By Jake Donovan
Recently crowned 140 lb. titlist Danny ‘Swift’ Garcia is being honored in his Philadelphia hometown on Monday morning, but don’t expect mandatory challenger Ajose Olusegun to be in a celebratory mood.
A reception held in the city of Brotherly Love will recognize Garcia’s recent points win over Erik Morales to begin his title reign. Garcia’s win has been referenced as the latest chapter in Philadelphia’s long and storied boxing tradition.
“We are proud to call 'Swift' a local hero and role model for our young people," councilman Michael Jones said in a recent press release. “We need more champions in our communities who are excelling and realizing spectacular achievements like this."
You’ll have to forgive Olusegun if he doesn’t quite agree with the aforementioned statement.
“They’re trying as hard as possible to avoid me,” Olusegun (30-0, 14KO) insists, as he continues to wait for his long overdue mandatory title shot.
The latest wrinkle in the ongoing saga for the unbeaten contender is a proposal allegedly made by Golden Boy Boxing – Garcia’s promoter – as an alternative to what is already owed. The offer made was for Olusegun and Garcia to appear on the same show but in separate bouts, to build momentum an interest towards a future collision.
As far as the 32-year old southpaw is concerned, there’s no time quite like the present.
“I don’t want an interim fight,” insists Olusegun. “He’s the champion, which I respect. If he wants to be a good champion, like the great ones, he has to fight his number one challenger, which is me.”
The problem Olusegun and his team have in accepting the deal is the reply offered once they rejected terms.
“They offered us an interim fight. Once we said no, all of a sudden there were rumors that he’s injured,” Olusegun reveals. “I don’t think it’s real but I will wait if he really is injured. I won’t let him fight anyone else as long as he remains champion, but I also don’t want him to vacate. I want to fight Danny Garcia for the title.”
Olusegun was already owed a title shot last year, before being forced aside once the WBC decided to make a title available for Morales. The legendary Mexican was on a mission to become the first fighter in his country’s history to become a four-division world champion.
Morales was granted that favor, first permitted to face Lucas Matthysse last September. When Matthysse pulled up lame due to injury, unbeaten but largely untested Pablo Cano was permitted to replace him on a Golden Boy-promoted show.
Meanwhile, Olusegun was forced to take a title elimination bout to reestablish himself as the division’s leading contender. The upside was that it allowed the Nigerian boxer to appear on Showtime. Olusegun impressed, scoring two knockdowns in outpointing Ali Chebah last September.
The bout was Olusegun’s last ring appearance. Any battles involving the 2000 Nigerian Olympic boxer since then have been fought by his promoters and legal team. Even in sitting out for seven months and waiting, Olusegun is willing to extend that period of inactivity if it means that his next fight comes against Garcia – and vice versa.
“I don’t even want him to vacate. I want him to heal, if he really is injured. I want to fight for the world title straight, not for us to fight interim fights. Whether it’s for three months, six months or one year, I will wait for that fight to happen and he will fight me before he fights anyone else.”
If it sounds like Olusegun is in panic mode over the threat of once again being passed over, there’s plenty of his reason for his sense of urgency.
The June 23 showdown between Lucas Matthysse and Humberto Soto has now received blessing from the WBC as a sanctioned eliminator. There are rumblings of an interim title possibly being at stake.
The purpose of such belts is supposedly to ensure a fight with the “full” champion. The reality is that such belts being made available only create a greater road map to what should be a straight line.
Olusegun wants to make sure the message is sent clear to Garcia and his handlers.
“Either (Garcia) fights me or he doesn’t fight at all,” Olusegun demands. “Matthysse and Soto can fight for whatever they want. The title shot against Garcia is what I deserve. Golden Boy can try to cause as much confusion as possible. The worst part is that it is coming from a fighter (Oscar de la Hoya, president of Golden Boy) who was a champ himself. He is a disgrace.
“Golden Boy is playing tricks, but I’m not falling for it. Garcia was never the mandatory challenger. He was given a title shot against an old man. He has to now fight a young man like him, a hungry fighter like him. He should fight the mandatory. He said he is a warrior; let’s see him stick to his word.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]