BIBA Boss Plea for Help to Evacuate Afghan Boxers, Olympians and Athletes

By Gianluca Di Caro, Vice President British & Irish Boxing Authority (BIBA)

Now that the evacuation of UK and USA Military as well as officials and Afghans that worked directly for the Embassies, Military and NGOs of these two countries, most people, especially those still in hiding in Afghanistan and the UK public, seem to think that means the evacuation process is over as there had been no statement stating the process will continue, that is until this morning when Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab made a statement on BBC News.

Whilst unable to say when the evacuations of those vulnerable Afghan people, who had not directly worked for governments or military, would be able to restart, he did say that negotiations were taking place with bordering countries so the evacuation could continue.

This is good news for the many groups assisting Afghan people that are in danger, including ourselves, the British & Irish Boxing Authority, who are attempting to evacuate more than twenty male boxers, ten female boxers and their families as well as Athletes and Officials from the Afghanistan National Olympic Committee and the International Tennis Federation.

Many of the organisations, again like ourselves, have received little or no assistance or advice from the Government or exposure of the plight of the vulnerable Afghan People who are in danger of severe beatings or even death if they remain in the country.

Whilst I cannot speak of the experiences of the other groups, though I have been told about some of them, I can say what has been our experience over the past two weeks.

Initially we tried to locate twelve Afghan boxers licensed by ourselves via a social media campaign. Within hours we located ten of them. 

We then began compiling a document containing all the information required to apply for Asylum status, including a short explanation of why they are at risk.

We then began contacting Government departments, including the Home Office, who we already deal with on a regular basis when arrange visas for overseas boxers that would be competing on UK events.

Unfortunately the phones were permanently engaged and we received no response to our initial e.mail, I suppose that is understandable as there would have been tens of thousands of Afghans, as well as their relatives calling for information regarding the evacuation as well as asylum processes etc at that time.

We then began contacting organisations such as the UN HCR, who were extremely helpful and provided us information re the UK Asylum process as well as direct contact to the UN HCR team in Kabul should we require some protection for those in hiding.

The information was passed to those we were assisting, which had now grown to over forty people, and they submitted the asylum applications on-line ( we later learned via a BBC news report that the e.mail address these applications were sent to was not being monitored and the applications were not being processed)

We also attempted to get the UK media to provide some exposure of the plight of the Boxers, however there was a distinct lack of interest from the major media players such as the BBC, as there were no British Passport holders involved, I should add I was actually told that!

Our small team, that consisted of our Director of Boxing Marianne Marston, our Lawyer Mahtab Aziz and myself decided we should begin making any arrangements we could to get the boxers to safety as well as have safe locations available in Pakistan for them to await the asylum to the UK.

Whilst I contacted Ahsan Abrar Khan at the Pakistan Professional Boxing Commission, who agreed to assist any of the Afghan Boxers and their families that makes it to Pakistan, Mahtab contacted Amir Khan, who kindly agreed we could use his Boxing Academy as a temporary place to house those we got to Pakistan. 

Whilst all this was going on Lee Mcallister, who had called me to ask if he could help in anyway,  began contacting Aberdeen Council, re housing, as well as the Scottish immigration department, and achieved far more success there than I was receiving from Central Government as he managed to not just get to speak with people but also begin the processes.

We issued a press statement regarding Amir and Lee’s involvement, which we hoped may bring the spotlight on to the Afghan Boxers plight, but once again no interest from the mainstream UK Media, although the Boxing and Scottish media provided some limited exposure. – Read Article here.

Shortly after a number of Amateur Boxers, many of them female, contacted us and requested urgent assistance, and we began assisting them and their families also, suddenly those we were trying to help evacuate increased to just over seventy people.

It dawned on us that instead of this being a rather simple evacuation of a dozen people it was turning into a major operation and we needed help and fast.

Here we were four days in and with a growing number of people relying on us and still no luck getting real advice or assistance from UK Central Government.

 We decided it was time to try and find help in the private sector, and thanks to former soldier and BIBA licensed boxer Matt Scriven and his fellow Afghanistan veteran Pete Crotty we were introduced to a CP Company that were evacuating diplomats from Kabul.

Lee Mcallister also came to our assistance and introduced us to Dean and Alana Stott who were also evacuating diplomats.

On the 23rd August we were informed that a Charter Plane had been arranged and was sent the manifest, which included the entire group of seventy-three people we were helping at the time, as well as documents that would enable them to enter the Airport.

Once the plane was on the ground we would have had seven hours to get everyone to the airport and a Kabul based team were ready to move, then we received notice that the evacuation could not take place, as clearances were not received (at this time we didn’t know why, but later found out that all private charter evacuation flights had permissions rescinded, again via a news report)

Around the same time we had learned that a number of the Boxers, both male and female, had received strongly worded letters from the Taliban and they were becoming seriously concerned for the safety of themselves and their families.

I shared these with the journalists I had spoken with previously, but again to no avail, the media were not interested as no British Passport holders affected.

Two of the female boxers were attacked by the Taliban, a male boxer had his car and home attacked and once more I informed the UK media, yet no interest in highlighting their plight, but they were giving airtime and headline status to Pen Farthing and his attempts to evacuate dogs and cats, as well as the Afghan workers, from his Animal Refuge.

I have to admit this incensed me that there was more concern in the media for the lives of abandoned Afghan cats and dogs than there was for the lives of the Afghan Sports Men and Women and their families, and once again wrote to the journalists, with exactly the same result not a single column inch or mention on the news channels as those we are helping were not British Passport holders.

The two evacuation teams we were dealing with advised us they would continue to try and get some on flights that were taking place, if places were available, which unfortunately none were up to the final flight last night.

Even today we are still receiving requests from other Boxers and Athletes in danger, as well as sports governing bodies such as the Afghanistan National Olympic Committee and the International Tennis Federation contacting us requesting assistance in evacuating Athletes and Officials who are in serious danger and as such we are now assisting in excess of a hundred people, each of whom is in danger of being attacked and probably killed should the Taliban track them down.

So what do we, and the other groups trying to get people evacuated and asylum status for those they are helping, do now, well in our case we are going to continue in our efforts to get every single person we are helping evacuated to safety as quickly as possible .

To this end we have been attempting to contact the new Head of Sports Directorate Mr Bashir Ahmad Rustamzai, the new Afghan Government’s Spokesman Dr Suhail Shaheen and any high ranking official from the new regime we can locate so that we can appeal for amnesty for the athletes and officials as well as negotiate safe passage to a bordering country.

More importantly we already have everything in place for either an air or ground evacuation and am hopeful that we can put one into action very soon, BUT WE STILL NEED HELP, preferably from the UK Government by them working directly with us to ensure Asylum status is provided for the one hundred plus athletes, officials and their families that we are assisting so that we can legally bring them direct to the UK, where they can begin to rebuild not just their lives but also their sporting careers.

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Amir Khan and Lee McAllister Respond to Afghan Boxers Plight by Offering Safe Haven.

On Sunday night, as the news broke that the Taliban had taken the Afghanistan Capital Kabul, British & Irish Boxing Authority (BIBA) Vice President Gianluca Di Caro, along with BIBA’s Director of Boxing Marianne Marston and Lawyer Mahtab Aziz began trying to locate the Afghan professional boxers licensed by the UK based commission through it’s partnership with the Afghanistan Professional Boxing Commission.

Di Caro immediately made an appeal for information on the whereabouts of the Afghan boxers via social media and achieved some immediate response and was able to contact a handful of the boxers, as well as offers of assistance from WBO World Champion Amir Khan, six time five division World Champion Lee McAllister and Pakistan Professional Boxing Commission President Ahsan Abrar Khan.

PPBC President Ahsan Abrar Khan was the first to respond by offering assistance on the ground in Pakistan once the boxers are able to make it to Pakistan. 

Shortly after both Amir Khan and Lee Mcallister offered to help by offering safe haven for the boxers and their families.

Amir Khan offered his Amir Khan Boxing Academy in Islamabad for the Boxers and their families whilst arrangements are made for them to achieve Refugee status and travel to the UK and Lee McAllister offered his Assassin Health & Fitness Village in Aberdeen for the boxers and their families to stay at once they reach the UK.

Earlier today Lee McAllister said; “The boxers are family as far as I am concerned and I can’t just sit here and watch what is unfolding in Afghanistan and do nothing.

“At Assassin Health & Fitness Village we always go above and beyond to help as many people as we can locally as well internationally as and when we can.

“When it comes to hard times like this seeing the boxers and their families in such danger the only option is to reach out and offer to help them as best we can.

“They haven’t asked to be put in this situation so the least we can do is try our best to help ease some of the pain and suffering by showing our support. 

“Obviously we can’t help everyone but due to BIBA being involved with their local professional boxing commission it’s a no brainier that we try and push to help those first .

“Just hope and pray that they make it over safe. 

“I also hope the British public and boxing community gets behind our efforts to give the families the chance of a new beginning while pushing for the boxers to continue to fulfil  their dreams while training and getting boxing bouts in the near future.”

Mr Di Caro also gave an update on the current situation;

“I can’t thank Amir, Lee, Ahsan, Mahtab and Marianne enough for stepping up to the plate and offering to help the boxers and their families.

“I’m pleased to say that we are in contact with all the boxers now and am even more pleased to say that they are all safe, although in hiding fearing for their lives.

“We know they are in genuine danger, not just because of their association with a British organisation like us. 

“It wasn’t that long ago that there was an attack on the Afghanistan Professional Boxing Commission’s headquarters in Kabul by the Taliban, which at that time was in the supposedly ‘safe’ Green Zone. A number of people died in the attack, including security team members. 

“Whilst very concerned about all the boxers there, have to admit am extremely worried for the safety of the Female boxers and officials there knowing the reputation of the Taliban attitude to and actions against educated Women.

“So far only three of those we are helping have managed to get out, Afghanistan Professional Boxing Commission Secretary General Shukrullah Fazilli and his sister Zarghona, who are now in Kazakhstan and Boxer Imran Nawabzai has made it to Pakistan, where Ahsan is providing assistance on the ground.

“I contacted the Home Office yesterday to request advice on how I can register the boxers and their families for UK Refugee status, unfortunately have yet to have a response from them. I suppose that is understandable as they are almost certainly being inundated with similar requests.

“We created an appeal for funds today, as we need to equip Amir’s gym in Islamabad to accommodate the boxers and their families when they get to Pakistan, so need to buy beds, bedding, cooking equipment and much, much more as well as arrange and pay for transport etc.

“BIBA has limited resources, which are virtually exhausted already, so am really hoping that the public and especially the boxing community will get behind our appeal so we can continue to help get the boxers and their families to safety in Pakistan, India or Kazakhstan, where we have been making arrangements to accommodate them, and eventually to the UK where we can begin helping them rebuild their lives and careers.”


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DAZN, the leading global sports streaming platform, has secured exclusive rights to the highly-anticipated Heavyweight showdown on Saturday, September 25 between reigning champion Anthony Joshua and former Cruiserweight World Champion Oleksandr Usyk in more than 170 countries and territories worldwide – including all of North America, South America, and Oceania as well as much of Europe, Asia, and Africa. A full list of markets where fans can watch the blockbuster event on DAZN can be found here.

Unified Heavyweight Champion of the World Joshua will put his IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO World Titles on the line against pound-for-pound star Usyk at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.

“We’re thrilled to continue our strong relationship with Matchroom, Anthony Joshua and his team at 258MGT as the global home of boxing,” said Ed Breeze, EVP of Rights, DAZN

“This fight will be an all-out Heavyweight battle between two of the best in the division, live from a remarkable stadium in front a full house of avid fans. The countdown is on, and we cannot wait to bring this epic clash to our subscribers around the world.”

Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) last dominated Kubrat Pulev to score a brutal ninth-round knockout at The SSE Arena, Wembley in December in what was his first fight on UK soil since he stopped Alexander Povetkin in seven explosive rounds at Wembley Stadium back in September 2018. 

Joshua is the local Heavyweight hero famed for his unrivalled athleticism, explosive power, and versatility. 

In his path is the dangerous Ukrainian Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs), who successfully made the move to the Heavyweight division after dominating at Cruiserweight, ending his extraordinary spell at 200lbs as the Undisputed king with a phenomenal run of victories. 

Usyk operates behind a mysterious and unpredictable persona but is the real deal with a boxing IQ that’s one of the best in the fight game. 

Both fighters are incredible specimens on their own paths to greatness with two exceptional arsenals of weaponry. 

It’s an unforeseen series of events and circumstance that has brought these great fighters together but their difference in styles, personalities and journeys will make for the perfect storm on September 25.

An announcement on the undercard will be made in due course.For more information and to follow the action, tune in to The DAZN Boxing Show – the only daily boxing show available to fight fanatics worldwide and go-to source that keeps boxing fans on the pulse of ALL the latest global boxing news and drama alongside expert insights and interviews with the most recognizable faces of the sport – exclusively on DAZN. 

The DAZN Boxing Show will be on-site in London all fight week long in the lead up to September 25, covering all the fight news and excitement on the ground for fans across the globe in all 200+ markets that DAZN is available.

To find out more, visit, subscribe to the DAZN Boxing YouTube channel, visit @DAZNBoxing on Twitter, and @DAZNBoxing on Instagram.

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12 x 3 mins WBA Light-Heavyweight World Title Eliminator
(Croydon, England)                           (Riga, Latvia)

Joshua Buatsi continued his march towards a World Title shot with a stunning 11th round knockout win over Ricards Bolotniks in their WBA Light-Heavyweight World Title Eliminator on the third and final week of Matchroom Fight Camp in Brentwood, Essex live worldwide on DAZN.

Last year’s MTK Global Golden Contract winner represented the biggest test of Buatsi’s career, but the Croydon man passed the test impressively as he maintained his unbeaten record, progressing to 15-0 (13 KOs). 

“Most importantly I have to thank God for the victory, different fighters have different things that work for them, I made it clear to you lot that that’s what works for me,” Buatsi told DAZN. “In my changing room I don’t need to hear anything, don’t tell me what I did in camp, tell me Josh is written in the bible. That’s what gears me up when I walk down there, what’s written in the bible.
“I’m grateful man, Bolotniks big credit to him he pushed me. I think he said Josh hasn’t been past seven rounds before so after seven we’ll see. I was there until 11 and landed a good shot. I worked every round, but I want to congratulate him – he’s a good champion.
“When I sat down, I said, ‘Buatsi who told you to empty the tank, you’ve got six left?’ but I’ve worked hard. You see in camp the sparring is hard man, big credit to my sparring partners they know who they are. I do a hard six run then a fresh one gets in so into the second half I said I’ve been here: I’ve done it before I’ve been here many times in camp.
“I’ve got a great team, I’ve got a promoter that believes in me, he’s been pushing for fights like this because he knows I can do it. Tonight, I went out there and showed people I can do it, we just build from here.
“We all make sacrifices, I don’t want to single myself out, everyone sacrifices to be where they want to be in life. For me, yeah, I sacrificed, I’m always away from my family and I truly miss them but most importantly I want to get to the top. I feel like I’m in the right team with the right people, I’ve got a great promoter who gives me the opportunities I need. I’ll keep sacrificing.”

10 x 3 mins International Lightweight Contest
(Cardiff, Wales)                          (Chicago, USA)

Joe Cordina blew away Chicago’s Joshuah Hernandez inside the opening round to progress to 13-0 (8 KOs) and continue his pursuit of a World Title opportunity. 

‘The Welsh Wizard’ was intent on causing damage from the opening bell, landing hurtful shots early on before dropping Hernandez with a stunning right hand that he never recovered from. 

“Chris Colbert went eight rounds with Hernandez and what I watched of it, it was quite a tough fight for him,” Cordina told Matchroom. “I watched that fight and a couple others of Hernadez and me and Tony came up with a game plan. We were going through in the changing rooms, and it came off a peach.
“I had to prove a point, I said in an interview earlier in the week that I don’t take criticism from people I wouldn’t go to for advice. I don’t really value many people’s opinions so yeah, it’s one of those things, you’re going to get people criticizing and it’s whether you take it onboard or not. A lot of people didn’t take into consideration that I’d been out the ring for 16 months, had an operation of my hand, we proved the point tonight and got him out of there early on.
“I always look to just get the win, box, if the knockout is there, I’ll take it. As soon as he threw his first jab, I knew he wasn’t going to catch me with that, my sharpness of feet and head movement would get me out of trouble. I started putting my lead hand downstairs and whipping the right hand over the top and I caught him the first time, I knew he was a little bit wobbly. I didn’t want to rush in and try and get him out of there straight away, I knew if I could catch him twice with it there’s going to be a third time and I did exactly that. We got him out of there in great fashion.
“I was watching Fight Camp last year and there was no crowd, but even when there wasn’t a crowd it felt like there was a massive atmosphere. When I saw the first Fight Camp week at home, I thought, ‘oh my god I’m fighting there in two weeks, it’s going to be amazing’. I’m glad that I’m able to tick it of my list now. 
“Eddie watched me in York Hall in 2009 and said, ‘you’re going to be a World Champion’. It’s nice to hear that but I’ve got to keep improving, keep pushing on and proving him right. I know I’ve got the ability to be a World Champion very soon, but I’ve just got to keep winning. I’ve got the ability to mix it with any of them, it’s just about taking those steps up the ladder to become a World Champion and that’s what I plan on doing. Maybe have two weeks at home, go back to the gym and see what I want to do with Tony.
“I know people say it but if you speak to my S&C coach and Tony this was probably one of the best camps I’ve ever had. That’s with the boxing, plus my S&C, everything just came together. Don’t get me wrong I had to be at home for my new-born son but everything’s coming together now. I’m glad I got the win tonight in great fashion and now it’s time to build on it.” 

10 x 3 mins WBO Global Welterweight Title
(Portsmouth, England)                                                    (Slupsk, Poland)

Michael McKinson avoided a potential banana skin in Przemyslaw Runowski as he outpointed the brave Pole after ten rounds of skilful boxing from the Portsmouth man.

‘The Problem’, now 21-0 (2 KOs), dominated on the cards to maintain his unbeaten record and retain his WBO Global Welterweight Title. 

“I’m happy, that was easier than I thought it would be, I didn’t really get out of first gear,” McKinson told Matchroom. “I visibly hurt him a few times, but I boxed to instructions and got the win. To be fair I didn’t think he won a round against me, but he was a tough guy. Him and his team were very confident beforehand, I liked the energy they brought all week, but I just had to show I was a level above, and I was a few levels above – I’m happy.
“They keep giving me harder opposition, they keep telling me it’s a step up and I’m making it look easier and easier. What people forget is I’m learning every day on the job as well; I’m developing and who knows where I can be in a year or twos time. I’m in a position where a lot of boxers dream of being in, all I can do it stay focused, keep learning and keep working my way to the top.
“First time on the A side you know, not many people can say they’ve boxed in Gibraltar and not many people can say they’ve boxed in Eddie’s back garden and done both this year. I can’t moan or complain, I’m really happy and blessed.
“2021 and my career has just started, 21-0 and making it look easy. I really want to keep stepping up, keep challenging myself, keep having more and more tests. I’m still learning but I’m learning quick and finding it easy now. I want opponents that will make me step through the gears, a few times I hurt him there like I can punch, I don’t need to, I boxed to instructions. I didn’t really get out of first gear.
“I believe I’m the best 147 pounder in the country. I like Conor, I get on well with him, but if he can’t get them two guys the Brooks or the Khans, I’m always here. I’ll fight whoever they give me, I’ve never turned down a fight and that’s a fact – I don’t plan on turning down fights. I really do believe in myself, and I believe in my development as well. I’m going to be going to the top I promise you.
“I’m really happy for Liam Taylor because he never really gets a fair ranking and he’s a good fighter so I’m happy he’s got that opportunity. I’m not far behind, I’d like the winner, but I’ll fight whoever makes sense and whoever my management team want to get me next – the answer is always yes. That guy there I just beat took Josh Taylor to points on short notice, he had a full camp against me, his team were so confident talking to me in the hotel.
“Like I said, I make their confidence fade round by round, they don’t call me ‘The Problem’ for no reason. I will carry on being a problem as I step through the levels as the opposition gets better, trust me.
“Josh Kelly has got a lot of ability, he’s a skilful fighter, I like Josh – even after the Avanesyan defeat I still think he’s a top fighter. Florian Marku talks a lot doesn’t he, he didn’t know who I was a few months ago on social media on an interview, he said he didn’t know who I was. At least they’re talking about me now, let him prove himself because I don’t think he’s proved himself at a decent level yet, not saying he’s not a good fighter, but he does need to prove himself as a fighter to be respected. Good luck to all of them, I wish nothing but the best for all my rivals, you know I’m here and I’ll fight anybody.
“Even when we go back to proper arenas and stuff, wait till we get hundreds and hundreds of Portsmouth fans loud and proud. I’ve got great support and it’s always growing; I know there’s a lot of people that didn’t come today but when they’re allowed everyone will see the Portsmouth fans.” 

6 x 3 mins International Super-Bantamweight Contest 
(Leeds, England)                          (Massa, Italy)

Hopey Price continued his ring education with a solid six round points win over Claudio Grande. The 21-year-old from Leeds was in control throughout and his dominance showed in the final round when he floored the Italian with the last punch of the fight. Grande made it to his feet but was defeated 58-55 on the referee’s card.

Price’s fifth win in the pro ranks sets up a showdown with Leeds rival Zahid Hussain (16-1, 2 KOs) on the huge Mauricio Lara vs. Josh Warrington 2 show at the Emerald Headingley Stadium on September 4.

“It was a good performance, considering I had six months outside the ring, which for a young prospect like me isn’t ideal,” Price told Matchroom. “You can spar as much as you want but it’s not the same feeling as when you’re under the lights. Now looking forward, I’ve got Leeds in three weeks, that’s put me in very good stead – you’ll see the best of me in three weeks’ time.
“I remember Dave [Coldwell] shouting at me finish strong, finish strong, and he was just coming in – what we’ve been working on in the gym – I felt like I was catching him with that shot all fight and he just walked onto it lovely at the end and he was gone.
“I’m not fighting these journeyman and people with losing records, that’s a proper fight, he’s 5-0, three knockouts, I’m sure he wanted to be a star over there in Italy. He was coming to win and was defeated, I put a stop to that and gave him his first loss.
“You began to see it, it’s been coming slowly but surely, now over the next year or so you’ll see the best of me.
“I feel like I’m developing more as a fighter under Dave and more as a man – big thanks to Danny Wilson at Boxing Science, he’s making me a lot stronger, and I think you saw it there in the last ten seconds. I’m not just a young kid that people can walk through.
“I want to go right to the top. I don’t want to be a World Champion; I want to be a pound-for-pound star and Dave’s the man to take me there. I’ll keep listening, learning, developing and I promise you I will get there one day.
“I think fighting in Leeds on September 4 shows the confidence and ability – and the confidence my team has in me – to take a fight like that three weeks before and coming through with flying colours, no injuries. I’m ready to go in my hometown in front of 20,00 fans, I’ll steal the show there 100%.
“I’m ready for Zahid Hussain, 100%, I was ready for it back in September and the magic man didn’t turn up. So, we’ll see this time if he comes and if he does, I promise Hopey Price will come out the victor.
“I said it from my second pro fight, I believe there are levels to boxing and my boxing brain is one of the best in Britain. I believe I’m levels above Zahid Hussain.”

10 x 3 mins vacant WBC International Bantamweight Title
KASH FAROOQ WUD10 (100-90, 100-90, 100-91) v LUIS GERARDO CASTILLO
(Glasgow, Scotland)                                                   (Jiqulipilco, Mexico)

Kash Farooq showed off his wide repertoire of skills to get the better of Luis Gerardo Castillo and pick up the vacant WBC International Bantamweight Title.

The Mexican fighter never stopped coming forward but he had no answer for Farooq’s frequent bursts. Scores from the ringside judges were 100-90 x 2, and 100-91. 

“I boxed to the game plan, that was it, you want to get in there and always entertain but I followed the game plan that was it,” Farooq told Matchroom. “I listened to my trainer, and he just told me to box, you couldn’t get any footage of him, so I didn’t know what he was about, I adapted on the night and did what I had to do.
“I showed tonight the other side of me that can box as well. He’s not world class but it’s a different side of my boxing that I showed, he was tough and game. We didn’t know what we were up against.
“If you let anybody hit you, they can punch, he had a bit of sting to his punches, but the name of the game is hit and don’t get hit and that’s what I did in this fight.
“He [Gerardo] can’t speak and can’t hear so it’s something different, people were saying he’s come to win, and this was going to change his life, these types of boys want to win but he was up against me so – I wanted to win as much as he did.
“These boys are coming from nothing, some of them grew up in poverty and it’s a different lifestyle in Mexico – they fight for a living to make their lives better. It’s either me or him and it wasn’t going to be me today.
“It was another learning fight for me, and I’ll progress again, it’s something I picked up – for me it’s just about developing and getting better. This is just another clinical performance by me.
“My job is just to fight, and they tell me what route they’re going to go through. If I had a choice I’d fight [McGregor] but it’s down to them and they’ll make the right decision for me.
“He wants to fight just like I do but he’s got managers telling him what the best options are like I do as well. The next few weeks my managers are going to sit down with Eddie and discuss what the best options are and what route to go down – if it’s that one next then I’m more than happy to take it.
“It is a big fight for Scotland, me and Lee can sell out the SSE Hydro, if it’s the right time and it has a good build me, we can do it. It’s just me and him boxing each other.
“For me I’ll take a few days off but it’s back to training. When I’ll really take some time off is when I call it a day and retire. Now I’ve still got levels to progress, go back to the gym and work on things, it’s a lifestyle in boxing and it a short career, you don’t know when retirement is coming. For me I’m going to put everything into boxing for the next few years of my life.”

10 x 3 mins vacant WBA Continental Featherweight Title
(New Jersey, USA)                          (Watford, England)

Raymond Ford earned his first title in the pro ranks by stopping Reece Bellotti in three rounds to capture the vacant WBA Continental Featherweight crown.

The New Jersey youngster promised to steal the show ahead of his second fight in the UK and went some way to backing up his pre fight prediction by turning in a savage performance. 

The 22-year-old demonstrated why he is regarded as one of the hottest prospects in US boxing as he took out Watford’s Bellotti with a quality attack in the third. 

“In the third round I was going to start to box and slow it down because I was throwing too many fast, hard shots to hurt him early,” Ford told Matchroom. “My team told me to settle down because we had ten rounds to go and then he came on and ran into the shot. I knew if I didn’t get him out of there when I had him hurt, he was just going to be a tough guy and keep coming forward. When I hit my shot, I had to get him out of there.
“It feels great, one of my dreams that came true, the real dream and goal is to get to these World Championship titles.
“I knew that he [Bellotti] was kind of the bully and everything so I wanted to beat the bully in the fight. I heard a lot about his power, guys saying his power was up there at the top, I just wanted to show I can be a bigger bully and that’s what I did.
“I said yesterday that I was going to handle the pressure. I was just starting to warm up and settle in but the more the fight would have went, the more you would have seen me relaxed and be sharper. I was getting hit by some dumb shots but that was because I was warming up and getting a feel of everything – being back after five months.
“I love it in the UK, all week people have been showing me love so I want to come back and fight here again. I want to be one the greatest to ever do it, not just in my division, I just want to be the best and go down as a legend.
“It’s important to be patient but I feel like I have the skills and I was blessed with the talents I have where I can fight these top guys at a young age. I want to keep stepping up and get these tougher fights.”

8 x 3 mins International Lightweight Contest
(Manchester, England)         (Lehliu Gară, Romania)

Zelfa Barrett stopped Romania’s Viorel Simion in four rounds to potentially set up a rematch with Kiko Martinez later this year. The Manchester man dominated from the opening bell, forcing Simion back with hurtful shots that were landing at will. 

“It was good to get back out there, a long layoff since February, an active fighter is a god fighter,” Barrett told Matchroom. “As you guys know, my mum passed away in June, so we’ve had a lot going on. I wanted to just go in there and tear him apart, professionally, but they put the reigns on me. Sometimes I was eager to go and wanted to unload on him, but my uncle is the greatest coach, I just listened to what he was saying. He was taking punishment and he didn’t continue the fight. I was putting more pressure on and letting my hands go.
“It’s a thing of believing in yourself, I know I’ve got the punch power and when you hit correct it hurts anybody. We were working on it with the body pad before we came out and the shots just landed, and he went down. The right body shot would hurt any man, so it was about following what I’ve been practicing in the changing rooms – good performance after a long layoff.
“There are some good fighters on this card, I believe I’m one of the best fighters in Britain aside your World Champions, I believe it and I believe in myself otherwise I wouldn’t be here. That fight had to finish like that, if it went 8 rounds, I’d have to be questioning myself as a fighter that’s going to be world champion.
“He wasn’t able to continue, he quit, no disrespect to him but he quit. Making a man quit is better than any knockout because his brain hasn’t shut down, the ref hasn’t jumped in, he’s physically quit. Good little fight, good little stoppage.
“I’m doing it for myself because I want to be a successful man, that’s all I want to be, believe in God and God will make that happen. I’ve got more motivation, my beautiful daughter Amelia and my beautiful mum on me, my brother, and my cousin Wayne, I’ve got three angels watching me. Onto the next one now and thanks to everyone for watching.
“It was better than nothing, I would love to be on about 8 o’clock just looking out, it just brings something out of a fighter that you didn’t think you had. I don’t know, I just love it, you can’t buy that, that feeling that you get, that’s when I’ve had my best performances when there are crowds, and I can feel their energy.
“I’d love that fight [Kiko] in Manchester, I respect Kiko as a person, he’s a cool guy. He believed he won, I know I won, the judges thought I won. We can run it again because I want to, not because anyone else wants to, but because I want to. We can run that again and I’ll look good doing it.
“I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing, don’t get me wrong the European Titles out there I’d love to get, because you know you’re ready for that jump. We can’t cherry pick, Eddie’s a man who gives you opportunities and you’ve got to be ready. I’d love a shot at the European, but now I’m just going to rest, spend time with my beautiful daughter. Daddy’s a champ and I’m her champ, on to the next.”
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8 x 3 mins International Lightweight Contest

(Manchester, England)             (Lehliu Gară, Romania)
followed by

10 x 3 mins vacant WBA Continental Featherweight Title
(New Jersey, USA)              (Watford, England)

followed by


10 x 3 mins vacant WBC International Bantamweight Title
(Glasgow, Scotland)              (Jiqulipilco, Mexico)

followed by

6 x 3 mins International Super-Bantamweight Contest 
HOPEY PRICE 1233/lbs v CLAUDIO GRANDE 1211/lbs
(Leeds, England)                 (Massa, Italy)

followed by

10 x 3 mins WBO Global Welterweight Title
(Portsmouth, England)                    (Slupsk, Poland)

followed by

10 x 3 mins International Lightweight Contest
(Cardiff, Wales)               (Chicago, USA)

followed by

12 x 3 mins WBA Light-Heavyweight World Title Eliminator
JOSHUA BUATSI 1743/lbs v RICARDS BOLOTNIKS 1741/lbs                  
(Croydon, England)                 (Riga, Latvia)
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LESS THAN three weeks until their British and Commonwealth title fight, Akeem Ennis-Brown and Sam Maxwell today went head-to-head for the first time – and it all kicked off.

Ennis-Brown (14-0, 1 KO) defends his titles against Maxwell (15-0, 11 KOs) on show entitled ‘Night Of Champions’ at the Utilita Arena Birmingham on August 28, live on BT Sport.

Before the pushing and shoving they took some time to speak to the media. Quotes below.

Ennis Brown said:“I love a challenge and love to show what I’m all about. Look at me record, all I do is pick hard fights. I can’t wait to beat him, he’s the perfect opponent to announce myself.

“He’ll soon find out that I’m not Joe Hughes or Conor Parker. He’s got a real champion in front of him. His legacy will be getting beat by me. I’m a real fighter with real heart.

“After I beat him I’ll pay him to be a sparring partner for me. I’m excited that he has a big knockout ratio, it gets me up for the fight. It would be boring if he didn’t bring that to the table. I’ll beat Sam Maxwell in style and can’t wait to do it.”

Maxwell said:“You look like a clown. There is no chance you’re beating me, you’ve reached your level. You’ll be no higher than British champion, I’m going all the way.

“He’s boxed at a good level but has only got one knockout, so the power is in my favour. I’ll show that on fight night. Nothing said here affects anything on fight night, I win 100%.“I’m not leaving the ring without the win. I can’t train any harder, and I believe in my team, so I can’t wait to show how good I am. I’m looking forward to the challenge and I’ll be going home with the belts.”

Big time boxing returns to Birmingham on Saturday August 28.

Former World title challenger Anthony Yarde (20-2, 19 KOs)  returns in a ten round Light-Heavyweight clash ahead of his rematch against Lyndon Arthur.Akeem Ennis-Brown (14-0, 1 KO) will risk his British and Commonwealth Super-Lightweight championships against Liverpool’s former amateur superstar Sam Maxwell (15-0, 11 KOs).

Belfast’s Anthony Cacace (18-1, 7 KOs) defends his British Super-Featherweight crown against Lyon Woodstock (12-2, 5 KOs).

In a fantastic rematch local fighter Ijaz Ahmed  (8-2) faces Quaise Khademi (8-1, 2 KOs) for the vacant British Super-Flyweight championship in a battle that is also a Commonwealth title final eliminator.

When they met over ten rounds in February, Ijaz snatched a majority decision in a sensational fight.

Stoke Middleweight Heaney (12-0, 4 KOs) will have his raucous army behind him when he boxes a ten rounder in his third fight under the Queensberry banner.

Telford’s Liam Davies (9-0, 4 KOs) returnd alongside fellow Midlanders George Bance (1-0, 1 KO), Nottingham’s Ezra Taylor (1-0, 1 KO) and Northampton’s Super-Lightweight Eithan James (5-0).

Dublin’s Willo Hayden. a training partner of Conor McGregor, makes his professional debut in a four round Super-Lightweight contest.

Tickets are available now – click here

A Hospitality – £283.75
B – £170.75
C – £114.25
D – £86.00
E – £57.75

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Eddie Hearn, Matchroom Sport Chairman:

“Well good afternoon, the final week of Fight Camp this Saturday live and exclusively on DAZN around the world as we close out with a tremendous card with some of the biggest names and stars in world boxing headlined by an incredible fight. Joshua Buatsi against Ricards Bolotniks in what is a WBA Light-Heavyweight World Title Eliminator. A tremendous card.” 

Joshua Buatsi – Croydon, England – 14-0, 12 KOs – fighting Ricards Bolotniks in a WBA Light-Heavyweight World Title Eliminator:

“This is it, Eddie. This is the fight. You’ve been eager to make it happen from early on and when this was offered to my team we said yeah straight away. It’s a good fight, the ring outside looks good, I’m looking forward to it.
“That’s good for me, I’ve said it before we can go into there to box, with a strategy, but sometimes you’re going to have to fight, sometimes the tactics will go out the window and it’s man against main. We’ll see what happens and how it goes, but I’ll be prepared, I’ve covered all aspects, I’m ready.
“It will be a good gauge to see where I’m at, I think a good performance from my myself with give you the green light to get the belt. Either way I’ll be prepared.”
Ricards Bolotniks – Riga, Latvia – 18-5-1, 8 KOs – fighting Joshua Buatsi in a WBA Light-Heavyweight World Title Eliminator:“I wanted this fight straight after the Golden Contract, and now I’m here and I’m so happy. I’m ready for Saturday, and I am only here for the victory.“Buatsi is a big star here and a good boxer. He’s strong and tough, and I want a street fight with him. In Latvia I was always fighting on the street. Boxing is more professional, but I want a war and I’m sure me and Buatsi will have a massive fight.“I’m focused on Saturday, but after this of course I want the World Title. I have the perfect team around me, and this is the right time.”Joe Cordina – Cardiff, Wales – 12-0, 7 KOs – fighting Joshuah Hernandez in ten round International Lightweight contest: 
“We were scheduled to fight at the end of August in LA, obviously that didn’t happen, the opportunity came up to fight here at Fight Camp and I haven’t fought here yet. It’s something I wanted to tick off my list, so I jumped at it with both hands, Tony and I both said 100%. We had a list of opponents and wanted to pick the hardest. Joshuah Hernandez is 10-3 but those three loses are little blips. He’s a tough opponent and I’m looking forward to it.
“As we’ve said in previous press conference and since I started boxing, my aim is to be a World Champion and that’s what I plan on doing. Obviously Joshuah Hernandez is in my way and he’s trying to stop me, I just need to get through Saturday night and if I’m going to go on, challenge and win World Titles I’ve got to beat people like Joshuah. He’s a very good opponent and his record doing show how good he is.
“The cycle before us like Kal Yafai four years on he went on to win a World Title, same as Callum Smith. This time around the boys and girls have finished the Olympics and now it’s our time – don’t get me wrong I’m a couple of fights away but we’re in touching distance. I’m there, I can see it, feel it, and I just want to get closer and closer. Saturday night I need to beat Joshuah Hernandez to get that little bit closer to my dream which is to become a World Champion.”

Joshuah Hernandez – New Jersey, USA – 10-3, 8 KOs – fighting Joe Cordina in ten round International Lightweight contest: 

“I stay ready, I stay prepared, in the gym working on my mental and physical strengths. I feel ready to go, the past is the past, my record isn’t pretty, but it is what it is. If you do your research, the only person to beat me is Chris Colbert, I should be 12-1. It is what it is, I’m here to prove a point.
“God doesn’t make mistakes, I’m a man of faith and coming off work I’m a schoolteacher. Once the school year ended, normally I pick up a job for summer, but I just felt like a had a blessing coming my way. I spoke to my family and said I’m not going to work this summer, I’m going to focus on the sport, focus on boxing and here we are. I’m blessed and I’m ready.”

Michael McKinson – Portsmouth, England – 20-0, 2 KOs – defending his WBO Global Welterweight Title against Przemyslaw Runowski:“It feels different being the A-side, there is a lot more pressure, but I enjoy that. He’s a tough opponent, but it’s a solid test for me. Runowski is on form, and him and his team are confident, but what I do best is ruin that confidence. Round by round it will fade.“I’m focused on Runowski and not thinking about anybody else, so I’ll get the job done in style and then move on. He has the type of style to make me look good. I’m excited to put on a good display of boxing. “I do well under pressure, and proved that last time out. There is more pressure on me with me being the favourite and it’s new territory for me. It’s a great occasion on a big show, and I know I’ll perform, that’s all that matters.”Przemyslaw Runowski – Slupsk, Poland – 19-1, 5 KOs – challenging Michael McKinson for the WBO Global Welterweight Title:

“I am ready for this big fight. I have trained very hard and have had a two month camp with very good sparring. I’m ready to showcase my skills on Saturday, and I’m very confident I will win.”

Hopey Price – Leeds, England – 4-0, 1 KO – fighting Claudio Grande in a six round Super-Bantamweight contest:

“It’s good to be back here at Fight Camp, there’s a bit more of an atmosphere this time. Two fights scheduled within four weeks, but let’s got it twisted most prospects wouldn’t have taken this fight knowing I’ve got a ten-rounder in my hometown of Leeds in only three weeks’ time, but these are the fights I want. Italian prospect, 5-0, three knockouts, all I’m concentrating on is Saturday night and doing a good job.
“I’m fully focused on Saturday night, Headingley is in the back of my mind, I’ll just get the job done first on Saturday night and we’ll look towards Leeds after that.
“It’s what I wanted, to step up faster, if anything it’s been a bit of a blessing in disguise because I’ve had more time to work in the gym and more time to spar top quality fighters. Kid Galahad won the World Title last week, I’ve done numerous rounds with him during lockdown, I feel it’s brought me on a lot more as a fighter rather than 3 or 4 more fights against these lower opposition fighters. I’m ready to fight these unbeaten guys, step up and look good doing so.”

Claudio Grande – Massa, Italy – 5-0, 3 KOs – fighting Hopey Price in a six round Super-Bantamweight contest:

“I’m grateful for the opportunity, I came here to win, and I can’t wait for Saturday.
“I will take this opportunity on Saturday to show my skill and I’m grateful once agaisnt for the fight.”

Kash Farooq – Glasgow, Scotland – 15-1, 6 KOs – fighting Luis Gerardo Castillo for the vacant WBC International Bantamweight Title:

“I’ve been training really hard for this fight, and I know he’s going to bring a good Saturday, but I’m prepared for whatever he brings and I’m going to do anything win and pick up another title.
“In my last fight I got dragged into it a little bit, but you want to win the easiest way possible and that’s what I’m going to do Saturday night. I went back into the gym and worked on the mistakes I made last fight. This fight I’m going to do whatever I can do win, trying to win the easiest way possible, if that means going to the bell then I will.
“I’m fully focused on Saturday night; I’ve been like that since my amateur career. Since my first fight I’ve taken it one fight at a time because in boxing you don’t know where you can after you next fight. For me, Saturday night is all I’m thinking about, I don’t care what happens after that.”

Adalberto Sanchez, trainer of Luis Gerardo Castillo:

“Thanks for having us, we think that each fight is different, we’re putting our record and the losses behind us, we’re prepared to win. Luis wants the belt, he’s confident in his work and that he’s going to win. He wants to make history in the ring not because of his condition but because he wants to put up a good fight.
“We have great communication; we have to have it outside the gym as well in order to create these signs and this language. Sometimes it’s complicated and sometimes we get desperate when giving instructions, strategy, and motivation with the physical situation we’re in. We improve our communication every day and we’re confident that we won’t have to worry about communication in the ring – Luis’ talent will show with everything he’s learnt over the years, and we’ll have everything we need to win the belt.
“We’re very confident in winning and the work we’ve done, you mentioned Lara and our camps actually coincided with this fight. As Mexicans, as warriors, we always put everything in the ring to bring a good, no one going to regret watching – it’s going to be a great fight and we’re confident of winning.”

Raymond Ford – New Jersey, USA – 8-0-1, 4 KOs – fighting Reece Bellotti for the vacant WBA Continental Featherweight Title: 

“My last fight was a great learning experience, I fought another undefeated prospect, but what people don’t know is I took that fight on short notice and on top of that I recently had a daughter – I had to take a week off during my camp. My team was trying to get me to pull out of the fight, but I was telling them even on my worst day he couldn’t beat, and that was true.
“I feel like I won the fight easily but that’s in the past now, we’re here with Reece Bellotti so my full focus is on him.
“I feel like Reece Bellotti somewhat resembles Perez so that was another reason I wanted to take this, to show people that I can handle pressure easily. I know he’s going to be there, be tough, and that’s what I’m looking for.
“I’m very excited about this being my first title, I was definitely watching the Olympics supporting Team USA, Davis, Johnson, Jones, Torres – shoutout to all of them, they did their thing in the Olympics. Hopefully we can all sun it up and do the same thing we did in the amateurs in the pro game.”

Reece Bellotti – Watford, England – 14-4, 12 KOs – fighting Raymond Ford for the vacant WBA Continental Featherweight Title:

“I’m back again, it’s good to back, back with fans will be a little bit different – a bit of an atmosphere. It’s a good fight and I’m looking forward to it, I can’t wait to get back to winning ways.”
“Probably more than ever, like you say, I’ve been in these types of fights. People that have beaten me are good fighters, they’re going on to do really good things so I’m at that level where I now need to push on, get a win and propel myself to bigger fights.”
“You can always rely on power, you have to have a different game plan, work on different strategies to get to these fighters. You can’t just thing oh I’ll go in and bomb them out, it’s not always the case – hopefully we see that Saturday night. We’ve been working, getting great sparring, that’ll show Saturday night.”  

Zelfa Barrett – Manchester, England – 9-5-2, 1 KO – fighting Viorel Simion in an eight round International Lightweight contest:

“I was working hard, originally fighting a Mexican in Mexico, but you’ve done your magic Eddie and now I’m here. I appreciate the chance, thank you.
“My mum was my best friend; she’d want me to fight and not be bumming around and feeling sorry for myself. I appreciate you getting me out and keeping my mind active.
“I want it for myself, I know I won the fight, but I can perform better than that. We’ve changed a few things in the background so we’re ready for this guy – it won’t go twelve rounds. I know for a fact it won’t go twelve rounds so beat this guy Saturday, back in the gym and Kiko in Manchester. Then I’m ready for these big boys, the World Title Eliminators or European. I just to want to beat Kiko, I’ll be ready then.
“We all started at the bottom, amateur days coming up, Lindon is my brother – it’s nice to have him here we’re both shining together. It’s a ripple effect, put on a good performance Saturday night and it’s onwards and upwards.”
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‘The Problem’ eyes statement win at Fight Camp
Michael McKinson says he is aiming to steal the show by “dealing” with Przemyslaw Runowski “in style” when he puts his WBO Global Welterweight Title on the line against the Pole on the final weekend of Matchroom Fight Camp this Saturday August 14, live worldwide on DAZN

‘The Problem’ claimed a breakout victory over Chris Kongo as he floored his British Welterweight rival to seal a unanimous decision and move to 20-0 (2 KOs) on the undercard of Dillian Whyte’s huge rematch with Alexander Povetkin in Gibraltar back in March. 

The Portsmouth southpaw, who is trained by his father Michael Ballingall and managed by MTK Global’s Lee Eaton, inked promotional terms with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing the following month and believes he finally has the platform he needs to prove that he is the number one 147lbs fighter in Britain. 

Ranked at No.4 in the world with the WBO, 27-year-old McKinson says it’s his dream to fight at Fratton Park – the home of his beloved Portsmouth FC – in a World Title fight one day, and the undefeated contender can take a step closer to making that dream become a reality by defeating former Josh Kelly foe Runowski this weekend. 

“Before the Kongo fight, I was saying that my career would start on March 27th, and I really did believe that,” said McKinson. “It was my first fight on the big stage, and I was an underdog. A lot of people picked Chris over me. I was seeing all of the polls on Twitter and stuff like that. Nobody backed me to win. I beat him fair and square. Chris is a good fighter, but I proved I’m a better fighter. My career has only just started. I’m on the big stage finally – it took me 20 fights to get here. I plan on staying here. 

“If you look at my record, I’ve dropped my last three opponents in the first round – they’ve all been unbeaten. I think I’ve dropped six of my last seven, or five of my last six. People do underestimate my power. I can dig, I know I can dig. I will prove that to people in the future. That doesn’t matter though, I’m beating these opponents with relative ease. The knockouts will come, and I reckon when they do come, I’ll get a lot more respect on my name.

“In the UK especially there’s nobody like me. I don’t think there’s anybody on my level. I’m still learning a lot and I’m still developing. Each fight I have I’m just getting better and better. Who knows where I can be in a year or two? At the moment I’m happy with my development and I’m excited for my future. 
“I watched Fight Camp last year and at the time I hadn’t caught my break yet and I was frustrated. I was just thinking, ‘I wish I could get on shows like that’. I’m finally here now. It’s great to be a part of Fight Camp but I’m not here to be a part of it, I’m here to really shine and standout on Fight Camp 3 and that’s what I plan on doing. 

“People look at his only defeat to Josh Kelly but since then he’s bounced back very well. He’s coming off a couple of very good knockout wins so he’s going to be confident. He’s going to be game, and he’s going to try and knock me out. They all do. They’re all confident and game and they all try and knock me out. It’s a fight, as long as I’m prepared to the best I can, it’s a fight I can definitely win. It’s a fight I can definitely look very good in winning too. 

“People that know me know that I don’t like sitting at the same level. I’m constantly trying to challenge myself and get harder fights. This fight is a step up. If I want to be pushing on to these world level fighters, then I’ve got to be dealing with people like Runowski in style.”

McKinson vs. Runowski is part of a huge night of action, Light-Heavyweight star Joshua Buatsi (14-0, 12 KOs) steps up against Ricards Bolotniks (18-5-1, 8 KOs) in a WBA World Title Eliminator, Joe Cordina (12-0, 7 KOs) returns in a ten round Lightweight clash with Joshuah Hernandez (10-3, 8 KOs), Hopey Price (4-0, 1 KO) meets Claudio Grande(5-0, 3 KOs) in a six round Super-Bantamweight contest, Glasgow’s Kash Farooq (15-1, 6 KOs) clashes with Luis Gerardo Castillo (28-2, 18 KOs) for the WBC International Bantamweight Title, the USA’s Raymond Ford (8-0-1, 4 KOs) meets Watford’s Reece Bellotti (14-4, 12 KOs) for the vacant WBA Continental Featherweight Title and Manchester Super-Featherweight Zelfa Barrett (25-1, 15 KOs) joins the card as a late addition. 
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‘JB’ steps up at Fight Camp
Joshua Buatsi has vowed to pass his first big test in style as he faces Ricards Bolotniksat the third and final weekend of Fight Camp this Saturday August 14, live worldwide on DAZN
Buatsi (14-0 12 KOs) puts his WBA International Light-Heavyweight Title on the line in a fight that could catapult the winner into a World Title fight before the end of the year, with both fighters highly ranked across the governing bodies.
Fans and pundits have been waiting patiently for the 2016 Olympic bronze medal man to be tested after cruising to 14-0 and putting his opponents away in style, the latest being a huge KO of the year candidate win over Daniel Dos Santos in May in Manchester, a stunning right hook in the fourth round flooring the unbeaten Frenchman in Buatsi’s first fight with new trainer Virgil Hunter.
Bolotniks is in great form himself having won the MTK Golden Contract in December after wins over Steven Ward, Hosea Burton and Serge Michel, and the Latvian has been bullish in his belief that he will stop Buatsi’s rise.
The likeable Londoner has never involved himself in a war of words before a fight, but the switch will be flicked when he steps between the ropes and promises to come through his sternest test with flying colours.

“People have been asking for me to step up and here we are,” said Buatsi. “I know what I have got to do, if it gets tough, I still know what I need to do. I’ve covered all bases in camp, so I am ready, so tune in and you’ll see.
“It’s part of the game and I understand it and it’s a compliment that people want to see me in with better competition. It’s natural for people to want to see and that’s what is next in line, so it’s down to me to handle it.

“I saw him box in the Golden Contract final, but it was just one round and a bit of him against Hosea Burton, and that’s it. I’ve always said that it’s about improving myself as a fighter and covering all angles and aspects of myself and once I do that, I feel that I can do that with anyone put int front of me.
“I’m looking forward to a lot, it’s been a while since I’ve boxed in front of fans so that’s going to be great, it’s the main event against a good opponent, we’re both ranked highly, we’ve both got winning streaks and believe we’ll win. I’ll be there for every round and if I sense any vulnerability from Bolotniks it’s game over, I’ll take him out. 

“It’s boxing, outside the ring you be cool, be calm, be nice, but inside the ring, you handle business. When I fight, I must put it all on the line because people say, ‘Joshua Buatsi is a nice guy’, but if I boxed in a nice way, people wouldn’t care. If you are a big character that’s loud and trash talks, the performance doesn’t matter as much in a way, but I am not like that, so I am aware my performances must do that talking.

“We were aiming for three fights this year, May, August, and the winter. So, the stakes are high, but I will go in with whomever the team puts in front of me, that’s for them, as long as I prepare I’m good, because when you step in the ring there’s no turning back. This is a very dangerous sport, so you have to make sure you are on it.”

Buatsi vs. Bolotniks tops a huge night of action, Joe Cordina (12-0, 7 KOs) returns in a ten round Lightweight clash with Joshuah Hernandez (10-3, 8 KOs), Portsmouth’s Michael McKinson (20-0, 2 KOs) defends his WBO Welterweight Title against Przemyslaw Runowski (19-1, 5 KOs), Hopey Price (4-0, 1 KO) meets Claudio Grande (5-0, 3 KOs) in a six round Super-Bantamweight contest, Glasgow’s Kash Farooq (15-1, 6 KOs) clashes with Luis Gerardo Castillo (28-2, 18 KOs) for the WBC International Bantamweight Title, the USA’s Raymond Ford (8-0-1, 4 KOs) meets Watford’s Reece Bellotti (14-4, 12 KOs) for the vacant WBA Continental Featherweight Title and Manchester Super-Featherweight Zelfa Barrett (25-1, 15 KOs) joins the card as a late addition. 
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Eddie Hearn, Matchroom Sport Chairman:

“Liverpool, good afternoon and welcome. Thank you for an incredible turnout. Coming off the back of a pandemic, it’s a bit like throwing a birthday party and wondering if anyone is going to turn up. Then answer is yes. Look at it, it’s absolutely packed in here. It feels so good to be back at real press conferences, and moving forward to what is quite frankly the biggest night of boxing we’ve ever put on in Liverpool.

“This is the best Saturday night card we’ve put on since I’ve promoted boxing. I can’t thank the fighters enough for taking so many big challenges on this card. This is exactly what we want from boxing. Saturday October 9th, the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool, live on DAZN all around the world. An incredible night of boxing headlined by the all-Liverpool clash between Liam Smith and Anthony Fowler.

“This fight is a fight that quite frankly two or three months ago I hadn’t thought about. Liam Smith went to Russia, he got robbed of a decision out there in a fight that probably should have taken him on to challenge for a World Title. Anthony Fowler under the tutelage of Shane McGuigan has improved and improved and wants all of the big challenges. Both camps were quite shocked when I suggested it but both camps considered the fight and both camps believe they can win. The card is absolutely fantastic.”

Liam Smith – Liverpool, England – 29-3-1, 16 KOs – fighting Anthony Fowler in a 12 round Super-Welterweight contest:

“Obviously this is a fight that was put towards me and not one I was looking at, I think Anthony’s team were hoping, but once the fight was spoke about and this was the path we were going. I said it’s a fight that I’ll take and it’s a fight that makes me smile, it’s a fight that I’ll be bang up for.
“I’m buzzing to be top of the bill again, on a card like this, against another Liverpool fighter who I can get my teeth into. I’m looking forward to it, a little bit like the Eggington thing, with 10-ounce gloves on, in fight shape with a bit of a crowd. I’ll just show him I’m that little bit of a step ahead and he wasn’t ready for that step up just yet.
“I just think he’s [Anthony] competitive, I think he’s a good fighter for four rounds, but he reverts back to what he does. Once the fight goes past four rounds the fights only going one way.
“Obviously you know how bad Anthony in on social media so imagine me losing to him on social media, I’ve got to live with photos, live with that for the rest of my life. Everything like that got took into consideration, it’s a big fight that makes me smile, a fight that I can get bang up for.
“He’s got a lot to deal with in the next nine weeks, a lot of pressure, the build-up side to the fights. I’ve been in with bigger punches, better fighters, I’ve been in local derbies with my brothers, he’s got a lot to deal with in the coming weeks and it’ll be interested to see.
“I believe I’ll stop him, 100%, I’ll be wary of his power the same I’d be wary of anybody’s power on this table. He’s got 10-ounce gloves on, I’m not deluded, I’ve been in boxing a long time and I think one shot can change the fight with anyone. People are getting a little mixed up, if Anthony loses where does he go? He’s 30.
“My point being is, people are forgetting Anthony is 30, they’re asking why he took this, he didn’t have to. He did have to take this fight, he’s 30. That’s where it lies, he’s not a prospect no more.”

Anthony Fowler – Liverpool, England – 15-1, 12 KOs – fighting Liam Smith in a 12 round Super-Welterweight contest:

“This is a dream come true, I’ve always wanted to be the main event in Liverpool and for this to come true is great. I’m under no illusions I’m up against it, Liam is a top, world class fighter, he’s proven that. But I’m 30 years of age, I can’t sit around and wait for these fights that aren’t getting made so I need to roll the dice. I’m confident, I’m at my peak, my best and I’ll be at my best come fight night.
“I wouldn’t be sitting here if I didn’t think I could win this fight. He’s going to be confident; he’s boxed at a lot higher level, but I’ve done a lot of good stuff behind closed doors. I’ve been sparring World Champions as a kid, so I know what I’m capable of, I just need to perform on the night.
“I’ve had 16 fights and most of them have been quite easy, I haven’t really been tested, I lost that fight early on in my career, but I regrouped, got a new coach and had four fights with four knockouts. I’m on my way up and coming to my peak.
“I’m as big and strong as anyone in the weight, obviously I haven’t got the experience, but I hit as hard as anyone. I’m big, strong and I know what I’m capable of, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could win.
“That was me watching the likes of Bellew, Price, hoping that it would be me one day. I’m here now and I’m really grateful – I want to give it my all.
“I haven’t had a chance to think about it, I’ve just come out of a fight, I’ve got a baby crying. When I get back to camp, I’ll completely switch into fight mode. I wouldn’t goad him at all, I’ve got a lot of respect for him, he’s been world champion, his brothers have all done amazing. It’s just a fight, it’s a job, boxing isn’t my life it’s my job. This fight is just business, it’s nothing personal.”
Shane McGuigan, trainer and manager of Anthony Fowler:

“This is a huge step up for Anthony, we can’t obviously make any mistakes, Liam Smith in the number one Light-Middleweight in Britain, he’s a former World Champion, he’s been in with Canelo and Munguia. He is the best fighter in the division, but I think it’s an opportunity that Anthony has to take. 
“Anthony’s 30 years of age, it’s an opportunity that I believe he’s going to grab with both hands and win. It’s a fantastic fight and I’m really looking forward to it.
“I wouldn’t be taking this fight if I didn’t believe Anthony was going to win. I believe if Liam loses to Anthony Fowler he’s in a difficult place, but that’s why he’s taken it, he’s confident of winning. I believe we’re going to come away with the victory.
“It all goes out the window once that first bell is rang. Fight week is going to be a challenge because it’s something new, the pressure of being the headline, the fight being a local derby as well. He’s sort of had that with Fitzgerald and it’s just another experience but I don’t believe it’s going to hinder his experience.” 

Ted Cheeseman – Bermondsey, England – 17-2-1, 10 KOs – defending his British Super-Welterweight Title against Troy Williamson:
This is a really good fight for me, another undefeated fighter, good fighter, to prove myself against. I believe this is my last hurdle before I push on in my career and move past the British level. This is what’s really motivating me, I have to get past this last hurdle to be able to do that – you’ll see the best Ted Cheeseman.
“If you look at my last couple of fights I’m hurting fighters a lot more now, I’m much more mature and I got Metcalf out their last time and he’s a really strong, tough man. With all the experience I’ve picked up and the more I’m learning I think when I get in the ring now, they don’t know what I’m going to do – whether I’m going to fight or box. There’s a plan A, B and C and I believe the experience will take me all the way on this fight.” 

Troy Williamson – Darlington, England – 16-0-1, 12 KOs – challenging Ted Cheeseman for the British Super-Welterweight Title:

“It’s going to be a massive fight on a huge platform and one that I’m really excited about.
“The British Title is every British boxers dream to win on turning professional and I’ve got the chance to do that on October 9. I’ve been saying for a lot of years now that I believe I’m the best Super-Welterweight in Britain and I’ve got a chance to prove that on October 9.
“I rate Ted Cheeseman highly, both inside and outside the ring but on October 9 we put friendship aside and it’s down to business.”

Kieron Conway – Northampton, England – 16-2, 3 KOs – fighting James Metcalf in a Super-Welterweight contest:

“This is a massive fight; I’m game and I’ll keep coming. I don’t want to come back to these easy fights. I want these testing fights, the fights at the top of the domestic division. I want prove myself and hopefully James Metcalf brings the very best of him because I’m bringing the best of me.
“When you’re sitting there thinking Cheeseman, Fowler, Fitzgerald, thinking who we can put together, you’d think Kieron Conway, because this is going to be the performance of my life – this is going to be the best of me.
“It was a massive experience to go to Texas, I took a lot from it in and outside the ring, a lot of experience and knowledge came from there. I’m going to showcase that next time out; I look forward to it. It’s going to be a great opportunity, massive show and hopefully a buzzing crowd.”

Luke Willis – Liverpool, England – 10-0, 1 KO – fighting Rylan Charlton in a Lightweight contest:

“I’m here and I couldn’t have asked for a better opponent. I’m just looking forward to getting in there and showing my skills, showing what I’m about.
“He [Ricardo Fernandez] was coming forward; he came to win, and I only had a week’s notice to prepare for that fight. I’ve had 9/10 weeks for this, so you’ll see a lot better Luke Willis come October 9.”

Rylan Charlton – Norwich, England – 6-1-1, 3 KOs – fighting Luke Willis in a Lightweight contest:

“I can’t wait for it; it’s going to be a good fight. Finally dropping down to Lightweight is what I needed to do, I tested it at Welterweight – far too big – but you’ve seen what I did at that weight. I’m going to take over this Lightweight division.
“One thing I’m really looking forward to it having all my fans, everyone from Norwich, all there. I’m looking forward to the fight and roll on the Lightweight division.”

Solomon Dacres – Birmingham, England – 2-0, 1 KO – fighting Kamil Sokolowski in a Heavyweight contest: “Sokolowski is one of the those, he’s a bit of a bogeyman for your up and coming prospects, if you’re not switched on you can become unstuck. For me, I said let’s get him out of the way early, don’t build it up for anything that it isn’t, he’s a decent journeyman but if I’m on my game I should just deal with him the same way.
“The Heavyweight scene, domestically, is leading the charge in the world so if you can get your foot in the door and make a good statement right here in Britain you’re up there with the world’s best – that’s where I want to be myself.
“I just take each fight as it comes, keep stepping up and get to those levels. Hopefully in the next three or fights I’ll be knocking on the door for something at a good level.”
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