WBC mandatory Olusegun guns for Erik Morales
Livefight.com exclusive By John Evans ( @ilovetitles )
As we enter pantomime season, it seems like a fitting time to catch up with a modern day Dick Whittington. In the famous British story, a poor young boy decides to seek his fortune in London after hearing stories of the streets being paved with gold. After coming close to leaving, young Dick grits his teeth, decides to give it one more go and after a bit of hard work ends up wearing the gold chain as the Lord Mayor of London.
Light welterweight contender Ajose Olusegun, 30-0 (14), set out to seek his fortune in a foreign land, remained dedicated to his profession throughout the tough times and having recently made his American television debut with an exciting victory over Ali Chebah, now has high hopes of wearing the gold himself.
“Yeah, I’m based in New York but any chance I get to come back to London I take it. I love London, it’s the city I lived in for years so I can’t wait to go back” he tells Livefight.com. “Over here I get good training and, although the training isn’t that much better than I was getting in London, the main thing is that I am getting more opportunities and serious challenges. Everything is good here but I have a lot of admiration for London. That is where I started my career and I won everything it was possible to win”.
Although Olusegun’s career has seen him fight in locations as diverse as his hometown of Lagos, Nigeria and Tel Aviv, Isreal, most of his fights have taken place in the UK. He claimed the Commonwealth belts at 140lb in his 20th fight and, having been granted British citizenship, added the domestic title in 2009. As impressive an achievement as that is, you only have to watch the Shobox telecast of the Chebah fight to understand the impact that makes on the other side of the Atlantic. Olusegun was clearly an unknown quantity to the Showtime crew. The exciting manner of the fight with Chebah was a godsend for the 31 year old. As an unknown African born southpaw appearing on American TV for the first time, a dull, safety first victory wouldn’t have advanced his cause one iota. As it was, although there was a lot of leather exchanged, Olusegun was one step ahead throughout, dropping Cheba twice en route to a unanimous points victory. It seems this one victory has gained him more recognition than the other 29 added together.
“Absolutely. In the UK I was quite entertaining but I wasn’t getting any challenges. I needed somebody to push me a little bit” he says. “How I box depends on my opponent. Hopefully, fighting the likes of Morales, Devon Alexander, Amir Khan, Timothy Bradley and Manny Pacquiao will bring out the best in me.
“Over here, people are probably more serious about boxing than they are in the UK and there are more challenges here for me than there are there. I want to fight against the best. In order to do that I moved away from London and now I’m in New York. Hopefully it will work out and I’ll get to fight the best. I know once I get in the mix and pick up one or two titles then I’ll be in there with those guys. I’ll be able to prove to the rest of the world that I’m better than these guys. It’s just about getting the opportunity”.
Since relocating to the USA, Olusegun has entrusted his future to Lou DiBella. Although he isn’t in the ‘super promoter’ league of giants like Bob Arum and Don King, DiBella is a well respected figure and has a reputation for looking after his fighters. Has Olusegun found those much need opportunities easy to come by since aligning himself with DiBella?
“Yes. The Ali Chebah fight was postponed four times before I came to the USA. I signed with DiBella and he made it happen and it’s over and done with. So far so good. I respect Lou a lot and the respect is mutual. We have a good relationship and I hope it continues like that.”
DiBella recently made the news after declaring he would be heading to the upcoming WBC convention to plead Olusegun’s case for a WBC title fight. Beating Chebah secured Olusegun’s position as the mandatory contender for the WBC title currently held by Erik Morales. This is where things get complicated. Let’s simplify it as much as possible;
*On 17th September Morales is somehow allowed to face the unheralded Pablo Cesar Cano for the vacant WBC title. He wins via a 10th round TKO and claims the belt. WBC rules state that if a fighter wins a vacant title, he must defend against the mandatory challenger next.
*On 30th September Olusegun beats Chebah to become mandatory challenger. Therefore he must surely be next in line? Well…..
*Morales tells a radio station that his next fight “won’t be against a notable opponent” and that he wants to test the waters at lightweight.
*Stylistically, Olusegun is a nightmare for the aging legend. It is incredibly unlikely that Morales’ promoters would want their man to face him. Call me a cynic but it is probably just as unlikely that the WBC would want one of their favourite sons to risk losing his belt to a virtually unknown fighter. Rules be damned.
So Olusegun is in limbo. Currently, his career is seemingly dependent on which direction Erik Morales decides to take and how stringent the WBC choose to be. Has ‘The Gun’ heard anything to give him hope?
“I’ve only seen the press conference Morales held when he said he wants an easy fight before he defends his title against me” he says. “We’re trying to go to the WBC and state our case. Obviously he has to fight a mandatory challenger so we’re going to have to see how that plays out. What I want is to fight Morales. If he doesn’t want to fight me then he has to vacate. If he doesn’t want to vacate then the WBC should strip him”.
The much maligned WBC president Jose Suliaman may have given Olusegun a glimmer of hope. Last week, the man in charge in deciding who gets to fight for the famous green and gold strap decreed that current golden boy Julio Cesar Chavez Jr must make a mandatory defence of his belt or give it up. Sounds promising? Olusegun isn’t so sure.
“They let Chavez face (Peter) Manfredo in a voluntary defence. Now he has to fight his mandatory challenger who is (Sergio) Martinez. That is what I think Morales is trying to do. He is trying to arrange a voluntary before he has to fight me”.
Whilst the Mexican legend may claim he wants an easy fight next, money talks. If Morales were to agree to a tougher challenge for a bigger pay day and come unstuck, Olusegun could once again find himself in no mans land. If Morales decides to try his luck at lightweight and enjoys some success, his 140lb title could be put into cold storage. It’s an awkward situation. If then, Morales and his team approached Olusegun with a deal which guaranteed him a shot at Morales after a voluntary defence or interim fight, would they agree to it?
“I don’t know yet. I’m gonna have to discuss that with my team” states Olusegun. “We want him to make his decision first so that we will know what the WBC are going to do. Once we know that, we’ll sit down and my team will decide what to do. I wanna fight Morales straight away! I don’t wanna wait. If he wants to fight me next week I’ll be ready to fight next week”.
Still, at least Olusegun is now right in the mix. In February this year he faced the then 10-33-2 Arek Malek in front of a few hundred fans at Liverpool’s atmospheric but dingy Olympia. Clashes with the likes of Erik Morales must have seemed a million miles away. Whilst he must be extremely frustrated by his current situation, he is in a far better position then he was at the start of the year. Was there ever a time when he thought his chance would never come?
“I’m a patient guy. I always believed that at some point I’d get my shot. I always knew that all I had to do was keep winning, they couldn’t deny me forever. Of course, sometimes I worried that I wasn’t going to get my chance but I knew that if I kept working hard then I would get my shot. You can’t keep a good man down for too long!”
Whilst Ajose is on the line, it would be wrong not to ask him how he would go about beating the men he is desperate to face.
ERIK MORALES – For me, I’ve always improvised. I believe in my talent. I believe I’m quicker than him and that’s the thing that’s gonna give me the edge on him. I don’t believe I’d have any problem with him. Listen, he’s a tough cookie! He’s good. I’m better than him.
MARCOS MAIDANA – Box him! He’s a tough cookie too. He’s a hard guy and you have to box the hell out of him. I would like to fight him. Those are the guys I respect, guys who will fight without ducking anybody. It wouldn’t be an easy fight but I’d love to fight Maidana.
ROBERT GUERRERO – I don’t even know anything about him. I’ve read a little bit about him but never seen him fight. No matter how good he is, Ajose’s better!
AMIR KHAN – Punch with him! He’s a good guy. There are a lot of good guys at light welterweight. All I’ve gotta do with Amir Khan is punch with him and I’ll beat him. Anybody who gets hit flush on the chin can go down! It’s not about having a dodgy chin, if you leave your chin out there and it gets hit then you’re going down. I know his weakness. Even though he is fast, I’m fast. Even though he can punch, I can punch too. All I’ve gotta do is punch with him and I’ll smash him.
Ajose in action:-