Raymond Ford Excited To Be A Team Player And Rep Matchroom At 5-vs-5 Event

April 19, 2024
1 month
Raymond Ford and Nick Ball at the 5-vs-5 press conference

WBA featherweight world champion Raymond Ford said he’s looking forward to being part of a team when he represents Matchroom Boxing in the 5-vs-5 event in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom will take on British rival Frank Warren and his Queensberry Promotions in a unique format on June 1.

It will see five of Hearn’s fighters take on five from Warren’s stable, with points awarded for each bout; two points for a stoppage victory and one for a decision win. The captains (Deontay Wilder for Matchroom and Hamzah Sheeraz for Queensbury) will earn double points.

There will be two heavyweight bouts, featuring Wilder against Zhilei Zhang, and Filip Hrgovic vs Daniel Dubois; a middleweight fight between Austin Williams and Sheeraz; a light-heavyweight clash between Craig Richards and Willy Hutchinson; and a featherweight world title that will see Ford put his WBA belt on the line against Nick Ball.

The night will then be headlined by Artur Beterbiev and Dimitry Bivol for the undisputed light-heavyweight world title.

Ford Ready To ‘Win For Eddie’

Ford (15-0-1 8 KO) is the only world champion participating in the 5-vs-5 event and he said securing a win for his team provides an extra bit of motivation.

“I feel like a major part of the team,” Ford said in an interview with Seconds Out. “I’m the only one on the card with a world title, I just came off this amazing victory representing Matchroom against a Top Rank fighter. This feels the same, going up against one of Eddie’s opponents, so I want to get this win for him. I always want to win and beat everyone in front of me, I’m just super competitive.”

The “amazing victory” Ford mentioned was his last outing against Otabek Kholmatov, whom the American stopped in the final seconds of the fight to secure the WBA title. Ford was trailing on all three judges’ scorecards so was moments away from his first career defeat.

“It was an amazing experience, from the first round to the last punch,” Ford said. “I had fun in there and I lived out my dream. I was never thinking about the outcome of the fight, I was just in the moment, staying focused. I had someone throwing punches at me during every second of the fight, so I had to stay tuned in and figure out a way to come out with a victory.”

Just three months after that career-defining fight, Ford will return to the ring for another challenging bout against Ball. The Englishman was also in action in March and came close to becoming a world champion but his fight with WBC belt holder Rey Vargas ended in a controversial split decision draw.

Ball A Different Challenge To Kholmatov

It means had Ball won, Ford’s first title defense would have been a unification fight.

“I definitely would’ve liked it to be for a unification fight. It would’ve been great for my career, so it would have been better,” said Ford, who revealed he did watch the bout.

“I thought it was a good fight. I didn’t judge the fight, I just watched it. I definitely spotted weaknesses [in Ball], but I am impressed with his mentality, his willingness to dig deep, so it’s going to make for a great fight.”

Ball will represent a different sort of challenge for Ford compared to Kholmatov. While the Uzbek is a powerful and rangy puncher, Ball is a much smaller and scrappier fighter who likes to trade from the inside.

The change in styles is not concerning Ford, though, and the New Jersey native said he will be ready for any type of fight.

Ford Targets Move Up To 130lbs

“They are two different fighters. Nick Ball’s going to want to constantly pressure me because he has no other choice as the shorter fighter. With Khlomatov, it was a little difficult because of his height and he had good feet.

“[Ball] is aggressive, tries to rough you up. I like how he goes to the trenches, so it’s going to be a good fight. His team will want me to fight his fight, so we’ll see. I can definitely get in that pocket with him, though, so if he thinks he can get me in there and bully me, he’s got another thing coming.”

Ford had been expected to make an immediate move up to super-featherweight before making a title defense, but the opportunity to fight Ford on the 5-vs-5 card has delayed his plans. Once his next assignment is complete, the 25-year-old is targeting the step to 130lbs – and an immediate shot at a title.

“I’m trying to move up after this fight,” Ford said. “It just made sense to defend the belt for this fight against Nick Ball then we’ll see what happens.

“[I want] all the world champions; O’Shaquie Foster, Joe Cordina, whatever [Emmanuel] Navarette decides to do, then Lamont Roach with the WBA – so any of the world champions.”