Lightweight beltholder Richard Abril, of Miami by way of Cuba, will have been out of the ring for nearly 11 months by the time he enters the ring for Saturday night’s Showtime-televised clash with unbeaten contender Sharif “The Lion” Bogere, of Las Vegas by way of Uganda, from the Joint at The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Bogere, 24, is 23-0, with 15 knockouts, and Abril, 17-3-1 with eight stoppage wins. Bogere suffered a partial tear of his left Achilles tendon that forced him out of November’s scheduled bout against Abril.
Abril was last in the ring for last April’s disputed split-decision loss to current 140-pound contender Brandon Rios (31-0-1, 23 KOs), and has since been elevated from WBA interim titleholder to full beltholder status, according to a recent release by Golden Boy.
“I had no idea it was happening, and it was definitely a surprise. But it was a great surprise. Every fighter has aspirations of becoming a world champion,” said the 5-foot-10 Abril, 30, during a Tuesday media workout at Long Life Fit Boxing Gym in Las Vegas.
“Anybody who watched absolutely knows I beat Brandon Rios, and that I deserved the decision. Ever since then, in my heart, I always considered myself the WBA champion. The WBA only made it official. This motivates me even more to put on a good fight for the fans and show them that I’m the real deal.”
BOGERE’S GOAL TO WIN THE BELT INTENSIFIES
Bogere is bolstered by Abril’s recent change in status
“I don’t think anybody is satisfied fighting for an interim title. We want a full title, a world title. I’ve been waiting my whole life for this chance,” said Bogere.
“Uganda is one of the poorest countries on the planet. Most people don’t know how hard it’s been to get from where I started to where I’m at now. Fighting for the WBA title is an opportunity of a lifetime.”
Bogere’s swagger is often complimented and characterized by a dazzling, creative ring walk.
“People talk about my ring entrance, and that’s really good. It’s gotten me a lot of attention,” said Bogere. “They may not know my name, but they’ve maybe heard of the kid and his lion. I’m confident that after Saturday, people will know my name and know who I am.”
GARY RUSSELL JR. LOOKS TO IMPRESS AGAINST VYACHESLAV GUSEV
As the co-feature on the card, southpaw featherweight prospect Gary Russell Jr. (21-0, 13 KOs), of Capitol Heights, Md., will pursue his fourth straight knockout when he meets Russian standout Vyacheslav Gusev (20-2, 5 KOs).
“I’m satisfied with the way my career is going and at the pace it’s going. I refuse to listen to anybody who says anything negative about it. I think in a couple more fights, I’ll be ready to challenge for a world title. I’m not overlooking anybody,” said the 24-year-old Russell Jr.
“I’ve seen tapes of Gusev and he seems to have that classic European style, although he does try and box. He certainly has the potential to be a spoiler. He’s the type that if you allow him to set the pace, he’ll run up the points on you. I expect a good fight on Saturday.”
Meanwhile, Gusev vows to be up to the task against Russell Jr.
“I’m very relaxed, calm and confident. I’ve seen some of Russell’s fights and know he is a very good fighter,” said Gusev, who will be making only his second start in the United States.
“I’m excited about this fight, and looking forward to it. It’s not going to be easy, but I am here to win. I didn’t come all this way to lose.”
VICTOR ORTIZ JOINS DANCING WITH THE STARS
Former welterweight titleholder Victor Ortiz to the new lineup of “Dancing with the Stars,” a show that will air in its 16th season on March 18. Ortiz has been partnered with Lindsay Arnold.
HECTOR CAMACHO JR. WILL HONOR FATHER’S MEMORY IN FIGHTS
Hector Camacho Jr., son of the four-time, three-division champion who died in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in November. has stated that he will donate a dollar for each ticket sold to his next fight toward a foundation honoring his father.
Camacho (54-5-1, 29 KOs), whose February bout with Brooklyn’s Dmitry Salita fell through, has scheduled a return date of April 20 against an opponent to be determined in Puerto Rico.
Photos by Tom Casino
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org