By Jake Donovan
The message has been sent loud and clear: Ajose Olusegun has waited long enough and plans to keep his place in line.
The 32-year old super lightweight contender is long overdue for a shot at the title he watched changed hands last month when Danny Garcia defeated Erik Morales in Houston. The fight itself was nothing to write home about, but surrounded by controversy on several levels.
Most notably was Morales missing weight the day before, conceding the belt on the scales and then officially in the ring when Garcia won handily. Unfairly flying under the radar was the fact that Garcia landed the title shot that rightfully should have gone to Olusegun.
“Boxing politics was the cause of all of this,” Olusegun (30-0, 14KO) firmly states, both of Garcia’s title shot and the fact that Morales was ever placed in position to contend for the vacant belt last September. “It was supposed to be me fighting for the title last year. I was the number one contender and Morales already lost to Marcos Maidana (last April) before being given the title shot.”
Olusegun came to grips with the fact that Morales was given preferential treatment. A legend in his native Mexico and a cult favorite in the boxing industry, Morales was bumped to the front of the line for the sake of vying for a title in a fourth weight class. He achieved the feat, rallying back to stop Pablo Cesar Cano in the 10th round of their vacant title fight last September.
All of that was fine with Olusegun, who – after being promised a title shot beforehand – was forced to fight one more elimination bout. He did just that, scoring two knockdowns en route to a unanimous decision over Ali Cheebah in a wild clash aired on Showtime’s ‘Shobox: The New Generation’ series.
When his name wasn’t immediately mentioned as being next in line, Olusegun and his stateside promoter Lou DiBella took their cause directly to the WBC in person during their annual convention last December in Las Vegas.
“I went to to the WBC convention to make a complaint,” Olusegun points out. “The motion was unanimously approved that the winner of the Garcia-Morales bout faces me. Boxing politics allowed two Golden Boy fighters to face each other and skip me. Now, Garcia has to fight me and I won’t step aside to let him fight anyone else for the title.”
It was agreed upon that not only would Olusegun get the winner, but that he would fight for the title sooner had the bout been delayed any further. It was already pushed back from January 28 to March 24 after Morales was forced to undergo surgery to have kidney stones removed
Had Morales not been able to fight, the belt was to be declared vacant and Garcia (23-0, 14KO) instead face Olesugen. Instead, the four-division titlist decided to rough it during training camp, showing up overweight and – at this advanced stage of his legendary career – ill-prepared for a younger and fresher fighter in Garcia.
Olusegun had no real dog in the hunt, but believes that with Garcia winning the fight he will now get his title shot rather than watch yet another champion avoid him.
“Garcia looked good. He did what he had to do and is a young, strong fighter. I’m happy for him but now it’s my turn. I’m looking forward to my opportunity to fight for the title. Everybody knows I am owed this title shot. I am confident I will get my shot.”
The long-awaiting contender is even more confident that he will be a champion within 12 rounds or less once the bell rings for the overdue title shot.
“I’m sure (Garcia) will bring a five-star performance, but I know I will beat him,” Olusegun insists. “I respect Garcia, but he’s not the star that Golden Boy tries to make people believe. He’s not a star; he’s a manufactured champ. He fought and beat old fighters like Morales and (former titlist Kendall) Holt. The best fighter he faced was Ashley Theophane, who beat Garcia but didn’t get the verdict.”
To his credit, Garcia didn’t have a problem at the press conference in acknowledging Olusegun as his next mandatory challenge, stating that he’ll fight him or anyone else lined up in front of him. Olusegun plans to hold the unbeaten Philly boxer to his word, sans exception.
“There is absolutely no question that my next fight will be for the WBC title,” Olusegun promises. “Garcia can fight me in his first title defense, or he can give up the belt. I’d rather fight for $2 to face Garcia for the title than to take $2 million to step aside and let him fight someone else and avoid me.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter:@JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]