ShoBox - Wilder vs Liakhovich: Pre-fight quotes and notes

Scott Heavey

This Friday's ShoBox card brings us the return of Deontay Wilder, and two very interesting tests for prospect fighters on the undercard.

Steve Farhood, Showtime Sports analyst

"The jury is still out, of course, on Deontay Wilder, who is taking at least a baby step up by fighting a former world champion. The other two fights are really good, solid matchups, with the two unbeatens fighting their toughest opponents to date.

"Francisco Vargas is clearly taking a step up in class. He turned pro at 25, which is obviously much older than the usual Mexican prospect, but he is very exciting and throws a lot of punches. Brandon Bennett is a lefty who's been brought along carefully. This is definitely a step up for him, too. But both guys are highly schooled and have looked very good in their fights. This is a prototypical ShoBox matchup.

"Jermall Charlo is beginning to emerge from his twin brother, Jermell's shadow. It is inevitable that they are going to be compared because they fight in the same division. This is a big step up for Jermall, facing a fighter who has made a career of beating unbeaten prospects This should be a supreme test for Charlo, who has never gone past six rounds while Smith has been six rounds or more 13 times.''

Deontay Wilder

"I honestly don't have any time off. I'm always up in the gym. When people call somebody a 'gym rat,' I am definitely that. This is my job and I take it seriously whether I'm outside the ring or inside. The only way to get better is to train and practice hard. The most time I'm off after a fight is maybe a week. After that, I'm training and waiting on the next fight. When I go to camp, I don't go to camp to get in shape. I go to camp to put shape on top of shape. I'm never out of shape.''

"I'm excited to be in the main event on ShoBox on Showtime. I was on the (network) when I broke (Kelvin) Price's jaw. We're just trying to reach our goal. I'm glad to have a great opponent. I can't wait to perform on Aug. 9. It's the Bomb Squad!''

Mark Breland, Wilder's trainer

"Deontay is great to work with, he does what I tell him to and he's willing to try anything I say, which is all I can ask. He's sparring 10 rounds and we're coming off a great camp. He's really improved a lot since we started. Honestly, we did not anticipate the knockouts; in fact, we are trying to get him to box and move more, which he's beginning to do. He's got good power in his right hand and a great 1-2 punch. So we're trying to develop his jab. But his power his just overwhelming right now.

"Two greats thing about Deontay are his willingness to learn and his work ethic. He knows he's still learning and has the right attitude. He's hungry and works hard in the gym. His shoulders are too tight when he boxes; once he relaxes a little and is able to loosen his shoulders, he will be even more dangerous. It's all about relaxing, but that comes with experience.

"This is another stepping stone, but there's no way we take Liakhovich lightly. There are still little things he can do that Deontay's never seen. Deontay knows he has to be at the top of his game every fight."

Siarhei Liakhovich

"I've been working with Mike McCallum in Las Vegas for over two months. My main sparring partner is a tall guy like Wilder. I've fought a lot of tall guys - Helenius, Valuev. You need to find the key how to do certain things for this kind of opponent, but it's not so difficult.

"Wilder is a good fighter, his record speaks for itself. But I'm not looking over him, I'm looking forward. On Aug. 9, I will put everything on the line, and I'm coming to win."

Francisco Vargas

"I like to dominate the ring. I plateaued a bit after my pro debut, but we're making up time, ready to take that place we seek. We are on track. I love Mexico, but work is in the United States. I will not waste more time. I'm ready for success."

Joel De La Hoya, Vargas' manager

"Francisco usually comes to L.A. to train, but he trained in Mexico for this fight. It's always complicated fighting a southpaw, but hopefully everything comes out all right. I think Bennett's going to be a little slicker than the last guy Francisco fought, but I don't think Bennett has faced anyone like Vargas. It will be a great fight for both kids."

Brandon Bennett

"I've been in camp a long time, this whole year, and haven't had a break. I went right back to work after my last fight. I've had two fights this year, and I'm with Adrien (Broner) when he's in training camp. I'm real excited to get on Showtime. I'm ready.''

"I've seen Vargas fight. He just tries to bring the pressure. I know that's what he's going to try to do. We've got a game plan for that. He's going to bring the pressure, but I'm going to bring the pressure back to him."

Jermall Charlo

"I didn't take any time off after my last fight. I've been sparring with my brother, too, this camp. We haven't sparred in a long time - probably five years. We don't spar much because it gets kind of intense and a little bit over-the-top, so (trainer) Ronnie (Shields) doesn't let us spar that often. I've probably done 30 rounds with Jermell; we've been getting it on. It was real good work.''

"I think Antwone's full of experience but everything is an experience to me. He has a lot of tricks and stuff, so I'm going to fight him off of how I've been training and keep the game plan with Ronnie. I'll go at him.''

Ronnie Shields, Charlo's trainer

"They're absolutely great to work with, and they're both doing great. I'm very happy with their progress. Jermall is making a name for himself, which is good, and with him going with Al Haymon only makes it better. They're totally different fighters. Jermall is more of a puncher than a boxer. But both are very focused.''

"Antwone Smith is a tough fighter but we have to fight tough fights to get to the upper echelon. This is the latest step for Jermall, a stepping stone that we have to go through.''

Antwone Smith

"I've added a strength program to my training since I moved up from 147. This time, it's been my whole camp. I'm real pumped-up to see how I feel and how my power and stamina increases. I feel like I've been born again. I'm more alive. I haven't felt this good, mentally and physically, in years. I'm focused and ready. Charlo is taller than me, but everybody is taller than me. That's not a factor.

"Charlo's a little arrogant, but I love that. I'm here to give him a reality test. He thinks everything comes easy. Basically, he's been fighting a bunch of cab drivers, a bunch of bus drivers. He thinks he's done something. He's talking big noise, but he's never been past six rounds, and they're worried about that.

"He's looking to go in, get in a couple of hard shots and get the guy out of there. But you hit a guy with experience and he doesn't go anywhere, you've got a problem and the rounds keep going on and on. You're in water you've never been in. When the water gets deep, we're going to see if he can swim.

"I'm just hyped up with his arrogance. He's got a video on YouTube - 'Oh, I'm fighting Antwone Smith. He's ranked number 10 in the world, but I'm going to take that.' Well, I didn't get here easily and he won't take it from me easily. Every day I walk in the gym, I watch that video. It pumps me up for my training session. It motivates me. He ain't been in what I been in.''

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