Super middleweight champions Badou Jack and James DeGale went face-to-face Thursday at the final press conference before their world title unification showdown that headlines action this Saturday, January 14 from Barclays Center in Brooklyn and live on SHOWTIME.
Mayweather Promotions President Floyd Mayweather discussed the highly anticipated matchup featuring his fighter, Jack, who he has helped go from contender to the top of the 168-pound division.
Televised coverage begins at 9:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. PT with junior lightweight world champion Jose Pedraza taking on undefeated contender Gervonta Davis, both of whom were on hand to speak to media at the Highline Ballroom in Manhattan.
Fighters from the televised undercard in attendance include super bantamweight world champion Amanda Serrano who defends her title against former two-division world champion Yazmin Rivas on SHOWTIME EXTREME. Also in attendance and opening up the telecast at 7 p.m. ET/PT are undefeated middleweights Ievgen Khytrov and Immanuwel Aleem and former title challenger Thomas Dulorme, whotakes on Brian Jones.
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by Mayweather Promotions and DiBella Entertainment, start at $25. Tickets are available now and can be purchased online by visiting www.ticketmaster.com, www.barclayscenter.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000. Tickets are also available at the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center. Group discounts are available by calling 844-BKLYN-GP.
Here is what the participants had to say Thursday:
“I’m just happy to be here and enjoying myself. I can’t wait until Saturday night to become a unified world champion.
“I’m fighting another world champion so I know that it’s not going to be easy. No matter what, we’re getting the job done.
“On fight night, none of the talk matters. You have to back it up in the ring. I’m just excited about the fight. I’m not focused on anything else other than that. I just need to win.
“I’ve been paying attention to DeGale for a while. You have to study your opponent a little bit for a fight this big. I’m ready to do anything it takes to win the fight.
“I promise the fans it’s going to be an exciting fight. Don’t blink, because this one could be over quickly. One punch can change the fight.
“This is champion versus champion. It’s finally here. I’m going to put on a great show and become the unified champion, no matter what it takes.
“To be at Barclays Center in Brooklyn is amazing. It’s a unification fight so it doesn’t get any bigger than that. It’s boxing and anything can happen, but on fight night I’m going to find a way to get the victory.
“This is the most people that have come over from Sweden to support me. It’s fun to have a lot of support back home. I can’t wait to come home as a unified champion.”
“Badou doesn’t do anything spectacularly, but he does everything well. I’ve got to be on top of my game to get the victory.
“I’m prepared if the fight goes 12-rounds or one round. My training has been perfect and it’s all going to come together on fight night.
“It’s a dream come true to fight at Barclays Center. A lot of U.K. fighters have fought in New York and I’m excited to be another. It’s going to be a special atmosphere on fight night.
“I’m expecting to have a lot of support on Saturday night. My profile in America has been growing and I think there will be support in the building. As a young kid you always wanted to come to America and become a star.
“Camp is done. It’s been a wicked camp. Everything has gone well. On Saturday night you’re going to see two world class fighters go to war. I have no doubt that I will be victorious and become the super middleweight unified world champion.
“This is the moment. The time is now and we’re ready. My whole team is primed for a great performance. I’m ready to prove that I’m one of the best fighters in the world.
“I can’t wait to return to the U.K. as a unified world champion. This is a great fight for boxing and it’s going to raise my appeal all over the world.
“I think our styles are going to gel to make a great fight. But don’t be surprised about anything you see in the ring. Enjoy the fight on Saturday night.”
FLOYD MAYWEATHER, President of Mayweather Promotions
“I want to thank everybody for coming out to support this event. The main thing I want to do is thank the fighters. Without the fighters going out there and racking up victories then we wouldn’t be here today for this explosive card.
“I commend James DeGale on his career. He’s done a great job. Badou Jack is very humble, appreciative and dedicated to his craft. These are unbelievable fighters. Saturday we’re looking for another great night of boxing. I think it will be one of the best cards of this year and this is one of the first.
“We have so many new faces at Mayweather Promotions, including Thomas Dulorme, and we look forward to taking him to the next level and back to world title contention.
“Everything takes time in the sport. Nothing happens overnight. We started Mayweather Promotions to give back and help fighters, not take from fighters. I’ve been there, so I know how these fighters feel. It takes a lot to reach this level.
“It takes a lot to get a card of this magnitude together. But I’m a man of my word. I told Gervonta Davis that he would be fighting on TV for a world title. It’s about producing, and that’s what we do at Mayweather Promotions.
“This sport is about the fighters growing and accomplishing their dreams. Helping these fighters is the greatest feeling. I’m always there to help my fighters.
“I’m so proud of Badou Jack. The first time I saw him in the gym, I was curious about him. If a guy is willing to fly overseas and take a bus to the boxing gym to accomplish his dreams, that’s what makes a great fighter.
“I gave a lot to the sport and boxing gave a lot to me. My career is over and it’s time for me to give back. I want to help them accomplish their goals.
“This is going to be a great card. Make sure you tune-in on Saturday night. Two great world title fights on SHOWTIME and another on SHOWTIME EXTREME.”
“I’m very proud and grateful to be here and represent Puerto Rico. I’m ready to get to the fight. I’ve been training for a very long time. It’s been a great camp with a lot of good sparring.
“Davis is a great fighter. He’s very young and talented. He has a good record. But I am the champion. I’m prepared for anything he might bring into the ring.
“I am excited to fight in front of the great Puerto Rican fans in Brooklyn. I think it will help inspire me to give a great performance and defend my belt.
“I’m prepared for everything. I prepare like a champion every day so that we can get into the ring and execute our game plan.
“It’s a great opportunity to share the card with a fellow Puerto Rican in Amanda Serrano and I think the fans are in for a treat. We’re going to bring the heart of the Puerto Ricans into the ring.
“I just hope that he came ready for the fight. Because if he’s not ready, I’m going for the knockout.”
“I’m in fight mode right now. It’s my first world title shot and I had a great training camp. I trained with top amateurs. I know Pedraza will come to fight because he’s a great champion.
“It was a big step up for me when I first signed with Floyd Mayweather. He took me under his wing and helped me do things I’ve never done before. It was new for me, coming from where I come from.
“I know that Pedraza is a great fighter and I have to be ready for anything. I believe in my abilities and the work my team in during training camp. It’s going to be exciting.
“I started fighting for the money, but I lost sight of what I really came to do. I’ve dedicated myself to this team and I’m going to bring my heart and my mind into the ring.
“I’m going to show the fans and everybody watching what I’m really about. I’m not Mike Tyson, I’m not Floyd Mayweather or Sugar Ray Leonard, I’m just Gervonta Davis. On January 14 I will become a world champion.”
“It feels great to be in this position. It’s an honor. Having this spotlight is an amazing thing. I’m coming to show off. I’m not going to disappoint anybody, especially the women in this sport. I’m going to show that we need to be here.
“If you don’t know me, I’m a brawler and a big puncher. I go in there to get the job done. I love to brawl but if I have to box, I’ll box with anybody.
“I know I’m up against a tough Mexican fighter who is going to bring it. I didn’t study her too much. I let my trainers do the work to come up with a game plan. I train hard for every opponent and I train for every style.
“If Rivas stays true to her Mexican style and if I stay true to my Puerto Rican style, then there will be no need for the judges.
“Neither one of us are going to take a step back on fight night. We’re going right to the middle of the ring and we’re going to bring it. I don’t think we’ll even touch the ropes.
“It’s amazing to be fighting at home. It’s just a walk down the block for me. I’m excited to have my friends and supporters there to watch me. I hope everything comes down because it’s going to be a great night. It’s my second fight at Barclays Center and I hope to continue to fight here.”
“I’m very grateful to be fighting on SHOWTIME. I know that Amanda Serrano is going to be a very tough challenge, but I have a lot of experience.
“I am very experienced in the ring and I am going to use it to my full advantage. I’m going to work hard for every round until I’m a world champion.
“I’m here to give a great fight just like we always do when it’s Mexico vs. Puerto Rico.”
“I’m very thankful for everyone who helped get me here. This is the first step on my way to a world title. I believe one day soon I will be champion.
“I’m going to throw a lot of punches and put on a show for the fans. Most fighters can’t handle me when I’m aggressive and coming forward.
“It’s an honor to be on a card like this and to be televised. I can’t wait to hear the fans and start fighting.”
“I feel really good going into this fight. I was born in New York and it’s my first time fighting in New York, so I’m very excited.
“I’m taking on a good opponent with good experience and a great resume. I’m just ready to keep doing what I’ve been doing. I worked hard for this and I’m going to show what I’m capable of in the ring.
“I’m feeling great and very happy to be here and fighting for Mayweather Promotions. New York is my city and I love fighting here with all the great Puerto Rican fans.
“I feel more motivated than ever. Signing with Mayweather Promotions is going to put me on a new run. I have more energy throughout training camp and I’m excited.
“I’m working little by little to improve and get better. I’m coming to be victorious and no one is going to stop me.”
LEONARD ELLERBE, CEO of Mayweather Promotions
“Everyone needs to go out and buy tickets for a great night of boxing. This night will feature three world title bouts and it’s really a can’t miss night.
“SHOWTIME is leading the way when it comes to boxing. They put on the best fights by far. With the great women’s fight on this card and on SHOWTIME, I think this is the start of something great for women’s boxing.
“I can’t say enough about Gervonta Davis and Jose Pedraza. Pedraza is here to represent for Puerto Rico and Davis is here for Baltimore. It’s going to be a war. Both these men are coming to steal the show.
“Gervonta Davis is coming to knock your head off. He’s not leaving it up to the judges. If Pedraza has overlooked him, then he is in for a rude awakening. Davis has had a great camp and come Saturday night, he’s going to take that title.
“I know Badou and his team have a tremendous game plan in place. He’s worked hard to get to this moment and I believe on Saturday night he will be the unified super middleweight world champion.”
LOU DIBELLA, President of DiBella Entertainment
“This is as good as it gets for boxing. To start the year with the best fighting the best, there’s nothing better. Badou Jack and James DeGale are terrific fighters. Badou has had many obstacles in his career, but he just kept getting better and better until you couldn’t deny he was one of the best fighters in the world. James is highly decorated and has a great personality. Both these men have the right to call themselves the best.
“You can get into the arena Saturday night for $25 and that’s good the sport. We’re expecting a great crowd on Saturday night at Barclays Center. Barclays Center is dedicated to a boxing program and they are truly committed to the sport.
“I want to thank Floyd and Leonard for everything leading up to this fight. I met Floyd when he was very young and he always believed he was going to be the best and he lived up to his word. That’s what makes a champion a great champion and now he’s committed himself to being a boxing promoter. It’s been a pleasure to work with his whole staff and I believe they’re here to say.
“The off-television undercard features three fighters who are major ticket sellers and have developed big followings. Adam Kownacki, born in Brooklyn and from Poland. He’s a Golden Glove Champion and he’s moving himself into that contender territory. There will be lots of Polish flags on Saturday night. Julian Sosa is a 21-year-old prospect who also has a big following. Plus Ireland’s Noel Murphy, who will be making his second appearance at Barclays Center. This card is sensational.
“The first fight on SHOWTIME EXTREME features Ievgen Khytrov. He’s ranked number two by the WBC at middleweight He’s fighting a young man in Immanuwel Aleem who is also undefeated and fighting to become a contender. It’s a significant fight in the middleweight division.
“The main event on SHOWTIME EXTREME is historic. This is the first time that a women’s championship fight has been on national television in almost a decade. It’s a real move by SHOWTIME to make the point that women’s boxing has arrived and it’s time to start paying attention to the ladies.
“Jose Pedraza is the only reigning world champion from Puerto Rico. I think he’s one of the best fighters in the world. He has wins over a number of excellent fighters. This is a big opportunity for him. He’s getting an opportunity to be co-featured in New York City. With all the great Puerto Rica fans, he’s not going to let them down.”
STEPHEN ESPINOZA, Executive VP & General Manager, SHOWTIME Sports
“These fights are not mismatches. This isn’t a showcase fight or a tune-up fight. That’s not what SHOWTIME, Mayweather Promotions or Lou DiBella is about. This is about the best fighting the best. High quality competitive fights These are the fights fans have been asking for.
“The main event on SHOWTIME EXTREME is a matchup that’s worthy of this stage. A pound-for-pound women’s champion against a tough former champion. Top to bottom this is a high quality card.
“In the past, the sport and its fans have been spoiled. Floyd Mayweather is retired now. He’s running his businesses and it’s time for the sport to find new stars. These are the kinds of fights that launch new stars. This is where stars are born. These are the fights that the sport needs. You might see a new star born on Saturday night.”
Photo credit: Idris Erba/Mayweather Promotions