Eddie Hearn, Matchroom Sport Chairman:

“Welcome everyone to London ahead of this huge press conference, this huge moment for the sport, the biggest prize in the sport of boxing – the World Heavyweight Championship. August 20th, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Two Heavyweight icons, Oleksandr Usyk – the reigning World Champion and the defending champion here against the challenger Anthony Joshua – former two-time Heavyweight World Champion. This fight has it all, one of the most eagerly anticipated events in boxing. We look forward to the ‘Rage on the Red Sea’.

Oleksandr Usyk, Unified Heavyweight World Champion:

“I am pleased to be here today. I am very happy to get the opportunity to fight in Saudi Arabia and help open new horizons for the sport of boxing. I love to travel around the world and fight in places for the first time. I am not fighting for money or any recognition. I am just doing my job now and will continue fighting until my heart keeps beating. I am not expecting anything from Anthony Joshua, but I know that he will be different, but so will I.”

Alexander Krassyuk, promoter of Oleksandr Usyk:

“It’s a pleasure to see everyone here at this event. As Egis mentioned, London is a really special city for Usyk. He became the Olympic Champion here and he became the Unified Heavyweight World Champion here. We started our journey with Usyk 9 years ago in the professionals. We did have a lot of fun on our way to success. He became the Undisputed Cruiserweight Champion, he became the Unified Heavyweight Champion. Now his objective is to become Undisputed. We have a very serious man to deal with on August 20th.  The fight takes place in the new destination of sports, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. A country that is transforming itself and transforming the world of sports and the world of boxing in particular.”          

Egis Klimas, manager of Oleksandr Usyk:

“Good afternoon everybody. Thank you London for having us here. We’re very excited to be here. UK London is Oleksandr’s hometown. He won a gold medal in 2012 here. He had pretty good wins against Tony Bellew, Mr Chisora. He has a lot of fans here in the UK. Thank you for having us here. In Jeddah we saw something different, something interesting, something new for the sport. We were treated like kings there. We did a lot of promo shoots. We can’t wait to go back to Saudi. We want to thank Prince Khalid and thank everyone from Saudi for this event and for supporting this sport and we’re looking forward to August 20th.”

Anthony Joshua, former Unified Heavyweight World Champion:

“It’s hard to say from a head to head who’s going to win a championship fight. So I don’t tend to look into head to heads so deeply, but for some they could think that’s a 1-0 victory. That’s down to opinion anyway. Shout out to everyone in Saudi Arabia as well! It is going to be my second time there; first time was lit and it is going to be even better this time for sure. Going down to the old city was unbelievable. I am sure you have seen some of the videos on social media. Anyone that is going, I am sure you are going to be in for a great time in Saudi Arabia.

“In terms of old AJ, same old G, I’m just doing what I’m doing. Grafting away. It is a rough and tough sport. Fighting these lefties is a nightmare! And I cannot make the same mistake twice. I am hungry and desperate but at the end of the day how I perform will speak.”

Robert Garcia, trainer of Anthony Joshua:

“The whole team, everybody around us, is very positive. We have to do whatever is takes. We have to come out with different strategies in case one doesn’t work. We’ll be ready for the fight. Anthony is listening. He believes in us and that’s the most important thing. In the ring he’s got to come out and do what we tell him to do. Usyk is a great fighter. I’ve known him since a few years back when he came to my gym a few times to train. He’s a very talented fighter. He’s got very different ways to fight. Seeing the size difference, the height, the reach, the weight – everything is in Anthony’s advantage. We’ve got to take advantage of that. We’ve got to train him to focus on that and come fight night do what we need to do to win.”

Photo credits: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing

Francis vs Beltran, Saturday July 9th in Plant City, FL. Stream on ProBoxTV App

PLANT CITY, Florida – Panamanian 140-pound contender Cesar “Rainman” Francis (10-0, 6 KOs) will take a big step up in opposition when he faces former world champion Raymundo Beltran (37-9-1, 23 KOs) in a 10-round battle for the WBO NABO Junior Welterweight Championship. The fight takes place on Saturday, July 9 at the ProBox Events Center in Plant City, Florida and will be streamed live globally on ProBox TV.

Francis, who was born in Panama but lives in Brooklyn, New York, is coming off the biggest win of his career, a unanimous decision victory over Mohamed Mimoune. Prior to that, he beat then-undefeated prospect Jose Roman Vazquez via decision as well. The 31-year-old Francis has only had 10 fights, but he has taken significant steps in his last few fights that have moved him up the 140-pound rankings.

“It’s my time to shine. I’m going to go in and perform,” said Cesar Francis. “Beltran is a great veteran, and I am not overlooking him. I helped Richard Commey get ready for his fight against him. And this time Commey will be my sparring partner. People better bring their umbrellas because it’s going to ‘rain’ that day.”

Beltran is a former world champion from Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico. He had some of the best moments of his career at 135 pounds, where he faced the likes of “Hammerin” Hank Lundy, Ricky “Rickster” Burns, Richard Commey and Terece “Bud” Crawford. His most important victory was against Moises Paulus, whom he defeated to capture the WBO World Lightweight Championship. Now at 140 pounds, Beltran plans to use his experience to take Francis to deep waters.

“I’ve been looking and waiting for this fight,” said Raymundo Beltran. “Cesar Francis is an undefeated fighter who has a lot of confidence, and this is the kind of fight I need to put myself back on the map. I think my experience will help a lot because I’ve been in there with high-level fighters. Like always, I will do my part to make sure it’s an action-packed fight. My fights have never been boring. They’re always full of action.”

Linger Kept Vargas Cornered for Two Rounds

New York City – Junior Welterweight Dakota Linger (13-5-3, 9 KO’s) scores the TKO upset at 2:06 seconds of round two over Josue Vargas (20-2, 9 KO’s)
West Virginia native Linger refused to read the script, shocking Vargas with a brutal display of power punching. Early in the second Linger landed an overhand right that dropped Vargas, although the referee did not rule it a knockdown. Sensing the end was near, Linger pressed forward and floored Vargas with an uppercut. Vargas rose gingerly, and following a barrage featuring dozens of winging blows, the bout was stopped.

Almestica Setting Everyone Straight

New York City – Lightweight Armani Almestica (6-0, 6 KO’s) gets the last round stoppage over Eliseo Villalobos (2-2,1 KO)
End comes at 1:40 seconds of round six by TKO victory for Almestica.
Southpaw puncher Almestica kept his perfect knockout rate alive with a one-sided drubbing of Villalobos, a native of Simi Valley, California. In the sixth round, Almestica landed a straight left hand that forced Villalobos back a step. Due to the accumulation of punishment, referee Shadi Murdaugh stopped the contest.

Press Conference Notes: Edgar Berlanga Set to Bring KO Power to Puerto Rican Day Parade Eve Extravaganza in NYC 🗽

Berlanga-Alexis Angulo goes down SATURDAY (11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT) at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden LIVE on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+

Courtesy: Mikey Williams/Top Rank via Getty Images 📸

NEW YORK — “The Chosen One” is back home. NABO super middleweight champion Edgar Berlanga takes center stage Saturday eveningagainst two-time title challenge Alexis Angulo in the 10-round main eventat Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. Berlanga, born in Brooklyn and whose family hails from Puerto Rico, takes the top spot on the eve of New York’s Puerto Rican Day Parade. A popular ticket-seller with fearsome knockout power, Berlanga (19-0, 16 KOs) hopes a win over the crafty Colombian gets him closer to a world title shot.

The winner of this fight will be the first recipient of Madison Square Garden’s Miguel Cotto Trophy. Puerto Rican icon Cotto, who is being inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame this weekend, headlined five MSG fight nights on the eve of the Puerto Rican Day Parade. Four-division world champion Cotto, from Caguas, will be ringside Saturday night.

In the eight-round co-feature of this all-Puerto Rican card, Henry Lebron (15-0, 10 KOs) and Luis Lebron (18-3-1, 11 KOs) will battle for the vacant WBO Latino junior lightweight belt. This fight was elevated to the co-feature after junior middleweight sensation Xander Zayas dropped out of his bout with a viral infection.

Berlanga-Angulo and Lebron-Lebron will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT.Undercard bouts will stream live and exclusively on ESPN+ (7:10 p.m. ET) and includes junior featherweight contender Carlos Caraballo (15-1, 14 KOs), junior welterweight prospect Omar Rosario (6-0, 2 KOs), comebacking featherweight Orlando Gonzalez (17-1, 10 KOs), and junior welterweight Josue “The Prodigy” Vargas(20-2, 9 KOs).

At Thursday’s press conference, this is what the fighters had to say.

Edgar Berlanga

“I’m excited. It’s Puerto Rican Day {Parade} Weekend. {The first one} since the pandemic, two years. I’ve been dreaming about this since I was a kid. I feel like I spoke it into existence. My hard work paid off and now we’re here.”

“To be honest, my team and Top Rank felt like he was the perfect opponent for Puerto Rican Day Weekend. He’s the type of fighter that comes forward. Hopefully, he does that this Saturday. He’s a tough, rugged fighter. He makes it look ugly, comes forward. He has power just like me. He’s powerful, so it’s going to be an amazing night. And I’m excited to perform on Puerto Rican Day Weekend.”

On three straight fights without a KO

“It’s part of the process. I’m young, 25 years old. What can I say? I have 16 first-round knockouts, so I didn’t really gain the experience I needed. Definitely, these last three fights, I got the experience I needed. That’s the most important thing to make yourself a real professional athlete. But not only that, at that top level, you need those rounds. You need that feeling of what it’s like to get in the eighth, 10th round, and we got that done. This Saturday, Puerto Rican Day Weekend, I’m looking for a huge victory. I’m ready to go all out.”

“A lot of people don’t understand the last two years of not having a Puerto Rican Day Weekend and actually having a fight on that weekend… I’m just looking forward to performing, exploding like I always do and bringing back the old Edgar Berlanga.”

Alexis Angulo

“I’m very thankful for the opportunity, and I’m going to take full advantage of it. We’re going to put on a good presentation for everyone.”

“I see my two losses as big lessons, and we’re going to see what kind of result we get in this fight.”

“Part of the training camp we did in Colombia, part of the training camp we did in Miami. We have been trying different training techniques and things like that, so let’s see what kind of result we get in this fight.”

Henry Lebron

“I’m very happy with this opportunity. This is my first press conference. I’m happy that it’s just before the Puerto Rican Day Parade at Madison Square Garden, and I’m here to represent with a lot of pride.”

“My last fight propelled me to do even better and to keep showing that I’m a complete fighter. It motivates me even more, and I’m going to show the same Henry Lebron for a very long time.”

“I have been under the radar for a long time, but that motivates me even more. I’m thankful for this opportunity. I’m going to take full advantage of it. I’m going to put on a show.”

Luis Lebron

“I’m thankful to Top Rank and ESPN, and I’m here to represent my countrymen and put on a good show for the fans.”

“I am going to take full advantage of this opportunity. I have faced a lot of undefeated fighters, and like I said, this is a blessing for me and I’m going to put on a show for the fans.”

Saturday, June 11

ESPN, ESPN Deportes & ESPN+ (11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT)

Edgar Berlanga vs. Alexis Angulo, 10 rounds, Berlanga’s NABO Super Middleweight Title

Henry Lebron vs. Luis Lebron, 8 rounds, Vacant WBO Latino Junior Lightweight Title

 ESPN+ (7:10 p.m. ET/4:10 p.m. PT)

Carlos Caraballo vs. Victor Santillan, 8 rounds, junior featherweight
Josue Vargas vs. Dakota Linger, 8 rounds, junior welterweight

Armani Almestica vs. Eliseo Villalobos, 6 rounds, lightweight

Orlando Gonzalez vs. Pablo Cruz, 8 rounds, featherweight

Omar Rosario vs. Julio Rosa, 6 rounds, junior welterweight

Frevian Gonzalez vs. Refugio Montellano, 4 rounds, junior lightweight

Christina Cruz vs. Maryguenn Vellinga, 4 rounds, flyweight

Event Name: Edgar Berlanga. vs. Alexis Angulo



KISSIMMEE, Florida – Former world title challenger Axel “Mini” Vega (15-4-1, 8 KOs) returns to the ring to take on undefeated Venezuelan knockout artist Angelino “Huracan” Cordova (16-0-1, 12 KOs) in the co-main event of “Bomba” Gonzalez vs. “Baby Boy” Barriga. The 10-round fight, which will be for the WBO Latino Junior Flyweight Title, tops off a stacked undercard of rising prospects that will be announced shortly.

The event takes place on Friday, June 24 at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Florida and will be streamed live on ProBox TV beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT.

Vega is a 22-year-old contender of Mexico City, Mexico who debuted as a professional in October 2016. After only three years, Vega earned his first world title opportunity in a rematch against Wilfredo Mendez for the WBO Minimumweight World Title. Though unsuccessful, Vega would get another title opportunity in 2021 at 108 pounds against WBA champion Hiroto Kyoguchi. Vega came up short in that fight, but returned quickly that year with a 10-round decision win over Armando Torres. With two title opportunities under his belt, Vega is prepared to make another run, but first he needs to get past a hard-hitting puncher.

Cordova is a native of Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela who has developed a 70% knockout ratio across 17 professional fights. The 26-year-old has never fought outside of his home country, but he’s ready to make his United States debut on one of the biggest stages in the world.