gloves on. On fight night the mind will be well and truly on the job. For staying relaxed and keeping a cool head for the fight week we couldn’t have it much better. We’ve been sat around the pool, and me and Matt (Hatton) need the sun! It’s been great for us and I’m just looking forward to putting in a relaxed performance on Saturday as well.
“We’ve been seeing improvements, and again it’s been because I’ve been more relaxed, but I’ve still reverted back to going into tear-up mode a little bit and trying to do a little bit too much. I can’t keep saying we’re seeing glimpses and it’s coming and then anything other than a relaxed performance from start to finish this week won’t be good enough. I’ve got a good opponent who is going to be aggressive and help me show off more of a skilful side of my game which I’ve not shown as much as I’d like to yet.”
Fahad Al Bloushi:
“Thank you everyone for coming through. Thank you to Eddie for putting me on this amazing platform. I’m just really excited to be on such a big platform and to perform at a big stage, not just any stage but at the Etihad Arena with Matchroom. I’m excited to showcase my talent to the people of the UAE. This is a big dream come true for me so I just want to thank you all for the opportunity. I think that’s what we need – we just need a couple of names to be boxing at a high level and to perform at a high level stage. I want to be that person. It’s a good opportunity for kids to look up to us and say, ‘I want to be like that fighter’. It might inspire them to go to a boxing gym and learn to what to do. Hopefully I can become like that one day.”