Maurice “Mighty Mo” Hooker’s foray to New York

Local fighters are now in tune with the benefits of having more and more international exposure. The above Saturday, March 9, 2019, show will begin at 7 p.m. EST from the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York and air live on DAZN. Since the promoters are hoping to reach a more worldwide audience, they have the United Kingdom watching on Sky Sports plus other TV outlets: Panama Cable’s Onda Sports, Latin America’s Canal Space, and countless others showcasing the same show on their outlets. 

In Saturday’s Main Event they have two 6 foot tall bangers Dmitry Bivol (15-0, 11 KOs) from Saint Petersburg, Russia putting his WBA light heavyweight title (175 lbs.) on the line against 29-year-old Joe Smith Jr. (24-2, 20 KOs) who hales from Long Island, New York and therefore carries with him the alias “The Beast from the East.”

Bivol, who is rated #3 by Ring Magazine is facing a stiff test from Smith who is best known for ending the career of the legendary Bernard Hopkins back in December of 2016, and for destroying Andrzej Fonfara inside the opening round of their bout in Chicago six months earlier.

This being Smith’s first time fighting for a World Title, he should be pumped especially after winning four of his last five bouts by knockout. There was that first round destruction of Poland’s Andrzej Fonfara in Chicago on June 16, 2016, then the sending of boxing-great Bernard Hopkins through the ropes and into retirement on December 17, 2016, followed by a 10 round unanimous decision loss to Sullivan Barrera and finally his first round KO victory on June 30, 2018 of the 39-year-old “Romantic Redneck” Melvin Russell.

At their recent Press Conference, Bivol (15-0, 11 KOs) who is defending his title for the fifth time against the Long Island native, got off to a rocky start by making this belittling, totally unnecessary remark that he’s hoping Smith comes prepared for a war. How else does he think Smith got to where he is now, with those 24 wins and just 2 losses? Smith has always been a battler.

Joe Smith, Jr.:

“I would like to thank everybody who put this fight together. I would like to thank especially Team Bivol for giving me this fight. It is a great opportunity and I would like to thank Bivol for offering it to me. I put everything I had into this training camp. I worked real hard and I’m looking forward to this Saturday to put on a great show. This is what every fighter dreams of – a shot at a world title and this is my shot. The work has been put in over the years and I’m going to put it all together this Saturday and give you a great show and become the next champion. I’m going to go home with the belt and share it with my whole town and my family and with everyone who has helped me get into this position.”

Dmitry Bivol:

“Hello everybody and thanks for coming to our Press Conference. I don’t want to talk too much because I don’t know as many jokes as Eddie Hearn. I want to thank all of my team who helped me in my training camp – all of my sparring partners and thanks to my promoters – Eddie Hearn, Andrey Rabinsky and Kathy Duva. Thank you to everyone who has helped me in my career and I am ready to fight. I also hope Joe is ready, so together we will make a great fight. So don’t miss it.

“Joe Smith is a good boxer. He is young and throws a lot of punches. This is a good match for both of us. I’ve gained experience in every fight that I’ve had, and I will continue to gain experience because of Joe Smith. Yes, he has good power but this is not his best quality – he has good speed and good combinations.

“I’ve watched many of Joe’s fights and he has good power. He tries to push his opponents against the ropes and then beat them there. Of course my style is going to help me win, if I do everything which I worked on in training camp.

“I believe Joe will almost always be moving forward and using his jab to try and set up his right hand. I fight every fight as if it were my last fight.

“There was talk of Canelo moving up. Of course that’s great when other great fighters move up into our division. It is good for all light heavyweights. But I don’t need any more motivation. My belt and my family is all the motivation I need.”

On Bernard Hopkins getting knocked out of the ring…

“How old was Bernard Hopkins? I really respect him but he wasn’t in his best shape when he fought Joe Smith. I watched a lot of Bernard Hopkins’ fights and I learned a lot from him.

“Of course I can say that our sport is very dangerous but my father worked as a bus driver and that is dangerous as well. Many people die in bus crashes.”

Would I want to fight Andre Ward if he came out of retirement?

“Why not? He was one of the best light heavyweights of all time and I want to make great fights. Right now I am in my best shape and my best years. So I need to make the best fights. If Andre Ward wants to come and make a fight with me, I will be glad to, of course.

“I can make 168 (get down to the 168 lbs. weight limit) for big fights. Not any fight, but for the big fights. It opens more opportunities for me when I can make 168 lbs.

“I want to fight any champion at 175 – from Marcus Brown to Badou Jack – but it is tough to pick an opponent because right now all I am thinking about is Saturday night. I know that Sergey Kovalev has great boxing skills but he had to put those skills together in the ring. It wasn’t just tactical, but he showed us that he can put it together.

“In the next few days, I will just be keeping in shape and staying with the positive emotions. I will be talking with my coach and managers and telling a lot of jokes to relax.

“I just like to fight. I like training and I like to be in the ring. It is not enough to have just power, speed or be sound technically. You have to have some of everything. I don’t have the hardest punch, and I am not the quickest, but I am complete. When I get in the ring for a fight, I feel like I am living. I’m excited and after my victory it is so great.

“I’ve seen a lot of movies with Jackie Chan when I was younger and I wanted to fight just like him. After my father took me to karate classes, he then took me to the boxing classes for even more competition.

Dmitry Bivol’s conversation of Monday, March 4, 2019

“I have watched a few of Joe Smith’s fights. I watched the Fonfara fight, the Barrera fight and the Hopkins fight. I can say that he is a strong fighter, a strong guy, has a strong right hand and he moves forward. He is a good opponent for me and I think I can get a lot of experience from fighting him.

“He tries to be more aggressive, and he’ll try to push you and be aggressive but I will be smarter and outbox him. He uses his strength. I use my intelligence.”

What did you think when Smith knocked Hopkins out of the ring?

“It can happen to anybody. He did catch him. Bernard was next to the ropes and he got hit and fell out. Sometimes it happens.”

When you turned professional, did you ever believe that you could become a champion in so few fights?

“Of course we weren’t sure, but we had plans when I turned pro to become a champion quicker and of course I am glad that the plans were realized and that we could make it happen.

“Now I want to fight the other champions to get more belts. I want fans to know more about me and for more people to watch my fights.”

On your ability to learn English…

“I have been learning English from watching TV and I’ve taken some lessons from a teacher. Plus, I have a couple of apps on my phone.”

Your favorite fighters?

“When I started boxing, I loved Mike Tyson, then I watched a lot of Roy Jones Jr. fights and then Sugar Ray Leonard. I like how he used his legs in the ring and I like his style. He moved a lot and threw punches easy. He looked like he threw punches easy but they sure landed hard.

“And Pernell Whitaker was a very interesting fighter and one of the best that I watched. I liked him because he always looked like he was having fun in the ring. He was very fluid in the ring and was very positive like it was a holiday. Like he was enjoying himself, and I liked that very much.

“I don’t know what will happen in the ring, only God knows. But I do know, I had a great training camp and had great sparring partners. I am ready to fight and I only believe I will emerge victorious. I can only say that.”

In the Co-Main Event, they have the reigning WBO junior welterweight titleholder Maurice “Mighty Mo” Hooker, fresh off his 7th-round TKO victory over the previously unbeaten Alex Saucedo. Hooker will be facing another unbeaten challenger in Mikkel Les Pierre from the Gleason Gym in Brooklyn, New York.

Hooker, who is from Dallas, Texas and rated No. 5 by Ring Magazine, is hoping to produce another solid performance before making his homecoming defense in the summer.

“I can guarantee you that I’m leaving New York City with another ‘W’ in the win column,” said Hooker (25-0-3, 17 KOs). “I’m hungry to get back to competing and I’m going to put on a great show so that I can bring my belt back to Dallas for my next bout.”

A quote from Roc Nation Sports boxing promoter Dino Duva: “Hooker had an unforgettable 2018, and we’re confident that he’ll sustain that momentum into 2019.” And why do they care? Roc Nation Sports is the sports management division of Roc Nation which was founded by Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter in 2013 in partnership with Creative Artists Agency, a prominent talent agency based in Los Angeles. They have Mr. Hooker under contract.

The statement from Mikkel Les Pierre: “It’s been a long time coming. I’ve been grinding underground, out of the public eye – so when I come to fight, I go to work and get the job done.” Les Pierre (21-0-1, 10 KOs) is obviously taking a major step up in class. After you look over his past opponents, that fact becomes crystal clear.

Les Pierre: “I took this fight in a heartbeat. I don’t listen to what people say. Some might not think I deserve this shot but come March 9, I will show people that I belong at this level. I’ve moved up the rankings and put the work in. There’s no one out there that works harder than me or wants this more than I do. I’ve put myself in position to get to this point and now it’s time to shine.”

Aside from the Oneida Indian Nation’s Athletic Commission who do we have making sure this event is run properly? Your answer: Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn, DiBella Entertainment’s Lou DiBella, Star Boxing’s Joe DeGuardia, Main Events’ Kathy Duva, and finally World of Boxing Promotions’ Dimitry Ivanov.

(l to r) We have two more combatants: 33-year-old Callum Johnson (17-1, 12 KOs) who hales from Boston, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom, the promoter Eddie Hearn from Matchroom Boxing and Johnson’s upset-minded opponent 37-year-old Sean Monaghan (29-2, 17 KOs) from Mineola, N. Y. who now lives in Long Beach, N. Y.
As of Thursday evening, all of the above matches received their final approval from the governing body, the Oneida Indian Nation’s Athletic Commission.
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