By Ryan Maquiñana
The Prodigal Son returns -- at least according to manager Steven Feder.
After several appearances on Showtime, including a career-high $135,000 payday for an unsatisfying draw with Antonio Tarver in 2012, cruiserweight Lateef Kayode nonetheless grew unhappy about his financial arrangement and left Feder for perceived greener pastures.
“For a while I was playing the role of a disgruntled parent,” Feder told BoxingScene.com on Wednesday. “But after he left, he wasn’t getting any fights, so a couple months ago, he came back and asked me for help.”
With only two bouts in the following two years, the 31-year-old was teetering on the brink of irrelevance. Kayode, dubbed “Power” at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood because his slugging displays in sparring befit his sculpted frame, turned to the man who once led him to the land of six figures.
“I could’ve stayed mad, but Lateef was my first client, and I’ve had him since the start of his career, so he’s like a stepson to me,” Feder said. “I couldn’t turn him down. I talked to (promoter) Greg Cohen about getting him a fight, and what a fight he got for him off the bat.”
Kayode (20-0, 16 KOs), who originally hails from Lagos, Nigeria, will get a chance to finally live up to the hype when he faces unbeaten Cuban Luis Ortiz (21-0, 18 KOs) on Thursday in Las Vegas for the interim version of the WBA heavyweight title. Fox Sports 1 and Fox Deportes will broadcast the encounter (9:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. PT).
“For where Lateef’s fought in the heavyweight division (a pair of knockouts against pedestrian competition), this is a hell of an opportunity,” Feder said. “It’s a winnable fight. Not easy, but he likes fighting southpaws. We had such a great run on ‘ShoBox.’ We lost that momentum, but what a chance to get it back here.”
For this camp, Freddie Roach manned the corner the entire time. However, Feder intimated that due to Roach’s current commitment to Lucian Bute, the very capable Marvin Somodio will assume chief second duties for the fight.
“Lateef was going 10, 12 rounds in sparring and not even breathing hard,” Feder said. “And let’s get one thing straight. Yes, Lateef is not a defensive fighter, but he’s an offensive fighter. He’s going to go after this guy. Lateef can box a little bit, but he knows what he has to do.
“(Ortiz) has got a decorated amateur career, but he hasn’t fought anyone of merit, either, in my opinion. He’s slick and a good counterpuncher. He knows how to use the ring, but Lateef will show him more power than he’s used to. Someone’s ending up on the canvas. And if (Ortiz) stands toe-to-toe, it’s our fight.”
Ortiz will earn an $80,000 purse, while Kayode will take home $55,000 -- less than half his check for the Tarver fight. But this time, both manager and client are on the same page regarding short-term sacrifice in exchange for long-term returns.
“It’s one of those situations, as far as risk-reward,” Feder said. “If he wins, he’ll make more than he did for Tarver, and he knows this.”
In the buildup to the fight, Kayode -- despite his lack of a quality win at heavyweight -- brazenly called out unified world champion Wladimir Klitschko in the event of a victory on Thursday night. Feder viewed the statement as more indicative of his client’s regained confidence than crazy talk.
“He’s very prepared, very loose, so there’s no excuses,” Feder said. “I want the best for him. He can change the course of his entire life and his family’s life with this one. He’s certainly trained hard enough for this. I told him the other day, ‘There’s only one dream available in the ring tomorrow -- his or yours. It’s up to you.’”
Ryan Maquiñana is the Boxing Insider at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area and the Editor-in-Chief of Norcalboxing.com. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @RMaq28 or email him at [email protected].