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April 10, 2017

By G. Leon

Gvozdyk-Joe Smith on the horizon?

GL: Congrats on a fantastic event. Can you give us some thoughts on the televised broadcast? I thought that Lomachenko is Lomachenko it's unbelievable. He's just a virtuoso. Gvozdyk surprised everybody in the sense that everybody thought Gonzalez would give him a very tough fight. Gonzalez has given everybody a tough fight, he lost a decision to Jean Pascal and many people thought he won that fight, but in any event he certainly didn't go to the cards and he got him out of there in three rounds. It was a tremendous performance and I'm very high on that kid. And Usyk is Usyk, he's a terrific fighter and down the road I'm sure we're going to put more weight on him and make him a heavyweight. The only thing is he doesn't sit down on his punches too much, but that'll come.

GL: Do you feel the Usyk-Hunter fight should have been stopped in the final round?

Bob Arum: "For sure the fight should have been stopped. I know Hunter, he comes from Las Vegas and he's a nice kid. I didn't want him to be hurt and the referee just showed he had more balls than anybody in the place."

GL: Is there a cruiserweight fight for Usyk that would headline a national telecast?

BA: "I don't really know of any. That's a division that we don't know much about because they're all European guys, but everybody who does follow that division says that he's the best cruiserweight."

GL: He is, but cruiserweight is a division where the major fights come in spurts, every ten years there will be a period of cruiserweight action.

BA: "Exactly."

GL: After destroying Gonzalez and Chilemba in back to back fights as nobody else has done before is Oleksandr Gvozdyk setting the bar pretty high for himself of what?

BA: "When we signed Gvozdyk, there was this big promoter in the Ukraine, I know him but I can't remember his name, he said when we signed Lomachenko he wasn't angry because they couldn't have done much for Lomachenko in the Ukraine, but when we signed Gvozdyk he died because Gvozdyk is the best fighter of all of them. I think that was a little exaggeration, but I think he's a tremendous fighter and I think he's very intelligent and right now I like him against either Kovalev or Ward. I think he'd beat both of them."

GL: When can expect Gvozdyk back in the ring?

BA: "Hopefully sometime in July."

GL: Will it be on HBO?

BA: "We'll see, we're not totally dependent on HBO. Unlike other promoters, we'll find a way. We're doing April 22 on our own with the three amigos and Shakur, so we're willing to put our money where our mouth is, we're not going to be dependent on HBO or Showtime. We're going to make the best we can for our fighters with our own resources."

GL: The light heavyweight division is top heavy and thin, if Gvozdyk is going to continue to fight top guy the only fights out there for him are Joe Smith Jr and Sullivan Barrera. Do you agree with that assessment?

BA: "Well, those are two good names. I think one of the organizations has called for an eliminator between Joe Smith and Gvozdyk, so we're going to explore that."

GL: The magician won every second of every round of the main event. Have your young eyes ever seen anything like Lomachenko?

BA: "The only thing that's close and it's different, but Ali in the mid 60's before they didn't allow him to fight. He was a similar magician in the ring who could dominate every second of every round. We used to have a bet at ringside like when he fought Mildenberger, on the over and under on how many punches Ali would get hit with in any given round and it was always in the single digits. That Ali from Chuvalo through the Foley fight is the only thing that I know that's comparable to Lomachneko."

GL: Will he have to move up to 135 to make a significant fight? Do you see any of the other 130 lb champions fighting him?

BA: "There's one fight that sticks in his craw and even if I have to go into my pocket to do it, I want it to happen and that's Orlando Salido. No matter what anybody says about that fight Salido has the W over him and I know that in his heart Lomo wants to avenge that."

GL: I heard Salido is coming back against a stiff in Mexico by the way.

BA: "That's correct, I don't know if it's a stiff, but my buddy Fernando (Beltran) is doing that fight."

GL: When can we expect Lomachenko back in the ring?

BA: "I have to talk to the father with Lomo, he doesn't bring his family here when he's in training so he goes back to the Ukraine. I would like him to come back in July, but early September is probably more realistic. Then if I do early September I can get him another fight like a Christmas special. I want him to fight three times this year, but if I lose a couple of months now it's going to be tough, but I still feel like I can fit three fights in."

GL: With all of these guys at the peak of their powers now is it possible to do a successful promotion the Ukraine?

BA: "No. First of all, Kiev is a safe city, but there's a lot of unrest and the population can't afford big, big ticket prices. Anything in Eastern Europe is not fueled by people buying tickets, there's realistically no real avenue in the Ukraine that I know of and I met the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States in Washington. He's optimistic, but I think we have over two million Ukrainians and Ukrainian Americans that live here. We can build a big base for them, not exclusively, but very importantly with the Ukrainian population and I think they will support their top fighters the way the Mexicans do."

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

BA: "This was a great night, a great tribute to the Ukrainian team that fought in the Olympics in London. These are three great fighters that you saw on Saturday night led by the greatest of them all Vasyl Lomachenko and I look for great things down the road from all of them. Now that's over and out and it's on to April 22 with the three amigos and Shakur Stevenson, then it's on to Madison Square Garden for May 20 where another top fighter, one of the best in the world, Terence Crawford will perform against the former Olympic Gold medalist from the Dominican Republic Felix Diaz, so I'm pumped. It was a great night last night and we're going to have a lot of great nights in the future."

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