Eddie Hearn, Matchroom Sport Chairman:
“Good afternoon everyone and welcome back to the second phase of our press conference. Of course, the disappointment that Dillian Whyte will not be fit to fight against Otto Wallin this Saturday but the good news is we have a great fight card ready to go at The O2 this Saturday live around the world on DAZN. When we got the bad news about Dillian Whyte automatically you get asked the question and you have to make the decision on what do you do. Obviously we have an obligation to these men and women to make sure that we deliver for them on many different levels. One to make sure that we advance their careers, two we give them opportunities to fight, we progress their careers, and obviously they get paid as well. It was never in the mind to let these people down. We care for our fighters and there’s a massive opportunity for the people up here on this stage.”
“My career has gone from strength to strength, I’m living the life and absolutely loving it.
“This is going to be my toughest fight yet and something I’ve been screaming for years now; I’ve always said I want to face a tough champion and I’ve got it.
“I never change, so, I want to make an exciting fight and Mary’s going to bring that to the ring as well. I feel like my engine is better, I don’t stop.
“It’s all a visualise, all I see. Unified Champion.”
“I’ve trained really hard for this fight; I knew a long time ago that I would be fighting Chantelle because I would listen to her saying she wanted to fight one of the champions – I made sure I prepared for her from that day. When I was offered this fight, I was excited because I knew I could sit next to Eddie Hearn.
“I knew that sitting next to Eddie Hearn, and with Matchroom, was one of the pinnacles of boxing. So, to be a female fighter who used to sell tickets out of her car all night just to get a fight, to sitting up here, I’m more than ready. It’s going to be an exciting fight.
“I started boxing when I was 14, I stayed amateur for maybe five years, after winning the golden gloves a couple years in a row, I needed to make a living for myself, so I went pro. They said you could make $100 a round boxing; it was what I loved to do so I said, ‘hey this sounds like a steal for me’. As I got better and kept winning, I realised that my opponents cost more money, so I had to get out and sell tickets night and day just to get on the card and make sure my opponent got paid.
“I know it’s going to be a tough fight; I’ve watched her beat the hell out of girls and I thought, ‘yeah, I’ve got to make sure I get out there and do my real work’. She’s not coming to lose, I made sure I worked hard for her. I take this fight very seriously.
“I don’t believe so, some of the girls she fought, like the girls she got the title from, she came overweight and out of shape. Chantelle beat her but I can beat someone who’s overweight and out of shape too. Melissa is a good champion, but at Featherweight. I’m a natural Super-Lightweight so I know I have a better chance than those other girls.
“I didn’t come all the way across the pond just to get beat, it’s going to be a rumble in the jungle, like in the Ali days, she’s not going to just beat me believe that.”
“I rate Molina for being here, but I don’t rate him as a tough test of mine. I really don’t think you can fight me on ten days’ notice, he said I don’t respect the Heavyweight division, but he took the fight and training for what – to be a fitness trainer. I think I’m going to smash him and I’m going to do it for my brother Dillian Whyte.
“I want to be knocked out; how can you be fearful when I want to be defeated. I crave it, please somebody defeat me, I love it. I want to take the 0 from my record, I don’t like it. F**k you 0.
“I box for the average Joe. I don’t just want to box for the boxing fanatics, you will value me, it’s just a matter of time. Please come out and support me, I will give it all, I’ll be reckless.”
“13-day notice, my wife and my team helped me prepare. Working with the number on promoter in the world, I just can’t say no man. It’s an honour to be here, to be out here halfway across the world, I relish these fights – I just can’t say no, I love it.
“No disrespect to the guys Babic has faced, he’s faced some tough guys. I think Babic is a tough fighter also, in the Heavyweight division, I just don’t think he has the size for this division. I’ve seen some guys even myself, I’m small for this division.
“It’s the Heavyweight division, you have to respect it and stay humble to it. It’s something I’ve learnt in the game, this fight I’ve got to use my experience and size to my advantage.
“He’s got one gear, he comes forward, I think that he’s a fan-friendly fighter because he’s reckless. When you’re reckless, you eventually run into a wreck, that’s what makes it exciting. I feel like my abilities, my counter punches, I think this fight leaves a big opportunity for me to win.
“If you look at all my fights, I’ve landed the big shot, I think Anthony Joshua was the only fight I didn’t. Even looking at the last fight with Wardley who I think is a great fighter also, he took my shots well, but I landed them all night. We’re going to see if he can take those shots on Saturday.”
“This is a fight I wanted, a tough fight, past the British level. He’s ranked above every British fighter behind me so it’s a move forward in my career. I know he’s solid, but this is what I want, a solid test, I want to keep pushing forward, kicking the door down and making waves on the scene.
“I possess a lot of power at 175lbs as you’ve seen in some of my big fights but still, I don’t get the credit that I think I deserve. I feel like sometimes it’s fights like this I’ve got to make sure I go out there and perform, get a good job done on him, otherwise people will put me to the back of the list as always.
“You hear people mention Light-Heavyweights and leave me out of the scene sometimes, although I’ve gone out there and beaten some good names. It’s fights like this I need to go out there and perform well, keep pushing forward until they’ve got no choice but to have my name at the top of the list.
“I believe that eventually everyone’s got to get into the mix right, if you look at me, I’ve been in the mix, I’ve beaten two top five prospects in Britain. I’ve beaten so many domestic talents I could have won the British Title outright, but yet no one talks about that. No other domestic guy has done what I’ve done, yet I’m still left out of the conversation. I’m in the second half of my career now and I’ve got to make it count.”
“It’s a big chance to fight for the British market and in a British ring, it’s up to my hands and fist to fight my position.
“I saw his fight with Bivol and I saw his good side, but I didn’t come here to emphasise his good side but to use his weak side and win.”
“Massive thank you to everyone who’s supported me and to those who are coming on Saturday night. Big thanks to you Eddie for keeping the show on, because there would have been a lot of angry people in Romford looking for you somewhere. My Dad’s been a massive help, up until 2/3 in the morning stressing while doing his job so I’ve got to give him a massive thank you.
“None of it matters unless I put on a good performance on Saturday night. We’ve been working hard in the gym with Mark Tibbs, Jimmy Tibbs and the whole team. It’s now down to me to do the business, everything else has been laid down, it’s now time for me to put on a good performance.
“That’s going to be the challenge for this fight, we’ve been working very hard in the gym to measure my distance correctly and I’ve been sparring very well. I was sparring with Fury up in his gym before this as well, as you said, he’s a game fighter and comes to fight. I think that will and ambition he’s got, it’s my job to crush it, when he comes forward and tries to let his hands go, my speed and power will be telling, he’ll feel it in full force.”
“The camp I had in Portugal was the best camp I’ve ever had; I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life and I’m ready to go on Saturday night – bring more than my A game.
“Like I’ve shown in my last couple of fights I’m ready for whatever comes on the night. I’m tough, I’m ready to go, everybody knows from what they’ve seen I love a war. I’m ready to bring the heat on the night and make it another smoky Saturday.”
“I’m ready to come fight and show the people of the UK a war. I’ve trained really hard for this fight, I know Khoumari is going to bring his A game, he’s going to come and get into a hell of a fight with me, you don’t want to miss it.
“I had to take any opportunity they gave me you know; I didn’t go up in the amateur ranks, I didn’t have any amateur fights. Like I said, in the pro rankings, I’ll take any opportunity they’ll give me to showcase my skills and that I’m a great exciting fighter.
“It’s really motivating for me; I’m fighting for a title against a tough guy. These are the types of fights I need to get closer to a World Title, I know winning this fight will bring me more exciting fights, better paydays, that’s what I want. I want to fight, take this win, take this belt back to my family and to the people of Laredo, Texas.”
“It’s been a long time coming and I feel like I’m finding my feet now. From Saturday night I’m looking forward to getting the ball rolling.
“I’ve been there seven weeks now and I feel like I’m learning every day, if I show a glimpse of that on Saturday night, I’m going to keep learning from there.
“As soon as I get in the ring Saturday and get the business done, I’m looking to get into those big fights because they’re the ones that matter.”
“Over the last year, this time last year, I flew out to Derek Chisora’s camp when he fought Usyk and from there it’s been non-stop. I’m delighted to be here now, kicking off my own career on a Matchroom show, which is where everyone wants to be. I’m really looking forward to Saturday night.
“I made my debut in Belgium in May, but over the last year I’ve racked up loads of rounds with quality fighters, so I do feel well experienced – I do need the rounds in the ring. I do feel as though I’ve gained massive experience over the last year sparring these guys, seeing what level they’re training and where they’re at.”
“I’m looking forward to it, obviously the first one in front of a crowd and there’s a fair few coming. Obviously with Johnny’s support there’s going to be a lot of Essex in the arena. It’s going to be a good night, great night in Austria recently, I’m fresh from just having a fight. I’m looking forward to it, I’m blessed for the opportunity so thank you very much.
“I had a hard start to the pros; we’ve just been full on since then. We’ve moved to Mark Tibbs’ stable and all of us train hard, fight hard. We haven’t been taking the easiest of fights and it’s been good, I’ve been seeing the progression slowly. My last fight there was a big improvement and I look to do the same again come Saturday. I’m grateful for the opportunity and I think I’m going to shine.”
“It was scary because I’ve been out of the ring for two years now with a bit of a stop-start career, so when the main event got called off, I was definitely one of those that was worried. Thank you for keeping the card on and giving us all the opportunity to get out there and put on a show still.
“Sparring is sparring, hopefully on Saturday night I’ll go out there and put it into play. I’ve gained some really good experience in the last few years, even I’ve been inactive, I do see myself getting in there and in the mix with things. I won’t be shying away from any fight, so I’ll get some momentum behind me Saturday night, hopefully get out again before the end of the year and next year we get into the mix of things.”