USBA Middleweight title holder Luis “Cuba” Arias (17-0, 8 KOs) and top Middleweight contender Arif “The Predator” Magomedov (18-1, 11 KOs) will lead off the HBO Pay-Per-View lineup for the highly-anticipated rematch between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev.
The fight card will take place on Saturday, June 17 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
The fight marks a step up in competition for Arias, who is looking to make a statement against the once-beaten Magomedov.
“Training is going well. I just fought on April 1, so I’m coming relatively in shape,” said Arias in a recent talk with Round By Round Boxing.
“I’ve already had a good three weeks in with [head trainer] John David Jackson. Everything is going well and as planned,” said Arias.
Jackson, who also trains Kovalev, has high hopes for Arias and feels that with his amateur experience and all-around talent, he become a world champion.
After a solid amateur career with wins at the national and international level, Arias signed with Mayweather Promotions and got tons of exposure early on in his career.
But after a highly-publicized split with Floyd Mayweather’s company, Arias signed with Roc Nation Sports and has slowly but surely been climbing the rankings.
Unlike many other fighters who will tell you that they don’t read headlines or pay attention to what the media has to say, Arias has kept a watchful eye on those have overlooked him.
“They’ve left me off that list for a couple of years now in my opinion,” said Arias when speaking about Dan Rafael’s yearly prospect list that is featured on ESPN.com.
“It is what it is,” said Arias, who is content with using the snub as motivation.
“Like you said, now I’m coming on a lot of people’s radar, but I didn’t come from left field,” said Arias. “I was a top amateur—a seven-time national champion, one fight away from going to the Olympics. My first 10 fights were against real tough guys and I was still beating them.”
Arias is anxious to remind people just how good he is when he takes on Magomedov–another fighter who wants to entrench himself on the list of upper-echelon Middleweights.
After a hot start early in his career, which included six knockouts in his first eight bouts, the Russian Middleweight suffered a setback in 2016 against Andrew Hernandez, an unheralded fighter who was able to defeat Magomedov by a one-sided 10-round decision.
“He [Magomedov] has already been exposed and beaten,” said Arias–referencing Magomedov’s loss to Hernandez. “I know he’s going to come to win because there is a lot of pressure on him. If he loses another fight it’s pretty much a wrap. I’ve seen a lot of styles like his before so I just have to make sure I have my things in order and come June 17 I’ll be at my best.”
Arias looks forward to treating fans with a memorable performance, and although he understands that the magnitude of the main event puts it in a class of its own, he feels his fight can steal the undercard show.
“I feel like the main event is in its own category but in terms of the three undercard fights I definitely feel like we can steal the show,” said Arias.
“Either I’m going to knock him out or we’re going to go to war for 10 rounds. I have a fan-friendly style and I’ve been saying it since my first pro fight and now is the time for me to show it. I’m coming to make a statement and put on a great fight for the fans.”
As for Rafael’s list, Arias is confident that he won’t be overlooked after he puts on a strong performance on June 17.
“I bet you I don’t miss that list anymore,” said Arias. “Actually, I’m going to jump over that list and go right to the contenders.”
Header photo by Lester Silva
Second photo by Hogan Photos
Alejandro "Alex" Burgos is a former Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Round By Round Boxing. He is a professional blogger, SEO Consultant and Marketing Director at Capital Practice Consulting in Washington, DC.