MTK Global signs National Champion Barney Stokes

MTK Global is delighted to announce the signing of former two-time national champion and tri-nations gold medallist Barney Stokes.

As an amateur, Stokes had plenty of success, with the Burnley boxer having over 60 fights and representing England, winning titles at schoolboy and junior level along the way.

Boxing has been a key part of his life since birth, as his father, Edward, won several amateur titles with Repton Boxing Club, while his brothers – Tom, John and Edward – have all boxed too.

The 19-year-old will now enter the paid ranks under the guidance of MTK Manchester’s Johnney Roye, and Stokes is relishing the new opportunity.

Stokes said:“I am honoured to be part of MTK Global as they are the best in professional boxing and I know they will push me to reach my goals.

“It feels great to be alongside some huge names. The boxers they have are some of the best in the world so it makes me very excited about what I can achieve as a boxer.

“I am from an Irish traveller background and I have boxed since I was seven. Boxing runs in the family. My grandfather, father and brothers have all boxed.

“Outside the ring I would consider myself a very nice jolly fella, but when I enter the ring it’s almost like I flip a switch and become somebody’s nightmare.

“Boxing has always been my greatest passion and main focus in life. My goal was always to become a professional boxer. As an amateur boxer I had over 60 fights, won a schoolboy title, a junior title and a gold medal in the tri-nations. All of those were achieved before I was 16.

“Becoming a professional boxer is something I have always wanted. I look forward to working with MTK to reach my full potential, and within the next 12 months I hope to have a good amount of fights and experience under my belt so that I can start putting my name out there.”

MTK Global’s Johnney Roye added“We’re pleased to welcome Barney Stokes to the team. He’s been training at the MTK Manchester gym for a while now and looks to have a very bright future ahead of him.

“He is the latest talented youngster to team up with MTK Global, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what he is capable of in the paid ranks.”

News on when Stokes will be making his professional debut will be announced in due course.

Stay up to date at mtkglobal.com and on social media @mtkglobal

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BARRY HEARN OBE STEPS ASIDE AS EDDIE HEARN BECOMES MATCHROOM SPORT GROUP CHAIRMAN

Eddie Hearn will become Chairman of the Matchroom Sport Group of Companies as Barry Hearn OBE steps aside after almost 40 years to become President of the Group in an advisory role, dealing primarily with event strategy and global development.
 
Eddie will become Chairman of the Group of Companies and Chairman of Matchroom Sport, Professional Darts Corporation, Matchroom Boxing, Matchroom Boxing USA, Matchroom Media and the PGA EuroPro Tour.
 
Also, in the group, Steve Dawson will take over from Barry as Chairman of World Snooker after this year’s World Snooker Championship.  Matthew Porter will become Chairman of Matchroom Multi Sport and Katie Hearn CEO of Matchroom Media.
 
Hearn founded the sports promotions company back in 1982, enjoying huge success with Snooker before moving into Boxing, Darts, Pool and Tenpin Bowling amongst more than a dozen different sports.
 
Through the 1990s Hearn turned several niche sports into major TV attractions with a succession of innovative ideas.  His acquisition of a majority shareholding in the PDC in 2001 and World Snooker in 2010 saw him appointed Chairman as both companies went from strength to strength.  
 
Matchroom supplies a wide range of sports programming to broadcasters worldwide, producing over 3,000 hours of action annually across over 600 event days in addition to original documentaries and shoulder programming for all platforms.
 
Following several years in the sponsorship and event management industry, Eddie Hearn joined Matchroom Sport in 2004, he assumed the role of Chief Executive of the PGA EuroPro Tour and subsequently headed up Matchroom Sport’s rapidly expanding poker and online gaming operations.  With the swift growth of the company in recent years Eddie has assumed the role of Group Managing Director and will now become Group Chairman.
 
Eddie’s most notable public face is as the head of Matchroom’s Boxing division, promoting a stable he has grown, and which is littered with World Champions and Olympic gold medallists.
 
Under Eddie’s leadership, Matchroom Boxing has returned to the forefront of the sport around the world.  In 2018 he agreed a historic $1billion deal with live streaming platform DAZN to stage 16  fights a year across America under Matchroom Boxing USA.
 
Barry Hearn OBE said: “It has been a huge honour to have worked with some of the greatest sports people on the planet across the last 40 years and enjoyed so many wonderful experiences across our spectrum of events in that time, from snooker’s glory days of the 1980s to record-breaking boxing shows and the incredible growth of professional darts, as we have created opportunities for thousands of sportsmen and women during that time.
 
“Great challenges have been met, but none more so than the Covid pandemic.  I have been determined to stay in charge until this disaster passed and now there is light at the end of the tunnel and I believe it is the right time to pass control of Matchroom to my son Eddie and the brilliant teams we have assembled across all our activities.
 
“I shall continue to be available to all Matchroom companies as non-executive President, an advisory role concentrating on group strategy and global expansion, but Eddie will be elevated to Group Chairman with overall responsibility for the entire group.
 
“I could not be prouder of the Matchroom Group of Companies and the outstanding teams that operate in a highly competitive marketplace.  Matchroom has grown from two employees operating in an office under a snooker hall in Romford in 1982, to the global powerhouse it is today due to the efforts and performances of all our staff, contractors, broadcasters, and partners.
 
“I know the company is in good hands with Eddie at the helm and with my daughter Katie heading up Matchroom Media, Matt Porter at the PDC, Frank Smith at Matchroom Boxing, Emily Frazer at Matchroom Multi Sport, Steve Dawson my Chief Executive for over 30 years and Dan Godding at the PGA EuroPro Tour, along with all their teams.
 
“Now is the time to give all Matchroom employees the opportunity to take this great British company to the next level and beyond.”
 
Eddie Hearn commented:  “Anyone that knows me is well aware of what Matchroom means to me and our family. It has a legacy that spans 40 years from a small office under a snooker hall in Romford to a global powerhouse of sports entertainment. My father has dedicated his life to the company and since I joined in 2004 I have done the same. Now a greater responsibility falls on my shoulders and I am very proud to continue his great work and lead the business and the incredible team that we have built at Matchroom. We have seen astounding growth in the last ten years but we have only just begun. I look forward to continuously evolving and continuing the global growth of this astonishing family business.”

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This is a chance at redemption! Says Andrey Sirotkin

Andrey Sirotkin plans on gaining revenge for his previous trip to England – as he prepares to face Danny Dignum for the WBO European middleweight title on Saturday’s massive #MTKFightNight.

Sirotkin (19-1, 7 KOs) challenges Dignum (13-0, 7 KOs) for his title at the University of Bolton Stadium this weekend, live on IFL TV.

The last time Sirotkin fought in England, he came up short against former world title challenger John Ryder, but the Russian has vowed that it will be a different story against Dignum.

Sirotkin said:“I am very excited and glad this fight is here. Everything has gone according to plan in training and I have listened to everything my coaches have had to say.

“I don’t know much about Danny Dignum. I watched a couple of my fights, but I will learn in battle. I am coming to get the victory in England.

“He has a high WBO ranking and that is why I have taken this fight. I want to climb the rankings and a win here helps me get closer to a title fight.

“I see this as a chance to get redemption from the last fight I had in England. I need England to remember me for a victory and I will get it on Saturday.”

Elsewhere on Saturday’s card, Dan Azeez puts his English light-heavyweight belt on the line against Ricky Summers, Joe Ham collides with Jack Bateson, Lewie Edmondson takes on Luke Blackledge, Paul Ryan makes his professional debut against Kyle Hughes, Fearghus Quinn clashes with Jan Ardon, Paul McCullagh meets Anthony Woolery, and Carl Fail goes up against Kristaps Zulgis.

Stay up to date at mtkglobal.com and on social media @mtkglobal

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My job is to walk right through Ricky Summers Says Dan Azeez

Dan Azeez says he is expecting fireworks when he defends his English light-heavyweight title against Ricky Summers on Saturday’s action-packed #MTKFightNight.

Azeez (12-0, 8 KOs) puts his belt on the line against Summers (17-2-1, 6 KOs) at the University of Bolton Stadium this weekend, live on IFL TV.

Summers has previously challenged for the British light-heavyweight title, but undefeated Azeez is confident he has the tools to nullify his opponent.

Azeez said:“The British light-heavyweight domestic scene has been thriving. The top 10 is very competitive, and since I’ve turned professional the aim is to climb the ladder and keep getting titles.

“Ricky Summers has mixed it at British title level, and I’m trying to reach that level. He presents his own dangers and has got experience over me, but my job is to nullify that and walk right through him.

“I envisage the fight being an entertaining one. Ricky is a come forward fighter and hopefully it sets alight. Both of us can punch and we are strong light-heavyweights, so I expect fireworks and a good old English domestic dust-up.”

Elsewhere on Saturday’s card, Danny Dignum defends his WBO European middleweight title against Andrey Sirotkin, Joe Ham collides with Jack Bateson, Lewie Edmondson takes on Luke Blackledge, Paul Ryan makes his professional debut against Kyle Hughes, Fearghus Quinn is back in action, Paul McCullagh meets Anthony Woolery, and Carl Fail returns.

Stay up to date at mtkglobal.com and on social media @mtkglobal

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BENN VS. VARGAS WEIGHTS AND RUNNING ORDER

18:20 LIVE ON SKY SPORTS FACEBOOK

4 x 3 mins International Light-Heavyweight contest
JOHN HEDGES 12st 9lbs 2oz v STANKO JERMELIC 12st 6lbs 6oz
(Takeley, England)                      (Split, Croatia)
 
followed by

19:00 LIVE ON SKY SPORTS & DAZN

6 x 3 mins International Heavyweight contest
NICK CAMPBELL 17st 10lbs 13oz v PETR FROHLICH 16st 2lbs 10oz
(Glasgow, Scotland)                           (Most, Czech Republic)

followed by
10 x 3 mins WBC International Silver Bantamweight Title
ALEXANDER ESPINOZA 8st 5lbs 8oz v KASH FAROOQ 8st 5lbs 0oz
(Managua, Nicaragua)                             (Glasgow, Scotland)

followed by
10 x 2 mins vacant WBA Bantamweight World Title 
SHANNON COURTENAY 8st 5lbs 14oz v EBANIE BRIDGES 8st 5lbs 0oz
(Watford, England)                                     (New South Wales, Australia)

followed by
10 x 2 mins WBO Middleweight World Title
SAVANNAH MARSHALL 11st 5lbs 10oz v MARIA LINDBERG 11st 0lbs 2oz
(Hartlepool, England)                                  (Malmo, Sweden)

followed by
12 x 3 mins WBA Continental Welterweight Title
CONOR BENN 10st 6lbs 12oz v SAMUEL VARGAS 10st 6lbs 10oz
(Essex, England)                         (Bogota, Colombia)
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BENN VS. VARGAS + UNDERCARD PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES

Eddie Hearn:

“We’re here back in London after a whirlwind global tour that continues. Two weeks ago we were in sunny Gibraltar for an incredible event with Dillian Whyte against Alexander Povetkin. Last weekend in Uzbekistan for a thrilling night with over 10,000 people in attendance for the homecoming heroes.

“Back in London now for a huge card live on Sky Sports in the UK and on DAZN around the world. Conor Benn returns against the fantastic Samuel Vargas in what should be a thrilling fight. Two women’s World Title fights on the card as well, Savannah Marshall against Maria Lindberg and of course Shannon Courtenay against Ebanie Bridges for the vacant WBA Bantamweight World Title.

“Next week we have the WBO Middleweight World Championship in Miami between Demetrius Andrade and Liam Williams. Then we’re in Barcelona, two Brits going for the European Championships and then the huge card on May 1st of course – Chisora vs. Parker and Katie Taylor vs. Tasha Jonas, Chris Eubank Jr against Marcus Morrison, Dmitry Bivol against Craig Richards, Scott Fitzgerald and Campbell Hatton on the card.

“Then there’s the small matter of 70,000 people at the fantastic Dallas Cowboys Stadium for Canelo against Billy Joe Saunders. Then we’re back in the UK for a May 15th show that will be announced next week. Just a little few things coming up for you.”

Conor Benn – Essex, England – 17-0, 11 KOs – defending his WBA Continental Welterweight Title against Samuel Vargas:

“This is definitely one for the fans. I’m chomping at the bit; this is a fight I’ve been calling for a long time now and this is another fight where I can show my levels and experience.
 
“You can judge me on my last performance, or the performance before that, but I’m always evolving and learning from previous fights and the mistakes I’ve made. This is the sort of fight where I really do show what I’m capable of.
 
“We don’t know the ceiling to my career, we don’t know where the limit is because I came into the game raw and naive. I’m learning and I plan on displaying all of that come Saturday night.
 
“If you watch Vargas’ fights he comes in and he brings it but so do I. Of course, he’s tested at a higher level and got more experience than me, but everyone I fight moving forward is going to have experience on me, I’ll always go into the fight the less experienced fighter because of my lack of amateur background, because I’m only 24.
 
“People will question that, it’s my job to prove them wrong, it’s my job to get in there and do a number on him Saturday night. It’s going to be my hardest nights work, I know what he brings, he’s a tough South American who loves to fight and fights with his heart on his sleeve. You’ve got to give him credit where it’s deserved.
 
“I keep getting asked now about other fights, I made the mistake once in my career looking past opponents and look what happened – I hit the deck twice and it turned out to be my hardest nights work in my career. I’m fully focused on Vargas; I know what he brings and he’s in there to win and show me how it’s done.
 
“I’ve been training hard for this fight; I’ve been working hard and visualising this fight and I’m ready to go. Whatever he brings, I’ll match it – it’s going to be a shootout at some stage of this fight.
 
“Every time we’ve said it’s a test I’ve passed with flying colours. With Koivula people were writing me off again, saying he’s too experienced, and then what happened. I stepped up again against Sebastian Formella and what happened. I rise to the occasion and I will rise to the occasion, I will make sure I match it.
 
“Tony’s trained me harder than ever for this camp. He’s really pushed me; I don’t often say I need a break, but I needed a few this camp. When you’re talking about sacrifices try four years, not being with family – that’s really hard.
 
“My little son now, we only had a few days off when he was born to spend time with him, so your mind and emotions are still on the fight. Even when I’m holding him, I’m thinking about the fight. Twitching in my sleep about the fight. It’s going to be nice after this to sit down and emotionally relax with my new family.” 

Samuel Vargas – Bogota, Colombia – 31-6-2, 14 KOs – challenging Conor Benn for his WBA Continental Welterweight Title:

“I’m blessed, I’m happy and had a good training camp. I feel like everything has fallen into place for me to have a great show Saturday night. I’ve put my heart and soul into this training camp, working with Bones Adams. I’ve lots of rounds in the gym and I’m really excited to be here. The moment is here, it’s time.
 
“I don’t really compare, I was 24 once, I was young once upon a time and when I look at myself then and now, I just laugh. I just think I bring too much into the ring for him.
 
“It’s kind of sad we don’t have fans in the venue, I was looking forward to having a lot of fans there because it would’ve beee a great energy, you need that. The fans in London have a lot of love and support which I’m thankful for.
 
“This is a fan friendly fight, he fights, I fight my ass off. I fight for my family, for everything I have, for the desire to win and become better at life and boxing, there’s so many motives I have to fight for.
 
“I never make no excuses, even in my loses, I always work my ass off in training camp. This fight in particular, I haven’t seen my family or Lee in two months. Everybody keeps telling me how focused and driven I am because it’s all I’ve done, there’s nothing else to do but box, study, know my enemy and do my job.” 

Savannah Marshall – Hartlepool, England – 9-0, 7 KOs – defending her WBO Middleweight World Title against Maria Lindberg:

“If anything, this is a tougher fight than the original fight we had. Maria is very experienced, tough and been in with some of the best in the world – Christian Hammer twice. I’m expecting a tough fight come Saturday.
 
“I’ve had a twelve-week camp, so I’ve prepared for everything. Whatever Maria brings I’m more than confident I’ve got the answer for.
 
“I think it’s every boxers dream of being the Undisputed Champion and I do believe that is the biggest fight in female boxing, but I can’t look past Maria at the moment.” 

Maria Lindberg – Malmo, Sweden – 19-6-2, 10 KOs – challenging Savannah Marshall for her WBO Middleweight World Title:

“Unfortunately, this was so sudden, and I didn’t have much time but I’m more or less always in training. I’m prepared, this is a new experience for me as I’ve never taken a fight like this with such short notice. There’s a first time for everything, I’m excited and looking forward to Saturday.
 
“I’m more experienced as a professional, I think I have three times more fights than Savannah and many Title fights. I’ve fought some really good fights, so the experience is definitely on my side. I have my style and I know how I’m fighting, that’s the way I’m going to make it hard for her on Saturday.”

Shannon Courtenay – Watford, England – 6-1, 3 KOs – fighting Ebanie Bridges for the vacant WBA Bantamweight World Title:

“This is more than just a fight, this is an opportunity for me to change my entire life, my family’s life. This is the reason I got into boxing and I’m excited to achieve my dream Saturday night.
 
“We have very different opinions when it comes to fighting. She talks more about the weigh-in, all I care about is the fight – I’m a fight fan. This to me is a World Title, why are we not talking about the fact this is a world title fight. This is a fantastic fight.
 
“She’s an exciting fighter, she’s aggressive and comes forward, I’m aggressive and I come forward. Our styles are going to mix, so let’s talk about the fight, there’s nothing else to discuss.
 
“I’m just excited to fight. I can understand why she’s saying she wants to get more eyes on the sport, but I want to get more viewers for the correct reasons. Katie Taylor didn’t work her backside off to pave the way for women like Ebanie and I to talk about underwear.
 
“I’ve got a 14-year-old sister, my coaches have daughters, my god-daughter, I want to be a good role model and show them hard work and motivation gets you here. Not flaunting your body.
 
“I’ve got a cool, calm and collected head. We’ve had a game plan since day one of this fight, I’ve got the best team behind me keeping me nice and calm. My game plan is my game plan, we’ve stuck to it in sparring, and it’s worked beautifully – it’ll work even better on Saturday.
 
“This fight isn’t my Everest; this is just the start for me. Win the World Title, join the likes of Savannah Marshall, Katie Taylor, Terri Harper and another British woman to hold a World Title. I want to bring another World Title to Britain; we saw it with Lawrence Okolie a few weeks ago and I want to be the next one.” 

Ebanie Bridges – New South Wales, Australia – 6-0, 2 KOs – fighting Shannon Courtenay for the vacant WBA Bantamweight World Title:

“This same way I’ve got noticed is the same way I’m getting this fight noticed. I feel like women’s boxing needs more eyes on the sport, we need to do whatever we can. I truly believe that the reason this fight has got so much talk about it is because of me, because of the different approach. I think that’s what’s helping getting eyes on the sport, getting talk on the sport and building it.
 
“What does matter is what happens in the ring, that’s all that matters. If we can get as many people as possible to watch the fight, then Shannon and I can show to more diverse number of viewers that women can fight. That’s my goal, get the views and once the people are watching Shannon and I are going to put on a show.
 
“I’ve been fighting and into martial arts since I was five, I haven’t been a boxing fan for just five or six years, I was boxing fan well before I started in the sport. For me, the boxing part is very important to me, but I feel like we need to get more views on women’s boxing and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get that.
 
“I think me winning this World Title will show people you don’t have to be like everybody else to achieve these goals. That’s what I’m going for.
 
“I’m savage, I want to go in there and f**k this shit up. I’m not here to play around, I’m here to get the job done. I don’t play around in boxing, when I fight, I’m there to hurt you. I might look the way I look, but I can’t wait to get in the ring and show people how I fight. The more people I can get to tune in to watch the Bomber, I couldn’t have asked for a better platform, I’m going to do whatever I can.
 
“We both have the power to knock people out, so a knockout or stoppage is very possible. It’ll come down to our conditioning and heart to see if it goes the ten rounds. If it does go the ten rounds, it’ll be a very exciting ten rounds.
 
“I truly believe if I win this fight on Saturday night, I’ll become a superstar. If Shannon wins it she’s still Shannon, she still has to beat Rachel Ball. She’s a World Champion but I just think it’s different. I’m very excited to be that person and to be a new face and character in women’s boxing.” 

Alexander Espinoza – Managua, Nicaragua – 20-2-2, 8 KOs – defending his WBC International Silver Bantamweight Title against Kash Farooq:

“We know there are some great champions from Nicaragua, and you’ll see another one Saturday night.
 
“I believe very much in myself and I’m looking forward to retaining my International crown. I believe I can beat anyone at world level and go on to win a World Title myself.” 

Kash Farooq – Glasgow, Scotland – 14-1, 6 KOs – challenging Alexander Espinoza for his WBC International Silver Bantamweight Title:

“I’m been preparing for this fight; I know what to expect on the night and I’m really confident I’ll put in a good performance and get the win. He’s going to bring it.
 
“I was pleased but there’s always room for improvement. I went back, took a couple of days off and went right back to the gym. I trained right through Christmas, New Year and my birthday. It was a good performance, but I want to improve every fight, I want to get better, and this is another fight where I’m going to showcase my skills and look good.
 
“I think he [Alexander] will be there all night, but that’s going to make me look even better. It’s going to give me opportunities I didn’t get last fight. Expect a good performance off me but never say never he may surprise me.”  

John Hedges – Takeley, England – 1-0 – fighting Stanko Jermelic in a four-round International Light-Heavyweight contest:

“It was a hard debut but looking back on it now and I couldn’t have asked for a better one. It’s prepared me for what’s to come in the future. Taking a southpaw one a couple days’ notice was probably something I shouldn’t have done, but I’m glad I did, we got the win, and we push on now for my second fight and I’m looking to shine.
 
“I’ve trained hard, I’ve had some class sparring and sparred some great names – British Champions all at Light-Heavyweight. I’ve trained hard, been around some good boys and putting everything in, Mark’s been away but I had a few weeks with him.
 
“Me, Steven Andrews, Mark Tibbs, Jimmy Tibbs and Ian have all been down there doing the job, putting the work in and making sure I can have a good performance this time.
 
“It’s a proper Essex gym, we’re having it down there – it’s lively. I can’t knock it, it’s a proper gym and I’m enjoying it down there. I’m enjoying being in good company and training hard.
 
“I’m trying to take the pressure off myself, I don’t want to swallow on it. I’m ready to go, I’ve put the work in, and this is the fun part. I want to prove to people what I know I can be and what I’ve done before – I’m ready to go now.

Stanko Jermelic – Split, Croatia – 0-5 – fighting John Hedges in a four-round International Light-Heavyweight contest:
 
“I’ve had good training camp; I feel like I’m ready to face John. I’ve watched John’s previous fight and I’m ready to fight on Saturday.” 

Nick Campbell – Glasgow, Scotland – Professional Debut – fighting Petr Frohlich in a six-round International Heavyweight contest:

“I suppose you do need to be mad to get into boxing, but I love it. I’ve loved the sport since a young age, so it just felt like the right thing for me to do at the time – give up rugby and go to boxing.
 
“Here we are, no better stage to make your debut and I’m buzzing for it I can’t wait.
 
“Scotland is famous for their lighter weights; we’ve got Josh Taylor and Kash Farooq who is fighting with me on this card at the weekend but there’s never really been a good Heavyweight. There’s a void there, one that I want to fill.
 
“My rugby background is going to help me with this, with the pressure. I’m taking it in my stride, using the pressure to perform, put on a show Saturday night and show that I’m here to make a statement.
 
“I got into this four years ago, I went through the amateur set up and been down Sheffield sparring guys in the GB squad. I’ve been over the world the Scotland, always testing myself and see how I went.
 
“As far as I’m concerned, the only way is up and anybody who doubts me is just more fuel to my fire.

Petr Frohlich – Most, Czech Republic – 2-30-1, 1 KO – fighting Nick Campbell in a six-round International Heavyweight contest:

“I’m so pleased and grateful for this opportunity to fight here in London, particularly given the current climate. I’m going to give my best and show what a quality boxer I am.” 
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VARGAS – I’LL BREAK BENN DOWN AND TAKE HIS SOUL

Road warrior sends warning to “wild” Benn
Samuel Vargas has promised to make Conor Benn pay for his “wild” mistakes and says the 24-year-old doesn’t have the experience to deal with him when they meet over twelve rounds for the WBA Continental Welterweight Title this Saturday April 10, live on Sky Sports in the UK and on DAZN in the U.S. and more than 200 countries and territories.

Vargas (31-6-2, 14 KOs) is well known on these shores having floored former World Champion Amir Khan before losing on points in a hard-fought battle in September 2018, and the Canadian-Colombian warrior is no stranger to elite level opposition after sharing the ring with numerous quality operators such as Errol Spence and Danny Garcia.

Undefeated Benn impressed last time out in a significant step-up against Germany’s former IBO World Champion Sebastian Formella, but 31-year-old Vargas believes he presents a much harder task for ‘The Destroyer’ and is preparing to inflict a first career loss on the youngster.

“I have taken this fight very seriously,” said Vargas. “I had a great training camp and I worked my ass off. I’m really focused, and I can’t wait to get in there. This is professional boxing. Everyone is a threat. Everyone. Especially at this level. 

“He is a strong young fighter. He’s going to come on strong. He looks physically fit all of the time. He seems very wild and makes mistakes that he has to pay for. We’ll meet in the centre of the ring and we’ll find out what he’s about. I’m expecting him to come to war and that’s what I’m prepared for. 

“I don’t care what he thinks. They have hopes for him over here, I guess. I don’t see it personally. If he’s underestimating me, then the better it is for me. I expect a lot of fans to tune in and watch the fight. It’s going to be a hell of a show. I’m going to bring the heat. He’s going to do whatever he’s able to do. 

“Last time I was here in the UK I came close to closing the show but then I didn’t have enough time left in the round. This time I’m going to bring the same energy and finish the job. I’m going to give Conor a right hand from hell. It would mean a lot to me to win this. 

“That’s part of the plan, taking him into the trenches. We’ve got to break him down and take his soul. We’re going to break him down little by little. He doesn’t have the experience to handle that. He’s got to have the same energy that he has in the first round in the ninth and tenth. We’ll see about that.” 

Benn vs. Vargas tops a big night of action April 10, Watford’s Shannon Courtenay (6-1, 3 KOs) faces Australia’s Ebanie Bridges  (5-0, 2 KOs) for the vacant WBA Bantamweight World Title, Hartlepool’s Savannah Marshall (9-0, 7 KOs) returns after her win over Hannah Rankin, Glasgow Bantamweight Kash Farooq (14-1, 6 KOs) challenges Alexander Espinoza (20-2-2) for the WBC International Silver Title, Takeley prospect John ‘The Gentleman’ Hedges (1-0) looks to build on his pro debut win last October and Glasgow Heavyweight Nick Campbell makes his professional debut. 
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CANELO-SAUNDERS ON GENERAL SALE TODAY AFTER SMASHING PRE-SALE RECORD

Super-Middleweight unification clash on Cinco De Mayo weekend at AT&T Stadium
All remaining tickets go on general sale today for the blockbuster unification showdown between Canelo Alvarez and Billy Joe Saunders on Saturday May 8 at AT&T stadium in Arlington, TX, live worldwide on DAZN, after the event broke SeatGeek.com’s pre-sale record.
 TICKETS GO ON GENERAL SALE AT 10AM CT TODAY (MARCH 26) AT SEATGEEK.COM 
Over 40,000 tickets were sold in the pre-sale period, smashing the previous record for the best performing pre-sale sales for the mobile ticket platform, and the scramble for the remaining tickets will begin at 10am CT today (11am ET) when the rest of the tickets are released on general sale.
 
Canelo fights at the home of the Dallas Cowboys for the second time in his career and returns to his traditional Cinco De Mayo weekend date after COVID robbed him of that in 2020.
 
The Mexican superstar is aiming to take a massive step to becoming the first 168lb undisputed champion from his homeland and the stakes couldn’t be higher, as if he hands Saunders a first career defeat and takes his WBO crown, just one piece of the puzzle will remain.
 
Saunders, who will be completing his training camp in Las Vegas, will be looking to stop the rot for British fighters facing Canelo and grab the biggest win of his career to date against the 30 year old – and promoter Eddie Hearn says the pre-sale success reflects the appetite for fight fans to see Canelo and Saunders tangle on Cinco De Mayo weekend.
 
“The pre-sale numbers were fantastic, and I am sure that on Cinco de Mayo weekend, we’re going to have a full house to watch this massive unification fight,” said Hearn.
 
“It’s great to be able to stage a fight of such huge global significance to the home of the Dallas Cowboys and fill that wonderful stadium with fans. We’re going to be putting on a night that those lucky enough to be in there will never forget.”
 
About AT&T Stadium:
AT&T Stadium is one of the largest, most technologically advanced entertainment venues in the world.  Designed by HKS and built by Manhattan Construction, the $1.2 billion stadium features two monumental arches, the world’s largest HDTV video board cluster, an expansive retractable roof and the largest retractable end zone doors in the world.  Features of the stadium include seating for 80,000 and expandability for up to 100,000, over 300 luxury suites, club seating on multiple levels and the Dallas Cowboys Pro Shop, open to the public year-round.  The stadium is also home to a world-class collection of contemporary art, made up of over 50 pieces from an international array of curated artists displayed on the walls and in the grand public spaces of the venue.  In addition to being the Home of the Dallas Cowboys since opening in 2009, the stadium has hosted Super Bowl XLV, the 2010 NBA All Star Game, the 2014 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four, the 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship Game and the annual Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. The venue has also played host to high school and college football, concerts, championship fights, international soccer matches, and other special events.  For more information, go to www.attstadium.com.
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POVETKIN VS. WHYTE II WEIGHTS AND RUNNING ORDER

UK TIMINGS

16:55 LIVE ON SKY SPORTS FACEBOOK


10 x 3 mins Super-Featherweight contest
YOUSSEF KHOUMARI 9st 4lbs 0oz v KANE BAKER 9st 2lbs 8oz
(Wembley, England)                              (Birmingham, England)

followed by

18:00 LIVE ON SKY SPORTS BOX OFFICE & DAZN10 x 3 mins vacant IBO International Heavyweight Title
ERIK PFEIFER 17st 8lbs 2oz v NICK WEBB 18st 10lbs 0oz
(Germany)                                    (Surrey, England)

followed by

10 x 3 mins WBO Global Welterweight Title
CHRIS KONGO 10st 6lbs 12oz v MICHAEL MCKINSON 10st 6lbs 2oz
(Bermondsey, England)              (Portsmouth, England)

followed by4 x 3 mins International Lightweight contest
CAMPBELL HATTON 9st 10lbs 13oz v JESUS RUIZ 9st 10lbs 6oz
(Manchester, England)                            (Spain)

followed by12 x 3 mins vacant British Super-Welterweight Title 
TED CHEESEMAN 10st 13lbs 10oz v JAMES METCALF 10st 13lbs 13oz
(Bermondsey, England)                       (Liverpool, England)

followed by10 x 3 mins International Heavyweight contest
FABIO WARDLEY 16st 8lbs 6oz v ERIC MOLINA 17st 13lbs 5oz
(Ipswich, England)                         (USA)

followed by12 x 3 mins Interim WBC Heavyweight World Title
ALEXANDER POVETKIN 16st 4lbs 4oz v DILLIAN WHYTE 17st 9lbs 3oz                  
(Russia)                                                       (Brixton, England)
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POVETKIN VS. WHYTE II PLUS UNDERCARD PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES

Eddie Hearn:

“Good afternoon. Wow. How lucky are we to be here. Absolutely stunning scenery and stunning weather. We’re very grateful to everybody in Gibraltar. Three or four weeks ago I wondered if this could be done. They say it always seems impossible until it is done. Just a couple of days to go before a historic moment here in Gibraltar, the rematch for the WBC Interim Heavyweight World Title between Alexander Povetkin and Dillian Whyte, live and exclusive on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK and DAZN around the world. We cannot wait to give you a night that you will not forget. It has been a tremendous experience so far and we’re looking forward to the next couple of days before the main event on Saturday night.”

Alexander Povetkin – Russia – 36-2-1, 25 KOs – fighting Dillian Whyte for the Interim WBC Heavyweight World Title:

“I’m very happy to be here, I’m relaxed, confident and the only thing on my mind right now is to go out on Saturday and show some good boxing.
 
“I’ve almost forgotten about the last fight because this is finished. I think that Dillian will be better in the second fight then the first. At the same time, I’ll try to be more careful, pay attention more to my defence.
 
“I don’t have this mindset that I’ll knock him out. It could go the distance; I’m not focusing on the knockout and I’m going to follow my plan.

Max Mikhaylov, World of Boxing:

“It’s a pleasure to be here, thank you to Matchroom it’s a pleasure to work with you. We never avoid anything, the same moment it was proposed we said yes. Alexander is not a boxing to avoid anyone.
 
“This is maybe one of the keys to success of Povetkin and the team, we’re relaxed. There’s no rush anywhere, we’re doing everything we’re comfortable with.” 

Dillian Whyte – Brixton, England – 27-2, 18 KOs – fighting Alexander Povetkin for the Interim WBC Heavyweight World Title:“The first fight was a good fight, we both fought well, I knocked him down a couple of times and he came back to win – he landed a good punch. I’m glad that he took the rematch, I’m glad we’re here again. We’re about to get it on again in two days, I want to say a massive thanks to the Gibraltan people and team who have made this happen.
 
“This is the most important fight of my career. Like I said this is boxing, I’ve been through ups and downs my whole life so I’m using to bouncing back, proving people wrong, showing people what I can when they’ve written me off.
 
“I’m good. People talking about the defeat, it’s nothing. I’m doing something, changing my life and I’m constantly improving. Povetkin’s a good fighter, top amateur, gold medallist, but I’m learning, improving and getting better every day. Saturday I’m going to leave it all on the line once again.
 
“The main thing is the win; I’m a competitor and I hate losing so I want to make it 1-1. I’ll get the win whatever, you’ve seen me adapt in different fight – getting off the floor and winning, out jabbed fighters that faster than me. My coaching team has worked hard on different plans and working different areas.”

Xavier Miller, trainer of Dillian Whyte:

“The first fight, that chapter has ended now, it’s done. We’re just looking forward to Saturday. We’ve worked hard, all credit to Dillian he got straight back to work after. It’s straight business on Saturday.
 
“The tone of the fight, the way the fight was it was only going one way. But this is Heavyweight boxing, we’d made no excuses but gotten straight back into camp. All we want to focus on now is Saturday, last fight is done. We have to win on Saturday and that’s what we’re going to do.” 

Fabio Wardley – Ipswich, England – 10-0, 9 KOs – fighting Eric Molina in a ten-round Heavyweight contest:

“I’ve come from the same breed, cut from the same cloth as Dillian. There are no easy fights, we take all opponents when they come and big chances and opportunities when they’re in front of us. This is one of those, not just for the fight but for the occasion as well. To be a part of an event like this is great, I’m looking forward to Saturday, putting on a fantastic performance and really showcasing some of my skills.
 
“The team and I are looking to do it all, we’re looking to do the big fights when they’re there in front of us and then come back around for some big level domestic dust ups when they’re there as well. We’re talking all the opportunities that are in front of us and relishing the moment. I’m fortunate to be part of events like this, I’m thankful and looking forward to a big fight on Saturday.” 

Eric Molina – USA – 27-6, 19 KOs – fighting Fabio Wardley in a ten-round Heavyweight contest: “Fabio’s young, a rising star in England. When I first got the call to be honest, I’d never heard of the guy. While looking into him it reminds me a lot of myself, coming in with one amateur fight and I was the same age as him when I got started. I’m hoping to come in Saturday and give him everything he’s got to learn.
 
“When Eddie Hearn calls with an opportunity I don’t give no excuses. Training camp was difficult, it was filled with a lot of adversity. It’s all mental, my team says it’s all mental, so we’ll be good to go Saturday.
 
“The only thing I’ve got going for myself in this fight is my experience. Coming into these fights as I can get older, they don’t get easier. There’s a new generation of Heavyweights coming up, Fabio is in the mix, this is a type of fight I need to see where I’m at. I need to see if I can mix it with these young lions, I’m looking forward to the test on Saturday.”

Ted Cheeseman – Bermondsey, England – 16-2-1, 9 KOs – fighting James Metcalf for the vacant British Super-Welterweight Title:

“It’s lovely to be part of a big event but it’s just business when you get there. It’s natural, I’ve done this time and time again but it’s just about getting into fight mode and doing the business Saturday night.
 
“I can box, and I can fight, after the first few rounds, you’ll see how the fight’s panning out and I’ll know then what I’ve got to do win the fight. Whether it’s come forward and march JJ down or box on the back foot, I know I’m capable of both. I’ve got plan A, B and C ready, but we’ll see what happens Saturday night.
 
“If the bookies were right every time, I’d be a millionaire. No disrespect to JJ, but this is his first time on a big event. He will be loving it but there will be a lot of nervous energy with it. I’ve done this time and time again, I’ve got the York Hall to O2 fights, for me this is natural – he’s never really done a big occasion and big opposition fight.
 
“For me I’ve had hard fights one after another. As much as people say it takes it out of you, I’ve never been smashed apart from when I fought Garcia, but my head wasn’t there. Since then, I’ve been improving loads, I’m still young and still feeling fresh and I feel after I got my win against Sam Eggington, I’m going to be ten times the fighter I was then coming from a win.
 
“I believe JJ is going into unknown territory and for me I know I can dig deep. We’re going to see if he will sink or swim on Saturday night.

James Metcalf – Liverpool, England – 21-0, 13 KOs – fighting Ted Cheeseman for the vacant British Super-Welterweight Title:

“I can box, and I can fight, I’m ready to do both.
 
“It’s a must win for me. I feel like I’ve been owed this chance for a while and now it’s come I’m going to take this with both hands.
 
“I’ve grew up watching my dad box, being proud of him, now it’s my turn to return the favour.
 
“I’m soaking up the experience, enjoying it. I’ve been on undercards with Tyson Fury and Josh Warrington, this is a lot better but I’m alright with it all.” 

Campbell Hatton – Manchester, England – making his professional debut in a four-round Lightweight contest with Jesus Ruiz:

“I’m really excited, the nerves are slowly starting to come in. People have been saying has all the media been getting a bit much, but it hasn’t. It’s doing me good because it’s a bit of a distraction from Saturday night to keep the nerves away.
 
“Just really excited, ready to go and been flying in the gym. I did my last punching session this morning, felt really sharp so I can’t wait to show everyone what I can do.
 
“The main bit of advice I’ve had from everybody is to stay calm. The number of eyes on me there will be nerves and I’ll be eager to please people. The main thing for me is to do myself justice.
 
“I want people to see the Campbell Hatton that’s in the gym, sparring, because when people see that it’s what impresses people. I do set a high pace, but I need to be calm and calculated about it.
 
“You always get people who have something to say, for me I just to go in there and do myself justice. If I’m the best Campbell Hatton I can be, I’ll be happy with that and it’ll be enough to impress the people who are behind me.
 
“With time I’ll be able to show people what I can do, staying calm is my main goal for this fight and doing myself justice.

Ricky Hatton, Dad and Manager of Campbell:

“I’m very proud and nervous. He’s had a fantastic build up, it adds a little bit of pressure but if I didn’t think he built to cope with the pressure I wouldn’t have allowed it to happen. He’s seen what I’ve done over the years, his brother, that’s what he wants.
 
“I did it, so he didn’t have to. He’s chosen to want to do it and I think he deserves a pat on the back for that. It’s one of the hardest games of all, I think he deserves credit for that alone and I’m very proud of everything and the attention he’s got this week.
 
“I’ve been saying to him [Campbell] all week do you want to get to where the top of the bill is, Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin, well let’s get used to it now. This is what it’s going to be like when you get there. This will stand him in good stead.
 
“This is his early days, it’s his professional debut, he wants to get off to a good start and impress. You’re going to get people saying it’s because of his Dad, he’s got to shut that out from his mind, do his own job and if he keeps relaxed and composed everybody will like what they see on Saturday.
 
“I want him to do himself justice, he’s worked so hard and come on so quickly in a short space of time. He’s only had 28 amateur fights and it’s his pro debut on such a big stage. I hope he does himself proud on Saturday, which he will do with all the hard work and adaptions he’s made to his game.” 

Chris Kongo – Bermondsey, England – 12-0, 7 KOs – defending his WBO Global Welterweight Title against Michael McKinson:

“When I came into the sport, this is the fight I want. I don’t want to fight journeyman or people I know I can knockout in a round. I want competitive fights. Before this I was calling Michael out for a long time, I’m just happy to be here and happy the fight is on.
 
“People avoid his style, and a lot of people don’t like to fight southpaws. I don’t mind, I always find a way to win regardless. He’s got a good record and he’s a good fighter, I want to beat the best and I’ve got the beat these guys.
 
“I’m just going to leave everything that I’m going to do and leave it until Saturday. Whatever he brings I’ll always be able to adapt, I’m ready for it.
 
“Confident, 100%, Chris Kongo knockout is coming this Saturday.” 

Michael McKinson – Portsmouth, England – 19-0, 2 KOs – challenging Chris Kongo for the WBO Global Welterweight Title:

 “I believe I’m the best welterweight in the UK, to prove that I’ve got to beat Chris Kongo on Saturday.
 
“This is to chase our dreams. There’s no one in the UK that has a style like mine, I’m a problem for absolutely everyone. I’m a smart fighter, whatever he wants to bring I can adapt – I’m very clever. It should be an exciting fight.
 
“I’m taking it all in, everything’s been amazing. Now I’ve got my opportunity, I need to win to stay on this. I’m excited, it’s been an amazing week.”
 
Erik Pfeifer – Germany – 7-0, 5 KOs – fighting Nick Webb for the IBO International Heavyweight Title:

“Training has been very good, I’m in great shape and I will show everyone the best of me Saturday night.
 
“Dillian is a very strong guy it was a very hard sparring session. I left feeling perfect and I’m here ready to fight.
 
“I think this is my chance, I will use it and show the world who I am and how well I can box.”

Nick Webb – Surrey, England – 16-2, 12 KOs – fighting Erik Pfeifer for the IBO International Heavyweight Title:

“It’s a great stage, thanks to Matchroom to getting me on there and I look forward to fighting Erik there on Saturday.
 
“He’s [Erik] a great challenge, a great name who was a really good amateur. This is a great place to showcase my skills and I can’t wait.
 
“This is a must win, there’s no other option – I’m winning and that’s that.” 

Youssef Khoumari – Wembley, England – 11-0-1, 4 KOs – fighting Kane Baker in a ten-round Super-Featherweight contest:

“I’m ready to go, I’d like to thank Dillian Whyte and Eddie Hearn for the opportunity. I’ve had a good, long camp, everything’s gone perfect and I’m looking forward to a smoky Saturday.
 
“A lot of guys turn pro looking to be a part of events like this. I’m so privileged to be a part of an event his big and I’m going to grab it with both hands-on Saturday night.
 
“Dillian likes to say maximum violence all the time so on Saturday they can expect maximum violence from me.
 
“It’s going to be a very fan friendly fight, both of our styles match. He likes to throw a lot of punches, I like to throw a lot of punches, we’re going to meet in the middle and it’s going to be a fantastic war for the fans. 

Kane Baker – Birmingham, England – 14-7 – fighting Youssef Khoumari in a ten-round Super-Featherweight contest:

“I’m feeling comfortable in these events 100%, but I’ll always be a boxing fan with a licence I can’t take that away. I can’t thank Matchroom enough for the year you’ve given me, I’m going to repay everybody on Saturday night with an explosive performance.
 
“Winner stays on, that’s given me a kick that I needed. Saturday I’ll win again, I just want to fight in your garden Eddie. I’m not worried about titles; I just want to win this Saturday and fight in your garden.

“I’m going to do whatever it takes to get the win Saturday night. I’m going to be in his face throwing punches all night.”
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