Ola Afolabi Interview: “Marco Huck, man, let’s do this…”
By Anson Wainwright, MaxBoxing (Dec 16, 2011) Doghouse Boxing
Ola Afolabi
When Ola “Kryptonite” Afolabi started out his career back in 2002, he did so with no fanfare whatsoever and for many years, was more of a sparring partner than a professional prizefighter. For long stretches of his career, Afolabi was inactive but always stayed in the gym, believing the call would come. It did when he was matched with fast-moving prospect Eric Fields. It was an opportunity Afolabi, 31, wasn't going to waste, stopping the upstart a minute into the final round. It was a win that got him attention and within a year, he was heading to Britain to fight for the only time to date in his birthplace, meeting former champion Enzo Maccarinelli for the vacant WBO cruiserweight title. Behind on two of the cards and level on the other, Afolabi produced a huge overhand right that ended the contest midway through the ninth round. Though he lost the title in his maiden defence via close unanimous decision to Marco Huck, he showed he belonged in the upper echelons of the cruiserweight division. Afolabi has since worked his way back into title contention with four wins, three by stoppage including a stirring one-punch knockout over fellow Brit Terry Dunstan on the undercard of Wladimir Klitschko-David Haye. Now he's ranked as Huck's mandatory challenger for the WBO title and with a score to settle, wants his old title back. K2 Promotions’ Managing Director Tom Loeffler adds, “Ola never really had any type of professional training environment; he was winning his fights based on raw talent and heart and lost to Huck by only one round on the judges’ scorecards. After one year of working with Fritz Sdunek, Vitali Klitschko's trainer, Ola is a completely different fighter and we expect him to KO Huck in the rematch.” 
Anson Wainwright - Rumor is that you'll be facing Marco Huck in a rematch for the WBO cruiserweight title. Can you update us on this, dates, venues, etc?
Ola Afolabi – We're just waiting on [Huck’s promoters] Sauerland and Huck’s people to give us the go-ahead. I don’t know what they’re doing. Let’s get it over with. They’re talking about the middle of February or early March. Either way, let’s make it happen. Everything is in their court now. We’re ready to go.
AW - Having met Huck before what are his strengths and weaknesses?
OA - His strengths, he’s very active, very strong. He keeps coming forward, apart from that, that’s about it. His weakness is he makes a lot of mistakes that I’m not going to get into right now because if he reads this, he’s going to work on those weaknesses before the fight and I don’t want him to work on them. Even if he does think I know his weakness, let him work on the wrong things and we can capitalize on it.
AW - You're British but have only fought in Great Britain once. Is that something you'd like to do again? 
OA - I'd love to come back to England, beat Marco Huck and bring the belt back to England. 
AW - Who are the key members of your team? Also where do you regularly train?
OA - My manager is Victor Martinez and Pedro Rosado. They’re two Mexican guys I met out here in 2000. They've pretty much been awesome to me; they've taken care of me since I was 20 years old that's 11 years. My promotional team is K2, Tom Loeffler. The Klitschkos wanted to sign me about five years ago but I had a contract, so I got out of that and eventually, we got together and signed with them and here I am. My coach is Fritz Sdunek. My conditioner is Harold Parker from Venice Beach, California, who has worked with Kevin Kelley, Oba Carr, James Toney, Shane Mosley and Dr. Dre, rapper and NBA athletes. My cutman is Jacob “Stitch” Duran. When I'm in L.A., I work out three days a week at Wild Card Boxing, Freddie Roach's (gym). Then I do conditioning three days a week. That's when I go to Venice Beach. When I'm not in L.A., I’m up in the mountains in Austria with the Klitschkos.
AW - Some people look at boxers namely those who fight at the top of the game and think they make a great living out of it. That’s hardly the case. Do you also work a day job? If not, have you had to in the past?
OA - Oh yeah, at first, I made a living being a sparring partner, training people at the gym and stuff like that. Life isn't as easy as people think. You have to realise I went three years without a fight and I had bills to pay and to eat. I had to work to make that money. Fortunately, I was lucky enough that my managers Pedro Rosado and Victor Martinez helped me out a little bit but I was hurting. I had to make a living, so that's pretty much what I did.
When I got the opportunity to fight Eric Fields, he was 11-0, nine knockouts. He was a big up-and-comer. I was 45 pounds overweight and we had four weeks’ notice to fight him for the NABO title. I had to lose 45 in four weeks. I got that done. I got paid pennies but it opened the door to fight Enzo and Marco Huck and now, I’m with the Klitschkos. Things have been looking up, so I’m not looking back.
AW - The fight that really got you noticed was in March 2009 in Britain when you came from behind on two of the judges’ scorecards to score a ninth round KO over Enzo Maccarinelli. Can you tell us about the fight from your point of view, the knockout and what it changed for you in your life?
OA – Well, pretty much up to that fight, I was off for three years. I got the fight with Eric Fields, then a few months later, I got the opportunity to fight Enzo Maccarinelli. I was kind of rusty. They were saying he only had two rounds with Mathew Ellis and all that stuff. I hadn't fought in three years, so I was kind of rusty. I wasn't working out. I was lazy. I won’t even lie and I’ve always had a lazy style. I went out there and I knew eventually, the guy would tire himself out and I'd get the opportunity to knock him out, so that's pretty much what I did. I pretty much agree with the judges. I was losing on the scorecards huge but as you know, there's 12 rounds in a fight. I don’t care if I lose the first 11 rounds as long as I knock you out, that’s all that matters but you know, I was rusty. I came in there I did what I had to to get it done. Since then, my life has changed. I don’t have to make a living taking punches to the head anymore [as a sparring partner]. I was getting injured more in training than I was in fights, so that really doesn’t make any sense. Since then, my sparring partner mentality has totally gone.
AW - What are your thoughts on the cruiserweight division? What do you think of the current champions, the WBC’s Krzysztof Wlodarczyk, the WBA’s Guillermo Jones, the IBF’s Yoan Hernandez and Huck?
OA - I think the cruiserweight division has a lot of excitement with [Antonio] Tarver coming in, with [Danny] Green who just lost. There's noticeable fights going on. I think with this Marco Huck fight, it’ll probably be one of the most exciting and biggest cruiserweight fights in a couple of years. If I can get that, I think I we can go on to bigger names like [Denis] Lebedev and stuff. Even though Lebedev isn’t the champion, I think he is a bigger name at cruiserweight than Marco Huck is. The cruiserweight division is slowly spilling over to America also ‘cause there’s a Nigerian guy over here named Lateef Kayode and he’s creating a little buzz, so eventually, we’ll come into play. We’ll take our time; we’re relatively young compared in boxing years.
OK, I think Marco Huck is really strong and he's been fighting a couple of guys from Argentina and Europe and they can’t really hang with him. Training with a European coach now, I see the strength and conditioning they do over there is ridiculous. I mean the conditioning they have over there is superb. That’s the problem with America. It has the talent but not the conditioning. The people are lazy and Europe has the conditioning but pretty much not the talent. So when it comes to working with a European coach, I’ve sucked up the talent in America and now I’m sucking up all the conditioning in Europe, I’ll be unstoppable!
But Marco Huck, technique-wise, is not that good. Lebedev, technique-wise, he's not that good. Krzysztof Wlodarczyk, also technique-wise, I don't think is good. But they’re all strong. The WBA champion, Guillermo Jones, he's got talent. You'd never believe it but he's with the wrong guy. Don King shelved him for years. I think he'll get old before he defends his title again. Hernandez got lucky getting that title. I think Steve Cunningham is going to beat him in the rematch and get the title back. I don't think Hernandez will last as a champion.
AW - You worked with and have been around Freddie Roach at the Wild Card and have recently with Emanuel Steward. Both are known as two of the best trainers in the world today. Can you share your experiences with both?
OA - I don't train with Emanuel Steward. I train with Fritz Sdunek but there's nothing wrong with picking up advice. You'd be stupid not to take it from guys like Freddie and Emanuel. But in the last camp, I was in with Emanuel Steward when they were getting ready for David Haye. I totally picked up a lot of stuff from Emanuel Steward. It’s eye opening. We go into boxing and it's kind of an ego thing. We think we know it all and then somebody comes up to you and gives you a simple piece of advice and you just wonder why you'd never seen it [before]. Being around boxing and guys like that for years can give you simple advice and it's priceless. I’m soaking it up like a sponge.
AW - You were born in London. Can you tell us about your early days and how you first became interested in the sport?
OA - I was born in England and went to school in England and Nigeria because my parents wanted me to learn the language and stuff. So I was kind of bouncing back and fore. That's why my British accent never really stuck. That's why it was easy for me to lose it in America. I lived with my aunt from home; I got into trouble, ran away from home. I ended up on the street. I ended up in the hostel system. I was with the wrong crowd. My mum got sick. I came over to America. When I was over here, she died and I made a decision not to go back to all the nonsense I was doing, so I ended up in America. I started boxing. I was winning my fights; I had no amateur fights. I was training as an amateur at Battersea Boys Club but really didn't have any [amateur] fights. Boxing was going well and I decided to stick with boxing and not go back and here I am, 11 years later.
AW - Outside of boxing, what do you like to do with your spare time?
OA - I like my monster cars and motorcycles. I work on them and my bikes. Just hang out at the beach. I'm very simple. I don't go out much. I don't go to clubs much. I don't drink much. I just chill out. I like American football. The college one is way more exciting than the professional to me. The NBA, I can't watch baseball ‘cause that makes me fall asleep. Pretty much any sport ‘cause I’m an athlete.
AW - Who were your boxing heroes growing up and who do you enjoy watching today?
OA - I'd have to say [Mike] Tyson, Riddick Bowe, Muhammad Ali, [Joe] Frazier. I liked David Tua ‘cause he was devastating when he got in there. Oh, and Jack Johnson, he’s way, way older. Some of these boxing guys today don't know who Jack Johnson is. I enjoy watching [Manny] Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather, [Juan Manuel] Marquez, James Toney- even though he lost [his last fight]. When you go to the gym and watch James Toney spar, it's like something you've never seen. He's commentating, talking, swearing, boxing the crap out of people, so that's always entertaining. Um, there's this young fighter; he just lost, [Jorge] Linares from Venezuela but lives in Japan. He's pretty good. When you watch him spar, it's like something else.
AW – Finally, do you have a message for Marco Huck?
OA - Marco Huck, man, let’s do this. There's no way of sugarcoating it or running around anymore. I'm number one. I’m the mandatory. Let’s give people what they want. The first fight, he beat me because of a combination of things. I was lazy. We were in Germany. His promoter did the show and I almost knocked him out. Now I'm training with Fritz Sdunek and the Klitschkos. We fight on even ground and, you know, let’s make the fight happen. I know I'm going to beat him. He’s a nice guy. I ran into him at the WBO convention; we spoke. It’s a job and he’s stopping me making good money, so I have to take him out.
Contact Anson at elraincoat@live.co.uk

Questions? Comments? Contact Anson at elraincoat@live.co.uk.

This article provided to DoghouseBoxing.com by © MaxBoxing.com

For much more on other stars of Boxing, visit our newswire on the homepage now

NEW: Follow Doghouse Boxing on FaceBook!
For more Boxing News 24/7 and so much more... 
visit our homepage now!

© Copyright / All Rights reserved: Doghouse Boxing Inc. 1998-2011