LAS VEGAS – When Cuba’s Richar Abril (17-3-1, 8 KO’s), of Miami, Fla., steps into the ring to face undefeated Ugandan Sharif “The Lion” Bogere (23-0, 15 KO’s), of Las Vegas, this Saturday, March 2 in the main event of SHOWTIME BOXING – Special Edition live on SHOWTIME® (10 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast) from The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, he will be making the first defense of his WBA Lightweight World Championship.
The WBA recently announced that it had elevated Abril from interim champion to regular champion, a decision fully supported by both Abril and Bogere.
“I had no idea it was happening and it was definitely a surprise,” said Abril during Tuesday’s media workout at Long Life Fit Boxing Gym in Las Vegas. “But it was a great surprise. Every fighter has aspirations of becoming a world champion. Anybody who watched absolutely knows I beat Brandon Rios (in a bout on April 14, 2012) and that I deserved the decision. Ever since then, in my heart, I always considered myself the WBA champion. The WBA only made it official.
“This motivates me even more to put on a good fight for the fans and show them that I’m the real deal.”
Said Bogere after his workout, “I don’t think anybody is satisfied fighting for an interim title. We want a full title, a world title. I’ve been waiting my whole life for this chance. Uganda is one of the poorest countries on the planet. Most people don’t know how hard it’s been to get from where I started to where I’m at now. Fighting for the WBA title is an opportunity of a lifetime.
“People talk about my ring entrance, and that’s really good. It’s gotten me a lot of attention. They may not know my name, but they’ve maybe heard of the kid and his lion. I’m confident that after Saturday, people will know my name and know who I am.’’
In Saturday’s co-feature, talented, undefeated southpaw Gary Russell Jr. (23-0, 15 KO’s), of Capitol Heights, Md., meets Russia’s Vyacheslav Gusev (20-2, 5 KO’s) in a 10-round featherweight bout.
Russell is coming off of one of 2012’s most devastating knockout victories, a brutal one-punch, third-round stoppage over Roberto Castaneda last Nov. 9 on ShoBox: The New Generation.
“I’m satisfied with the way my career is going and at the pace it’s going,’’ said the classy, world-rated Russell, who may possess the fastest hands in boxing. “I refuse to listen to anybody who says anything negative about it. I think in a couple more fights I’ll be ready to challenge for a world title.
“I’m not overlooking anybody. I’ve seen tapes of Gusev and he seems to have that classic European style, although he does try and box. He certainly has the potential to be a spoiler. He’s the type that if you allow him to set the pace, he’ll run up the points on you. I expect a good fight on Saturday.”
Said Gusev, who’ll be making his second start in the United States: “I’m very relaxed, calm and confident. I’ve seen some of Russell’s fights and know he is a very good fighter.
“I’m excited about this fight and looking forward to it. It’s not going to be easy, but I am here to win. I didn’t come all this way to lose.”