Featuring Ashton Sylve, Braulio Rodriguez, Chris Avila and “Doctor Mike” Varshavski
Ashton “H20” Sylve, Most Valuable Promotion’s teenage sensation and one of boxing’s most exciting prospects, promised to make it “eight KOs in eight fights” during a virtual press conference on Wednesday alongside his upcoming opponent Braulio Rodriguez, who vowed to continue the recent string of success for Dominican boxers in the sport. Sylve vs. Rodriguez takes place Saturday, October 29 from Desert Diamond Arena (formerly Gila River Arena) in Glendale, Ariz., just outside of Phoenix, live on SHOWTIME PPV® in a Most Valuable Promotions event.
Also speaking with the media to preview their October 29 showdown were two of the sport’s most intriguing newcomers, combat sports veteran and Nate Diaz disciple Chris Avila and his opponent, “Dr. Mike” Varshavski, a board-certified family physician and social media influencer with nearly 23 million followers. Avila, a veteran of both the UFC and BELLATOR, hopes that a strong performance against Varshavski can lead to more opportunities against top boxers while “Dr. Mike” shed light on his motivation behind making his pro boxing debut and revealed that he will be donating his entire fight purse to the Boys and Girls Club of Harlem in New York City.
Tickets for the event are on sale now and can be purchased at ticketmaster.com.
Here is what the fighters had to say on Wednesday:
“We came together as a team to figure out what opponent is best for my career path. I don’t want to rush anything. I’m only 18 years old so I don’t want to put anything past the speed that we’re going but we all felt like this is a great step-up fight. Every fighter that I’ve fought was a step-up. This fight will let me showcase my talents and show that I am built for this.
“The message that I’m trying to send is that I’m built for this and that I’ve been groomed for this since the amateurs where I was going overseas and fighting different kinds of fighters and doing everything that has led to where I am now. That message will be sent on October 29.
“The knockout streak will definitely continue. That’s what I’m looking forward to. I’m not going in there with the mindset that I will take him out in the first round but if it comes, it comes. But yes, the streak will continue.
“Rodriguez is an experienced fighter. He knows different techniques. But at the end of the day, I think he is low-key a sloppy fighter. He’s a sloppy and dirty fighter from what I saw from the Ryan Garcia fight. But we will see on October 29.
“This is something I’ve dreamed of my entire life so of course this is going to be big. This is just my eighth fight and being on this platform will put me in the next stage and show everyone who H20 is.
“Jake Paul is a great guy. He is teaching me both the game of boxing and outside of boxing. He’s more like a brother to me. Promotion wise, you see where I’m at and where Amanda [Serrano] is at so those are examples right there.
“I don’t feel any pressure at all being on this stage. I’ve been in the spotlight since I was eight years old. I was recognized by Floyd at an early age. I don’t think there is any pressure from here on out. I’ve been dealing with this type of stuff with my family and friends and the city of Long Beach so stuff like this doesn’t bring any pressure to me.
“I envision the fight as me knocking him out. I don’t see myself on the other side of the table. I respect him of course. But the other side of respect is being earned, so he has to earn it by showing up. For him to fight back, that’s a great thing because I feel like my other opponents didn’t bring the type of pressure he is about to bring so it’s going to be an exciting fight. I can’t wait.
“I always want to put on a phenomenal performance first and foremost, rather than just focusing on having a knockout. But I’m not overlooking him and I believe that breaking him down will be the key to success in this fight. If I break him down, sooner or later the knockout will come.”
“This is going to be a great fight. It’s going to come down to who takes care of the details best and who is the most ready to fight when the time comes. The goal is to give the fans a great fight and to show that I am here to stay.
“I feel like it’s night and day compared to when I fought against Ryan Garcia – I underestimated him. I didn’t prepare the way I should have. I only had eleven days to prepare for that fight, but that’s not an excuse. I know that I was punished for overlooking how dangerous Garcia could be. Now I’m more mature. I’m ready to show the world best version of myself. I’m not going to make the same mistake twice. I’m taking Sylve very seriously.
“Ashton can say whatever he wants, but I do agree with him that this fight isn’t going to reach the judges. It’s going to be do-or-die. You knock me out or I knock you out. I know what I’m doing inside the ring, and I know exactly what I have to do to come out victorious in this fight. I see your confidence and I see what you’re saying, but let’s see what happens inside the ring on October 29. The rest is just talk.
“When it comes to the Ryan Garcia fight, I was not in the proper shape. I overlooked the fight and underestimated Garcia and I paid the price. I’ve also won plenty of fights by knockout. I shouldn’t be defined by just that one loss. I’m in a new stage of my life where I feel at peace and I’m in great physical and mental shape right now. Ashton Sylve is a great opponent and we’re going to put on a great show. When it comes time to show my worth, trust me, I’m going to show that I am willing and able to show that I am the real deal.
“Dominican boxing is on fire right now. My compatriot Edwin De Los Santos was an underdog against Jose Valenzuela and he came out with the win. Alberto Puello and Hector Garcia were great and proved why they are champions. I hope that I can join that club now by proving that I am a quality fighter. With all due respect to Sylve, I’m a professional fighter who has a lot of talent. I know what I can do and I hope to continue the Dominican line of success and make everybody proud.
“My strategy is focused on Ashton’s inexperience because he has never fought against somebody of my quality or my experience. Put the Ryan Garcia fight aside and I have a 95 percent knockout rate. 18 out of 20. Ashton, don’t get cocky. If you do, then boxing and life will surprise you in ways that you least expect. I have firsthand experience in that given how I underestimated that Ryan Garcia fight. My experience can be the deciding factor in this fight.
“I just want to win and don’t care whether it’s by knockout or decision. I respect Ashton a lot and know that he has tremendous talent. I know that it’s not going to be easy, but I’m going in there like it’s do-or-die. I’m going to have my arm raised in the end and I don’t care how.”
“I’m excited to fight on this card against a good opponent. I’m ready to showcase that I’m a real boxer and I’m just happy to be able to fight on such a good card. I’m excited to go out there and put on a good show for everybody.
“I do believe Dr. Mike is playing a dangerous game. I’m not overlooking anybody. It’s a dangerous game. It’s the fight game, so I’m ready.
“I think this is just the next step that’s going to line me up for better fights that I want and deserve. I plan on fighting real competition and real boxers after this fight. I want to get back to facing real competition, but I’ll fight anybody at the end of the day. Why not take this fight?
“I saw a little bit of his fight against [iDubbbz]. I’m sure he’s got a little bit of a skillset. I’m taking him seriously.
“I plan to go in there and look for the finish like I always do. It’s whatever. I don’t care about what anybody says. We’re boxing. I believe in myself and believe I can do whatever I want.
“There’s no extra pressure because people expect me to win and knock him out. I take my stuff very seriously. I’m taking this fight, going to get it done, and then I want to line myself up for a real fight after this and get back to fighting high-level competition. I’m not overlooking this guy at all, though. I’m taking him seriously. I want to get in there with a vet, somebody like Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. I was in talks to fight him a while back and I would like to get in there with him.
“I’ve been fighting real fighters my whole career. I’ll fight anybody. Whoever wants to fight me, what’s up? I ain’t tripping.
“I just want to show the boxing world that I’m a real boxer. I’ve been in the game for a while. It’s just the beginning for me. I’m always going to be fighting. I’m still young. I still have a lot in me. It’s just the beginning.”
“DR. MIKE” VARSHAVSKI
“I’m extremely excited to be a part of this event and to be on SHOWTIME Pay-Per-View. It’s obviously a dream for any fighter and I realize the blessing and opportunity I have in front of me, so I’ve been working extremely hard with my coaches and making sure I’m putting in the valuable work while maintaining my day job as a physician.
“I do suspend that Hippocratic oath of do no harm when I step into the ring, but I respect the fight game. I have incredible respect for Chris Avila and the work he’s put in as a combat veteran. When I was younger, I would frequently throw around words that this fighter is not that good or this fighter is amazing or this fighter is a bum, but being in the fight game to the small degree that I am now, I realize the work that all fighters put in, so I have tremendous respect for everyone that steps into the ring.
“Twenty-three million followers, in a very successful day job — I’m doing this to inspire people to reach their full potential. I’m trying to lead by example to show you should take on challenges when it’s a challenge you feel you can accomplish, and this is something I’ve always wanted to take on.
“I fell in love with boxing 11 or 12 years ago when my mom passed away and I was really struggling to find ways to stay active and healthy and boxing became a passion of mine. I was doing it for fitness, which is what I recommend to my viewers. Not everyone has to step into the ring to enjoy what boxing can deliver, but over the last year or two I’ve been training very hard and sparring with amateurs and professionals. I understand this isn’t a game. I know that people can get really hurt. I’m not only a boxer but I’m also a doctor at the end of the day, so I know the dangers involved with stepping into the ring.
“This is my pro debut. I had an exhibition fight earlier this year that was comfortable and now I’m drastically stepping up the quality of opponent that I’m going to be competing against. Chris is a veteran in the fight game, he’s never been knocked out, he’s a tough guy, he comes from a tough training background. I didn’t want to go in and have an easy fight and fight other YouTubers that didn’t have any training or experience. If I want to do this for real, I need to see what it’s like and this was a great opportunity, so I’m grateful for Chris for giving me this opportunity.
“In May I stepped into a main event that was sold out with over 100,000 pay-per-view buys. I did quite well. It was a five-round fight. The judges gave me every round. The quality of the competition — I felt I could handle more. It would be cool to fight YouTubers if it was about raising clout, making money. That’s not what this is about for me. In fact, I’m donating my entire fight purse to the Harlem Boys & Girls Club of New York. This is a challenge that I set for myself and that I take quite seriously.
“I’m confident going into this fight because of my coach, Thomas Baldwin, who has really guided me on this journey. What’s interesting about this relationship is that even though he’s been training me for 10 years, I take care of his family as their physician. He entrusts me with their lives, so I then entrust my life to him. He believes I’m ready, so I believe I’m ready.
“To me this is about reaching the top of my potential, which is something I tell all my viewers to do, and I get a lot of joy inside that ring. I can’t imagine doing something else right now. Despite the fact I’m working two or three days a week in the hospital, filming two and three days a week for the YouTube channel, just launched a new podcast with a new guest Steve-O, coming out next week that I’m really excited about – I still continue training twice a day, six days a week, just like any other professional, making sure I eat right, and making sure I rest. It’s just a true passion and I truly want to give my one last shot before I age out of competitive fitness.
“The game of life is inherently dangerous. Whatever we choose to do — whether it’s crossing the street, driving to work, taking an airplane, skydiving, there’s inherent risks all around us. The goal as a doctor is to balance those risks with enjoyment of life and for me this is a risk that is calculated and that I’m willing to take for the passion of the sport. And to be frank, I’m not going to be a boxer for 10-15 years and take punishment. If I do this, it will be for the next few years as a really strong passion of mine and to see how far I can go. So, this is a risk that I’ve calculated well for my family and friends.”