Tuesday’s draw saw Leigh Wood, Jazza Dickens, Hairon Socarras and Tyrone McCullagh all select blue balls, meaning they were able to pick out of David Oliver Joyce, Carlos Ramos, Ryan Walsh and Carlos Araujo, who all selected red balls.
Leigh Wood selected blue ball one, meaning he had the first choice of opponent, selecting David Oliver Joyce. Jazza Dickens had blue ball two, and he selected Carlos Ramos.
Hairon Socarras had blue ball three, selecting Ryan Walsh, which meant Tyrone McCullagh had blue ball four, and he was left with Carlos Araujo.
There were plenty of questions to be asked following the draw, and here’s what all the fighters had to say during Wednesday’s final press conference:
Leigh Wood: “There were a few reasons for picking Joyce to be honest. I’m quite proud of where I’m from and my city of Nottingham gets behind me. I could have picked what some people maybe saw as an easier fight, but I thought I’ll pick a good name and make it a good fight.
“Joyce is a decent fighter with a good amateur background and he was one of the betting favourites. It’s a risky choice and a roll of the dice but I’m backing myself.”
David Oliver Joyce: “This competition gives me the opportunity to go right to the top. I’ve done this for years as an amateur and in the World Series of Boxing where you weigh in and not know your opponent, so I’m looking forward to Friday.
“Wood is a good fighter and we’ll adapt to whatever he brings on Friday. In camp we worked on every opponent, and I’m sure we’ll have a good scrap. The crowd will love it as it will be a good clash of styles.
“I wouldn’t have entered this if I didn’t think I could be champion. I always enter every fight knowing I’m going to win, and this is going to be the start of a successful journey.”
Jazza Dickens: “It’s good to be a part of this tournament. On a fight week I’d normally just go through the motions, but the draw brought excitement on Tuesday and there was tension in the room.
“When I had my chance I stayed present in the moment. I don’t believe I was going to get picked by anybody if I was in that position, so now that I had the chance to pick, I was happy to face the EBU EU champion.
“This is a massive opportunity and we’ll take it fight by fight. It’s life changing for me and my family. I came into this thinking about me and how I would fight. I didn’t worry about other people, I’ll just fight how I’ll fight.”
Carlos Ramos: “First of all thanks to MTK Global for this opportunity, I am ready and excited and now I’m just waiting for Friday.
“My training camp was perfect and I’m happy to be here in London. We have a strategy. I was training for all the fighters but specifically for Dickens. I’m a very aggressive fighter and I know what part of his body I can hurt.”
Hairon Socarras: “I came here to fight. Everybody was asking why I picked Walsh, but why not him? I’m here to fight whoever they put in front of me.
“I’m ready, and to be the best you have to fight the best. I have to show my skills against him, and you will all see what happens on Friday.”
Ryan Walsh: “I’m really happy to be picked. Anybody that knows my career knows I don’t get picked a lot, I get avoided, so this will be a good fight on Friday.
“I’ve been the British champion for this long and had two mandatory challengers pull out, that never happens, so entering this tournament was a no brainer.
“If I do my job properly I’ll have three fights in nine months. Never once in a 10 year career has that happened, so this is a golden opportunity for me.”
Tyrone McCullagh: “A few people were surprised when Hairon Socarras picked Ryan Walsh instead of Carlos Ramos, but I wasn’t really.
“Carlos has a dangerous record and there is not much footage of him, so he was the last pick for a reason. I can’t wait for the fight on Friday. I’m an out and out boxer, and I plan on making it an awkward fight for him.
“I wouldn’t have entered this tournament if I didn’t think I’d win it. Friday is the start of something big and I’m champing at the bit.”
Carlos Araujo: “Thanks to MTK Global for having me here, and you’re going to see the best version of me on Friday. I am in a tough fight, but I’ll give all my heart and leave my body and soul in the ring.
“My opponent will fight a real Mexican, and it’s going to be a great atmosphere. One thing I will like to say, this tournament will change my life.”
MTK Global Professional Development Coordinator Jamie Conlan: “I’m very excited. You don’t usually get four mains fight where all eight fighters is the a-side in their own right.
“They’ve all taken this opportunity to better their careers and there is a lot of risk, so it’s very exciting. Yesterday at the draw the atmosphere changed and got very tense and serious when the draw was done, everyone means business now.
“Having an elite level amateur background will come into play in this tournament, but as a professional it is different and very hard for the coaches and teams.
“You have to applaud them for taking this chance, as you’ll usually have 10 to 12 weeks to analyse dissect the opponent, but here you don’t know what you’ll get.”
Head of Sky Sports Boxing Adam Smith: “This is a magnificent idea. It’s a real chance for a group of fighters to get their careers going and under the spotlight.
“I’m really excited about it, and the winner can have an exciting career, We’ve got a great class of fighters here, and it’s important that there is a strong first showing with the featherweights, so I can’t wait to get going.”
Friday’s event is live in the UK by Sky Sports in association with Matchroom Boxing, in the US on ESPN+ in association with Top Rank, with the undercard on iFL TV worldwide.