Hard Rock Cafè, New York, NY – WBO Light Heavyweight World Champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (32-2-1, 28 KOs) and Eleider “Storm” Alvarez (23-0, 11 KOs) addressed the media at Hard Rock Café in Times Square to officially announce their upcoming “Super Men” showdown at the brand new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, on Saturday, August 4 televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing®.
Kathy Duva – CEO, Main Events: “Welcome to the fabulous Hard Rock Café in Times Square. We’re delighted to announce today that the WBO World Light Heavyweight Champion, Sergey Kovalev, will face undefeated number one contender, Eleider Alvarez, in an HBO World Championship Boxing event at the brand new, soon to open, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City on Saturday, August 4th. The TV bouts start at 10 p.m. The event will be promoted by Main Events and Krusher Promotions, in association with Groupe Yvon Michel.
“Ever since Sergey and Bernard Hopkins drew a million-dollar gate to unify the light heavyweight titles in November of 2014, at the last major boxing event to take place in Atlantic City, we at Main Events have been itching to find a way back to the place where we promoted so many big events and spent so much of our lives. While this city has dealt with the same challenges that have bedeviled most of the world economy during the last decade, the arrival of the iconic Hard Rock brand heralds a new beginning that I believe will lead to the re-birth of a streamlined, modernized and revitalized destination resort.
“And so, with my dear friend, Bernie Dillon, who I have known and worked with many times since we were all starting out our careers in the early ’80s … When he called and asked me if Main Events could help him bring big time boxing back to Atlantic City in his new role as the V.P. of Entertainment at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, I was delighted to be able to tell him that I had just the thing he was looking for.
“Sergey participated in the last big fight on the Boardwalk, and how fitting it is that he would be in a position to bring HBO back to Atlantic City and kickoff the next chapter of the city’s boxing history.
“And speaking of history, I am pleased and still a little amazed to be able to mark a big milestone in the story of Main Events today. In May of 1978, my late husband, Dan Duva, incorporated Main Events. So, this month we celebrate our 40th anniversary and I can’t think of a better place to mark that occasion than here today among so many friends.
“During the last 40 years, we have had the privilege to promote many hundreds of events. A lot of those big events took place in Atlantic City. Holyfield-Foreman, Pazienza-Camacho, Gatti-Ward II and III, Gatti-Mayweather and Kovalev-Hopkins come to mind immediately. There are a lot of others. Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield, Meldrick Taylor, Pernell Whitaker … All the great fighters we worked with. I think even Fernando Vargas once or twice fought in Atlantic City.
“So, let’s move on to the future now, and talk about what we have in store for you on August 4th. Supermen. Krusher and Storm. Sounds like a couple of superheroes, right? Today Sergey sits at the top of the light heavyweight division. Alvarez, the long-time number one contender in the division finally gets his shot at the title when they share the ring on August 4th.
“They, of course, have something else in common besides their date in August. Both have been avoided a lot by the same guy and so, tired of waiting for that guy to step up and face them, despite multiple attempts to put those fights together as Yvon can well attest, they have decided to simply fight each other. And we think it is most fitting to declare that they are the true supermen.
“As for our co-feature, that fight is still being made and will be announced separately. It will most likely be that dynamic young WBA Light Heavyweight Champion Dmitry Bivol will defend his title.
“When I called Yvon Michel a few weeks ago to ask if Eleider Alvarez might possibly want to be interested in challenging Sergey Kovalev, he sounded very happy. And he asked me to give him a couple of days. A couple of days later, he called back and we had a deal. I sent him the contract a couple days after that and found it signed in my email queue the next morning.
“I tell that story to illustrate two points: 1. The relationship between Yvon and Kathy is not the reason that a certain fight hasn’t happened. Yvon is a good promoter and when left unfettered to do his job, he gets it done in a most professional manner. 2. When fighters really want to fight, making the fights that you, the fans, want to see is easy. And we have two fighters here who want to fight. This is the way it’s supposed to be.
“Yvon asked me when we first spoke if we might be able to bring this fight to Quebec. Well, as it turned out, I was not able to make that happen, because Bernie made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. However, we are bringing Quebec to the fight.”
“When I used to ride down the Parkway in my father’s Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser as a child during our annual trek to the Jersey Shore for our vacation during the first two weeks of August, I used to wonder why there were always so many license plates from Quebec. Well, I learned why just a few weeks ago. Every year, during late July or early August, thousands of contractors from Quebec travel to the Jersey Shore for their vacations. And so, it seems that much of Montreal will be within a short drive of Atlantic City on August 4th, enjoying their Contractors’ Holiday, which apparently is a big deal and none of us in New Jersey knew about it.
“We expect a big, bipartisan crowd to be in the newly renovated and improved Mark Etess Arena at the Hard Rock and it’s going to be a lot of fun. It is my pleasure to introduce the President of Montreal’s Groupe Yvon Michel, my friend, Yvon Michel, who will introduce his team.”
Photo Credits: David Spagnolo/Main Events
Yvon Michel – President & General Manager, Groupe Yvon Michel: “Thank you very much, Kathy. You can’t imagine how excited we are to be here today. There’s one person more excited than me, Eleider Alvarez. Thank you very much for being here. Thank you very much, Kathy, for this important opportunity. It was unexpected, really. We were fighting hard to have another world championship opportunity, but that will fall at the right time, at the right place. The way you have handled our negotiation … really, really it was professional. We’re very, very pleased how it turned out.
“Thank you very much, Sergey ‘Krusher’ for giving us the opportunity. Thank you, HBO, also Peter Nelson for bringing that fight there.
“Kathy is right. The last week of July and the first week of August, it’s by legislation in Quebec. It’s the law. It’s Construction Holiday. And used to be, not that long ago, why Atlantic City was the main place for Quebecers to go for their vacation. And I’m telling you, we have received a lot of calls and it has been announced only a couple days ago. We have received a lot of calls and there will be buses that are going to be just to go to Atlantic City for this weekend, because Eleider Alvarez has a lot of fans. He’s very liked, very loved in Quebec. And there will be a lot of people that are going to come.
“I remember Atlantic City, and I believe Arturo Gatti was fighting his last five years in his career over there. And we were going there. We were so happy all the time to bring a lot of people from Quebec to go to see Arturo Gatti. He fought only once in Quebec.”
“Again, thanks to Main Events, but like Kathy was saying, it was when Gatti was fighting in Atlantic City, we were bringing Quebec and a lot of people over there. And when Mr. Dillon called Kathy and asked her if she had a good event for you, you can’t imagine how good it will be. I’m telling you, it’s good. It will be exceptional. And you said 6,000 seats, and I’m sure it will be sold out pretty quick.
“Eleider Alvarez is an undefeated, 23-0, 11 KOs. He’s pro since 2009. He resides and lives and trains in Montreal. He’s married but his family they still reside in Colombia. He’s 34 years old. He’s been number one contender since 2015. He’s a former amateur star. He had participated in the Olympic Games in Beijing. He won a gold medal in the Pan Am Games in Rio in 2007.
“He is one of the few fighters in America who holds a winning record against Cubans. Even he has three wins against the current gold medalist of the last Olympic Games, Julio Cesar La Cruz. He is rated by Ring Magazine for 218 months. So over four years, he’s been rated in the top ten … the best contender in the world. He fought on his way up, he beat Edison Miranda and Alexander Johnson. He traveled in Monaco to defeat Ryno Liebenberg, where he got his Silver Belt. He traveled in Chicago to beat Anatoliy Dudchenko. He fought and beat Isaac Chilemba to become the mandatory contender in Quebec City in November 2015.
“Since then, even if the timing was not there, he did not have the opportunity to fight against Adonis Stevenson for the title, he was very active. He fought four times. We took that opportunity to raise his value to bring his confidence higher, and he beat two former stars in Quebec. He knocked out Lucian Bute in the fifth round. And remember, Bute was just fresh from a draw that has been reversed since then, but a draw against Badou Jack. And he beat also, soundly Jean Pascal. So, it was his last fight. And he was supposed after that last fight, he was supposed to fight Superman.
“By the way, I’m pretty sure he will be happy to see Superman. And I’m convinced also that Superman will be there to watch that fight, because Eleider will be there also next week to watch his fight against Badou Jack.
“So, I’m telling you, Eleider Alvarez is the number one, is the best contender in the world. And I know that we got that fight because another fight fell apart, but I’m telling you Eleider Alvarez would not have been a 50/50 fight against Marcus Brown. He has more experience. He is a man who has more maturity. And I’m convinced he would beat any contender in the world. I’m also convinced, looking at all the fighters, the four champions have fought, I’m convinced Eleider Alvarez would have won against all of them. And I’m really, really convinced of that.
“So, when you get the fighter who has a lot of talent, great speed, a great environment, excellent training with Marc Ramsay and an excellent management team with Stèphane Lèpine. I’m telling you he’s also excited, fully vindicated. He trained and lived in Montreal and his family still in Colombia, because he still wants to focus on his career. But he plans to bring them back in Montreal very soon. So, he is hungry, determined, a dangerous contender and August the 4th, with all due respect, he will be the new WBO Light Heavyweight Champion of the World. Thank you very much.
“So, I’d like to introduce the undefeated number one contender of the world, Eleider ‘Storm’ Alvarez.”
Photo Credits: David Spagnolo/Main Events
Eleider “Storm” Alvarez: “Good afternoon, everybody. First of all, I would like to thank Yvon Michel, Stèphane Lèpine who’s not here currently, Main Events, Kathy Duva, HBO and Sergey Kovalev for this opportunity. I feel really overwhelmed. It’s my first press conference outside of my country.
“I want to speak a little bit about myself. The first time that they offered me to fight against Sergey Kovalev, I didn’t think about it too much, and I said, at once, yes. Because everybody knows I’ve been three years waiting for Stevenson for the world championship. I have this kind of opportunity and I wanted to take advantage of it at once. It’s the same thing; it’s a world championship. But the importance of this fight is the man that I’m facing. The man that I’m going to be fighting with. He’s the best in the category of the 175 pounds. And after I took the position to fight as a professional boxer, I wanted to face the best ones. Sergey Kovalev is one of the best ones. For this sport of ours, you’re going to know more about who Eleider Alvarez is.
“Many know me from BoxRec because I didn’t have before to have the fight of such importance as the one that I’m going to have on the 4th of August. It’s going to be a chance for me to show what I have and everything I went through throughout my career. The next 4th of August, WBO’s going to have our next champion, and it’s going to be Eleider Alvarez.
“I have a lot of respect for Sergey Kovalev. He’s a great champion but I like these kinds of fights. I know it’s going to be a difficult fight but I know what I have. I know of my training and my preparation, and on next August 4th, I’m going to be the champion. Thank you very much.”
Duva: “Thank you, Yvon and Eleider. Now on to the champion. Last night, you, the boxing writers, honored Egis Klimas as your Manager of the Year for the second year in a row.
“When I met Egis six years ago, right here in a restaurant down the street in Times Square, he was managing fighters as a hobby. As I look at the outstanding group of fighters whose careers he now guides, I have to wonder how many more times you’re going to have to give him that award. You will probably have to retire it at some point.
“One thing is certain. No matter how many times you make him your Manager of the Year, he will richly deserve it, and this is sure not his hobby anymore. So please allow me to introduce my friend, Egis Klimas.”
Photo Credits: David Spagnolo/Main Events
Egis Klimas – Manager, Sergey Kovalev: “Thank you very much, Kathy. Thank you very much, writers who saw me working, doing job … and by the way, it still is a hobby. Still is.
“I really like what I do. I really enjoy what I do. And that’s probably why coming along very well. I don’t see that as my work, as my job. I see that as my life. And all the fighters with me, I really don’t pay attention … Is he the best? Is he a champion? Or he’s just starting today … Is he going to turn into pro? I even thought of some who’s still amateur boxers and I treat them all the same. Sometimes some writers are asking me like, ‘Which out of your fighters are the best? Which out of your fighters you like most?’
And I just say, ‘Simple. If you cut my finger on my hand, no matter which one you’re going to cut, it’s going to still the same pain.’ So, all of my fighters I would say are treat same. I look at them and they are same to me.
“As far as Sergey Kovalev, we went with him through the long road, I would say. And I wanted to say to the fighters who are starting today, or who started a year ago, Sergey Kovalev opened a lot of doors to new fighters from Russia, from Ukraine, from all over the former Soviet Union, because everyone was looking up to him. And when we started, nobody knew much about the Russian fighters and he was very patient. And I was also very patient, too. So, we went a very, very long run.
“Before I met Kathy Duva, I had to manage, promote, do everything for Sergey, and we went through 18 fights. He was 18-0 when I brought him here. Sergey played the big, big role into my management career and I wanted to thank him personally. That the trophy I got yesterday, it wouldn’t be without Sergey. So, he played a big role.
“As far as August 4th, I think we got outside of the champions, we got the best opponent is available today in the light heavyweight division. I was actually even surprised that Alvarez agreed to fight, because he gave away his mandatory position to fight a WBC and he choose to fight Sergey. So, it’s a lot of respect for that.
“In closing, I wanted to thank writers, fans, HBO, promoters and hosts, Hard Rock. To whoever is not going to make it to Atlantic City to watch it, to watch it live, turn on the TV and watch on HBO. Thank you very much. We’ll see you August 4th.”
Duva: “Thank you, Egis. Also, I want to acknowledge Sergey’s trainer, Abror Tursunpulatov, who is not still here. He’s got some guys fighting tonight on the undercard, but he’s played a big role in the second half of Sergey’s career.
“Sergey is making, by the way, his 14th appearance on HBO on August 4th, and this will be his 14th world title fight. He is what I would call a real champion. He has traveled throughout the world, challenging his opponents in their own hometown, many times. He has taken on every challenge that has been offered to him without a moment’s hesitation. He has reached the point in his career where we get to see how real champions cement their legacies. I don’t believe … and, again, we’ll go back to my 40 years … I saw Marvin Hagler. I saw Ray Leonard. I saw Muhammed Ali. I saw every great fighter, really of this last 40-50 years, and you know very few of them didn’t suffer a loss.
“When you come down to it, a career is not measured by the W’s and the L’s on your record. In the end, it’s measured by the richness of the challenges you accept, and the memories you make for the fans along the way.
“We have seen some pretty special things from Sergey since we met him just six years ago and I suspect that he has a lot more thrills to give all of us before he decides to call it a career, because that’s what great champions do. As always, it is my privilege and my delight to introduce you to WBO Light Heavyweight Champion of the World, Sergey ‘Krusher’ Kovalev.”
Photo Credits: David Spagnolo/Main Events
Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev – Two-Time Light Heavyweight World Champion: “Thank you. Thank you very much for everything and I’m happy to be here and back to New York and I’m glad to be here again.
“First of all, I want to say thank you to Egis, who one day believed in me and gave me opportunity to be a professional fighter and may my dreams happen for me. And, also, thank you to Kathy Duva who supports us and gave opportunity fighting on HBO. Thanks also to HBO for great opportunity to be in team of HBO boxing. And personal thank you for help to Peter Nelson and Hard Rock for expressing confidence in me.
“Thanks to Yvon Michel and Eleider Alvarez for approve the fight. I am sure that we will show really great fight August 4th because I have a plan to defend my title. He has a plan to get a title and to be champion. It will be very big battle and we must be ready and be the best shape of our boxing career. Because in the future, happening huge fights, unification fights, I hope.
“Thank you to all the writers. To the writers who gave award that Egis best manager in the world, Lomachenko was the best fighter in the world, and his father, Anatoly, won the best trainer in the world.
“Thank you very much for everything and see you and at next press conference before August 4th. God bless you everyone, and thank you.”
Duva: “Thank you, Sergey. I want to leave you with a couple of final thoughts: 1. Many of you have been asking me lately about Ellen. You haven’t seen Ellen Haley lately. Some of you met Ellen when she was by Evander Holyfield’s side. Others of you met her later in her career with Main Events. I just wanted to let you all know she hasn’t been around lately. She is going through a very difficult time. Her brother is desperately ill. Her nephew, Jeffrey, who many of you know, also just had very serious surgery. You know, Ellen is not a mother, but I think we’ve all, everyone in this room, has been mothered by her at one time or another. So, if you’re thinking about her, this would be a great time to send her a little text and ask her how she’s doing.
“2. It was pointed out to me by our matchmaker extraordinaire and Vice President of Operations, Jolene Mizzone, that I should tell you something very important. You should advise your listeners and your readers to make sure they show up in time to see the undercard. The reason why really says a lot about the way our sport evolves and surprises.
“Almost 26 years ago, to this day, May 15, 1992, Main Events promoted its first ever boxing event at the Mark Etess Arena. Michael Moorer fought Burt Cooper in one of the most hellacious heavyweight fights that I have ever personally seen. It was a great card overall, with future champions, Livingstone Bramble and Gerald McClellan featured in the undercard bouts. Can you believe that? But the most important and interesting thing about that night was the guy who won a six-round decision in the first bout of the evening. His name was Arturo Gatti. And it was the first time he ever fought in the city where he cemented his legacy so many years ago.
“So, mark your calendars, and be there for all the action. The ticket pricing is spectacular, very similar to the kind of pricing we had when Arturo started his fantastic nine-fight run in Atlantic City. And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if, in addition to watching a terrific main event, you might see a future world champion, or even a legend in the making before the TV fights even get started.
“Tickets will go on sale Friday, May 18th, at 10 a.m. and will be available through the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino box office and Ticketmaster. If you can’t be there in person, TV starts at 10 p.m. on HBO.
“Thank you to the Hard Rock Times Square for hosting us today, and HBO, the New Jersey Athletic Control Board, and the brand spanking new Hard Rock Casino and Hotel in Atlantic City. See you all there on August 4th.”