LAS VEGAS – Four young, undefeated cruiserweights from the United States will look to make a name for themselves when they meet in the featured bouts on ShoBox: The New Generation this Friday, May 13, live on SHOWTIME (10 p.m. ET/PT) from Sam’s Town Live.
The cruiserweight division has traditionally been dominated by Europeans boxers. Friday’s U.S.-born ShoBox fighters will be seeking to change that perception.
In the main event, talented Mayweather star Andrew “The Beast” Tabiti (12-0, 11 KOs), of Las Vegas, takes on power-puncher Keith “Machine Gun” Tapia (17-0, 11 KOs), of Bronx. N.Y. 2012 U.S. Olympian, Michael Hunter (11-0, 8 KOs), of Las Vegas, faces Isiah Thomas (15-0, 6 KOs), of Detroit, in the co-feature.
Other televised fights of a quadrupleheader: TMT’s Ronald “The Thrill” Gavril (15-1, 11 KOs), of Las Vegas, will meet hard-punching Colombian Juan Camilo “La Boa” Novoa (26-6-1, 24 KOs) in a 10-round super middleweight bout and his TMT stablemate Sanjarbek “War” Rakhmanov (4-0, 3 KOs), of Las Vegas by way of Uzbekistan, will be opposed by Alfonso Olvera (7-2, 3 KOs), of Tucson, Ariz., is a six-round welterweight bout that will open the telecast. All but Gavril will be making their ShoBox debuts.
Tickets for the event promoted by Mayweather Promotions are priced at $25 and $50, not including applicable fees, and are on sale. Tickets can be purchased online at www.samstownlv.com/entertain, by calling (702) 284-7777, or at any Boyd Gaming box office.
Here’s what the fighters said about their fights Friday, training camp, their respective opponents and more:
“It’s great that four undefeated cruiserweights are fighting each other. I want us to get the ball back into U.S. territory, since it is a historically European-dominated division. I definitely think the emergence of young cruiserweights like myself is changing that.
“I don’t compare myself to other cruiserweights in the division, I know I’m the best. I’m always looking to win impressively, and I look to put on a great performance for the fans Friday night.
“Everything has been perfect. Training camp has been going great. I started camp in February so I feel strong and comfortable. What’s interesting is that I’m not nervous at all despite this being my first headlining debut. I see it as any other fight where I know what I am coming in to do. I think that lets me know that I am maturing as a fighter and feel a lot more confident in my skills and abilities.
“I’ve been waiting for the right date and this is it. I believe my career moving is great, what I dreamed of. Now it’s time to take the next step.
“Personally I’ve never seen Tapia fight, but I’ve watched videos. He is unbeaten, a solid opponent. Styles make fights and this is a good one for me. I’m looking forward to continuing to step up and give everybody a good performance and get close to a title fight.
“I can’t wait. I’m going in confident. The key is to get the victory, it’s the main thing. Winning is everything.
“I feel blessed to be training out of Floyd’s gym and be able to fight under Mayweather Promotions. He’s someone I look up to so being where I am is a dream coming to reality. I love training at Mayweather Boxing Club. It keeps me focused and hungry.”
“Fighting Tabiti is a great, real challenge. I like the way he fights. I respect him, but I’m going to be bad weather for him. I’m going to take control right away; it will be a Tapia fight, not a Tabiti fight. That’s a fact.
“Tabiti is a talented boxer. His style is a Mayweather style. I love Floyd Mayweather as a fan, but Tabiti’s not Floyd Mayweather. Me? I come to fight, hands up, moving forward as I go. I want to run over you.
“I’m definitely going to change the perception about me in this fight and the division because I’m a machine. I’m really confident and can’t wait to fight.
“For me, this is the right time. I am here and definitely ready to fight. I feel I’m the best in my weight class except no one has seen me yet. Tabiti may have the fame, but I’m not just going to talk the talk, I’m going to walk the walk.
“I think this is a big step up for me when I beat him. Once the bell rings, that’s when we know what is going to really happen.
“I’m going to become the cruiserweight champion, defend it a couple of times and then move up. I already feel like a champion both mentally and spiritually.
“All of my fights are equally important. I’m really satisfied with the way my career is going. If it wasn’t for boxing I wouldn’t be here right now. God and boxing saved me. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be alive.”
“This is a step up as far as competition compared to the past, with him being an undefeated cruiserweight. He’s a good, long-ranging southpaw. We are actually around the same age; we were in the amateurs at the same time, but never fought each other. Friday, I aim to win impressively. I don’t want to say I’m going for the knockout, if it happens it happens, but hopefully we can get it.
“Although I’ve fought on TV quite a few times before, this is going to be a good show with Mayweather Promotions. I’m thankful to be fighting on the undercard of my good friend Andrew Tabiti. That’s an honor, to be honest. It’s going to be great that my family and friends outside of Las Vegas will be able to tune in to watch me, so that’s a blessing.
“I wouldn’t say I’m satisfied with the way my career is going. I can’t complain because I have no losses, I just wish it would go at a little faster pace. I’m a two-time Olympian and in the amateurs we’re used to fighting 4-5 times out of the week, so adjusting to fighting once every few months or so feels a little stagnant to me. I really try not to think too far into the future, I try to live in the moment, but I hope to get a title shot relatively soon.
“I went into training camp right after my last fight, so it’s been about eight weeks. There’s always ups and downs in training, but as long as you keep a positive spirit, everything will end up going perfectly well. So it’s been going good I can’t complain. I usually train out of the Mayweather Boxing Club, but there’s been some construction going on so we have moved it to Fight Capitol and a few other places.
“I have been changing my training just to better myself, not necessarily for my opponent or for this fight.
“You have to be a little more focused in the Mayweather Gym. There’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t really happen in a normal gym simply because he is Floyd so it will bring it out of you or it won’t. Only the strongest survive.”
“Friday is a good thing for up-and-coming, American cruiserweights. There are a lot of us in the division looking to make our mark. Not just myself. This is our chance to show that America has good fighters in the cruiserweight division. It’s the perfect showcase.
“I’m very excited about being part of Friday’s card. I am just taking it all in and looking to perform to the top of my ability and showcase my talents.
“Hunter is young and hungry just like me, but I haven’t really seen or watched him. I’ve heard about him and I’m sure he’s going to bring his “A” game.
“I know what I can do, there’s no need for a lot of strategizing. I’m not just showing up.
“I feel my career is going good to this point. I keep rising. I’m on television. I like the pace I’m going but there is only way to really go, and that’s to the top. I don’t consider myself the best cruiserweight, just one of the top comers. Eventually, and in due time, though.
“Friday, I’m just going to do what I do best. Of course, you want to win impressively but the most important thing is to win. I’ve got to get that W.
“I live in Detroit but train in Miami, which is like a second home to me. Training camp has been going for about two months and it has been great. I get great sparring in Miami.”
“I’m looking forward to having this big opportunity. Many people don’t know who I am so fighting on SHOWTIME will start giving me the exposure and recognition I need.
“Training camp has been going great, I feel strong and prepared. I’m happy and have no complaints. I feel blessed to be a part of this great card full of fighters with tremendous talent. It’s exciting to be able to share this with my stablemates here in our town.
“I’m looking forward to what this will bring not only for my future but for all of ours.”
“Training camp has been going great, I have been training for seven weeks now. I’m currently training in Miami, Fla.
“I have seen videos of his fights and can tell he is a strong fighter who is not afraid to mix it up. Considering that I have more professional fights and over 180 amateur fights, it is tough to say whether Gavril is a step up for me, until I step into the ring this Friday.
“I would be more satisfied with my career if I had already won a world title, but unfortunately the circumstances from my last world championship challenge didn’t turn out in my favor. I know that by winning this fight I would immediately launch myself into world title contention and potentially another world title opportunity. I see myself either challenging for, or defending a world title a year from now.”
“I’ve watched Olvera enough to feel I know him. He’s a taller, Mexican guy. I’m looking forward to fighting him.
“I train at Mayweather Boxing Club with Dewey Cooper; he’s been my coach since I turned pro. I had about 150 amateur fights and I got a lot of international experience.
“I consider myself a puncher. Once the bell rings, I come to fight.
“I’m happy with the way things are going. I train hard every day. I’m coming to take all the titles. This is my weight, around 143 pounds. I don’t plan to go up much or down
“In this fight I want to win and look good and then come right back. I think after about a year I will be ready to take on all the top guys.’’
“Training camp has been great; we’ve been in training for about a month. Road work is good, the sparring is good with different boxers. The weight is not an issue. I train at Scrapyard Boxing Gym in Tucson, Ariz.
“Our opponent is formidable and to be taken serious. We know he is aggressive and expects to win so we have to bring our “A” game to the ring. We also expect to win.
“At this point in my career I am very happy with my progress. This card is definitely for the world to see, and is also a big step forward for us.
“We are welcoming the opportunity and grateful for it. We hope this fight elevates us to more opportunities and gets us closer to someday challenging for a world title.”