YOU may not have heard of Izuagbe Ugonoh …yet. But the Polish-born heavyweight contender plans to change that when he takes on Dominic Breazeale in a 10-round match on the undercard of WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder’s title defense against Gerald Washington in primetime on FOX and FOX Deportes, at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama on February 25.
“I’m looking forward to displaying my skills and letting the U.S. boxing fans get a look at what I’m bringing to the heavyweight division,” Ugonoh said. “I’m very excited to be making my U.S. debut in primetime on FOX and FOX Deportes. Dominic Breazeale is a tough opponent, but he is also the kind of boxer that will allow me to put on an entertaining show for the fans in the arena and those watching on FOX and FOX Deportes.”
Ugonoh, who prefers to be called Izu (pronounced E-Zoo), has a unique blend of athleticism, speed and power that he honed as a kickboxing champion in Poland before switching over to boxing in 2010. Starting with his match against the hard-hitting Breazeale (17-1, 15 KOs), Ugonoh has an ambitious timetable as he works his way toward fighting for a boxing world title.
“This is my moment and 2017 is my year,” Ugonoh said. “I want to challenge myself and show the world how good I am. I believe the heavyweight division is wide open right now, and the top fighters are going to bring the best out of me. If I do what I’m supposed to do, I can see myself fighting for a world championship in the next 18 months.”
“I’ve been hearing great things about Izu internationally for years,” said Tom Brown of TGB Promotions. “He’s a big, strong athletic heavyweight with good power. But Dominic isn’t a pushover. Plus, he is coming off his first loss. He is in a make or break type fight. It’s the classic case of a guy with something to prove against a guy with a lot to lose.”
The 30-year-old Ugonoh was born in Szczecin, Poland, to Nigerian parents, and has a 17-0 record with 14 knockouts. Ugonoh has a master’s degree from Jedrzej Sniadecki School of Physical Education and Sports in Gdansk, Poland. He grew up playing soccer, before focusing on becoming an elite, all-around fighter by training in kickboxing, boxing and martial arts.
“Izu is a big, physically imposing, strong heavyweight who, while virtually unknown here, has developed a reputation abroad,” said Lou DiBella of DiBella Entertainment. “In his first fight on American soil, he will take on a legitimate heavyweight contender and world title challenger in Dominic Breazeale. We’re going to find out in Birmingham whether Izu is the real thing; if he’s able to shine, the mystery man is an immediate factor in the heavyweight division.”
Not afraid to step out of his realm, Ugonoh was a contestant on the past season of “Dancing With the Stars” in Poland, making it to the final two rounds.
“It was a lot of work,” he said. “I trained for 35 hours a week to dance for 1 minute 15 seconds on the show. Dancing was more work than boxing,” he laughed. “People laugh when I say that because they think I’m joking, but it was as much work as training camp. One of the key benefits is it improved my footwork in the ring.”
Ugonoh is trained by Kevin Barry, the corner man for WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker and former heavyweight title challenger David Tua. Ugonoh has been fighting out of New Zealand for the last two years, but now he will train in Las Vegas and is ready to make a name for himself in the U.S.