Undefeated Russian heavyweight crusher Magomed "Mago" Abdusalamov (18-0, 18 KOs) is hard at work in Florida with new trainer John David Jackson, preparing for his first premium-cable appearance, a showdown with also undefeated Cuban Mike Perez (19-0, 12 KOs) on Saturday, November 2, at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City and televised Live on HBO®.
The hard-hitting pair, both southpaws, will meet for Abdusalamov's WBC USNBC Heavyweight Championship on the televised portion of the undercard of middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin's World Boxing Association and International Boxing Organization title defense against Curtis Stevens.
Sampson Lewkowicz, exclusive promoter of Abdusalamov, says the addition of trainer Jackson will give the 32-year-old Russian a new dimension to his game. "Who better to train a southpaw to become champion than one who has already done it?" he asked. "Magomed already had the best power in the heavyweight division and now with John David Jackson fine-tuning his defense, he will be unstoppable."
A victory over 27-year-old Perez would be another significant notch on Abdusalamov's belt. The big Cuban is a former Prizefighter UK champion who holds victories over respectable veterans such as Zack Page, Tye Fields and Travis Walker.
"Magomed is training to prove he is the real heavyweight on the horizon," continued Lewkowicz. "Victories over other strong contenders like Perez are how he will do it. I'm very happy that HBO has chosen to spotlight Magomed. This exciting KO victory will allow him to establish himself as the most exciting puncher in the heavyweight division today.
Abdusalamov manager, Boris Grinberg, says his fighter will be the best version of himself he's ever been on November 2.
"John David Jackson is the final piece of the puzzle to make the next heavyweight champion. The strongest offense in the division is now being taught defense by one of the slickest fighters in boxing history. We are very excited for the world to see the improved Magomed on HBO."
Brand-new IBF Light Middleweight Champion "King" Carlos Molina says when he heard the ring announcer say the words "and the NEW", he could finally relax a bit.
"I knew I had reached one of the goals I set on the day I started boxing," said the happy champion, now home in his beloved Chicago.
Molina (22-5-2, 6 KOs) won a split (116-112 and 117-111 over-ruling a card of 112-116) decision over now former champ Ishe Smith on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, on the undercard of the 12-round Floyd Mayweather vs. Canelo Alvarez fight.
But like every elite competitor, reaching one goal just means moving onto the next one.
"Now that I'm home, I want to start defending my belt right away, before the end of the year if possible." Molina continued. I want (Saul) Canelo Alvarez or (Miguel) Cotto next. Beating either of those guys is the fastest way to Floyd Mayweather, so that's who I want to fight."
Truly an inspiration, the habitual underdog Molina says he is grateful to his whole team for believing in him during his difficult climb: his promoter, Leon Margules of Warriors Boxing and Advisor, Luis DeCubas, as well as his training team, Trainer Victor Mateo, co-trainer Lou Askenette, cornerman Harrison "Hammer" Funmaker, and Strength and Conditioning Coach Freddy Cuevas, as well as all the local fighters who helped prepare him for the big fight at Oakley Fight Club in Chicago.
Having been the victim of boxing politics and been ripped off and robbed in several other high-profile fights, Molina also wants to thank a certain sanctioning body: "My sincere thanks to the IBF. If they hadn't made me the mandatory, there's no way I would have had this opportunity."
Molina's Promoter, Leon Margules, says Molina deserves every bit of the credit he has earned.
"First let me say congratulations to a fighter who works hard every day and didn't let anything get him down for years. Carlos truly deserves this belt and I am every bit as happy for him as he is. What a great story his climb up the rankings has been."
Advisor Luis DeCubas says Molina's victory was one of his proudest moments in a long career in boxing.
"Saturday was one of the most satisfying victories I've been a part of in 30 years in the boxing business. I am so proud to be part of Team Molina and so happy for Carlos. I will always tell young fighters about Carlos's dedication and how badly he wanted it, no matter what they tried to do to him. That's how you become a champion. He's a true inspiration."
Margules says he and DeCubas are going back to work quickly, looking to make a big fight for Molina.
"Carlos is the only world champion in the 154-lb division right now who is not named Floyd Mayweather. If a Canelo or a Cotto want to leverage a world championship into another Floyd fight, they have to go through Carlos... only our guy has something for either one of them if they try it. Carlos will use them to get himself to the front of the line for Floyd."
Molina says he wasn't surprised by anything Smith brought to the table on Saturday.
"We had a game plan for him to out-work him and that's what we did. My team is so strong. We knew exactly what we had to do. It wasn't easy, but we did it. No fights are easy. But now, looking forward, we've also got a plan against Canelo or Cotto. Looking forward to using it on either of them next."