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March 13, 2017

By G. Leon

GL: Congrats on a great Shobox event. Can you give us some thoughts on the card from top to bottom? It was great to have big time boxing come back to Detroit. It was such a historic event with Claressa Shields the two time Gold medalist headlining on Showtime, I'm very honored to be part of that history as well as the first boxing event at the MGM Grand in Detroit. It was sold out by Wednesday and I think we could have sold a lot more tickets. Detroit is a great fight town, I've been in business here for a little bit over a year and there's a lot of great talent, a lot of great fight fans and I'm very happy to be doing business in this great city. JaRico O'Quinn is a tremendous fighter with a great amateur career and he put on a sensational performance with a first round knockout in his step up fight. Bakhtiyar Eyubov got back into the ring, he fought on the off-TV undercard. We had a great fight to open the telecast with James Gordon Smith and Joshua Greer, they both talked a lot of smack before the fight and they lived up to it. There was a lot of tremendous action and it was a great first fight to be able to excite Detroit boxing fans. James and Johsua both came to fight and when two hungry exciting fighters come to fight this is what's going to happen. James unfortunately was on the receiving end of a knockout and there wasn't a round where Joshua didn't look like he was one of the better bantamweights in the country. 

"The second fight with Wesley Tucker and Ed Williams...

GL: (cutting in) It was the perfect fight for radio.

Dmitriy Salita: "It was the perfect fight for radio it was a very ugly fight and it looked like both guys, I don't know if it was the style match-up, but both had the records and the opportunities to make a name for themselves and take the next step up of their careers. For one reason or another, I'm not in their minds or their bodies, but all I can say is the fight was not exciting."

GL: Do you attribute that to Williams doing the majority of the holding? It seemed like Wes was trying to make it a fight and every time he got close Williams would hold. 

DS: "Yes. And it was also right hand versus southpaw so there was a lot of holding and wrestling and not a lot of punches coming forward. They couldn't find the distance to exchange continuously and it was one of those fights that happen every once in a while. Fortunately there was so much action in the first fight that it made up for the lack of action in the second fight."

GL: Do you Potapov deserved the decision over Nieves? What did you think about that fight?

DS: "It was a very close fight and fought at a high level. Both guys showed they are world class and I think it's the sharpest I've ever seen Antonio Nieves look. I think he won the first couple of rounds and then Potapov won the next couple of rounds and then at somewhere in the middle it was kind of even. It was a very close fight that could have gone either way, the judges had it as a split decision, which is what I really think it was. Even though Antonio lost he's still world class and I think he has the skills and the ability to beat some of the best bantamweights in the world. It was a very close fight, both of those guys are elite guys in the bantamweight division. I don't think Antonio really hurt himself by losing that kind of decision, he will be back and I think Potapov will also be back stronger and better."

GL: Nieves feels that the best way for him to come back is against a top contender. Do you agree with him?

DS: "For sure. We're going to contact the WBO because we don't want him to lose his ranking too much. We're going to be looking for other competitive meaningful fights for him because with those skills that he has he can compete with anybody and beat anybody in the bantamweight division. I think this Antonio Nieves beats Stephon Young, I think this Antonio Nieves beats Rau"Shee Warren. I think those are very interesting fights that we may want to pursue. Rau'Shee Warren makes a lot of sense to me because they're both coming off losses and they're both from Ohio so it would do great business there or in Detroit. It's a great fight and it's something I'd like to make happen in the near future."

GL: Will JaRico O'Quinn be fast tracked since it only took him ninety seconds to win his first step up bout?

DS: "He's got incredible skills and the amateur pedigree to back it up. He's ready for the better bantamweights, I don't want to rush him but if something interesting comes along he's ready to step up and deliver. He's capable of fighting the better contenders in the division. He really knows how to prepare himself and this was a really good training camp because all three bantamweights, him, James Gordon Smith and Potapov were all training together. It's rare that you have three bantamweights in the same city capable of providing such good work. JaRico is really world class and I think in the second part of this year he's going to be able to start making a real name for himself."

GL: In other words you're expecting him to be featured on your next Shobox card.

DS: "I think so. It's a strong possibility, I have to talk to his team but he's ready to take that step."

GL: Claressa in the main took a big step forward for women's boxing, she didn't disappoint and as a result she'll likely headline another show in the not too distant future. What did you think about her performance?

DS: "It's a huge step forward. I was honored to be a part of this boxing history and obviously the boxing fans here responded to it very well. There was a lot of people that wanted to come to the fight that couldn't get tickets. It's great to see fighters with such tremendous fan support and Claressa has it. She's from Flint, which is about 40 minutes from Detroit so it was great. Szabados really came to fight, she tried to win, she took a lot of punches and she didn't go down. I think Claressa was sensational, but it was also very good that she was in a competitive fight. One of the reasons womens boxing hasn't taken off yet is because there was lots of mismatches. This was not a mismatch, it was a good fight, Szilvia came to fight and she's got skills, the thing is, Claressa is like a lady Lomachenko. I'm very honored that Showtime took this step and I'm very happy to be a part of it."

GL: What are you hoping is next for Potapov?

DS: "I think he's due for a title shot. He's rated across the organizations and he's going to be highly rated in the WBO because he was #7 and Nieves was #4 so he's probably going to be the next mandatory. I would be comfortable with him fighting any of the champions and I think he's only going to improve moving forward."

GL: Is there anything you'd like to say in closing?

DS: "I want to thank everybody for coming out and supporting boxing, I want to thank everybody who tuned in on Showtime to watch the fights and I want to thank Boxingtalk for giving all of my fighters such great coverage."

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