DSH Boxing Notebook: Thurman and Garcia ready to battle, Stevens-Lemieux war of words

March 4, 2017

Our latest Boxing Notebook looks at tonight's upcoming Thurman-Garcia bout, and also examines some quality trash talk between David Lemieux and Curtis Stevens.  For these stories and more news on the sweet science, read below:

Lemieux and Stevens have war of words at press conference

Nowadays, boxing press conferences have become dull affairs where everyone claims they had the greatest training camp in their lifetime and then pronounce themselves ready for action.  Gone are the days of Muhammad Ali, when wit, charisma, and bold predictions, often made the pressers just as entertaining as some of the fights.

Recently David Lemieux and Curtis Stevens held a press conference that brought back memories of the old days, as both men engaged in some quality back-and-forth trash talking:

LEMIEUX: "You're going to get knocked out."

STEVENS: "Tell the doctor to bring smelly salts. They're going to need to wake your ass up."

LEMIEUX: "You ain't never fought a guy like me."

STEVENS: "And you ain't never fight nobody like me. The difference is I fought a million you's."

LEMIEUX: "I'm going to destroy you. March 11th."

STEVENS: "No problem. March 11, meet me in the middle of the ring, and that's it, okay. Just meet me in the middle of the ring."

LEMIEUX: "That's what I'm going to do."

STEVENS: "That's all you've gotta do. Meet me in the middle of the ring. That's all you've got to do."

LEMIEUX: "You don't have to talk so much."

CURTIS STEVENS: "I got what I want.  You're going to get right what you want. Your whole front furniture will be missing out of your mouth."

LEMIEUX: "My focus is there. He's a clown. He wants to play around and put off some funny stuff on Instagram, put my picture up, me getting hit by Golovkin, when he got destroyed a lot worse by Golovkin.  It's funny to me, like the games he plays. I don't understand why he has to put other opponents, intermingle with what's going to happen between him and me. Emotion, no there's no emotion. I'm going to destroy him and that's the only emotion I have."

STEVENS: "And, David, with respect to what you just said, I don't control Curtis "The Cerebral Assassin" Stevens' page. But notice you all watching what's going in life. I don't gotta to put a picture up of you getting hit. I really don't give a damn what happens between you and Golovkin. We both lost to him at the end of the damn day. Just to clear that up with you. I don't control that page. But I know you be watching that, you be watching every move I make, huh?"

Ukrainian fighters added to Lomachenko-Sosa undercard

The Vasyl Lomachenko-Jason Sosa junior lightweight world championship event has added two title fights to the undercard, as undefeated WBO cruiserweight world champion and Olympic gold medalist Oleksandr Usyk and NABF light heavyweight champion and Olympic bronze medalist Oleksandr Gvozdyk will be defending their titles against Mike Hunter and Yunieskyi Gonzalez, respectively, on Saturday, April 8, at The Theater at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, MD.

“I’m very happy to fight on the same card with Vasyl Lomachenko and Oleksandr Gvozdyk, this is something we’ve been talking about since we were amateurs -- to have three members of the 2012 Ukrainian Olympic Team in the same event," said Usyk.

The Lomachenko, Usyk, and Gvozdyk championship Ukrainian tripleheader will be televised live on HBO.

Usyk (11-0, 10 KOs), from Kiev, Ukraine, and a 2012 Olympic gold medalist, captured the WBO cruiserweight world title in his 10th professional bout, a division record for winning a world title in the fewest fights.

Usyk dethroned Krzysztof Glowacki via unanimous decision on September 17, 2016, ending the undefeated defending champion's two-year reign.  In his last fight, on December 17, Usky made his U.S. and HBO debut, successfully defending his title by knocking out world-rated contender Thabiso Mchunu in the ninth round.  Considered the class of the division, Usyk trains in Oxnard, Calif. under the tutelage of Anatoly Lomachenko, father/trainer of Vasyl Lomachenko.    

Hunter (12-0, 8 KOs) was a member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic team, and has won five of his last seven bouts inside the distance.  Hunter is currently world-rated No. 9 by the WBO.

“I’m excited for this fight because I asked for it. If I don’t knock him out, I’ll be surprised," said Hunter.

Gvozdyk (12-0, 10 KOs) enters this fight having won 10 of his last 12 fights by knockout, including all three of his NABF light heavyweight title fights.

A bronze medalist at the 2012 Olympics, Gvozdyk captured the vacant NABF title with a second-round knockout of Nadjib Mohammedi on April 9, 2016.  He successfully defended that title twice last year scoring a sixth-round TKO of Thomas Karpency on June 23 and an eighth-round stoppage of Isaac Chilemba on November 19.  He enters this fight world-rated No. 6 by the WBO and the World Boxing Council (WBC), and, No. 7 by the International Boxing Federation (IBF).

"I'm happy to know the name of my next opponent.  He is a strong fighter and a new challenge for me," said Gvozdyk.

Gonzalez (18-2, 14 KOs), a native of Cuba, has collected his last nine victories by way of knockout.   His only blemishes are a very disputed decision loss to former WBC light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal, and a majority decision loss to Vyacheslav Shabransky in 2015.  Last year Gonzalez won both his fights by stoppage.

Talkin' Smack

Jerry Izenberg, on Deontay Wilder overcoming mid-fight arm injuries to defeat Chris Arreola:
“Larry Holmes won the title just that way.  That’s a courage with which, if you can bottle it up and inject every fighter with it, every fight would be a world championship fight.  And (Wilder) has that.  We know that much about him, we definitely know that about him.”

Keith Thurman, on the most influential African Americans in his life:
“Nelson Mandela, Haile Selassie, Al Haymon, and Martin Luther King. The first two are influential African people whose work had an impact on African Americans. Martin Luther King meant a lot here in America. Those four men do it for my short list.’’

Deontay Wilder:
“Muhammad Ali is my idol.  When I look at Muhammad Ali, I really see a man who was a real life super hero. What he did for boxing, in and out of the ring, will forever live on to the point where want to walk in the same footsteps that he did, but to do it in my own way."

Danny Garcia:
"People say he's the bigger man because he's been at this weight longer than me. I'm taller than him, I'm wider than him and I have a bigger back than him. I feel like I'm the fresher welterweight.

Keith Thurman, on opponent Danny Garcia:
"He feels confident and I feel confident. I believe that I have more to offer. I feel that I can box my way to victory. I visualize outcomes. I don't think Danny wins without a stoppage. If it goes to the scorecards, it'll favor me."

Danny Garcia:
"You can't chase a legacy or money. When you get desperate, you'll try to take a shortcut. Everything I do is for the love of the sport. I've been blessed to be in this position."

Keith Thurman, on the four African-American boxers who influenced his life:
“[Muhammad] Ali made boxing what it is today. He made the world love boxing. The world love Ali and the way that he fought. He was a gold medalist and did a lot for our country. Mostly, he influenced me by showing what a true, athletic fighter should look like. He was perfect combination of speed and power. Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.
Mike Tyson was the animal. He was the beast, something to be afraid of. He put fear into the hearts of his opponents, who were nervous before they ever stepped into the ring with him.
Aaron Pryor just happens to be one of my favorites. They say he was somebody that even Sugar Ray Leonard never wanted to fight. He was a tremendous fighter. The intensity Pryor fought with and his overall style really was admirable.
Watching Floyd [Mayweather] is almost like watching a ballerina. There is a beauty in the way that he sets up his counters and dances around the ring. Floyd wasn't known in the later years for knockouts, but he finessed his way into victory, which gives me a better, well-rounded understanding of the sport as a whole.’’

Sugar Ray Leonard, on the Thurman-Garcia bout:
"Keith Thurman, seems to me, a little more fundamentally sound than Danny Garcia. But Danny Garcia, has a neutralizer. One thing I think is a big factor for the actual fight itself, is that both guys are great champs and both of them could take punches. So, I don’t know. Put it this way, I wouldn’t bet my house.
[Danny Garcia is] just a guy that has that internal fortitude. He has heart, big heart. And he doesn’t give in. I think he’s the kind of fighter, you know where people short-change him. But I look at him and he’s one of those fighters that, I don’t train – I never train at all – but he’s the kind of fighter that I would enjoy training. Because he deserves to be up there.
I always thought that we had to continue to raise the bar as a fighter, as a champion, and continue to fight better and better competition. When I was fighting, I swear, I wanted to be the underdog -psychologically, spiritually and mentally, if I wasn’t challenged, if I wasn’t considered somewhat of an underdog, I couldn’t perform the way I normally would.  It’s what would get me going."

Daniel Jacobs, on his fight with Triple G:
"I've been down twice in my career, but I'm but not worried about my chin. He's a very strong guy but it's up to me to prove I'm quicker and better.  I don't know how hard he punches, I've never faced him but anybody can be hurt and I'm confident in my power that I can hurt him. All the questions about my chin and heart will be answered on March 18."

Danny Garcia, on ranking Thurman among his past opponents:
“He’s probably like fourth or fifth.  You’re talking about Amir Khan, Olympic silver medalist, two-division champion. Lamont Peterson. Those guys have skills. I’m just fighting someone with a lot of momentum who thinks he can knock everyone out, that’s it. Once I break his momentum, then what?
My honest assessment is he’s a built-up champion.  I came up the hard way. I’ve had to take the title off of the champion (at 140 pounds), everything against me. From the gloves, to the size of the ring to the promotion, everything was against me. He’s never had that before.”

Michael Perez to face Marcelino Lopez on April 20

In a classic crossroads fight, super lightweight contender Michael Perez (24-2-2, 11 KOs) looks to rebound and get back into title contention when he faces off with once-defeated Argentinian slugger Marcelino Lopez (32-1-1, 17 KOs) in a Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN 10-round bout on April 20.

In the 10-round co-main event, IBF North American welterweight champion Rashidi Ellis (17-0, 12 KOs) makes his highly anticipated return and first defense of his title against the rugged John Karl Sosa (13-2, 6 KOs).

By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services

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