Anthony Ogogo targets British, European and Commonwealth middleweight titles in 2015, saying 2015 is ‘going to be epic’
Suffolk boxing star Anthony Ogogo has had a frustrating 2014 battling injury. But he tells MARK HEATH that 2015 is going to be his year.
Anthony Ogogo sounds down.
For a young man usually so buzzing with positivity and promise, he lets out a few very uncharacteristic sighs as we start talking about his year – the latter part of which was dominated by surgery which he hopes will finally fix a long-standing achilles tendon problem.
“It’s the bane of my life, this injury,” he tells me, as he sits icing his tendons. “It’s doing my head in. I train hard and then I’ve got to get my rehab in as well – I never seem to stop.
“It’s one of those things where it’s going to take a long time. I wish it was like a broken leg, where you put it in a cast for six weeks and then it’s fixed, but an achilles isn’t like that.”
Middleweight Ogogo has been battling with the injury since 2010, winning bronze at the London 2012 Olympics and starting his professional career with seven straight wins in spite of it.
But he knew he wasn’t 100%, and finally went under the knife for a ground-breaking operation which saw surgeons cut his plantaris muscles away from the tendons in September.
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It halted the momentum he was building with three victories in five months – including boxing in Las Vegas for the first time – and he was forced to watch from the sidelines as fellow London 2012 alumni Anthony Joshua and Luke Campbell made rapid strides up the pro ranks in the latter half of 2014.
“The operation I had is so new they don’t really know how long it will take to recover, or how well I’ll recover,” he explains. “It’s a case where I’m going to be training with it and it will be problematic. It’s frustrating.
“Sometimes, like now, I do sit and feel sorry for myself but then I remember that I’m doing something that I love and I’ve got to get on with it.
“Until you’ve got achilles pain like I have had, you don’t realise how much you need it. I’ve only done three runs this year and for a boxer, running is your bread and butter – so as a result my fitness hasn’t been as good as it could have been.
“It takes away your foot speed in the ring too, and that’s one of my greatest assets.
“I’ve done ok so far in my pro career, but when I watch my fights back, I know I could do more.
“There’s a saying in boxing to ‘sit down on your punches’, where you literally dig your feet into your boots and into the canvas to generate power, which I just haven’t been able to do.
“When I’m eventually pain-free, I’m so excited to see what I can do. I just want to get back in the ring.”
Down he might be, but Ogogo – the first British boxer to be signed to boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions – is convinced that great things still await him.
He is targeting a return to the ring in February, with dates being discussed ranging from the Gennady Golovkin-Martin Murray card in Monaco on the 14th to the O2 Arena on the 28th.
After that, he intends to be lifting his first titles in 2015, and bringing big-time boxing back to the region.
“Next year is going to be epic,” he says, audibly perking up. “I want to become a champion next year. Be that British, English, European or Commonwealth, the opportunities are endless.
“I went to see Oscar De La Hoya over in America, and it was really exciting. He had so much confidence and trust in me, and said I was going to be a superstar, he wants me to become a world champion.
“Then I was sitting watching the Amir Khan fight on Sunday when I had an e-mail come through from Oscar saying he wants me to be the next Amir Khan. It was a real boost for me, considering I could have been fighting on that card were I not injured.”
Of his plans for next year, the 26-year-old continued: “I want to build a fanbase at home – we’re a big region and there’s a massive market for it.
“There’s two big football stadiums in the region and I can’t see why, in two years’ time, I can’t be filling out those stadiums and fighting for world titles.”
He continued: “Billy Joe Saunders, who holds the British, European and Commonwealth titles, is now the mandatory challenger for the WBO world title and to pursue that he will have to relinquish his titles.
“I’d like to have, if not all three, at least one by the summer of next year.
“The aim is to be putting on a show back home with me headlining at the end of May. Realistically it would have to be either Norwich or Ipswich, and the plan is to have two fights at home next year.
“Eventually I want to be selling out Portman Road and Carrow Road. That would be amazing, not just for myself but because when I was a youngster I would have loved for a boxer to come to the region – that’s how legacies start and that’s how you inspire kids.
“I want to inspire other people to do great things and break the mould.”
Blessed with frightening hand speed and a warrior’s heart, as well as good looks and buckets of charisma, Ogogo has everything a boxer needs to be a superstar – potentially Suffolk’s first global sporting star.
And, as we end the interview, one senses he is back on top form. 2015, he tells me, will be the year he really makes his mark.
“I can’t wait to get back in the ring,” he enthuses. “It’s going to be like a debut again – I felt before like I was boxing with the brakes on.
“My time will come, and when I am a world champion and knocking people out for fun, it will all have been worth it.
“It’s going to be so much sweeter, because I’ve had to go through the downs to get to the ups.”