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Joe Smith v Eleider Alvarez To Stream On ESPN+ Saturday Night

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LAS VEGAS (August 20, 2020) — Light heavyweights Joe Smith Jr. (above) and Eleider “Storm” Alvarez took the MGM Grand “Bubble” stage for the main event press conference Thursday afternoon in advance of Saturday’s WBO world title eliminator, which will stream live on ESPN+ (coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. ET).

In other action Saturday evening, former middleweight world champion Rob Brant returns against Vitaliy Kopylenko, Julian “Hammer Hands” Rodriguez fights Anthony Laureano in a battle of unbeaten junior welterweights, “Cassius” Clay Collard seeks “Bubble” victory number three against Maurice Williams in an eight-rounder at middleweight, and Cincinnati’s Duke Ragan makes his highly anticipated professional debut in a four-round featherweight bout.

This is what two of the division’s heaviest hitters had to say.

Eleider Alvarez

Alvarez on the stage for the Thursday presser to hype his Saturday fight against Smith. (Photo by Mikey Williams for Top Rank)

“I feel 100 percent. I feel no pain since the recovery {from an injured shoulder}, so I feel great.

“{The Michael Seals knockout} was my first fight in 11 months, so I’m happy to be back. I want to put on a good performance. I felt that with the performance against Seals, I tried. I would’ve been happy with a decision. I was trying different things, but I got the knockout.

“When Oscar Rivas and I first came to Montreal, we didn’t speak English. We didn’t speak French. I knew a little bit of English, but over 10 years, I’ve learned to speak French. I’m even better in French than English. It’s been a special experience for me and here we are talking in French.

“It was hard for all the boxers, especially in the first two months to train, because everything was closed. We had to adapt to that. Now, things seem to be getting a little more back to normal. The gym is open. It’s not what it was. Hopefully, the pandemic can be over, and we can get back to normal. There were challenges, but we had them like every other fighter.

“I want to be champion of the world for a second time. Whether it’s by knockout or decision, I know Joe Smith comes to fight. I’m going to do the best I can to win this because I want to be champion of the world for a second time.”

Joe Smith Jr.

“Being the underdog, I always feel like I have something to prove. I don’t mind it. I like getting in there and proving the world that I belong at the top and should be a champion.

“The {first-round knockout} over Fonfara, I was like a 20-1 underdog in that fight. I came out and definitely shocked the world with that knockout. It got me here. It got me all the fights and the opportunities that I’ve gotten since. It all led up to this, and this one’s the big one. I’m really excited to be here and looking forward to getting another shot at a title.

“Same thing with Jesse Hart. I was pretty much the underdog in that fight. He was talking a lot, and I just kept it cool. I went in there and did what I had to do, and I got the win. That’s what I gotta keep doing.

Phil Capobianco (co trainer), Joe Smith (in the middle) and Gerry Capobianco (co trainer, looking at his phone) in the Bubble, headed to the Thursday press conference. (Photo by Mikey Williams for Top Rank)

“This is the number one priority right now for me. I’m just focused on getting this win Saturday night, so I trained very hard. I’m well prepared. As far as the tree business is going {Smith and his father own and operate Team Smith Tree Service on Long Island}, it’s definitely doing well. Due to the storms, we picked up some work. It was a little slow for some time because of the COVID 19, but it definitely has picked up. My father’s out there every day. He’s doing all the estimates. He’s running the business. I just pop in here and there. I haven’t been doing much with the business. I’ve just been focused on this.

“The only thing, this guy over here is trying to stop me from accomplishing the goal that I have set for myself. 

“I’m just going to get in there and give it my all. I plan on coming out on top. I just want to put on a great show for everybody and have a great night.”

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