NEW YORK - World Boxing Council (WBC) Super Lightweight No. 1 contender Olusegun Ajose is finished waiting quietly for his shot at a world title.
The 32-year-old undefeated Nigerian, who has called out some of the top names in the 140-pound division, will finally get his chance when he faces WBC No. 2 contender Lucas Matthysse for the vacant WBC Interim Super Lightweight Championship on Saturday, Sept. 8, live on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING on SHOWTIME® at 9 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast) from Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
Ajose (30-0, 14 KO's), who has fought the majority of his professional bouts in the United Kingdom, made his United States debut last September on ShoBox: The New Generation with a 12-round unanimous decision over Ali Chebah in a WBC title eliminator.
An active soldier in the Nigerian Army, Ajose is looking to become the next ShoBox alum to graduate from the series and win a world title.
"I'm coming to America to win a world title," Ajose said. "After the fight, I'm going back to join the army and live and train in the barracks. That's the way it is. I'm a soldier. You don't become a soldier if you're not tough."
Before he returns to life in the Army, the 11-year professional boxing veteran is looking to make a statement in the U.S. against Matthysse (31-2, 29 KO's), one of the most feared knockout artists in boxing today.
Ajose answered six questions as he wrapped up preparation for his first shot at a coveted world championship.
What do you know about Lucas Matthysse?
"I know he's one of the toughest in the division. He's quite tough. He lost twice, but I think he was robbed both times. I know he comes to fight, but I only saw two of his fights - against Devon Alexander and Zab Judah. I didn't see his fight against Humberto Soto. There are more fights of me on YouTube than there are of him, so he probably knows more about me, but when we fight we'll learn a lot about each other."
Will your style cause a problem for him?
"He's never fought me before. Regardless of how many lefties he's fought, it doesn't matter. Every opponent is different. I can't say I have an advantage because I'm left handed. He's got his weak side and his strengths, and so do I. I've got more speed, more skills, more experience and that's what's going to make me successful against him.
"My advantage is my skills, my experience in the ring - not that he's had more fights here (in the U.S.) than I have. That doesn't matter. He may have fought more times here, but he's never faced anyone like me."
Matthyse lost split decisions to former champs Devon Alexander and Zab Judah and could easily be undefeated. Is this your toughest fight to date?
"I think he's the toughest opponent on paper, but I can't say that he's the toughest guy until after the fight. He definitely is on paper, but I don't know how that will translate in reality. Other than me, he's probably the toughest in the division. I'm the only one better than him. He's better than Danny Garcia, Zab Judah. Apart from me, he's the best.
"The big difference between us - it's common knowledge I've been deprived of this fight for so long. I've been ready to fight for a championship for four years. Now that I have this opportunity I'm not going to let it go. I better win this fight. I'm going to give everything I have to win this fight."
You've never been knocked down but he has 29 KO's in his 31 wins. How will you handle his power?
"Just because he can punch other boxers doesn't mean he can fight me. He has never fought me. When he punched Zab did he knock him out? No. Did he knock out Alexander? No. I'm at their level. Knock me out? That's not going to happen. It's going to be me knocking him out, not the other way around.
"Ali Cheba had an 80 percent knockout ratio and when he hit me it didn't hurt me. I proved my chin. I knocked him down twice but he didn't hurt me. I felt some of his power but nothing I couldn't handle."
Do you feel you need to knock him out?
"Obviously, every boxer wants the knockout to avoid the decision; however I'm not going to be looking for it. If it comes, great. I just want to win and I'm going to do my best to win. I'm going to fight in a way that will make it difficult for anyone to rob me. It's going to be clear decision. I am prepared to go all the way and make it obvious that I won."
Who do you want to face next in the 140-pound division if you beat Matthysse?
"Danny Garcia. That's who I want to fight, 100 percent. After I beat him I want Danny. He's been saying he's better than me; okay, come out and fight if you think you're a superstar. Show me you're good., because right now I have a bigger fish to fry, and that's Lucas. Lucas is way better than Danny. Right now I'm thinking about Lucas. After I beat him we'll think about Danny."
Ajose vs. Matthysse, a 12-round fight for the vacant WBC Interim Super Lightweight World Championship taking place Saturday, September 8 at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas, is presented by Golden Boy Promotions in association with DiBella Entertainment, Gary Shaw Productions and Arano Box Promotions and sponsored by Corona and AT&T. The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast will air live at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast). Preliminary fights will air live on SHOWTIME EXTREME® beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).
Tickets, priced at $200, $100, $75, $50 and $25, along with a limited number of VIP suite seats priced at $150, are on sale and may be purchased at the Hard Rock Hotel Box Office, all Ticketmaster locations, online at www.ticketmaster.com or by phone at (800) 745-3000.