February 2 2023

Double-header of undisputed action on Saturday in New York


Eddie Hearn:

“Welcome everybody today, huge turnout to the mecca of boxing, Madison Square Garden. What an honor to be back in this incredible city. Of course, last April, April 30, the night that will go down in history as one of the greatest fights, one of the greatest events in the history of Madison Square Garden, when Amanda Serrano faced up against Katie Taylor in a tremendous fight for the undisputed lightweight world championship.

“This Saturday, live on DAZN around the world, Amanda Serrano will bid to make history, to become undisputed champion against reigning world champion Erika Cruz. It’s Puerto Rico against Mexico. Of course, the co-main event as well, Alycia Baumgardner looking to become undisputed as well against Elhem Mekhaled of France in another undisputed matchup. 126 and 130lbundisputed championships on the line this weekend.

“Of course, we want to thank everybody here at Madison Square Garden. Sal, and Joel, and the team. Thanks for the hospitality at the Knicks against Lakers game this week; it was a tremendous event. But it also reminds me of how great our own sport is, when we see great occasions, when we see great atmospheres, when we see great fights, and on Saturday night you’ve got a tremendous card from top to bottom. It’s going to be packed out in the Hulu Theater, massive Puerto Rican fanbase as well coming to support Amanda Serrano. Incredible card, which we’re going to be running through with you guys today. We’re going to start with three young prospects that we can’t wait to see in action.”

Amanda Serrano

“It’s going to be truly amazing. As a female fighter, I’ve been in this game a long time, I’m probably the longest-reigning world champion in the sport right now. I was always going where the opportunities were and now that I was done chasing the divisions, I said this is my time. I want to go back to where I feel the best, and that’s featherweight. We did that, and to have most of them but one, and come Saturday night, have all of them, it’s going to be truly amazing. One of the greatest journeys of my life and my career.”

“The confidence that I went in there with one of the best, the confidence that the arena was jam-packed, the crowd was just amazing. So, no matter where they put me, I’m going to be 100% confident.”

“I love the Hulu Theater, it’s my home. I’d rather fight in the Hulu Theater because the fans are right there with you. It’s so intimate and the fans are going to be celebrating with me that night.

“It wasn’t just this week that I was concentrating on Erika Cruz. This whole camp has only been Erika Cruz. I know she’s a tough Mexican fighter. She is the WBA champion. She has the last piece of the puzzle, I have all the rest, and we both want the same thing. We’re both world champions and that’s what we’re going to show come Saturday night. The real winners are going to be the fans because it’s going to be a fight and a fumble. It’s going to be punches and bunches, and I have all the respect for Erika Cruz for taking the fight. It’s a historic night for both of us and I just can’t wait.”

“It hasn’t always been, but now it’s my mindset. I want to be undisputed champion, being the first Puerto Rican undisputed world champion. That’s my goal. Puerto Rico has had champions in all the divisions, the seven-division world champion, the youngest champion, and now, come Saturday, god-willing, become the first undisputed champion coming out of Puerto Rico. And it’s at the weight divisions where I feel my best, I’m comfortable, it’s my division.”

“It’s definitely going to be a great fight. Erika Cruz is a Mexican champion, she’s going to come, and I’m coming guns blazing, so it’s going to be punches and bunches and it’s going to be an amazing night. The fans are going to be the winners because it’s going to be a great night of fireworks and punches and action.”

Erika Cruz

“It’s an opportunity I’ve been looking for. On Saturday, I’m going to give absolutely everything. As a good Mexican, give absolutely everything to win. And once again, thanks to God.”

“To be honest, we’re not focused in any way on what people will say. We don’t pay attention to what’s said on social media. I’m just completely focused on my team. As soon as we knew the date was to be scheduled, knew that I was facing Amanda Serrano, there were no distractions. I’m just really delighted and really happy with God. I also have to say thanks to my father, who is always with me in every moment. On Saturday night it will be a historic moment for Mexico.”

“First and foremost, I have to say that I thank God for everything that I’ve been through. Becoming champion would mean giving that bit back to my father. He had a dream that I would go on to become world champion. I’m so appreciative of everything God has given me and all the support I’ve had from people, and I hope god-willing that I can go on to be victorious on Saturday night.”

Alycia Baumgardner

“It’s a pleasure to just see the belts here, being in New York, it’s a blessing. I just take a deep breath just to know that my journey has been a process. Tt has been very rewarding, and again, a lot of hard work, a lot of grit, and never giving up, and that’s why we’re here today and that’s why I’m one step closer to becoming undisputed, as I mentioned plenty of times before. I’m ready; I’m well prepared for this fight.”

“The hunger is still there. As I walked in the gym as an eight year old girl I had a vision. I had a plan to become the best, and that’s what I’m doing now, here, just seeing it come alive. I’m hungry, and I love to fight.”

“I’m expecting her [Elhem] to come forward, she is a tough fighter. But again, I know my assignment, I’ve worked very hard to get here, and I cannot let someone like her stop me. She’s going to be in a fight, and I hope she’s ready.”

“This Saturday I will become undisputed. I have been claiming this and I speak it, and again, everybody will see an amazing performance.”

“The journey has been amazing. I’m so happy with everything and how everything went, with going to the UK, with building my profile, with having these hard fights, proving myself repeatedly. We’re going to prove again to the world why I’m the best and why I’ve become undisputed this Saturday.”

“We have to reflect. That’s something I have always done and when you look back you see the journey and you appreciate it. I appreciate the hard work that I’ve put in over and over and over, and again; I’m still putting the work in. The work is never done.”

“It’s [discipline] what I’m good at. It’s what I’ve dreamed of, becoming something great, and I know that it takes a lot of discipline. And when you make it to the top, you have to have even more discipline to stay on top.”

“The support has been amazing. I feel the love, I feel the genuine support of everyone who’s been supporting me. It keeps me motivated; it keeps me pushing forward to the bigger and better fights, and I’m blessed.”

“I’m ready to fight. I’m ready to really put my hands on somebody. The fight with Mikaela was great but this time I’ve got someone who wants to fight, and I like to fight. I like to throw some bombs in there, so we want to get her out of there, we want to make a statement, and look good doing it. And that’s what I’m best at.”

“I know I belong here, but just seeing it, I’m like wow, here we are again. Just another fight, another challenge, another opportunity to be even better, and that’s what I strive to be. A better athlete, a better woman, and just being a spokesman for the sport of boxing.”

“As the venue goes, I expect a sold-out crowd. Again, we have not just me fighting, but Amanda fighting. I’m looking forward to seeing this crowd be packed.”

Elhem Mekhaled

“Thank you very much for welcoming me, for giving me this opportunity. I really want to thank Serafina, Matchroom Promotions, Marshall, and Eddie Hearn. I’m doing to seize this opportunity on Saturday, definitely.”

“I’m expecting a wall because Alycia is a puncher, I’m a puncher too. I know how I feel today, and this is going to be a great and a big fight.”

[On what it would mean to her to win every belt in the sport] “That would be the greatest reward for me. For never giving up, for practicing and training so hard and to prove that I’m the best.”

Richardson Hitchins

“Saturday night. I think that I’ve been here before. I’ve been in anticipated fights, I beat former world champions, I beat prospects and a lot of great fighters. He’s never fought nobody. For him to say he’s ready, he’s never even passed an eight-rounder. He’s fought a lot of guys with built-up records, guys that he couldn’t take out- bums- I knocked out easy.

“He [Bauza] is saying I’ve got no power, but he’s fought nothing but bums. If you’ve never passed eight rounds, you’ve never fought no world fighters, you’ve never even fought close to a world title. He fought bums that I knocked out and that he went eight rounds with, struggling. And I knocked them out. So, I got no power?

“He [Bauza] knows who I am, I know who he is. Like I said, he’s been in the ring with me before, he tasted some of this, so he’s going to taste some more on February 4th.”

“I’m always in the gym so it’s just about staying focused, staying ready, and just preparing myself for any type of challenge possible.”

“It’s going to be just a great night. I just want to feel that New York energy. I know the New York support is going to be heavy. He’s going to have some Puerto Rican fans because you know Amanda Serrano is the main event, so I’m sure some of her fans are going to gravitate towards him. It’s just going to be a great night of boxing. All I can do is just stay focused, stay calm, and just do what I do best.”

[On bringing Eddie to Cops and Kids] “It’s just great because the kids get to see somebody like Eddie. Eddie is a legendary promoter and the kids being close to greatness, seeing a young fighter like me that’s chasing his dreams and accomplishing things in boxing. Hopefully they want to get where I’m at one day. It’s just great for the young kids. I want to keep inspiring the kids, keep inspiring the kids especially from my city, and just keep doing big things.”

“The New York fans always see me on TV fighting. A lot of people get excited so see me on TV so for them to be able to come to the venue and watch me fight – and it’s a great fight, I’m not coming home and fighting a duck, I’m fighting a kid who really thinks he’s going to win, and undefeated fighter, a guy that doesn’t know how to lose so I’ve got to teach him that on Saturday. I just have to go out there and give it my best. Me and my team are ready.”

“Like I said, you’re talking about a guy that has more fights than me but the same number of knockouts saying I have no power. A guy that I have hurt before in sparring. We’ve fought similar opponents, guys that were scrubs. The name of the game is not power, the name of the game is skills, and skills pays the bills. I’m going to get my bills paid.”

“The main object from when we first came to this was to win, so it doesn’t matter if it’s the WBC regional belt, WBC title belt, it’s to win.”

John Bauza

“First of all, I want to say thank you for this opportunity to be here. All I have to say is that I work hard. There was a lot of back and forth, but we got the fight, and we’re ready.”

“We’re ready for everybody. We already proved that in the amateurs. He [Hitchins] knows who I am; I sparred him before. I come from the same group as them, all of them. They know who I am too, so we’re ready for everybody.”

“I’m ready for it.”

Skye Nicolson

“I’m really excited, every fight now is a stepping stone to get me closer to becoming mandatory to fight for world titles, so all focus is on Saturday night, and I’m looking to get myself into a mandatory position.”

“I feel like I haven’t really faced an overly aggressive opponent as a professional yet, so I’m very excited for that. Tanya is an aggressive fighter, she’s going to come, she’s young, she’s hungry, she’s coming to win, and like I’ve always said, that when you’re going to see the best me.”

“I’ll definitely be watching the main event with eager eyes. I think that Cruz has been written off a little bit for this fight. I think she’s going to be a good challenge for Serrano and I’m excited to see how that goes. They’re both definitely potential future opponents for me, hopefully in 2023, so I’ll definitely be watching very closely.

Tania Alvarez

“First and foremost I want to say thank you very much, Matchroom, for the opportunity to be here. I just have to say that I’m delighted, I’m really happy to be here fighting at Madison Square Garden.”

“Obviously as you say, it’s a big opportunity, fighting for this WBC silver title and it’s an opportunity that I’m looking to take and grab with both hands on Saturday night.

Ramla Ali

“I wouldn’t have left everything back home in London, to base myself in LA, not knowing anyone and just commit myself full time to training, but I love the sport and I love the opportunities to learn, to grow, to get better, and that’s exactly what this fight is on Saturday. It’s an opportunity to showcase how good I have become, training in LA with an incredible team.”

“You always want to get in the ring with somebody who’s coming to win, not somebody who is just there. I feel like when you are put in those positions against an opponent that’s coming to win, that brings out the best in you as well, so I feel like I’m just going to perform even better on Saturday.”

“The one I’m eyeing is the WBC with Yamileth Mercado and I know that will be a great fight and I’m hoping to get a fight like that in 2023. Women’s boxing is very exciting at the moment, for sure.

“There’s still a lot of work to do on the power. You shouldn’t let knockouts get to your head sometimes because then you become too complacent. The first thing I did after Saudi was go straight back into the gym and use that opportunity to learn, to grow, to develop, to learn new things, to sit down more on my shots and gain more power. Slowly we’re working and I’m incredibly blessed to have an amazing team around me, for sure.”

[On working with Manny Robles] “The first thing I noticed was that I don’t sit down enough on my shots and that’s the one thing that him, Edgar, and his son Manny Jr. have tried to change and I feel like they have over time, over being there. I just love how they teach. Everybody gets an equal amount of love, depending of where you are in the camp, everybody gets one-on-one time with the coach and that just shows how much they love the sport and how much they love boxing. The fact that they can show the same amount of love to somebody who is 27-0 compared to somebody who is 1-0”

“What is this, ‘trying, trying?’ We are going to be 8-0 on Saturday for sure.”

Avril Mathie

“Yeah exactly, here we are Eddie. We made it, finally. You’re right, I was very disappointed that the fight with Ebonie last year fell through and I hope, still, that fight can happen later this year once her hand is better, but in the meantime I have an exciting fight with Ramla. It’s a big step up for both of us. Like Skye said, that’s when it brings out your best performances, so I’m really excited. This is what I’ve been training for.”

“That’s why I’m going up a weight division for this fight. It’s an opportunity that I’m willing to take because winning against Ramla is going to really put my name in the lights and prove what I can do and that I deserve to be here.”

Shadasia Green

“I respect Elin so much. Like I said, she’s a former world champion so I show respect by preparing myself 150% to go into a battle, test a former champion Saturday night, and I plan on being victorious.”

“Stay the course, trust the process, and that’s what I did. I paid my dues to the sport and I continuously was consistently in the gym and working hard, and I knew that my opportunity would showcase itself. And here we are today, February 4th, 2023.”

“My record showcases the power. Like I said, I have the boxing ability, I can box on the outside, I can fight on the inside, so I’m looking to showcase myself as a world-renowned fighter. One of the best female fighters you’ve ever seen.”

Elin Cederroos

“It’s great to be back here, thank you.”

“This is going to be a great fight on Saturday. I’m just looking forward to entering the ring on Saturday. I’m ready.”

“I’m so ready to step into the ring. No, it’s not an easy fight. It’s never an easy fight. I’m confident and I’m so ready for this.”

Yankiel Rivera

“First and foremost, I want to say thank you. Thanks to Matchroom for getting me involved in the team. It’s great to be here. I’m grateful to Matchroom, to Kevin Rooney, to DAZN. I’m really looking forward to shining in my opportunity on Saturday night”

“Hopefully I will be among the great names; you said some great names in the division. It’s an opportunity to show my caliber through hard work and hopefully we can add our name to the list in that division.

“There’s no doubt there are massive names in the division, not just fly but super fly as well, but we hope that we continue to work hard, and we can be in the big leagues with those names as well”

Aaron Aponte

“First of all, I just want to thank you [Eddie], Matchroom, DAZN, Peter Kahn, and my whole team for getting me here. We like taking these risks to develop myself and my career and just become better and better with every fight.”

“Things are looking good. I keep taking these chances and you keep putting people in front of me and I’m going to keep taking them down.”

“It’s a Puerto Rican Day on February 4th and we’re going to make a big show. Me, and everybody else.”

Harley Mederos

“Thank you for having me. I’m happy to be here and I’m happy to be performing on such a big card here at home.”

“I don’t know what makes me different, I guess my ability to adjust no matter who you put in front of me. I’m me, I can’t really say what makes me different. That’s something that you have to see for yourself this Saturday night.”

“At home, I have a lot of great support, a lot of people behind me and I’m grateful and appreciative of that and all the love I’ve been getting from everybody, even the main, Serrano, and the team support, everybody. I appreciate everything”