ANTHONY OGOGO didn’t win the titles he hoped to win in his short-lived professional boxing career, but he certainly displayed the heart, determination and never-say-die spirit required to win every belt going.
Blighted by injuries, the Lowestoft middleweight saw his progress curtailed before it ever really got going and today decided to announce his retirement from the sport due to an ongoing issue with his eyes.
“Accepting the end gracefully is part of being a professional athlete,” he wrote in a statement. “Calling an end to dreams that are left unfulfilled is the hardest part. Life is all about doing your best with the cards you’ve been dealt. That is what I have done time after time.
“Sadly, after seven operations on my eyes in two-and-a-half years, I am forced to admit that they are too damaged for me to safely return to the boxing ring. With a heavy heart, I have to retire from professional boxing with my dreams unfulfilled.”
In 2013, Ogogo signed a five-year deal with Golden Boy Promotions and went on to win 11 of his 12 pro bouts. His first and only defeat came against Craig Cunningham in 2016 and, with his eye socket damaged, it was all downhill from there.
In addition to eye problems, Ogogo has suffered three shoulder dislocations, broken hands and damaged ligaments and tendons, and estimates he has been injured for a combined period of six years and four months.
Yet, despite his misfortune, the 2012 Olympic bronze medallist has vowed to remain positive and look forward with hope.
“This retirement statement, and my life, could now go one of two ways from here on out,” he said. “I could be bitter, or I could be better. I could be bitter at having my career cut down whilst I’m in the prime of my life. A devastating succession of injuries prevented my professional career from taking off and now I’ll never get the chance to realise my true potential and show the world what I truly had in the locker. Plagued with thoughts of what I could have been are enough to make a man bitter.
“I choose to be better.”
All the talk is of British heavyweight Nathan Gorman fighting his countryman and stablemate Daniel Dubois later in the year, but first Gorman must overcome the threat of a former UFC star, Fabio Maldonado, on March 23 at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.
Since turning pro in 2002, the 38-year-old Brazilian has scored racked up 26 wins and 25 knockouts as a pro boxer and lost only once (by decision against Oscar Rivas last time out). He is better known, however, for his 24-12-1 career as a mixed martial artist, a sport he has juggled alongside boxing, and his 11 bouts in the UFC.
“What I know of him is that he is a Brazilian with a good record and has only lost once on points to Rivas,” said 22-year-old Gorman. “Rivas is now a world contender and Maldonado also has a lot of knockouts on his record, so he is a fella who can punch a bit and, obviously, it is heavyweight boxing and you cannot switch off for a second. If you do that against someone with the knockout potential Maldonado has got, it could be the end of the fight.
“Ricky [Hatton, coach] has had a look at him, and we believe it is the right fight for my progression. That is why we have taken it. People thought I might start the year with a tickover fight, but do you really want them now I am 15 fights in? You are not going to get warm-up fights if you want to keep progressing.
“It will be good to start the year with a scalp like Maldonado, but he will be very tough, and I have got to train for him like he is my world title fight. At the end of the day, if I don’t beat him then it is back to the drawing board.”
Gorman, unlike his next opponent, is all boxer and has so far thrived as a pro, winning all 15 of his fights to date, 11 inside schedule. He might not be blowing opponents away in the same fashion as Dubois, his rival prospect, but there’s a composure and smoothness to Gorman that might, in the end, set him apart.