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Thursday, June 19, 2014
Plenty at stake for Dudchenko, Mohammedi

By Dan Rafael

There's a good chance that unified light heavyweight titleholder Bernard Hopkins will square off with champion Adonis Stevenson in the fall.

Waiting for the winner of the bout will be a mandatory defense against either Anatoliy Dudchenko or Nadjib Mohammedi, who meet in a title eliminator on Saturday (NBC Sports Net, 8 p.m. ET) at the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

Anatoliy Dudchenko, Nadjib Mohammedi
Nadjib Mohammedi and Anatoliy Dudchenko will meet in a light heavyweight title eliminator.
"This is a significant fight because the winner is going to be the No. 1 contender in the IBF," Main Events chief executive Kathy Duva said. "Bottom line: the winner of this fight is going to get a shot at a very big fight.

"There's a whole lot of young talent out there like Anatoliy and Nadjib and they want to test themselves against the best. At end of the day there are two elderly guys [49-year-old Hopkins and 36-year-old Stevenson] holding things up in the light heavyweight division. In a few years all this will be forgotten because these two guys are the future of the division. Down the road these young men will challenge Sergey Kovalev for his title. We keep all of our fighters active."

Dudchenko (19-2-0, 13 KOs), 35, of Ukraine, and now living in Los Angeles, has won 16 fights in a row since 2008. This will be his first fight since signing with Main Events.

Mohammedi (34-3-0, 20 KOs), 29, of France, will be fighting in the Unites States for the first time. He has won 10 consecutive fights since a loss in 2011.

Neither is known in the U.S., but they are hoping a good performance Saturday will change that.

"Fighting on television in America is everything I've wanted when I started boxing," Dudchenko said. "I watched Roy Jones on TV and that is what I wanted to be. I was on TV in Europe, but this is a bigger audience in America and I am excited to be fighting on 'Fight Night.'"

For the fight Dudchenko, who has been in the U.S. since 2004, reunited with trainer Jesse Reid, who had trained him briefly earlier in his career.

"Nadjib is a good fighter and a smart boy. He's tough. I respect each of my opponents but in my heart it doesn't matter who is in front of me," Dudchenko said. "I come back to Jesse because we did one fight before and it was a [first-round knockout]. He likes my style."

Said Reid, "Anatoliy looks at everybody as the toughest fight of his life. I have been in this business for a long time and with Anatoliy I see a great athlete. Age is not a factor for him. We are here to win not to talk about a bunch of other people. If we have to box we'll box with Mohammedi. I have some real hungry fighters in my career but these European fighters are so much hungrier than the U.S. fighters.

"I am very excited about being a part of this. I am very happy to be working with Anatoliy. I love his attitude and the way he works. He may be 35 but he is like a 20 year old. He is young and hungry."

Mohammedi is also hungry.

"I want to thank everyone that gave me the possibility to come here and box. It's the fruit of our labor that brought us here," he said. "We have been working towards this for years. We have no pressure at all. We have been boxing in many other places than the United States. I have no pressure at all because the ring is my home.

"We are ready for everything. That is what we trained for. After this fight we are ready to prove to all the American people that we are ready to be a world champion. I believe this fight will end in a KO. We are not here to play around. We came to fight. I am sure I am going to win and I am ready to fight anyone after that. It was my plan to fight in 2014 for a title."

In the scheduled 10-round co-feature, Karl Dargan (15-0, 7 KOs) and Anthony Flores (11-4-1, 6 KOs) will meet in an all-Philadelphia lightweight bout.