News May 2019

Olubamiwo: I'm still a relevant force in the heavyweight division


by John MacDonald @jamacd2011

Fate is a simple concept; all actions and events lead to a predetermined outcome, to a personís destiny. While not everyone believes in this ideology, one man who does is Larry Olubamiwo 10-3 (9 KOs).

The controversial heavyweight has been out of the ring since testing positive for EPO (Erythropoietin) after his loss to Sam Sexton in January of 2012. Initially sentenced to a four-year ban by UKAD (United Kingdom Anti Doping), Olubamiwo saw this reduced by 34 months for fully disclosing his own doping regime and assisting in the case against Scotland's Craig Windsor.

Delays in receiving his license from the BBBofC have seen proposed returns to the ring fall through. Having gone through the red tape the ĎWar Machineí is now set to partake in the latest instalment of PrizeFighter this Thursday night at York Hall to fulfil what he sees as his destiny.

ďEverything that has happened to me since I got my licence back, looks like itís been leading to PrizeFighter,Ē Olubamiwo told LiveFight

ďObviously I was supposed to be on a few cards prior to this and it never happened so I believe that it was meant to be, I was meant to make my return in PrizeFighter. Iím just happy to be back fighting on a big platform and Iím ready to show everyone Iím a relevant force in the domestic division.Ē

Topping the bill at York Hall will be Olympic gold medallist, Anthony Joshua who has made a blistering start to his professional career. His first two opponents have been dispatched of within the distance. His most recent opponent, Paul Butlin, is a man Olubamiwo knows well, having faced him in 2010. The manner in which Joshua stopped the tough journeyman caught his eye.

ďIíve been very impressed with Joshua, Heís made a lot of improvements since the amateur days. The power is obviously there and Iím looking forward to seeing him progress in the heavyweight division.

ďI was very impressed with his performance against Butlin. Iíve been in with him, so I know how durable he is and for Joshua to be able to take him out that early showed the promise that he has.Ē

The expectations for Joshua are high, with this level of expectation comes great pressure. The burden of public belief and media spotlight has derailed many a career and it remains to be seen if the youngster can handle it.

ďI do feel that the pressure has been heaped on him straight away, which isnít right. Weíve seen what happens when fighters fail to live up to the level of expectation; like Audley Harrison and David Price. Hopefully they will ease the pressure off him.

ďCalling him ĎThe Future Peopleís Championí is a bit much at this stage, but he is a very, very good prospect. Iím hoping he can go all the way and he has a good head on his shoulders so Iím sure he will.Ē

During his time out of the ring, Olubamiwo has managed to find positives. Knowing that he would return, he has worked hard in the gym to improve his abilities with new trainer Ben Doughty. This time as also allowed him to change his mindset and promises we will all see the difference on Thursday.

ďAnything I might have lost physically now that Iím clean, Iíve gained in experience and technique. Iím never out of the gym, itís a lifestyle to me.

ďThe main thing now is I just want to go out there and enjoy it. Thatís what I lacked prior to the ban, I did enjoy the Sexton fight but before that I didnít enjoy fighting as much as I should do. My main aim for PrizFighter is to go out and really enjoy it.

ďOne thing the ban taught me was once you canít fight you miss it like you wouldnít believe; the roar of the crowd, the buzz. It makes guys fight on too long because itís irreplaceable. Iíve had it taken from me once, been fortunate to get it back, so while I have it Iím going to enjoy it.Ē

Understandably there were also low points during that period. When news of Olubamiwoís performance enhancing drug use broke, he received considerable media and public backlash. Doping is lambasted in all sports, particularly in combat sports where there is a greater risk of serious injury. He openly admits that the negative comments affected him.

ďItís been hard at times because I hear some of the things being said about me but I try not to let it get to me as many of these people donít know what they are talking about.

ďI donít have the urge to prove my detractors wrong, I have the urge to fulfil my promise. The doubters and the haters mean less than nothing to me now. After talking to other fighters Iíve learned not to take negative comments from people on the internet. I donít know these people so why should I care what they think?

ĒIím clean, Iím happy to be clean because I know I can do it clean. Iím going to be the best Larry I can be.Ē

Since being named as one of the eight contestants in the one night knockout tournament, calls for Olubamiwo never to be allowed in the ring again have returned. Debate over whether, fellow entrant, James Toney, should be allowed to continue to fight at 45 years of age and past his prime has also been rife. One argument rarely heard is if Toney should be banned over his performance enhancing drug use. Toney has twice served bans for banned substances. Firstly, testing positive for the anabolic steroid Stanozol in 2005, and then for use of Boldenone and Stanzolol.

What does the ĎWar Machineí make of this?

ďA lot of people donít realise heís been banned once, let alone twice! His two bans cumulatively are less than my one, even with the reduction! People make excuses for him. I was open about my use and get chastised for it. Thatís the difference.Ē

Despite his unhappiness over the inequality of how their drug use has been perceived he has the utmost respect for the man who will be inducted in to the International Boxing Hall of Fame when he eventually hangs up the gloves.

ďItís a privilege and an honour to be in the same competition as him. Itíll be even more of an honour if I get to share the ring with him. The man is a legend. No matter what people want to say about him fighting on too long he is a legend. I would love to face him, he has forgotten more about boxing than Iíll never know!

ďIím not naÔve enough to think Iím up against an all time great James Toney, right now. At his best, even as a middleweight heíd wipe the floor with me! I recognise the James Toney I could be facing now is a shadow of his former self but the prospect of facing someone who will certainly enter the Hall of Fame is a privilege.Ē

The rest of the field consists of former PrizeFighter winner Michael Sprott, former World title challenger Brian Minto, Americans Damian Wills and Jason Gavern, with Brits Tom Little and Matt Legg completing the line up.

ďThey are all decent fighters but Iím not overly concerned by any of them. Iím not taking anyone lightly but I know if I fight to the best of my ability I should be able to beat all these guys. Iím relishing it.Ē

PrizeFighter has given Olubamiwo an opportunity that would have seemed implausible a year ago. Now that he has it he is determined to grab it with both hands.

ďYouíre going to see an upgraded version of the ĎWar Machineí. Weíve, potentially, got three fights to win it so we have three different game plans. I think people will be quite surprised by what Iím capable of. Iíve been labelled as this one-dimensional banger for so long now but hopefully they wonít be saying that too much when this tournament is over

ďHopefully I win PrizeFighter and then my aim is to make and all-out assault on the British and Commonwealth titles!Ē

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