|Eddie Hearn, Matchroom Sport Chairman:|
“This is a true British classic, two two-time World Champions battle it out on Saturday night in front of 10,000 in Sheffield, the atmosphere is going to be incredible.
“Two British greats, I think that is the best way to describe them. I’ve seen both guys at their highest and both at their lowest, and what they have always done is given us unbelievable entertainment, and on Saturday night, they put it all on the line once again.
“This is a top-class card from top to bottom, from Before The Bell, into local derbies, British Title Eliminators and unified World Titles, it’s a top night of boxing live across the world on DAZN.”
Alfie Sharman, VP DAZN:
“We’re incredibly proud to be part of such an amazing schedule, delivering for our customer base. We can’t wait for this event on Saturday, you have two British greats in one of the biggest domestic shows out there, two fighting men with fighting cities behind them. We wish the both the best of luck.
“There’s some amazing fights coming up and in the UK most are part of your DAZN subscription. It’s incredible value and a continued commitment from us to provide the best value to boxing fans, we truly believe our current schedule is unrivalled in the business worldwide.”
“I don’t think that my power will be the key to victory, but I have got it if I need it. Three fights inside eight months, I’m coming towards the end of my career and I said I wanted to be busy while I’ve got the chance to be busy, because there’s a time I can see creeping up on me where I won’t have the choice. I love boxing, I love this fight with a former champion in the other corner, and I am ready. Power won’t be the deciding factor, there’s a lot of other things that go around it. The culture of trainers in this country that say ‘whoever wants it more will win, whoever is the strongest and hits the hardest will win, whoever is the fittest will win’. It’s not, my team are changing the game and there’s a lot more to boxing than people see. My perception has changed since being with Ben and you will see that on Saturday night.
“The Lara rematch was the best I’ve felt. After the loss, I said I could have gone back in with him ten minutes later, I knew the mistakes I made and the adjustments needed, it was a frustrating night in Nottingham packed with my own fans, but the fast turnaround suited me, I’ve had a little break and holiday to switch off but then back in the gym, and here we are, it’s come around just like that.
“Josh has had some really good wins, possibly better than mine. He’s here because of those credentials, not any other reason. It’s going to be an electric atmosphere and I’m expecting it to be the best I’ve ever witnessed, especially on my ring walk, we’ve sold more tickets than we’ve ever done so it’s going to be a great night and one that will go down in history. I want to remembered as one of the best Featherweights from this country and one of the best fighters from my own city.
“A KO is a possibility, I am not going to go out there banking on knocking him out, but I am going to be dominant. I know Josh is very tough, I’ve been ringside for a number of his fights, especially the Kiko fight, that sticks out for me. He got hurt and he was close to being stopped himself when he got his stoppage, so I know he can bite down and give everything he needs to, but at what cost because there will be times in this fight when he needs to work extremely hard just to win a moment, and I will make him pay for those moments.”
“I’m not offended that I am not the favourite, if anything it’s motivation. Leigh is the champion, and I’ve been given this opportunity so I am very grateful for that. What does annoy me is being written off, I’m finished, that’s given me the bit between my teeth. Last year I dominated Kiko Martinez inside seven rounds and I dominated the second half of the Lopez fight, and people are talking about how well he’s done since our fight.
“I’m hungry, I haven’t felt like this for a long time and throughout this camp and the whole year, my head has been in a very good place, focused, and I think that the only reason I’ve lost before is mindset. Physically I’m always good, I live in the gym and I am obsessed with training, so the mindset has let me down in the past.
“Time goes on, I’ve been in this sport a long time and there’s a few more grey hairs and the hairline starts a bit further back now, but I feel mature as far as my boxing brain. I would think about the big fights and that 12 rounds is a long time, but it’s not, 36 minutes is not a long time. I know I can adapt and my boxing brain has matured, working on setting up shots, my power and strength have developed. At times, I’ve been economical with punches instead of throwing 85 punch combinations, setting up the shots a little more. You have stages of your career and I am at a good one in this moment in time, but it’s easy to say that, I need to show it on Saturday night.
“My knockouts have come at championship level, the stoppages have come when it’s mattered the most. I know I can dig. It was 15 fights before I got my first stoppage, I didn’t get any coming up against journeymen and people were maybe right to think that I wasn’t a puncher but that was a bit down to my style, not sitting down on the punches. But I have got the KOs and stoppages when it has mattered. I am not a one-punch KO guy, an Edwin Valero type, but I know I have enough to hurt you and I don’t worry about what anyone else thinks, I know I have enough to hurt Leigh and I am very confident that he doesn’t hear the final bell.
“I always visualise different moments and scenarios, I just have a really strong feeling that this one doesn’t see the final bell. It’s alright having power, but being able to take a shot is another thing, so it’s something that’s stuck with me through this camp that this is going to end early and I will be once, twice, three times a champion.”
Ben Davison:“They are two ultimate professionals and not the type of guys that are going to have a push and a pull. Every single time they step through the ropes they bring the heat, there’s a lot of mutual respect as there should be. We’re under no illusions that Josh is a tenacious MF when he gets in there and with the atmosphere, everything on the line and the two fanbases, it’s rare that you get two fighters that thrive off the atmosphere, I just think all roads lead to an absolute barnstormer.
“I’m sure Josh doesn’t spend too much time out of the gym, Leigh certainly doesn’t, so I don’t think you can read too much into that. Both of them are more versatile then they are given credit for so there’s lots of scenarios and outcomes in the fight and how it might play out. I think once it catches fire it’s going to be one for the history books.”
“When the fight first got announced it went down so well with boxing fans, and when Cecilia had to pull out on the moving of the fight I was gutted. Luckily I got out the following week so the camp didn’t go to waste, but now it’s been rescheduled and in front of a home crowd and there’s another belt up for grabs, it’s a much bigger fight and I am excited to get out there in Sheffield Arena, a place I’ve had the highest of highs and lowest of lows. Saturday night is made for me, I’ve been under the radar in my last couple of fights just rebuilding, and this is where I am going to get back up there and have people talking about me.
“I feel that I am at the stage of my career where I want to push on for the big fights. I want the money, I want a good house, and I feel I am ready now. So get a good win again Cecilia on Saturday and it really opens up the doors for me, but I have to remember I am in the ring with a great athlete, great fighter, she’s shared the ring with some great champions and it’s a fight that I feel I will learn a lot from, but I am ready to be let out of the cage now and get the job done in a good style.
“The support is always great and I think everyone is going to be at the arena on Saturday night. I got goosebumps driving over just remembering how great this arena is on a fight night. The last time here I was mardy because the plans had changed but this week I’m going to soak up every moment of it.”
“Second time around, last time I woke up on fight day and I was sick. I knew right away when I opened my eyes that this is not going to happen. I went to the bathroom and I was dizzy, and when that happens, you are not going to get in the ring, so I just called and said ‘this is off’. It wasn’t even for discussion. It was heartbreaking of course, I want to thank Matchroom and Team Harper for giving me the fight again. They didn’t have to, they could have gone another way. We know that this is going to be a great fight, we’ve been locked in on each other for two camps now and I think there’s a whole different energy right now. It’s going to be twice as good as it was going to be and there’s another belt on the line too. It’s not a must-win, I want to win and I will win, that’s more my mindset.
“Terri was bigger than me when we did the weigh-in last time, she’s a big Welter, so I don’t think that size is going to be the big factor in this fight, it’s going to be boxing skills and I think I have the boxing skills to win.”
“This is very important for me and I see it as a must-win fight. I came off the loss in Las Vegas and I am putting it right with this performance. I need to prove to myself and everyone else what I am about, and what I say I am, I am. I don’t believe I win this fight, I know I win this fight.
“I welcome the pressure. It’s not a fight that I necessarily had to take but we chose this fight. It’s a good fight, I need a good domestic win and this could put me in good stead moving forward. I’m coming in knowing I will win. I’ve been putting things right in and out of the gym, and now it’s time to put it all together.”
“This is must-win, 100 per cent. It’s a good fight for boxing, two good styles, we both really want it, and on Saturday that will show.”We’ve both had big nights, I’ve headlined shows, been on big cards and I’ve had my fair share of experience, and that all comes out on Saturday night. This is the best Linus Udofia you are going to see out there.”
“If you don’t ask, you don’t get – it was this time last year I was in the same room giving you stick Eddie because you weren’t signing me; now I am asking you to put me higher on the card.
“Life is good, I’m performing well. Back-to-back fights in Sheffield Arena, I can’t complain being from these ends, it’s a massive card to be part of and I’m privileged to be on it.
“December 16 in Arizona is in the back of my mind, but I cannot look past Saturday and getting a stoppage.”
“I’ve got an undefeated fighter in front of me, 14-0, but who has he boxed? I believe I have been in with far better opposition, so for me this isn’t a step-up, it’s a stepping stone to get me that British title and you’ll see the difference in levels on Saturday night, he’s in serious trouble.
“It will be a straightforward victory for me, whatever he’s got, I’ve got an answer for, I’m just an all-round better boxer, better fighter; if he wants to mix it up I can mix it up, I just believe i’m better in every aspect and everyone will see on Saturday night that I am going to win and do it in tremendous style.
“It’s going to be rocking, there will be plenty of Leeds supporters in there, o want to put on a good performance and show everyone that I am the next star from Leeds and will carry that flag moving forward.”
“It’s a massive opportunity for me being on the big stage, but it’s one I think I deserve. I’m 14-0, I’ve been hustling on the small hall shows, selling tickets, waiting for these opportunities so I have done it the hard way. I got this opportunity on Saturday and I’ve sacrificed a lot, I’ve been sleeping on a sofa in the gym for the last ten weeks, I’ve given everything for this fight.
“I’ve done everything I can to make myself right so I am going to give everything in there. If I have to change the gameplan halfway through, I will, but I am here to win and that’s the main thing.
“A win on Saturday night changes my life so I am going all in.”
“I’m ready to go and ready to show why I am one of Matchroom’s best prospects, and make a big statement on Saturday night.
“I’ve got a great team and it’s a big thank you to Jamie Moore and Nigel Travis for taking me on. I think it’s the best move for my career, getting away from any distractions and putting the graft in. I’ve had a really good camp, training and sparring with Jack Catterall for his fight with Jorge Linares, and I’m looking forward to showing you what I am all about.
“I want to stay active and hopefully have two or three more fights before the end of the year.”
“It’s a step-up but one I am more than ready for, it’s more rounds and a better opponent who’s got pedigree from who he’s faced, but I think it will bring the best out of me and you’ll see that in my performance.
“After my last win, after a few weeks I was back in the gym, doing ten rounds in sparring, training hard in Tenerife, it’s been a really good camp and you’ll see the hard work.”
“I’m buzzing to be back on the big stage again. I can’t wait to get in that arena on Saturday night, put on a good performance and hopefully it opens more doors for me.
“It’s going to be a big night for Leeds, we’ll be getting three wins here.”