By: Matthew N. Becher
Continuing the “Friday Night Lights Out” series, Premier Boxing Champions , in association with Spike TV, will be bringing an exciting fight card to the University of Illinois: Chicago Pavilion at 9pm/EST on June 12th.
The co-main event will showcase up and coming power hitter Artur Beterbiev (8-0 8KO) vs. veteran Alexander Johnson (16-2 7KO).
Photos: Lucas Noonan/Premier Boxing Champions
Beterbiev is the showcase in this fight. The young Russian is looking to fast track his career, taking many difficult fights already in only an eight fight span. Just last year he demolished a normally sturdy and former world light heavyweight champion Tavoris Cloud in only two rounds, and earlier this year, he did it again on his PBC debut, practically decapitating former title holder Gabriel Campillo.
Johnson has not been on a stage of this size before, and definitely has never seen a foe that brings such powerful hands, into the ring.
The main event will be for the WBA Jr. Middleweight title. A title vacated by Floyd Mayweather Jr. and one that Erislandy Lara (20-2-2 12KO) and Delvin Rodriguez (28-7-4 16KO) will like to walk out of the ring with on Friday night.
Rodriguez is towards the end of his boxing career. The 35 year old has had few chances at Championship glory, and he knows this is a chance he cannot let slide by, “For me and my career this is what I’ve always worked for and this might be my last opportunity, so I have to take advantage.” Rodriguez needs to make this a fight if he would like to become the new WBA champion. He understands what needs to be done, and he knows that he comes in as the underdog. But he will be coming to fight, “I’m a fighter and I like to fight and that’s what I plan to do (Friday night).”
Lara has been in the ring with some of the best fighters around. He is of the Cuban school of boxing, meaning he had a very highly decorated amateur career and his movement/boxing skills are second to none. He has 2 losses on his record and those both came on close decisions and to former world champions (Paul Williams & Canelo Alvarez). Lara has a style that can become monotonous, with a lot of “running”, punching and getting away, winning a fight purely by scoring points and putting rounds in the bank. If he will want to sell himself to a network television crowd and eventually gain a big name fight, he will need to engage against Rodriguez at the UIC Pavilion. Lara is a pure talent in the fight game, but since being a Cuban defector, his age of 32 makes his chance of stardom closing quicker then he’d like. This Friday he will have a shot to show the world why he is worth being seen in big fights and could make him a world champion.
Press Conference quotes:
“I want to thank the fans here in Chicago. This is a great opportunity to show my skills on national television on Spike.
“I’ve been eager to get back in the ring after my first title defense and Delvin Rodriguez is a worthy opponent.
“I’m going to be electrifying on fight night and the fans are going to see a spectacular performance from me.”
“I’m very excited for this fight. We had a great training camp. We’ve been going for about three months, and I really think this is one of the best camps I’ve ever had.
“Everything has fallen into place this time around. As a fighter, you always feel like there may have been something missing. For this fight we had enough time to prepare.
“I’m taking this fight as if it’s my last opportunity. That’s how I’m going to fight this fight. That’s how I’ve programmed my mind for this fight, as if my back is against the wall. This is my last chance at a world title.
“I’m facing a great boxer. He’s a very technical fighter and he has great skills. And that helps motivate me even more. It made me work so much harder for this fight.
“I’ve been reading a lot about what the media is saying about this fight. I promise the fans that whatever I have to do, this is going to be an exciting fight. It has to be an exciting fight for Delvin Rodriguez because this is my last chance.”
“I’m very glad to be here in Chicago for this fight. I’m ready for anything in the ring.
“If my opponent is going to call himself Alexander ‘The Great’ Johnson, then I’ll be ‘King Arthur’ and I’m here to win. Even though I make that joke I am here to win and that is the truth.
“We couldn’t do too much research on the new opponent, but we’ve looked through a couple of videos so we know the opponent is a southpaw and we’re ready for that.
“I don’t like to underestimate my opponents and I prepare for everybody the same. I’ll be ready to go against him.
“My last fight against Gabriel Campillo was against a southpaw, so it’s something I’m used to and I believe I have the knowledge so that it won’t be a problem.”
“I’m not a big talker. Friday we’ll see, but I think he (Beterbiev) is all hype.
“I’m willing to fight anybody any time anywhere. This is just another stepping-stone for my legacy.
“I was not aware of him before I took the fight, but I have fought big punchers before and my chin is strong. I will have no problem with his power.
“I come to win, no matter what day it is, what time it is, no matter what place it is; I always come to win. I’m always ready to fight. This is a boxer’s life.”
“I know that Manuel Quezada is a tougher fighter than the guy I fought last time in Chicago, but I’m so much better than I was then.
“My Polish fans always help me. When I fought Mike Mollo, and I went down, I heard them screaming my name; I know that I can’t disappoint them. I will always give them my best.
“Of course I want to knock Quezada out, and hopefully it will be seen on Spike.
“I want to be a bigger part of Premier Boxing Champions, but the most important thing I can do is what my trainer Ronnie Shields wants me to do in order to win.”