OAKLAND, CA – On Thursday, March 24, fighters featured on the Andre Ward (28-0, 15 KOs) vs. Sullivan Barrera (17-0, 12 KOs) undercard participated in a media workout at King’s Gym in Oakland, California in advance of their March 26 fights at Oracle Arena in Oakland.
Participating in the workout were Roc Nation Sports’ boxing standouts including NABO Junior Welterweight Champion Maurice “Mighty Mo” Hooker (19-0-2, 14 KOs) of Oak Cliff, Texas; undefeated Daniel “Twitch” Franco (12-0-3, 7 KOs) of Rancho Cucamonga, California; unbeaten prospect from Salinas, California Rudy “The Revelation” Puja Jr. (7-0, 6 KOs); and undefeated Junior “The Young God” Younan (7-0, 6 KOs) of Brooklyn, New York. Also in attendance were Chinese Olympic Silver Medalist Zhang “Big Bang” Zhilei (7-0, 5 KOs) and local Hayward, California favorite Aaron Coley (12-1-1, 6 KOs).
Hooker faces Wilfrido “La Roca” Buelvas (17-5, 11 KOs) of Barranquilla, Colombia in a ten-round junior welterweight bout, Franco meets Mexican veteran German “Panteonero” Meraz (52-37-1, 30 KOs) in an eight-round featherweight fight, Puga Jr. looks to extend his undefeated streak against Carlos “Kalimba” Lozano (7-5, 4 KOs) of Ensenada, Mexico in a six-round super middleweight clash, Younan returns to the ring on March 26 after a nine-month layoff to take on Cristian Solorzano (4-7, 3 KOs) of Sonora, Mexico in a four-round light heavyweight fight, Zhang takes on Tyree Ortiz (5-2, 4 KOs) of Los Angeles in a four round heavyweight battle and Coley faces a very stern test in a six-round middleweight fight against Urmat Ryskeldiev (11-3-2, 7 KOs) of West Hollywood, California.
After shadow boxing around in the ring and a few rounds on the punching bag, all fighters participated in interviews with media members in attendance.
Below is what the fighters had to say during the media workout:
MAURICE “MIGHTY MO” HOOKER, NABO Junior Welterweight Champion:
“I had a good camp. I’m ready to get in the ring and show everybody what Maurice Hooker is about.
“I’m a boxer. I love using my jab. If I can, I’ll beat you up with my jab, but I’m always going for the knockout with the big right hand. In camp, I’ve been working on my left hook, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I knock him out with my left hook in the early rounds.
“I think a lot of people don’t want to fight me, especially people with the belts. They’ve got a lot to lose when they fight me. I’ve got everything to gain and nothing to lose. I just want to be the best. I want the best. Whoever is next, I’m ready.
“I want to be number one. I’m going to do whatever it takes to get there, so everybody watch out for me, I’m coming. Everyone’s a dead man.”
DANIEL “TWITCH” FRANCO, Undefeated Featherweight Prospect:
“My family is very supportive. They support pretty much every decision that I make. My team is here for my best interest within the sport and for my safety, which is why I have my dad in my corner. He has been training me since I was a kid and it has been going very well. Every road that we have taken has been the right one. I’m pretty excited to see what Saturday will be like.
“I’m here to fight and to perform in front of a crowd. I’m here for Roc Nation Sports…to represent them and myself.
“Within these next couple of years, I want to be better known. I want to be well known for my boxing, but they say that boxing is a business first and a sport second. You have to have a good face to represent the business and I think that I have that.
“I’m going to win on Saturday night. My hands are going to go up. I’m very well prepared and I’m going to stick to the game plan. I’m going to listen to my corner and I’m going to do my best.”
RUDY “THE REVELATION” PUJA JR., Undefeated Middleweight Prospect:
“Training camp went great. I can say the running, the training in the gym, the sparring, my diet…everything went great. Everything was on point.
“I feel like an underdog, but it’s exciting for me. It feels like we are right in my backyard. I’m just happy to be here right now and especially to be on Andre Ward’s undercard. That’s a good blessing for me.
“There have been so many bumps in the road, but now my path is just going to go straight on. I may face more bumps, but I am ready for those bumps. I went through everything at the beginning and now I’m mentally stronger and I’m here to support my family. So, I’m ready for anything that hits me.
“I have a lot to prove. I’m just going to keep my head up high and keep doing what I’m doing. Saturday is going to be an awesome fight. My opponent is a very strong fighter,and I’m not going to take him lightly just because there are losses here and there. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t have two hands. I am just going to keep doing what I was doing in my training camp and come out with the win.
“I get to show the people in Salinas that anything you put your mind to is possible. It’s another good opportunity that I am going to have. Without Roc Nation Sports, without the fans, we wouldn’t be here right now.
“I’m going to work hard to keep proving and proving myself so that one day, I’ll be where Andre is right now. That’s my goal…to be a world champion one day.”
JUNIOR “THE YOUNG GOD” YOUNAN, Undefeated Super Middleweight Prospect:
“It’s been a beautiful, long camp. I got some great sparring. Got to spar Chad Dawson and Delvin Rodriguez. It’s amazing learning from these guys…how to control the pace and how to control my distance. We got great work and I’m ready. I’m ready to shine.
“Saturday will result in a victory. I’m not going to tell you how, but it’s going to happen amazingly. I have to give the Bay Area a show. Steph Curry is lighting it up at Oracle and I’m going to do the same.”
ZHANG “BIG BANG” ZHILEI, Chinese Olympic Silver Medalist:
“I trained hard for this fight and I would like to thank Roc Nation Sports and my trainer Diego. I hope that everybody enjoys the fight. I’m ready.
“This training cycle before the fight was very good and I can say successful. My trainer was very dedicated and I listened to him in the gym. I now have a strength and conditioning trainer and he was very good too.
“It’s my biggest honor to represent China and to stand in a professional ring in America. This is my biggest honor and I will fight for it.”
“I’m at home. I’ve got to show off in my backyard. Plain and simple, I’ve got all my fans coming up to support me from everywhere, so I’ve got to show up.
“Our opponent, Urmat Ryskeldiev, is a tough competitor. He’s got the pedigree. He comes from Europe but he’s training at Wild Card. He’s a tough dude, but I’m ready, I’m in my own backyard and I’m not worried about anything.”
Ward vs. Barrera, a 12-round IBF number one position and mandatory position eliminator which is presented by Roc Nation Sports in association with Main Events, takes place Saturday, March 26, 2016 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. The event is sponsored by Corona Extra, Ticketmaster, Corporate Travel Management Solutions (ctms), Glad, Lyft, Zappos, BodyArmor, SAN Nutrition, Shoe Palace, The Waterfront Hotel and Visit Oakland. The event will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 9:45 p.m. ET/PT. Opening the HBO telecast will be Joseph Diaz Jr. vs. Jayson Velez in a 10-round fight for the NABF Featherweight title presented by Golden Boy Promotions in association with Miguel Cotto Promotions.
Tickets priced at $300, $150, $100, $50 and $25, not including applicable service charges and taxes are available at all Ticketmaster locations, online at Ticketmaster.com (bit.ly/WardBarreraTix) and charge by phone at (800) 745-3000.