“Good afternoon everyone and thank you for coming today. Firstly, Happy New Year. 2018 – wow, what a whirlwind. When you look back at the amount of events, the events themselves, it was a great year for boxing. There are so many young stars coming through. I get the feeling and the warmth that this is a new beginning and a new start, particularly for a lot of people sat at this top table. There seems to be a changing of the guard. There are so many great fighters that are coming into the closing stages of their careers. When you look at this card, you see exactly the opposite.
“This is great that you have a young fighter local to The O2 who has had 15 fights and is willing to take these kinds of steps against Sergio Garcia, a European Champion – top 5 with the WBC and top 15 with many other organisations as well. It’s a massive step and these young fighters are being prepared to step up to these levels quicker than historically they’ve done before. It applies to Ted Cheeseman and it also applies to Lawrence Okolie, just ten fights in and number 8 in the World on BoxRec. There’s a lot of opportunities for the young guys coming through and on February 2 we see a lot of them step up.”
Adam Smith, Head of Sky Boxing:
“Happy New Year everyone. I hope you all had a great Christmas. What a fantastic 2018 it was – finished with the wonderful night at The O2, not only the Whyte-Chisora rematch but also Charlie Edwards, what a scene that was when he won the World title. It just goes to show that stars can appear if you believe in yourself.
“The opportunity is knocking for so many young fighters this year. The stage is there. Boxing has revolutionised in London, The O2 is a phenomenal venue. February 2nd is a warm welcome back, there’s some great talent on the card at all sorts of levels. The most important thing is that they have the chance to breakthrough this year. You have to take the chances. We want stories, we want narratives, we want personalities. Stories and narratives build, that’s where we get the huge fights.
“This is where is starts and I think 2019 is the start of a new era for the youngsters. I think by the end of the year there will be three or four guys topping bills and hopefully for them becoming Box Office stars themselves. The opportunities are there, the talent is huge around the gyms in the country. We can’t wait to get going on February 2nd.”
Sergio Garcia – Torrelavega, Spain – 28-0, 13 KO’s – defending the EBU European Super-Welterweight title against Ted Cheeseman:
“In truth this is a great opportunity for me and Spanish boxing, we’re going to put on a show. I have a lot more experience than him but at the end of the day this is boxing so I’ll have to put in a performance on the night. It’s nice to hear my promoter backing me but right now the challenge is on February 2nd so I’ll take care of that night and then we’ll see what comes next.”
Ted Cheeseman – Bermondsey, London – 15-0, 9 KO’s – challenging Sergio Garcia for the the EBU European Super-Welterweight title:
“For this fight, it’s a European title, he’s highly ranked with the World governing bodies, and the thing is once you win a European title, there’s only one other step after that. When you turn pro, your goal is to be a World Champion. You don’t yourself fully know if you’re going to achieve that.
“You don’t even know if you’re going to get a shot at it, but if I win this fight on February 2, and I’m highly confident I will after watching my opponent’s fights and studying his style, then I’m in line. I’m there, I’m in line, I’m basically there for a world title shot.
“As you say, it’s a World level fight, so I’ll go and put on a good show on February 2, and show how much I’m improving and show what level I’m at.”
Lawrence Okolie – Hackney, London – 10-0, 7 KO’s – Cruiserweight:
“I did a lot of learning inside and outside of the ring in 2018. It was a good learning year, I packed in a lot of experience into 10 fights. I want bigger tests and more grudge matches in 2019. It’s about balance, I was pushed fast in the amateurs. There’s a big gap from domestic to World level and I’m still learning.”
Jake Ball – Surrey, England – 12-1, 9 KO’s – fighting Craig Richards for the WBA Continental Light-Heavyweight title:
“I’ve been training well and preparing hard for it. The actions that I’ll show on February 2nd will speak louder than any words that I can say. I respect Craig and I know he’s a good fighter, but he isn’t as good as me and it’s as simple as that. Come fight night I’ll show it. I’m not afraid of any man.
“When I fight Craig in February I’ll be 100% fit and ready. I pulled out through injury, it’s not as if I had another fight lined up. All the hard work in the gym will show on the night.”
Craig Richards – Crystal Palace, London – 13-1, 7 KO’s – fighting Jake Ball for the WBA Continental Light-Heavyweight title:
“Im not going to pretend that the last few months haven’t been frustrating. With Jake ‘no balls’ pulling out, it’s been frustrating. He called me out in June and he’s been sitting on the bench injured since. Then we was meant to fight in October but he lost his balls and followed through in his trousers. Then we were meant to fight in December and it didn’t happen. Why didn’t you turn up in December?”
Felix Cash – Wokingham, England – 10-0, 6 KO’s – fighting Rasheed Abolaji for the vacant Commonwealth Middleweight title:
“I’m looking forward to it. It’s been a long time coming. The Commonwealth belt is right up there and I’m looking forward to going in there and putting a performance on. I want to show everyone what I’m all about and push on towards some bigger fights. Obviously it’s one fight at a time but I’ve got full confidence in my abilities. Hopefully once I get my hands on this Commonwealth title more fighters will be tempted so step in the ring with me. I’ll go in there, bust this fella up and then bring in the next one.”
John Docherty – Montrose, Scotland – 2-0, 2 KO’s – taking part in his third professional contest at Super-Middleweight:
“My first two fights went very well. I’m looking forward to getting out again on February 2nd and progressing with my career. Fighting in Italy was a good experience for me, I already had experience of fighting all around the World as an amatuer but the atmosphere in Italy was unique. I’m looking forward to getting another knockout on February 2nd. I would say I’m ready to step up now but Tony Sims and Eddie Hearn keep my feet on the ground. When the opportunity comes I’ll be ready.”
Fabio Wardley – Ipswich, England – 5-0, 4 KO’s – Heavyweight:
“December 22 was a great card and a great night to be a part of. I announced myself and showed everyone a little bit of what I can do. It was a fairly easy night for me, a comfortable win. I’m ready to go again. I’m excited to get out there in front of a big stage again and show off.
“I pay attention to what’s going on in the Heavyweight landscape but at the same time I’m focused on my own career and I’m looking at titles and where the gaps are in the division. There’s a lot I can do and I bring something different that a lot of Heavyweights don’t have. I’m just looking forward to having a very busy year and making more of a name for myself.”
Charles Frankham – Crowthorne, England – making his professional debut at Super-Featherweight:
“I’ve been working really hard with Tony (Sims) and the boys. I’m looking forward to getting in there now and doing the job. I feel like I’m ready for the pro game now. I’ve been sparring with Martin J Ward, Joe Cordina and Ricky Burns – they’re bringing me on loads. I’m going to take my time and try and get as many bouts under my belt as I can in 2019.”