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Ekow Essuman: ‘If Conor Benn still wants the British title, come and get it!’

Ekow Essuman
After his breakthrough win, Ekow Essuman is looking to build, writes John Dennen

EKOW ESSUMAN might be going the long way round, he might still have plenty of ground to cover but for the Nottingham man winning the British and Commonwealth titles against Chris Jenkins was a landmark for him. “The British title, it’s a door opener,” he told Boxing News. “The British is that special belt, it just stands out from the rest.”

The importance of the British title is that there is only one. It is not watered down by other random, regular or irregular British belts. “In Britain [147lbs] has the most active boxers for the weight. To be a British champion at welterweight means a lot. Because there’s a hell of lot of us out there fighting for it,” he said. “There’s so many different [sanctioning body] belts. There’s interim, there’s super champ, there’s a new WBO global! But saying that, regardless of what they are, we wouldn’t moan if we won them!

“To be honest I would love to win the British outright but at the same time I need to get my ranking higher and higher so I can challenge for more.”

It was vital then for Essuman to get his hands on that British belt against Jenkins. “We knew his boxing pedigree and we knew how good of a jab he had as well,” Ekow said. “The problem we had going into the match was he cuts easily and so if he had cut and by any chance the referee deemed it to be a headclash, the match would have been stopped with a technical decision [and Essuman would have left without that British title]. So my coach just told me to bear that in mind and just basically box and keep him busy and wear him down. Because in the mid to later rounds we knew I was going to set upon him anyway.”

He diligently targeted the body. “You want to take their jab away from them eventually but you want to slow them down as well. Some people can take body shots but sooner or later all the air that’s been taken away from you is going to catch up with you and you’re going to slow down. While I was doing that I managed to break his rib, which is something I found out afterwards,” Ekow said. “He did really well to hide it. It was round four or five, I hit him with a body shot and I kind of heard him gasp for air or wheeze a little bit and I wasn’t too sure if that was an indication of injury but I thought, ‘You know what I’m just going to keep touching the body anyway.’ He did really well to hide that.”

“After we reached that point where the match wouldn’t go down to a technical decision, ironically I got a cut, in round five I was just jabbing to reset the distance between us, then round six, seven and eight I set upon him,” he continued. “I threw another right hook and I felt it hurt him again so I thought you know what I’m just going to set upon him and that’s exactly what I did.”

Essuman forced a finish inside the eighth round. It was the breakthrough win Essuman needed as a professional. A GB boxer as an amateur, he had fought the world’s best in that code but he wasn’t an Olympian and so turned pro in 2016 without the kind of fanfare some of his contemporaries enjoyed. Ekow won the English title in 2018, he’d beaten Tyrone Nurse, Cedrick Peynaud and more in his 14 contests leading up to the Jenkins fight. But it’s this win that should bring him recognition.

“As soon as I turned over, clean slate, we start again, we start afresh. I’ve got all this experience behind me, use it,” he said. “I hadn’t been to the Olympics so I wasn’t high in the pecking order basically… I knew I might have to work my way back up but I knew I would. It’s just taken a bit longer than I wanted to but I’m here now, so just enjoy it.”

As an amateur he also beat Lewis Ritson and Ted Cheeseman in the national championships. “It’s good to see other people shine because obviously it inspires you. I’ve beaten them in the amateurs, I can think there’s no reason why I can’t do what they’re doing as long as I’m working hard to keep my craft on point and I’m always improving all the time,” he says. “As long as you stick to it and you’re dedicated to it, you’ll reap the benefits sooner or later.”

He wants to join them as a headline act, and would love for his British and Commonwealth titles to open a path towards Conor Benn, though his immediate future will most likely see him defend against Danny Ball. “[Benn] is a fight that gets you exposure out there, he’s coming up and he’s built up and he’s a good prospect,” Ekow said. “Bring it on. If he was up for it, then I’d be up for it.

“I know we’re on two different sides of the street in terms of boxing with two different promoters but the likes of Felix Cash and Denzel Bentley happened so you can never say never. We just have to wait and see.

“Now I have the British, if he still wants it, then he can come get it. Let’s fight.”

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