|Eddie Hearn, Matchroom Sport Chairman:|
“Thanks Chris, thanks Darren and thanks to everyone for joining us here as we look outside to Fight Camp. Just two days to go, with the most incredible experience to come for fighters, for fans and for viewers on Saturday night as Fight Camp returns.
“As Chris said, we do have some sad news to bring you, the fact that Conor Benn tested positive for COVID-19 this morning. He will be off the card on Saturday night. That fight will be rescheduled as soon as physically possible and when it is safe to do so.
“Leigh Wood against Xu Can for the WBA World Featherweight Title will main event here on Saturday night. A chance for Leigh Wood to become only the second person from Nottingham to become a World Champion.
“We have a great co-main event – the European, British and Commonwealth Title showdown – Tommy McCarthy against Chris Billam-Smith. Jack Cullen against Avni Yildirim now elevated to that main card as well. Anthony Fowler against Rico Muller. Anthony Fowler, Campbell Hatton, Sandy Ryan – a huge night of boxing to come.”
“It’s just the nature of the world we live in now. It’s unfortunate, Conor and I were very gun-ho about this fight, excited about it, chomping at the bit. It’s the day and age we live in, anything can happen now – this unfortunate disease that’s conquering the world right. I’m upset and frustrated but what can we do.
“This says Benn vs. Granados, let’s go. This was the fight that was supposed to happen, Benn’s being talking a lot of stuff. I’ve said some things, but I just wanted to get it on, ready to rumble. It’s unfortunate but I’m hoping for a speedy, 100% recovery for him, no excuses. The 14th August or the 14th September we’ll be 100% ready.”
Xu Can – Beijing, China – 18-2, 3 KOs – defending his WBA Featherweight World Title against Leigh Wood:
“I’m in the best state, I wasn’t able to fight in the last 20 months. I’m fully prepared and looking forward to the fight on Saturday night.
“Now I want to focus on this fight, Leigh Wood is a great fighter and I’m taking this really seriously. I will think about the other fighters after Saturday night.
“We will show the fans a big show on Saturday night. For the fans, I will take the victory back to my family and country. Nothing can stop me.”
Pedro Diaz, trainer of Xu Can:
“I’m very happy to be here, thanks for the opportunity in Fight Camp. I think Saturday will be a very good fight, I see this big fight starting fast, Leigh has big power and an experienced corner. However, Xu Can has a great defence against the big power.”
Leigh Wood – Nottingham, England – 24-2, 14 KOs – challenging Xu Can for the WBA Featherweight World Title:
“It’s the thing you dream of stepping into the gym as a kid, fighting for a World title. It’s not going to be good enough to fight for one, I need to win. I’m 100% confident in getting the win across the line on Saturday night. I’ve worked really hard, my testament in being in the gym and staying ready, ticking over, and improving with Ben is the reason I’ve got myself ready in short notice.
“My last fight for the British title I only had a short time with Ben, I was working on things and just did as I was told, I just trusted him, and it worked. Now I’ve been back in the gym after that fight, picking things up and now I understand what I’m doing. It’s going to be key for a victory on Saturday night.
“After my last fight I was looked at pursuing one of the champions, but there’s so many names at Featherweight – the division is red hot. I can’t look too far ahead; I’ve got to be extremely focused on Saturday because all of that can dissolve into the abyss. I need to be 100% focused on Saturday night, I am, and I truly believe I will win this fight.”
Ben Davison, trainer of Leigh Wood:
“I believe Leigh can do this. We’re very confident, like you said Eddie it’s very random but fortunately Leigh was in the gym – he’s look after himself all year round. He’s very well prepared, this is the best prepared I’ve seen him physically, emotionally, tactically, we’re ready to go.
“Leigh’s been in with other good punchers as well, the hardest punchers don’t always become the best fighters, so you need a little bit more than that. But like I said before Leigh is very well prepared, tactically. Anybody that knows Xu knows he’s got phenomenal output and it’s up to us to deal with that. We believe we know what to do to solve it.”
“I believe 100% Leigh Wood will become World Champion on Saturday.”
Tommy McCarthy – Belfast, Northern Ireland – 18-2, 9 KOs – fighting Chris Billam-Smith for the European, British and Commonwealth Cruiserweight Titles:
“There’s no real size difference, he’s 6’3 and I’m 6’2½, we’re the same weight so it’s not a major factor. Nothing concerns be about Chris, I’ve got better boxing skills, I’m elusive, I’ve got more experience, all those cards are stacked in my favour.
“Chris is just rolling the dice here, it’s a big mistake to take this fight in this stage of his career. I’ve said it before, he isn’t ready for such a big jump, he hasn’t been fighting at a good level and he’s coming up to my level. I’m going to prove that on Saturday night.
“I will fight anyone but to fight Chris Billam-Smith to get the clean sweep and go for a World title after, you couldn’t have picked a better opponent. Some people have World title eliminators against killers, and I’ve got Chris, I couldn’t say no.
“Chris is a good fighter but he’s not on my level. That’s not an opinion that’s looking at the facts, he hasn’t got my experience or boxed at my level. Saturday night I’m going to thump him all over the ring.
“He’s been saying he’ll KO me; he’s been saying the exact same one-liner in every interview – I think I’ll stop him in the mid to late-rounds – somebody is saying it to him. He is saying what Shane is saying. I’m coming in here to smash him to bits.”
“This is the triple crown of British and Irish boxing; we’re delighted that we’re facing Chris for all three belts. Chris seems like a nice guy, but I feel he’s being pushed to say the things he’s saying. At the end of the day, when you get into that ring there’s only going to be one winner and that will be Tommy McCarthy.
“I’ve never seen Tommy so dedicated, he hasn’t been out of camp since the last fight and that’s why he’s in incredible shape. He’s chomping at the European level and kicking the door of a World title – he’s number three in the IBF. Tommy’s going for everything, all the belts and World title. That’s why we’re here, not for the money but for the glory.”
Chris Billam-Smith – Bournemouth, England – 12-1, 10 KOs – fighting Tommy McCarthy for the European, British and Commonwealth Cruiserweight Titles:
“It’s been exciting, it’s a fight you can really get up for with everything that’s on the line. The chat and interviews between us have been good and I’m excited for Saturday.
“This is the right steps at the right time for me, with the British, Commonwealth and European titles being on the line this is another step on the ladder.
“I’ve said it all along, I believe I’ll stop Tommy in the mid to late rounds. That’s what I said at the beginning and that’s what I still believe.”
Shane McGuigan, trainer of Chris Billam-Smith:
“Credit to both guys for taking the fight, it’s a domestic title but they’re both highly ranked by the governing bodies at world level. They could have sat and waited for an opportunity at the top but it’s fantastic, it allows Chris to win the European and British title, while defending his Commonwealth title.
“It’s exactly what he’s in this sport for, big fights, domestic fights that we can get up for. It’s a competitive fight, after Riakporhe it’s probably Chris’ hardest fight to date.
“I think Tommy’s not the biggest Cruiserweight, he’s very skilful, got good movement, sits back well, is very elusive but I think close mid-range size is going to tell as the fight goes on and I can see Chris stopping him in the later rounds.
“This is a massive step for Chris. He wasn’t touted to be the best, he didn’t go to the Olympics, he wasn’t on the national set-up, but we’ve been working together now four years and he’s been progressing gradually. He’s maximised him as an athlete throughout and I think this will be a real defining fight for him and will put him on the world scene.”
Campbell Hatton – Manchester, England – 2-0 – fighting Jakub Laskowski in a four round Lightweight contest:
“This is a step up, he’s tricky and a tall fighter, it’ll take a big of figuring out – it’ll be a bit awkward. It’ll be a good learning experience for me.
“I showed big improvements from my second professional fight to my first, just because of how much more relaxed I was. I showed a lot more composure, kept my shape better just because I was handling my nerves better. It’s getting more and more the norm to me now; I’ll be even more relaxed, and we’ll see even bigger improvement on Saturday.
“I’ve always wanted to box at the Manchester Arena which I did last time, but it was empty. I can’t wait to do it with a full crowd, we’re getting back to normal now. My minds on the job this weekend but it’s another motivator to look good on Saturday and move on to the next.”
Jakub Laskowski – Siemianowice Slaskie, Poland – 4-4-1, 2 KOs – fighting Campbell Hatton in a four round Lightweight contest:
“I’m excited for a good fight. Campbell Hatton get ready!”
Anthony Fowler – Liverpool, England – 14-1, 11 KOs – defending his WBA International Super-Welterweight Title against Rico Mueller:
“I was a bit worried on Monday/Tuesday because I wasn’t boxing at all, I had the baby in my hand – I was thinking I better switch on here. I knew as soon as I got back in the gym with Shane and the lads I’d switch back on and I’ve got to. It’s a fight, one shot can change a fight.
“I’m back in the gym now, I’m on weight, my life is on the line every fight – I can’t think about the baby. I need to worry about my opponent which I am doing.
“I left no stone unturned at camp, I’m really focused, I never have an off say. I’m switched on all the time, and I will be on Saturday night. I look at him as a 5’9 orthodox boxer, we prepared for that style. Whatever he does I’ll have an answer for.
“If I lose this fight, all the plans go away. I’ve got to win, and I will win.”
Rico Mueller – Eberswalde, Germany – 28-3-1, 19 KOs – challenging Anthony Fowler for the WBA International Super-Welterweight Title:
“Unfortunately, with Conor Benn it didn’t work out but when I got the call about Fowler, I knew I wanted to take the fight. This is the first time I’ll step up in weight but I’m confident and on Saturday there will be fireworks.”
Avni Yildirim – Istanbul, Turkey – 21-3, 12 KOs – fighting Jack Cullen for the vacant IBF International Super-Middleweight Title:
“First of all, thanks to Matchroom and my promoter for the great opportunity again. I don’t want to talk too much but I need a great comeback.
“After the Canelo fight, I opened a new page, I have a new division, a new target. Hopefully everything will go good.”
Jack Cullen – Littler Lever, England – 19-2-1, 9 KOs – fighting Avni Yildirim for the vacant IBF International Super-Middleweight Title:
“I’m just grateful that I’m back out there and what an opponent I’m fighting. Yildirim is a tough, strong lad and he’s going to come for it – it’s going to be a great fight.
“This is it, if/when I get past him where does it put me. At the end of the day, it’s all about fighting the best and he is what one the best – I appreciate that.
“You’re going to see the same Jack Cullen, but I’ve got a lot of stuff we’ve been working on and it’s going to pay off. There’s no reason why I’m not winning this fight.”
Sandy Ryan – Derby, England – Professional Debut – fighting Kirstie Bavington in a six round Super-Lightweight contest:
“Respect to Kirstie for taking the fight, we know she’s going to come to win. Let’s go.
“My former GB teammates are out in Tokyo, what a week this is going to be – them securing medals for the country and me making my debut on Saturday. I can’t wait, right in it with 6 rounds, Kirstie coming to win, let’s go.
“She [Kirstie] said she’s going to take me to the trenches, so let’s see. I hope she brings that energy Saturday night.”
Kirstie Bavington – Pensnett, England – 3-1-2, 2 KOs – fighting Sandy Ryan in a six round Super-Lightweight contest:
“I’m excited and ready to go. I’ve been training hard all through lockdown and waiting for this opportunity to come. I’m going to give it all I’ve got and take her to the trenches.”
“I’m just going to enjoy every moment here, enjoy the whole experience and do the best I can – hopefully make people proud at home.”