Fighters featured on the December 19 HBO Boxing After Dark and HBO Latino shows at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York share their final thoughts on training camp as fight week kicks off.
In the main event of the HBO Boxing After Dark telecast, former heavyweight world title contender Bryant “Bye – Bye” Jennings (19-1, 10 KOs) of Philadelphia, will face the heavy-handed Cuban heavyweight Luis “The Real King Kong” Ortiz (23-0, 20 KOs) in a 12-round matchup for the WBA Interim Heavyweight World Title.
The co-main event of the night features former WBA Featherweight and Super Featherweight World Champion from Montego Bay, Jamaica’s Nicolas “Axe Man” Walters (26-0, 21 KOs) taking on Jason Sosa (18-1-3, 14 KOs) of Camden, New Jersey in a 10-round super featherweight fight. The HBO Boxing After Dark telecast will begin at 10:15 p.m. ET/PT.
In the HBO Latino Boxing (12:15 a.m. ET/PT; tape delayed) main event Yuneski Gonzalez (16-1, 12 KOs) of Del Rio, Cuba will face Los Angeles’ undefeated Vyacheslav “Lion Heart – Chigonsky” Shabranskyy (14-0, 12 KOs) in a fight scheduled for 10-rounds.
The co-main event will feature an exciting 10-round middleweight slugfest as “King” Gabriel Rosado (21-9, 13 KOs) will fight the dangerous former IBF Welterweight World Champion Joshua “Grand Master” Clottey (39-5, 22 KOs). Opening the HBO Latino telecast will be former WBA and IBF Featherweight World Champion Yuriorkis Gamboa (24-1, 17 KOs) squaring off against Hylon Williams Jr. (16-1-1, 3 KOs) of Houston in a 10-round lightweight bout.
Off camera, rising light heavyweight prospect, D’Mitrius Ballard (10-0, 7 KOs) of Washington, D.C. will take on Brazilian seasoned fighter Fabiano “Pit Bull” Pena (11-3-1, 8 KOs) in a six to eight-round light heavyweight fight and opening the night Manati, Puerto Rico’s Jorge “Destroyer” Melendez (28-5-1, 26 KOs) and Steven Martinez (15-2, 12 KOs) of Bayamon, Puerto Rico will clash in a 10-round middleweight fight.
Below is what the fighters had to say about as their training camp comes to a close this week.
BRYANT “BYE BYE” JENNINGS, Former Heavyweight World Title Challenger:
“The weather is warm out here in Florida, and John David Jackson is doing a great job as my new trainer. He’s a man that knows the fight game being that he was a fighter himself, a former world champion to be exact. The little things he’s showing me are making a big difference. I was happy that my promoter Gary Shaw came out to visit and see the progress I have made. We’re out here doing it. I believe I’ve become a better fighter, and it will show come fight night.
“This is a big fight for the heavyweight division. The interim WBA World heavyweight title is on the line. The winner will move on to bigger and better things. Everyone says he has a lot of power but his opposition is suspect. He’s a big slugger and I’m a boxer that gives a lot of movement. I believe I’m the one with the better skills and better pro experience. I’m winning this fight.
“I think it’s great. The sport needs to keep its integrity. Ortiz is a good fighter but he’s already shown that he has some insecurities. When a fighter gets caught cheating while using steroids to get an edge says a lot about that person. He paid his dues and now it’s time to fight. With VADA testing installed for this fight, everyone will be on an even playing field.
“With Klitschko losing to Fury, the heavyweight division is wide open. There are a lot of hungry fighters out there ready to take charge and I’m one of them. I know I got what it takes to become a world champion. The heavyweight division is mine to be conquered.”
LUIS “THE REAL KING KONG” ORTIZ, WBA Interim Heavyweight World Champion:
“I am ready physically and mentally for this fight, and I am going to come out to destroy my opponent. I have not been able to show off my condition and preparation in my last few fights, and this is my opportunity to show the world that I am the best. I have been ready for a world championship fight for three years and am ready for to go 15 rounds if needed.
“This is the new era of the heavyweight division, and I am in the running to become the best in the world. I feel like I have the conditions to become a world champion; I have the power, speed and intelligence in the ring.
“Jennings will be a difficult fighter, but I am also a difficult fighter. I have been physically prepared for this fight for three years.”
NICHOLAS “AXE MAN” WALTERS, former WBA Featherweight and Super Featherweight World Champion:
“My focus is to be the smarter fighter in the ring, to focus, to fire off more combinations, to take control of the fight. We know that Sosa is a hard puncher and he comes to fight.
“This is an important fight for me because it is at 130 pounds, which is a step up for me.”
“Training the right way is the proper way to prepare for such an important fight like this. I know the difference in this fight is will be my speed in the ring.”
JASON SOSA, Super Featherweight Contender:
“I have been working extremely hard on speed and angles because we know that Walters is flat footed and I want to make sure I have an advantage with movement on fight night.
“We know that Walters is a tough fighter with an impressive record. He has beat Donair and Darchinyan which are both strong opponents. But we also believe that we are the bigger fighter being that this is his first fight at 130. He has never felt power like mine and I believe that will be my biggest advantage on Dec. 19.
“Winning this fight would mean everything that we have been working on for the past five years is starting to pay off and will put me in a good position for a World Title next year.”
YUNIESKI GONZALEZ, Light Heavyweight Contender:
“Every aspect of my training has been elevated to be able to make a great impression. Shabranskyy applies basic combinations and I am a fighter that is more complex and will bring that advantage with me on fight night.
“A victory on Dec. 19 will keep me on the right track as I climb to the top of the mountain and establish myself as an elite fighter in the light heavyweight division.
“I have focused on turning my punches over to maximize my power. I’m not going to give up too much information, but the world will see on Dec. 19.”
VYACHESLAV “LION HEART – CHINGONSKY” SHABRANSKYY, Light Heavyweight Contender:
“The primary focus of this training camp has been to make sure my power and conditioning are the best they can become Dec. 19. I will finish camp knowing that I’m in the best shape ever.
“Gonzales is an aggressive come forward fighter. He’s not the typical Cuban boxer, he is more of a ‘banger’ come forward fighter which isn’t typical of Cuban fighters and I have made sure to prepare for that.
“This fight, without question is the biggest fight of my career so far and is step closer to getting a shot at a world title. I’m a smarter fighter now. My team and I have a game plan in place, if I stick to that I believe the fight will be in my favor.
“With every camp there is growth. Everyday I come into the gym the goal is to get better, in every single aspect- physically, emotionally, and spiritually. When there is a well-rounded growth it becomes easier to focus and devote myself to training, to be more willing to learn and to be taught.”
“KING” GABRIEL ROSADO, Former Middleweight World Title Contender:
“My primary focus is to do everything Fernando tells me to do. I believe in his information and I’m confident that it will make me a better fighter.
“This fight means a new beginning; it’s the second chapter of my career, and I believe it’s truly my time to shine. I know that Clottey is a defensive-minded fighter and will be looking to counter. But, I believe that I have the advantage. I’m younger, faster, stronger, and I believe my ring IQ is better.
“I’ve learned not to rush things, timing is everything. The focus and discipline has to be 100 percent. I believe that will show Dec. 19.”
JOSHUA “GRAND MASTER” CLOTTEY, Former IBF Welterweight World Champion:
“This is another that and I approach it like all my other fights: I train hard, eat correctly, get my rest properly and win.
“I know Gabe is very tough and always comes to fight so I expect a hard fight from him. I just will need to stay focused and I do what I need to in order to win.
“I want to be a world champion again, and I believe my experience will help me be one again and know I can do that by winning this fight.”
D’MITRUS BALLARD, Light Heavyweight Prospect:
“My primary focus going into this fight has been to become a better fighter, a more complete boxer. I want to make sure that I show all of my talents, experience and growth in the ring. The focus, the intensity of my training has been stepped up, my entire camp has stepped it up and we are ready.
“Winning this fight and advancing my record to 11-0 just means I’m one step closer to the goal a World Championships and putting people on notice that I am a threat in the light heavyweight division.”
YURIORKIS GAMBOA, Former WBA and IBF Featherweight World Champion:
“My primary focus for every fight is to get in the ring, get the job done in a way that I perform my best as a fighter, and the people paying for tickets go home happy with what they went to see. However for this fight I added another layer to that. I focus on proving to everyone that I still have what it takes to make it to the top.
“Winning means a lot. But the real pudding in the cake is winning this fight the way I know I can win it. Putting up a show for the people and getting the ‘W’ would mean the world to me. I am at a stage in my career that I need to fight as often as I can. I have to win but I also have to put on a good show to bring more and more people in to watch me fight.
“I think my experiences as a fighter are the only advantage I bring to this fight. Other than that, we are two hungry men with two arms waiting for this opportunity to shine.
“I learned that boxing is a lot tougher outside of the ring than inside. I learned that we are not meant to be boxing forever and have to take advantage of every opportunity in front of us as if it were the last one. I am about to put that to use.”
HYLON “KID COSMO” WILLIAMS, Lightweight Contender:
“This training camp my main focus was to put myself in a great state of mind and grind hard as I could stress free. I know my opponents a veteran fighter that’s had a decorated career and he’s been on my boxing radar since 2008 when I became a professional fighter.
“Winning this would be the door opener to the title shot I’ve always dreamed about and of course it’ll not only put a sock in people’s mouth but it’ll open the eyes to all my critics and have them see me in a new light.
“My youth and knowledge of the fight game will carry me through this fight. Having the heart to take on a former world champion shows I have the heart of a lion to protect my record and not duck anyone.”
Tickets for the Dec. 19 HBO Boxing After Dark and HBO Latino Boxing event start at $25, $35 and $60 for ringside seats plus applicable fees and are available at the Turning Stone Resort Box Office by calling 315-361-7469 or online at Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.com).