by David P. Greisman
He is the No. 1 contender.
He is the mandatory challenger.
He is waiting, as he has waited for a long time, for his shot at the world title.
Ajose Olusegun has watched as Erik Morales fought for the World Boxing Council’s junior-welterweight title instead of him. He has watched as the WBC decided to allow Morales to defend that belt next against Danny Garcia instead of him. And he will watch Morales face Garcia this month, waiting for his shot at the winner.
Olusegun, an unbeaten 32-year-old who is 30-0 with 14 knockouts, last fought in September, winning a wide unanimous decision over Ali Chebah on Showtime’s “ShoBox: The New Generation.” He spoke with BoxingScene.com in early March about his situation.
BoxingScene.com: I’m sure you’ll be paying close attention to Erik Morales’ upcoming fight with Danny Garcia and you’re not at all happy that fight is going ahead.
Olusegun: “Obviously I’m not happy because I should be the one fighting for the title. In the first place, Erik Morales was not supposed to fight for the title. I was supposed to fight for the title. He was allowed to fight for the title [in September]. He won the title, and I was supposed to fight him, he was supposed to fight me for the title again. He decided to fight Garcia, who was the No. 2 contender [Garcia is listed at No. 4]. What happened to the No. 1 contender? But anyway, now they are fighting, so hopefully I will fight the winner of the fight.”
BoxingScene.com: What kind of communication has there been with you, either from the WBC or from any of the parties involved with Morales-Garcia, about where you stand with what you feel you deserve?
Olusegun: “Actually, we’ve been in contact with the WBC. Lou DiBella is my promoter, so he’s been in contact with the WBC. And the decision was that the winner of that fight has to fight me. That was the decision. So the only thing was that if the fight got postponed, Morales has to fight me. Well, the fight got postponed by two months, and they’re saying I should wait and let him do the fight. … The winner of that fight has to fight me. If he does not fight me, he has to be stripped.”
BoxingScene.com: What are your thoughts on what could happen? You’ve been waiting for a long time now, right? What concerns, if any, do you have on what could happen after Morales-Garcia?
Olusegun: “I’ve been waiting for three years. I think there’s only two things that could happen. One, the winner is going to fight me, or the winner has to relinquish the title or you vacate or you’ll be stripped. So my mind is set on fighting the winner. And if the WBC refuses to sanction that fight, then I have to think of the alternatives.”
BoxingScene.com: The WBC has in essence kept you waiting for all this time. How confident are you that they’re going to actually finally give you what you feel you deserve?
Olusegun: “All those years that they kept me waiting, I was the No. 1 contender. They had to make it that they want me to be the mandatory challenger. So now I am the mandatory challenger. So I don’t think they have any option now. I am the mandatory challenger now. So I think I just have to fight.”
BoxingScene.com: Do you have a preference on whom you face, between Morales and Garcia?
Olusegun: “I don’t care. Whoever wins, I’ll beat. In fact, I’ll beat both of them on the same night.”
BoxingScene.com: Okay, but do you think there’s one of them that makes a better match-up, or that you’ll make more money with?
Olusegun: “Listen, I’m a boxer and I just want to box. Obviously if it’s going to be against Morales, then there’s going to be more interest and more money involved, but that is not all it’s all about. I just want my shot. I just want my fair shot at the title. I’ve been around for too long and I’ve been patient enough. I just want my shot. Whether against Morales or Danny Garcia, whoever wins, I fight.”
BoxingScene.com: You last fought in September. Do you have anything set up to get back in the ring so that you don’t have to sit on the shelf until you get the title shot?
Olusegun: “I don’t think the title shot is going to be in September. The fight’s going to happen in June or July, so for now I’m just going to wait until after the [Morales-Garcia] fight, and then I’ll discuss with my promoter and see where we go from there. My next fight should be for the world title, straight up.”
BoxingScene.com: For those who might not necessarily be familiar with you, what should they know about you and your claim to title contention? Why do you belong in the junior welterweight title picture, aside from the fact that you earned it?
Olusegun: “The fact is I’ve won every title available. I won the Nigerian title. I won the African title. I won the British title. I won the Commonwealth title. I am unbeaten. Come on, look at my record — 30 fights, 30 wins. That speaks for itself. And I know — I don’t [just] think I can beat this guy — I know I can beat everybody in that weight.
“I want to fight them. The only reason they’re not fighting me is because they know I can beat them. They watched my last fight, and everybody was shocked. That’s the reason nobody wants to fight me. Because I put on a good performance that night. And I can do much better than that.
“When Timothy Bradley was the champion, I said I wanted to fight him. When Devon Alexander was the champion, I said I wanted to fight him, and I was the No. 1 contender then. But both of them didn’t, because they knew I’m dangerous. When Morales was the champion, I wanted to fight him. I fought to get to where I am. I’ve been around for a while. But I’ve not been fighting in the U.S.
“In Europe they know me. In Africa they know me. That’s the reason I come to the us now to establish myself more. If the American fans don’t know me here, okay, let me show them what I can do. That’s why I’m here. I want to beat these guys. Morales or Garcia. They should have me at the back of their minds while they are preparing for each other.”
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter at twitter.com/fightingwords2 or on Facebook at facebook.com/fightingwordsboxing, or send questions and comments to [email protected]