Oliver McManus @OliverGMcManus
Josh Adewale, one of MTK Global’s most exciting young prospects, will embark on the first step of his professional journey on November 17th looking to make an instant impact.
I spoke to him on Tuesday and he started off by telling me how relieved he was to finally be making his debut.
“I can’t wait really, we’ve been saying it for a long time but I can’t wait. I want to do some damage, I want to put on a performance. Most people will tell you that winning is all that matters but there are certain things I need to do to feel like it was worth the wait. I’m expected to get the win, let’s be honest, so let’s not beat around the bush, I need to tick my own boxes in order to be happy. I’m not going to go in there like a novice and try to force the knockout but I’ll put on a show.
It’s not all been straight-shooting for the 24 year old who was primed to fight, live on BoxNation, as part of their stacked card on October 26th.
“I think it was eight opponents who pulled out, we were told all sorts. The guys were getting offered more money to fight me, we offered an extra £700, but one of them apparently said he looked at me on the internet and didn’t fancy it – that was after he agreed.
I said I’d fight anyone, there was a guy who was 1-0 – not a superstar by any means but he had a winning record – I was willing to go out of my way just to get a fight. I only found out around 10.30 the night before that I wasn’t going to be on the card and I was very annoyed, let’s put it that way.
I’ve been dieting for eight weeks, training hard, and there was a bit of messing around with the weigh-in times which affected that. Obviously the initial frustration is “okay, well when am I going to fight?” and, if I’m honest, the first thing I did was just to go and get some food”.
Since making the decision to turn pro, Adewale has enjoyed sparring with Asinia Byfield, a man who he suggests has helped him adjust to the realities of professional boxing.
“It’s a good experience, he can be awkward and elusive at times but even though he didn’t look like it, necessarily, in the fight with Cheeseman he has a really good work rate and punch output so it helps you get used to the pro game.”
“I’ll be honest, I’d hope my amateur experience will help bridge the gap because I feel better-rounded as a fighter thanks to that background. I’ve flown out to different countries by myself and had fights in the middle of nowhere. I got a standing out count in the first round, once, and I said “oh, shit, you need to turn this around”, I battered the guy after but all those situations help your mentality and approach in the ring.”
Mate, if I wanted to come to your fight I would have bought a ticket
Exuding confidence as we spoke, the Slough-man told me he’s not immediately hunting for titles but he’d take every opportunity that came his way;
“I’ve only just turned 24 so I’m still a young man, I’m not in a rush but I like to get things done as quickly as possible. Even if it’s a grocery shop, I want it done as quick as I can. I’m a busy-type of person so I’m not going to rush it but I want a title as soon as I can grab one.
I only take one fight of a time, as cliché as it sounds, I want to take care of my first opponent – he hasn’t been stopped in three and a half years – and getting on BoxNation and IFL TV is a good platform to do it on.
It’s a shame I wasn’t on the 26th because I would have been the first televised show on BoxNation and I could have provided entertainment to a larger audience – being on TV won’t change my approach to a fight, I’ll go about it the exact same way but I feel like I’m made for TV. Not just my fighting but my kit quality, my ring music, my entrance, the whole package, I’m looking to put that into every fight but, hopefully, more people can see me when it’s televised.
Conversation turned to ticket sales, such are the finances of small-hall boxing, and the middleweight explained why he was more relaxed when it came to getting bums on seats,
“To be honest, considering I don’t really put that much effort into selling tickets, I just say it how it is, but I don’t like people going on non-stop about their tickets. Really, every day? Mate, if I wanted to come to your fight I would have bought a ticket. I don’t need it Monday-Sunday and, for me, I just want people to come to my show because they want to see me fight. I truly believe I have a style that people will want to see, I shouldn’t have to force it on people.
Obviously I understand why they’re doing it and it might work for them but that’s not for me. My ticket sales are better than expected to be honest, I tend to be more realistic when it comes to these things to avoid disappointment.
18 months on from getting run over, Adewale was bizarrely magnanimous on the incident, insisting it’s put everything into perspective –
“Yeah, yeah, two guys I know. I had a disagreement, shall we say, with them and I ended up getting slammed by a car into a brick wall. I broke my cheekbone in three different places, I couldn’t open my mouth, I put on 12 kilos. To be honest with you mate, I went on holiday, it was hard when I got back to the gym and I looked fat, mate. I looked fat, I was saying to my coach that I’d have to fight at 81kg, and all my amateurs was -75kg.”
“It makes everything now seem like nothing in comparison to some of the things that have happened. Look at this postponement, it’s frustrating but it’s only a couple weeks. My brother travelled down from Cardiff so, don’t get me wrong, it was a massive headache but now it’s just one of those things.”
Having signed with MTK Global, Adewale is gaining plenty of exposure thanks to the management agency – as well as through Portobello PR – but it wasn’t always something the young gun was keen on.
“When I first made the decision to turn pro, I used to feel like it [Interviews] was a chore because I was speaking to so many people that I’d never heard of and I felt like I was talking for the sake of it – I hadn’t had a fight, didn’t even have a date, and some of the questions, I felt, were trying, to get an exaggerated headline or something like that. Now, though, everything is in place and I’m enjoying it, it’s all part of the job.”
Smashing me face first at a wall
Throughout the half hour that I spoke to Josh a common theme transpired, a simple one too – the love of fighting. Growing up, he told me, he didn’t really have a favourite fighter but got involved because he wanted a scrap. The same goes for why he doesn’t dwell on the past,
“You see so many people who try to make things sound super dramatic, they want the sympathy, I really don’t want sympathy Ollie, the typical ‘I had a hard upbringing, boxing saved my life’ – I can’t stand it when people say that. It is what it is, some of these people who talk about their lives are ridiculous.
They’ve never been in trouble because they say ‘boxing prevented me from going down that path’ when they were never on that path to begin with.
When those guys drove straight at me, smashing my face first at a wall, when that happens then you can start saying about a hard life. I’m not here trying to get sympathy mate, you know, I told you that because you asked but there are so many guys crying wolf so I’m just focussing on the boxing and letting that do the talking.”
And this Saturday, at the Brentwood Centre, Josh Adewale will get the long-awaited opportunity to let the boxing do just that – do the talking and kick-start his promising career.
He faces Liam Griffiths over a scheduled four but the debutant concluded with a simple, chilling prediction for how his debut will go:
“I saw on BoxRec that he had a fight the week after mine pencilled in, I don’t know about all that Ollie. I wouldn’t buy tickets expecting him to turn up”.