Conor Benn vs. Samuel Vargas + undercard press conference ahead of Saturday’s action at the Copper Box Arena.
“We’re here back in London after a whirlwind global tour that continues. Two weeks ago we were in sunny Gibraltar for an incredible event with Dillian Whyte against Alexander Povetkin. Last weekend in Uzbekistan for a thrilling night with over 10,000 people in attendance for the homecoming heroes.
“Back in London now for a huge card live on Sky Sports in the UK and on DAZN around the world. Conor Benn returns against the fantastic Samuel Vargas in what should be a thrilling fight. Two women’s World Title fights on the card as well, Savannah Marshall against Maria Lindberg and of course Shannon Courtenay against Ebanie Bridges for the vacant WBA Bantamweight World Title.
“Next week we have the WBO Middleweight World Championship in Miami between Demetrius Andrade and Liam Williams. Then we’re in Barcelona, two Brits going for the European Championships and then the huge card on May 1st of course – Chisora vs. Parker and Katie Taylor vs. Tasha Jonas, Chris Eubank Jr against Marcus Morrison, Dmitry Bivol against Craig Richards, Scott Fitzgerald and Campbell Hatton on the card.
“Then there’s the small matter of 70,000 people at the fantastic Dallas Cowboys Stadium for Canelo against Billy Joe Saunders. Then we’re back in the UK for a May 15th show that will be announced next week. Just a little few things coming up for you.”
Conor Benn – Essex, England – 17-0, 11 KOs – defending his WBA Continental Welterweight Title against Samuel Vargas:
“This is definitely one for the fans. I’m chomping at the bit; this is a fight I’ve been calling for a long time now and this is another fight where I can show my levels and experience.
“You can judge me on my last performance, or the performance before that, but I’m always evolving and learning from previous fights and the mistakes I’ve made. This is the sort of fight where I really do show what I’m capable of.
“We don’t know the ceiling to my career, we don’t know where the limit is because I came into the game raw and naive. I’m learning and I plan on displaying all of that come Saturday night.
“If you watch Vargas’ fights he comes in and he brings it but so do I. Of course, he’s tested at a higher level and got more experience than me, but everyone I fight moving forward is going to have experience on me, I’ll always go into the fight the less experienced fighter because of my lack of amateur background, because I’m only 24.
“People will question that, it’s my job to prove them wrong, it’s my job to get in there and do a number on him Saturday night. It’s going to be my hardest nights work, I know what he brings, he’s a tough South American who loves to fight and fights with his heart on his sleeve. You’ve got to give him credit where it’s deserved.
“I keep getting asked now about other fights, I made the mistake once in my career looking past opponents and look what happened – I hit the deck twice and it turned out to be my hardest nights work in my career. I’m fully focused on Vargas; I know what he brings and he’s in there to win and show me how it’s done.
“I’ve been training hard for this fight; I’ve been working hard and visualising this fight and I’m ready to go. Whatever he brings, I’ll match it – it’s going to be a shootout at some stage of this fight.
“Every time we’ve said it’s a test I’ve passed with flying colours. With Koivula people were writing me off again, saying he’s too experienced, and then what happened. I stepped up again against Sebastian Formella and what happened. I rise to the occasion and I will rise to the occasion, I will make sure I match it.
“Tony’s trained me harder than ever for this camp. He’s really pushed me; I don’t often say I need a break, but I needed a few this camp. When you’re talking about sacrifices try four years, not being with family – that’s really hard.
“My little son now, we only had a few days off when he was born to spend time with him, so your mind and emotions are still on the fight. Even when I’m holding him, I’m thinking about the fight. Twitching in my sleep about the fight. It’s going to be nice after this to sit down and emotionally relax with my new family.”
Samuel Vargas – Bogota, Colombia – 31-6-2, 14 KOs – challenging Conor Benn for his WBA Continental Welterweight Title:
“I’m blessed, I’m happy and had a good training camp. I feel like everything has fallen into place for me to have a great show Saturday night. I’ve put my heart and soul into this training camp, working with Bones Adams. I’ve lots of rounds in the gym and I’m really excited to be here. The moment is here, it’s time.
“I don’t really compare, I was 24 once, I was young once upon a time and when I look at myself then and now, I just laugh. I just think I bring too much into the ring for him.
“It’s kind of sad we don’t have fans in the venue, I was looking forward to having a lot of fans there because it would’ve beee a great energy, you need that. The fans in London have a lot of love and support which I’m thankful for.
“This is a fan friendly fight, he fights, I fight my ass off. I fight for my family, for everything I have, for the desire to win and become better at life and boxing, there’s so many motives I have to fight for.
“I never make no excuses, even in my loses, I always work my ass off in training camp. This fight in particular, I haven’t seen my family or Lee in two months. Everybody keeps telling me how focused and driven I am because it’s all I’ve done, there’s nothing else to do but box, study, know my enemy and do my job.”
Savannah Marshall – Hartlepool, England – 9-0, 7 KOs – defending her WBO Middleweight World Title against Maria Lindberg:
“If anything, this is a tougher fight than the original fight we had. Maria is very experienced, tough and been in with some of the best in the world – Christian Hammer twice. I’m expecting a tough fight come Saturday.
“I’ve had a twelve-week camp, so I’ve prepared for everything. Whatever Maria brings I’m more than confident I’ve got the answer for.
“I think it’s every boxers dream of being the Undisputed Champion and I do believe that is the biggest fight in female boxing, but I can’t look past Maria at the moment.”
Maria Lindberg – Malmo, Sweden – 19-6-2, 10 KOs – challenging Savannah Marshall for her WBO Middleweight World Title:
“Unfortunately, this was so sudden, and I didn’t have much time but I’m more or less always in training. I’m prepared, this is a new experience for me as I’ve never taken a fight like this with such short notice. There’s a first time for everything, I’m excited and looking forward to Saturday.
“I’m more experienced as a professional, I think I have three times more fights than Savannah and many Title fights. I’ve fought some really good fights, so the experience is definitely on my side. I have my style and I know how I’m fighting, that’s the way I’m going to make it hard for her on Saturday.”
Shannon Courtenay – Watford, England – 6-1, 3 KOs – fighting Ebanie Bridges for the vacant WBA Bantamweight World Title:
“This is more than just a fight, this is an opportunity for me to change my entire life, my family’s life. This is the reason I got into boxing and I’m excited to achieve my dream Saturday night.
“We have very different opinions when it comes to fighting. She talks more about the weigh-in, all I care about is the fight – I’m a fight fan. This to me is a World Title, why are we not talking about the fact this is a world title fight. This is a fantastic fight.
“She’s an exciting fighter, she’s aggressive and comes forward, I’m aggressive and I come forward. Our styles are going to mix, so let’s talk about the fight, there’s nothing else to discuss.
“I’m just excited to fight. I can understand why she’s saying she wants to get more eyes on the sport, but I want to get more viewers for the correct reasons. Katie Taylor didn’t work her backside off to pave the way for women like Ebanie and I to talk about underwear.
“I’ve got a 14-year-old sister, my coaches have daughters, my god-daughter, I want to be a good role model and show them hard work and motivation gets you here. Not flaunting your body.
“I’ve got a cool, calm and collected head. We’ve had a game plan since day one of this fight, I’ve got the best team behind me keeping me nice and calm. My game plan is my game plan, we’ve stuck to it in sparring, and it’s worked beautifully – it’ll work even better on Saturday.
“This fight isn’t my Everest; this is just the start for me. Win the World Title, join the likes of Savannah Marshall, Katie Taylor, Terri Harper and another British woman to hold a World Title. I want to bring another World Title to Britain; we saw it with Lawrence Okolie a few weeks ago and I want to be the next one.”
Ebanie Bridges – New South Wales, Australia – 6-0, 2 KOs – fighting Shannon Courtenay for the vacant WBA Bantamweight World Title:
“This same way I’ve got noticed is the same way I’m getting this fight noticed. I feel like women’s boxing needs more eyes on the sport, we need to do whatever we can. I truly believe that the reason this fight has got so much talk about it is because of me, because of the different approach. I think that’s what’s helping getting eyes on the sport, getting talk on the sport and building it.
“What does matter is what happens in the ring, that’s all that matters. If we can get as many people as possible to watch the fight, then Shannon and I can show to more diverse number of viewers that women can fight. That’s my goal, get the views and once the people are watching Shannon and I are going to put on a show.
“I’ve been fighting and into martial arts since I was five, I haven’t been a boxing fan for just five or six years, I was boxing fan well before I started in the sport. For me, the boxing part is very important to me, but I feel like we need to get more views on women’s boxing and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get that.
“I think me winning this World Title will show people you don’t have to be like everybody else to achieve these goals. That’s what I’m going for.
“I’m savage, I want to go in there and f**k this shit up. I’m not here to play around, I’m here to get the job done. I don’t play around in boxing, when I fight, I’m there to hurt you. I might look the way I look, but I can’t wait to get in the ring and show people how I fight. The more people I can get to tune in to watch the Bomber, I couldn’t have asked for a better platform, I’m going to do whatever I can.
“We both have the power to knock people out, so a knockout or stoppage is very possible. It’ll come down to our conditioning and heart to see if it goes the ten rounds. If it does go the ten rounds, it’ll be a very exciting ten rounds.
“I truly believe if I win this fight on Saturday night, I’ll become a superstar. If Shannon wins it she’s still Shannon, she still has to beat Rachel Ball. She’s a World Champion but I just think it’s different. I’m very excited to be that person and to be a new face and character in women’s boxing.”
Alexander Espinoza – Managua, Nicaragua – 20-2-2, 8 KOs– defending his WBC International Silver Bantamweight Title against Kash Farooq:
“We know there are some great champions from Nicaragua, and you’ll see another one Saturday night.
“I believe very much in myself and I’m looking forward to retaining my International crown. I believe I can beat anyone at world level and go on to win a World Title myself.”
Kash Farooq – Glasgow, Scotland – 14-1, 6 KOs – challenging Alexander Espinoza for his WBC International Silver Bantamweight Title:
“I’m been preparing for this fight; I know what to expect on the night and I’m really confident I’ll put in a good performance and get the win. He’s going to bring it.
“I was pleased but there’s always room for improvement. I went back, took a couple of days off and went right back to the gym. I trained right through Christmas, New Year and my birthday. It was a good performance, but I want to improve every fight, I want to get better, and this is another fight where I’m going to showcase my skills and look good.
“I think he [Alexander] will be there all night, but that’s going to make me look even better. It’s going to give me opportunities I didn’t get last fight. Expect a good performance off me but never say never he may surprise me.”
John Hedges – Takeley, England – 1-0 – fighting Stanko Jermelic in a four-round International Light-Heavyweight contest:
“It was a hard debut but looking back on it now and I couldn’t have asked for a better one. It’s prepared me for what’s to come in the future. Taking a southpaw one a couple days’ notice was probably something I shouldn’t have done, but I’m glad I did, we got the win, and we push on now for my second fight and I’m looking to shine.
“I’ve trained hard, I’ve had some class sparring and sparred some great names – British Champions all at Light-Heavyweight. I’ve trained hard, been around some good boys and putting everything in, Mark’s been away but I had a few weeks with him.
“Me, Steven Andrews, Mark Tibbs, Jimmy Tibbs and Ian have all been down there doing the job, putting the work in and making sure I can have a good performance this time.
“It’s a proper Essex gym, we’re having it down there – it’s lively. I can’t knock it, it’s a proper gym and I’m enjoying it down there. I’m enjoying being in good company and training hard.
“I’m trying to take the pressure off myself, I don’t want to swallow on it. I’m ready to go, I’ve put the work in, and this is the fun part. I want to prove to people what I know I can be and what I’ve done before – I’m ready to go now.
Stanko Jermelic – Split, Croatia – 0-5 – fighting John Hedges in a four-round International Light-Heavyweight contest:
“I’ve had good training camp; I feel like I’m ready to face John. I’ve watched John’s previous fight and I’m ready to fight on Saturday.”
Nick Campbell – Glasgow, Scotland – Professional Debut – fighting Petr Frohlich in a six-round International Heavyweight contest:
“I suppose you do need to be mad to get into boxing, but I love it. I’ve loved the sport since a young age, so it just felt like the right thing for me to do at the time – give up rugby and go to boxing.
“Here we are, no better stage to make your debut and I’m buzzing for it I can’t wait.
“Scotland is famous for their lighter weights; we’ve got Josh Taylor and Kash Farooq who is fighting with me on this card at the weekend but there’s never really been a good Heavyweight. There’s a void there, one that I want to fill.
“My rugby background is going to help me with this, with the pressure. I’m taking it in my stride, using the pressure to perform, put on a show Saturday night and show that I’m here to make a statement.
“I got into this four years ago, I went through the amateur set up and been down Sheffield sparring guys in the GB squad. I’ve been over the world the Scotland, always testing myself and see how I went.
“As far as I’m concerned, the only way is up and anybody who doubts me is just more fuel to my fire.
Petr Frohlich – Most, Czech Republic – 2-30-1, 1 KO – fighting Nick Campbell in a six-round International Heavyweight contest:
“I’m so pleased and grateful for this opportunity to fight here in London, particularly given the current climate. I’m going to give my best and show what a quality boxer I am.”