16th March, 2012
In his American debut, Olusegun beat Ali Chebah last September to become the WBC’s mandatory challenger to the Erik Morales-Danny Garcia winner later this year. In this interview with Max Boxing, the 32-year-old Southpaw spoke about his career and childhood.
You’re the WBC’s number one contender at light welterweight. How do you feel about it?
It is kind of a mixed feeling. I am happy to be rated number one but I have been in that spot for a long time but still couldn’t get my shot at the title, which is frustrating. You begin to ask the question, “What is the purpose of the rating when the number one contender is not given the opportunity to fight the champion?” But I prefer to be number one than number two.
Erik Morales meets Danny Garcia in March for Morales’ WBC title and will be of interest to you. What do you think about the fight?
I think everyone believes Garcia will surely win, thinking Morales is old, but they forget the fact that Morales is experienced and that is something that’s priceless. It would be an interesting fight; tough call but if I have to put my money on it, I’ll go with Morales. I would beat them both though, on the same night.
When can we expect to see you back in action?
I’m going to wait for the winner of Morales-Garcia fight.
You started out your career in Britain with only a couple of fights taking place back in Nigeria. Could you tell us how the opportunity to fight in Britain came and how things changed for you to now base in America?
I was spotted by the management of Kronk Boxing in the United Kingdom when I fought Ricardo Williams in the Olympics and I was given a contract to start my professional career in London. Then I met this beautiful American girl in London and we both fell in love. She stayed in London for two years because of me, then decided to move back to the US as she couldn’t get the right job she deserved. So I thought I’ll just reciprocate what she did for me by moving to New York City to be with her. Love is a beautiful thing. Then I had a meeting with Promoter Lou DiBella; he was impressed by my record and the rest is history.
Who are the key members of your team?
Joe Mensah and Joseph Sangoto are my coaches. Omotayo Ajose is my fitness trainer. Steven Kyprianou is another of my cornermen. Damian Ramirez is my adviser and Louis DiBella is my promoter.
Could you tell us about your life growing up in Lagos, Nigeria and how you first became interested in boxing?
It was tough, as it is everywhere in the world where there is poverty. My parents were poor so I did not have a lot of good things growing up. I never had a birthday celebration until I was in my 20’s. Imagine that!
My father was a boxing coach so I took to boxing very early; I was six when I started. My first day in the gym was sparring. I was told, “We learn boxing by boxing.”
You fought at the 2000 Olympics. Could you tell us about that experience and what other amateur tournaments you won? What was your final record?
Fighting in the Olympics was and is still a wonderful experience. If I come to this world again, I want to go to the Olympics. It opens my eyes to world boxing. I won a lot of national and international medals including Nigeria’s “Best Boxer of the Year” award twice and gold at the All-Africa Games in Johannesburg, South Africa, to mention just a few. We didn’t really keep records of our amateur fights in this part of the world like the Europeans and the Americans, but I fought more than 200 fights and won about 95 per cent.
What do you think of the light welterweight division in general as well as Morales and Garcia meeting for the WBC title?
The light welterweight division is full of talented boxers and I’m glad to say I am the best of them all. Peterson is a good boxer that I have known for years and it’s good he got his shot and he grabbed it.
In this division, I can boldly say that I would fight and beat anybody, be it Amir Khan, Morales, Garcia, Peterson, Marcos Maidana or Bradley, but if any of them thinks otherwise, let him step in the ring against me.
Could you tell us a little about your life away from boxing and what you like to do with your free time?
I am not sure I have any life outside boxing- in a good way- as I am always in the gym even when I don’t have a fight. I’m a gym rat. Though when I’m in Nigeria, I hang out a lot with my childhood friends and in my free time, I spend all my time with my girl- Of course I have sex with my beautiful girlfriend. (Laughs wildly) What do you expect?
Finally, do you have a message for the light welterweight division?
Olusegun Ajose is here and I am not going anywhere. You can run but you can’t hide; I’m coming for you and I will get you.