BoxingFight Previews

Sergey Kovalev vs. Igor Mikhalkin Press Conference Quotes

Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events
“Hello everyone. It has been a very long, cold winter, but don’t worry. Main Events is now here to heat things up. You can count on us to bring you plenty of hot boxing action this weekend at the greatest venue for boxing in the world, Madison Square Garden.”
“Every single one of the fighters in our lineup for Saturday’s fight has sweated through harder workouts and tougher training than ever in their careers. Many will fight at the Mecca of Boxing for the very first time. Some of them are returning, and that is a big deal, whether you’re a champion, or just starting in a four rounder.”
“In our televised fights, four light heavyweights know that the eyes of the world will be on them and they want to make a big impression. You will want to be part of this.”
“Tickets starting at $50 are still available through Ticketmaster and at the Madison Square Garden box office. Although if you want to sit up in ringside, you can’t, because those are gone. You could also watch it live on HBO World Championship Boxing® starting at 10:05 PM Eastern and Pacific.”
“At the top of our card we have a pair of exciting fights in the red-hot light heavyweight division, which I think is the perhaps most competitive division in this sport. First, we have Sullivan Barrera and Dmitry Bivol. In our main event, two-time Light Heavyweight World Champion Sergey Kovalev will face his tough Siberian countryman and former amateur teammate Igor Mikhalkin.”
“On our non-televised under card, three talented and undefeated Eastern Europeans out of Egis Klimas’ Boxing Laboratory in Oxnard, California, promise to light up the arena. We have Bakhram Murtazaliev of Grozny, who is co-promoted by Main Events and Krusher Promotions, facing Keith McNeil of Birmingham, Alabama in a 10-round super welterweight bout. We have two young gentlemen from Kazakhstan. One, a middleweight named Meiirim Nursultanov, who will be in a battle with Alejandro Torres of Mexico. Rounding out this trio is Madiyar Ashkeyev, also of Kazakhstan, who is making his Garden debut versus tough Dominican, Jose Antonio Abreu in a welterweight showdown.”
“As if that wasn’t enough, how about the return of Vaughn Alexander of St. Louis to New York? Vaughn fought here as a rising star in 2004 and now he’s back 14 years later after getting his life together. What an amazing story. He’s going to be fighting a new opponent because apparently the guy he had been scheduled to fight thought better of it yesterday, and so Jolene [Mizzone, Main Events’ matchmaker], as usual, comes through with a miracle…We may have actually ended up with an even better and more competitive fight.”
“You can expect a big, big show from our heavyweights on this card. Cassius Chaney, clearly, was born to box with that name or at least his father decided he was. First, he was an NCAA scholarship basketball player at the University of New Haven. He graduated, switched sports and now we’ve got him.”
“We never forget our New York fans and we are going to take good care of you on Saturday with the three born and bred local fighters who promise some smoking hot performances. They include Brooklyn’s Frank Galarza, who’s going to return to Madison Square Garden after his big win in November. Frank, when you get to the ring it’s sort of like the main event because it seems like everybody in the arena is there to see him. We’re going to hear a lot of noise.”
“We also have Long Island native LeShawn ‘Lightning’ Rodriguez. He’s generating a lot of buzz and electricity.”
“Back after winning in his professional debut, also from New York, will be Ismael Villarreal of the Bronx.”
“We would like to thank our sponsors, Medoff Vodka and For this card, we are working with Krusher Promotions and World of Boxing, in association with EC Box Promotions. We have Vadim Kornilov, Dmitry Bivol’s manager, and Erol Ceylan of EC Box with us today and I am so happy to see you. Thank you. I also want to thank HBO and especially Peter Nelson, Tony Walker and Ray Stallone for their support. They always have our back, and we will prove worthy of the opportunity.”
Peter Nelson, Executive Vice President, HBO Sports
“I want to thank all the members of the press for being here. I want to thank the fans for continuing to put together the pressure on these fighters to take great fights. I want to thank Madison Square Garden, Joel Fisher, you, your team, Sal Federico, everyone, and your continued support of the sport of boxing”
“Sergey Kovalev and Dmitry Bivol are two of the brightest lights in the light heavyweight division. Bivol is one of the most exciting new entrants at HBO. His career has been nothing short of meteoric in recent days. We’re excited to see what he does on Saturday night against a great opponent.”
“Sullivan Barrera and Igor Mikhalkin stand a shot at creating one of the biggest upsets this year. We’re excited to see what kind of fireworks fly on Saturdaynight. As Kathy mentioned, they’re going to be great fights the show underneath, so if you can make it into the arena and get a ticket, absolutely do that and set your DVR for HBO. Our start time is 10:05 Eastern. We look forward to seeing you all there Saturday night. Thanks very much.”
“I want to thank everyone here at the mecca of boxing, Madison Square Garden. Especially Sal Federico, Larry Torres and of course last, but certainly first, Joel Fisher, Executive Vice President of Madison Square Garden Marquee Events.”
Joel Fisher, Executive Vice President of Madison Square Garden Marquee Events
“First of all, it’s a great couple of weeks here at the Garden. We’ve got the Big 10 Tournament starting tonight, followed up by the Big East Tournament next week. Come Saturday night, we’ve got an incredible boxing match. Two world titles will be on the line Saturday night and it’s going to be a great start to what will be another great boxing season here at Madison Square Garden. Kathy and Jolene, it’s great to work with you again. You put together a great card, and the boxing fans will definitely have a great night here.”
“I’d like to welcome back Sergey Kovalev to The Garden. His performance in November was tremendous. It was a clear message that ‘The Krusher’ is back. We look forward to your resurgence continuing in the light heavyweight division. Igor Mikhalkin is a former European Light Heavyweight Champion and currently on a 10-fight winning streak. That will absolutely prove to be a great, great fight and an exciting night.”
“As Kathy and Peter mentioned, what a great co-main event. WBA Light Heavyweight World Champion Dmitry Bivol, who we have gotten to know some. He’s an undefeated hot, young fighter, who some say, will be the future in this division. He makes his Garden debut here against his mandatory challenger Sullivan Barrera, who also was here recently and beat Felix Valera last November in a great fight.”
“Both of these fights are fights that you don’t want to miss. We’re thrilled to host this great event, to have another great night of boxing in front of the best boxing fans in the world. It’s a great card, top to bottom. As Kathy mentioned, we’re just thrilled to work with her. All of our friends at Main Events, and of course, Peter Nelson and HBO, and the great job they do. We look forward to seeing everybodySaturday night, which will definitely be a great night of boxing.”
“To the media present and watching live at home, thank you for your time. You have a lot of things competing for your attention. We know that. I say with confidence, you made the right choice coming here today to join us and you will make the right choice when you join us on Saturday.”
“I don’t have to tell anyone in this room that the light heavyweight division is on fire right now. We should invite the FDNY to be here on standby Saturday for the televised fights. Cuban Sullivan Barrera is currently 21-1, 14 KOs and he steps up to challenge WBA Light Heavyweight World Champion Dmitry Bivol of Russia. Bivol has 10 knockouts in 12 fights and is undefeated.”
“Both Sullivan and Dmitry had distinguished amateur careers. Sullivan is a former member of the Cuban National Team. He defected from Cuba in 2009 and quickly made a name for himself in the light heavyweight division, winning his first 17 bouts, with 12 of those coming by way of knockout. He’s won four fights since his only loss. That includes a victory in 2017 over the very hot Joe Smith Jr. He is managed by Luis Molina, who tells me he will let trainer Derik Santos and Sullivan do the talking for him. First, I’m going to bring up Derik Santos.”
Derik Santos, Trainer of Sullivan Barrera
“Thank you everybody for being here. I would like to thank first of all, our manager Luis Molina, who allows us to make everything happen, to Main Events and Kathy for having us here. Peter, HBO, our home gym of Boca PAL, because they really support us and let us do what we need to do back at home. Mike Horner, Gil Gastelum, Ben Lira, Chris Algieri, who we brought into this camp. They’ve all been very supportive and helped us. Finally, to Sullivan Barrera who is absolutely as dedicated as you would want an athlete to be, as a coach.”
“We are here to do, once again, what we’ve been doing since we got together. Walking through the fire together. I’m going to keep it short. I know Bivol’s a talented young man, but we’re going to do what we’ve been doing, we are going to attempt to flip the picnic table right over and stop the party. That’s what we’re going to do here. That’s what we came to do here. Thank you.”
Sullivan Barrera
“Good afternoon, everyone. First, I want to say thank you, and my promoter Kathy Duva and Main Events, Peter Nelson, HBO, Bivol team, Bivol for taking the fight, for this opportunity. This is the dream for me. Fighting for a title fight. I hope Saturday night we can put great show for the boxing fans. Thank you.”
“This is truly a 50/50 fight, and Sullivan knows what he’s up against. Dmitry Bivol is the definition of a knockout artist. This is Dmitry’s first professional fight at Madison Square Garden. His English is really impressive after training in Los Angeles, and we also have Dmitry’s manager, Vadim Kornilov, who would like to say a few words.”
Vadim Kornilov, Manager of Dmitry Bivol
“It is a pleasure to have a fight at such a legendary arena. We appreciate the support of Madison Square Garden. It has been kind of a dream to have one of our fighters fight here one day and it’s coming true. We appreciate team Barrera. It’s going to be a great night. It’s definitely a 50/50 fight, like Kathy said, and anything can happen. It’s the first opponent of this magnitude that Bivol is fighting. It is this type of fight that we are very nervous about as well. I would expect fireworks from both of the main and the co-main event Saturday night.”
“Just wanted to say thank you to HBO and Peter Nelson for always having a great eye for talent and always bringing on these types of fights onto the network. I want to say thank you to Main Events. The whole team, it’s been a pleasure working with you, as well as World of Boxing, the co-promoter for Dmitry Bivol. Andrey Ryabinsky has actually asked to pass on a message to the press and everybody. He is not going to be able to be here. He wanted to make sure that we mention that it is a great pleasure for him to have one of his fighters fight on a TV network as large as HBO and he appreciates that opportunity. He appreciates the business with Main Events and how great that has been going. It’s been a very, very pleasant experience for all of us. Thank you to everybody, and I would like to bring up WBA World Champion in the light heavyweight division, Dmitry Bivol.”
Dmitry Bivol – WBA Light Heavyweight World Champion
“Hello everyone. I wanted to say thank you for coming, and thank you my promotion, World of Boxing, and promotion of Main Events, and I wanted to say thank you Madison Square Garden. I really glad to be here. Of course, thank you HBO for this chance for me and especially Peter Nelson. Thank you, Sullivan for taking this fight. I hope we will make good fight and people will be glad after. Thank you.”
“I also would like to thank Andrey Ryabinsky and all the people at World of Boxing. It has been a pleasure working with them and we look forward to continuing to work together in the future.”
“Now for the main event. Sergey Kovalev is back. He’s back on top as the WBO Light Heavyweight World Champion but his opponent is not intimidated. He’s not intimidated by appearing here at Madison Square Garden for the first time, not by facing an old friend, someone he’s known since they were young boxers training as amateurs in Russia many years ago. Igor Mikhalkin says that now he looks back and he believes he was destined to fight Sergey Kovalev from the start and that day is Saturday.”
“Igor may not be familiar to you but one thing I can tell you, he’s hungry. He wants to introduce himself to the American fans by making a very big impressionon Saturday. Igor is going to come up here now, but first I’m going to bring up his promoter Erol Ceylan, who will introduce the team.”
Erol Ceylan, Promoter EC Box Promotions
“First of all, I want thanks Kathy Duva for the opportunity to take this fight and also I want to thank HBO. What I want to say about Igor Mikhalkin, he has a lot of courage to take the fight against Sergey Kovalev. We want to thank Sergey for this opportunity and it is a pleasure to take the fight. I hope it will be a very great fight because Mikhalkin is a good worker and he proved himself in Europe, but there are not enough opponents who can move more. He thinks here in US, are the best of this division and he want to show a big fight. After that, he hopes to make a great career in the States. Thank you.”
Igor Mikhalkin
“Thank you very much for Madison Square Garden, for HBO, and Kathy Duva, to Sergey Kovalev for taking the fight. I am very happy to be in New York and fight in Madison Square Garden and I hope that on Saturday the third, we will have a wonderful, exciting fight for all of you to see.”
“If life is all about lessons learned, and I promise you it is, I am here to tell you Sergey Kovalev has earned his PhD and graduated with honors. To lose after being world champion, such a dominant world champion, it’s a bitter blow. Some guys never recover from that but a rare few take an honest look at the way they are doing things. They change what needs to be changed. No matter how difficult, no matter what you have to give up to do it, this is hard. Sergey is not afraid of hard, as we all know. Sergey was honest with himself about his travel and lifestyle. He brought in a new trainer, Abror Tursunpulatov, and he has handed over control to him.”
“Sergey is the most focused and probably in the best shape I’ve ever seen him. People who had seen Sergey in recent months keep telling us the same thing. How fresh and fit he looks and how happy. The truth is, Sergey has not just changed his attitude. He’s changed his life. Don’t get me wrong. He’s happy to keep crushing his opponents in the ring. For those of you who are as old as me, and know about this reference, as The Who say, ‘Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.’ Sergey is here with his manager, and my dear friend, Egis Klimas.”
Egis Klimas, Manager of Sergey Kovalev
“Good afternoon, everybody. Happy to be here back again at New York City. I wanted to thank the media, Madison Square Garden, HBO, Mikhalkin for giving this opportunity to Sergey to show up.”
“I wanted to talk a little bit about undercard, what there is going to be. Many people come just for the main event, or co-main event, televised fights, because fights are getting boring nowadays. Take my word, we have four undercard guys, which are represented by me. They are very, very excited. Don’t count just on the co-main event and the main event. If you have a chance, come over right from the beginning. You are going to see very, very excited fights. I don’t know whose mission was this for the main event, but as right now, all the things going on in the world, probably they wanted to put two Russians in the ring and looking at beating each other, just to represent American fans. Just a joke.”
“I don’t remember when we saw on the main event, Showtime, HBO, two Russians coming into the fight and trying to fight. I think it’s going to be a very good night,Saturday night. Don’t miss it!”
“Actually, to echo Egis’ comments, I think based on the looks of the light heavyweight division at the moment, two Russians fighting for the title is going to become pretty normal. Without further ado, as always, my deepest pleasure to be able to introduce to you the light heavyweight champion of the world, Sergey Kovalev.”
Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev, Two-Time Light Heavyweight World Champion
“I am really happy back to in New York at Madison Square Garden. This is right now my favorite place to fight. Really appreciate it, Joel Fisher, and also thanks to HBO to show this fight on TV, to my promoter, Kathy Duva. Also, to thanks to team of Igor Mikhalkin who came from Russia. Right now, I can say that we met with Igor since amateur, when I was maybe 17 years old. We were like friends, but only friends can beat each other and won’t be upset on each other, you know? I can say that, and be sure that Saturday night will be interesting fight because we will beat each other very, very hard and my goal to defend the title. His goal, to get this title. It will be very interesting fight. Thank you for your support, and I love you, boxing fans. God bless you. Thanks.”
“Thank you, Sergey. I think that about says it all. As far as we are concerned here at Main Events, the boxing winter is over. I think that we know there are two world champions on this card. Those of you who come early enough to see the undercard, I think you will be able to someday say that you saw more than two world champions on Saturday night because they are all terrific, young fighters. I think that quite a few of the guys in that position are going to make it someday.”
“Once again, tickets starting at $50 still available through Ticketmaster and at the Madison Square Garden box office. You can watch live on HBO World Championship Boxing® starting at 10:05 PM Eastern and Pacific. My thanks to all the talented and dedicated people working hard to put on this impressive show on Saturday. People you have no idea about working in the background, especially our 2015 NABF Matchmaker of the Year, Jolene Mizzone. The guys have to do the work, but Jolene makes the magic happen. Did it again this morning by finding a better replacement of pulling it out of her who knows what, better than the one we had in the first place. Will you please give Jolene and the rest of my staff an applause? They really are the best. Jolene is still making matches as we speak.”
About March 3:  The Saturday, March 3 main event between Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev and Igor Mikhalkin is a 12-round match-up for the WBO Light Heavyweight World Title at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The co-main event features WBA Light Heavyweight World Champion Dmitry Bivol versus Sullivan Barrera in a 12-round title fight. Tickets range from $50 to $300 and are available online at and at the Madison Square Garden box office. The event is promoted by Main Events, Krusher Promotions and World of Boxing in association with EC Box Promotions, is sponsored by Medoff Vodka and and will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing® beginning at 10:05 p.m. ET/PT.
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Lukie Ketelle

Lukie Ketelle