IN a weekend packed with action, world title fights will occupy most of the sport’s attention. But one man who will be happy just to box is Anthony Ogogo. The middleweight, a bronze medallist at London 2012, has been out of action for a year, after having two operations on his Achilles tendons and undergoing exhaustive rehabilitation.
“I forgot what it was like to train and compete and box pain-free,” Anthony told Boxing News. “They’re doing brilliantly, they’re doing really well, I couldn’t be happier with how it’s all gone.
“I’ve done so many rounds of sparring, I’ve done countless rounds, I’ve sparred so many different types of people, it’s just been really good.”
Now he can finally train pain-free. “I’m remembering why I loved it,” Ogogo continued. “I’m absorbing all the information I’m being told by my team because I can absorb it. Before I was using so much energy, I didn’t realise it was just a case of how it had to be, I was using so much energy trying to ignore the pain in my Achilles, when I was given instructions I wasn’t really taking it on board and I wasn’t really getting what I was supposed to do… Now when I get told to do something it makes sense.”
His new lease of life comes with a new promotional set up. Golden Boy have come to an agreement to co-promote Ogogo with Sauerland Event. “They said they can make me as busy as I want but all their shows are in America,” Anthony explained. “I didn’t really want to [move to America] because I’m British. I’m very proud of being British. Boxing at the minute in Britain is on the crest of a wave at the moment. I want to enjoy it and be in the thick of it.”
Sauerland, who also represent George Groves and David Price, will help him progress in Britain and Europe. “I genuinely feel like I’ve got the best of both worlds, I’ve got Oscar De La Hoya over the pond and I’ve got the Sauerland guys here in the UK. I couldn’t be happier with how everything’s turned out. After a long period of being unhappy and being injured, and being inactive finally I’ve worked so hard to get back and now I’m going to be able to experience the fruits of my labour,” Ogogo added.
He will box on the undercard of the Arthur Abraham-Robert Stieglitz WBO super-middleweight world title fight in Halle, Germany on Saturday (July 18), against Ukraine’s Ruslan Schelev. “He is by far the best person on the list of 10 names that they gave us. Initially my team wanted me to fight someone who’s not as good. I said I don’t want to fight him. I want to fight [Schelev]. He’s got the best record [on the list], he’s good, he’s big, he’s strong, he can switch hit, he boxes southpaw, boxes orthodox. I’ve condensed my 12 month rehab programme into six months, I’ve worked so hard, I haven’t done that to fight a road sweeper. I’ve done that fight somebody decent, who’s got a good record, he’s 11-3, so even as a 7-0 fighter, fighting someone who’s 11-3 that’s pretty good anyway. Bear in mind I’m coming off a 12 month lay-off, that’s pretty good.”
Ogogo has every intention of keeping busy now. His next stop will be a trip to California to spar with George Groves ahead of the latter’s world title fight, which is expected to be finalized imminently. (Groves is the mandatory challenger for Badou Jack’s WBC super-middleweight title.)
“I’m going over to Big Bear in California with the George Groves camp. I’m going to be helping him finish off his preparations for his world title fight. That’s going to be great for me, as a young boxer, going out and helping George Groves with his final preparations for his world title fight as well. I’ll get loads of experience doing that,” Ogogo said. “I’m backing myself to get to the top. I’m 100 per cent sure I’m going to be a world champion one day. There’s going to be times when I might have to go away to California and I’m going to be fighting in Vegas and I’ll need to go to California and do a training camp so it’ll be great for me to go over there and be privy to it all and see it all first hand.
“It’s going to be a great experience for me and it’s going to hold me in good stead if I can get three weeks of sparring with George Groves in California, Big Bear and maybe some rounds of sparring with whoever else is there at the time. It’s going to be good.”
First, of course, he must get through Saturday night’s fight. “He’s going to be handful but I think I’ve got more than enough to get the win and I want to be doing it in style. I’m going to get this win out the way, first fight back in 12 months and then I can crack on. Each fight I’ll be fighting better people, people who are high up the rankings. I want to be ranked, I want to be ranked by governing bodies, I want to be right up there in the British rankings, I want to be there and thereabouts,” he said.
“I’ve wasted a year. I’ve had a year out. I haven’t got time to waste. By 2016 I want to be there or thereabouts, I want to be knocking on all the doors for all the belts. This year is about getting there, getting to 12-0 so next year I’m ready to go.”
Photo: Stephan Johnson/J P Boxing