By Oliver McManus @OliverGMcManus
Scheduled in for a Midlands Area title clash which fell through with less than a week to go and then pencilled in for a British title eliminator with Gary Corcoran which, also, fell through with less than a week to go – it’s fair to say that it’s not been the smoothest of years for Ekow Essuman but it would appear to be third time lucky for the welterweight as he faces Andy Keates next month for the vacant English title.
Ekow took the time out to speak to me earlier this week so let’s just drive straight into it…
Ekow, great to speak to you, let’s kick off straightaway with your fight against Andy Keates for the English title – how pleased are you to fight for the title so early on in your career?
Hi mate, yeah sure, I’m gassed up mate, I’m so happy with the chance and I’m going to take this opportunity with both hands, I was put forward for the Midlands title a few fights back as well as English and British eliminators but I guess my reputation must have got about because I’ve had a lot of pull outs and categorical no’s.
Against Keates, then, what sort of a fight are you expecting?
I’ve him for a little while, I was supposed to fight him a while back however that fell through, through no fault of my own. He’s a good tough fighter however EVERYBODY in boxing is tough, I’ve done my homework and I’m putting the work in and I know what to expect. I doubt he will fully know what to expect, all the points of reference he’ll have for me are from when I boxed on GB – I’m a different beast now
And if you look at who he’s been in the ring with – the likes of Joe Hughes, Ohara Davies etc – will you be looking to compare you performance on the night with those of his former opponents?
You know what, I won’t compare my performance to anyone else as I don’t box like them so why bother? I’ll do a job on the night and I’ll enjoy my boxing whilst doing it because that’s how I box best, not giving a damn about expectations.
If we take a step back, to the beginning, what was it that first got you into boxing?
I’ve always been into sports ever since my chubby child days – swimming, football, rugby, cricket, basketball – I’ve tried them all but boxing suits me best because I know when the going gets tough and no-one else can be depended on, I can do what needs to be done.
Was it always the goal to turn professional or did it just, sort of, happen?
Well, as a lot of close people to me know, I wanted to go pro in 2012 however I got offered the chance to be on Team GB soI took that with both hands and boxed European champions, World champions, double Olympic champions and I’m looking forward to fighting at that level as a pro too.
Looking at your career so far what would you say has been the best performance?
Within the amateur circuit I had a few scalps when I was deemed a novice but I beat a lot of highly ranked lads, my favourite would be beating Bogdan Schelesthuk, in my first WSB match, I loved the atmosphere, performance and everything, and that’s when I was boxing below my ability as I didn’t quite find my style and fully know my strengths.
As a professional my best performance would be beating Serge Ambomo, the Cameroon born Olympian, in an 8 round match. I get a buzz for fighting people who are skilled and tough as it brings out the best side of me.
If we compare your last fight, against Nelson Altamirano, to your debut, are you pleased with the progress you have made?
Yes I’m happy with my progress, as a pro I’ve been putting the pieces together. I can box, brawl, counter punch and put the pressure on my opponents. My career so far has just let me practice different aspects of these and I can’t wait to show the boxing world, I just want to improve my boxing know how and do countless jobs on higher level opposition….who doesn’t?
I was fit and ready to go on a weeks’ notice
And you’ve sparred plenty of times with the likes of Sam Eggington, how much can you learn from these experiences?
Yes we have done a lot of sparring, I enjoy sparring Sam because he’s a class act and it’s hard to get good sparring with people that are ready and willing to do the amount of rounds I want to do.
Is it easy to take what you’ve learned from sparring into the ring or is it something that takes a bit of work?
In some respects yes but in others no. It’s all about the experience in different situations and knowing how to apply what you know and more importantly WHEN to apply what you know.
Now, if you don’t mind, I want to ask you about the supposed fight with Gary Corcoran on June 30th, no-one is quite sure what happened, explain it from your perspective?
Well my team were contacted about this fight when Corcoran’s opponent (Paddy Gallagher) suffered an injury and was unable to box, I jumped at the opportunity as I had a fight scheduled for the Midlands title which had fallen through – I was fit and ready to go on a weeks’ notice.
When word started to get around about it, Gary Corcoran must have caught wind of it and was quick to send shade my way, said it was too early for me to get that chance and to get in line but surely if that was the case he’d have jumped at the opportunity of a low risk high reward match with myself?
My team then got a call from Warren’s people letting us know he’d found a more suitable opponent for his outing and he then went on to fight the Ghanaian super lightweight Victor Ray Ankrah instead.
As long as he is up there in the contention for the British he’ll be on my radar so it’ll only be a matter of time until I’m next in line.
I do actually want to ask, we’re seeing Conor Benn take a relatively easy route through the pro ranks, do you think you’d beat him? Is it a fight you want?
Well there are no two ways about it, I’d love the fight and yes I think I’d beat him. I’m not here to make up the numbers, I want to get stuck in.
He’s ranked above me so he’s already on the list of people I’m watching but with that being said I’ll stick in the here and now and focus on Andy Keates and give him my full undivided attention on the build up to and on October 20th.
Outside of boxing, then, how easy is it for you to switch off?
I’m the type of individual that doesn’t need to see the light at the end of a tunnel to keep going. So I do sometimes find it hard to switch off, though my close friends are all in the entertainment industry and when I hang out with them it’s easy to switch off; my team mates in my boxing camp are all ace too and we all just banter each other 24-7 and have a laugh.
Looking ahead over the next 12-18 months, where do you want to be, what titles do you want?
Over the next 12 months, God willing, I will be defending the English title, calling out boxers on my list, giving the public memorable fights and making my bids for international, and European titles
I’ll end on a random question, mate, what’s your favourite doughnut?
Mate if there is a cookie dough double Oreo chocolate doughnut out there with Reese’ chocolate sprinkled over it then it has got my name written all over it.
Ekow Essuman will fight for the vacant English welterweight title against Andy Keates on October 20th and you can follow his journey @ee_engine.