Boxing fans will be treated to a true clash of punchers in December when Arslanbek Makhmudov (15-0, 14 KOs) will defend his NABF and NABA belts against imposing Nigerian boxer Raphael Akpejiori (14-0, 13 KOs). Akpejiori in this interview with JOE just before the fight was announced spoke of his desire to be the next big thing to happen to the boxing world.
A fight against Tyson Fury
No, my target is not to get a fight with Tyson; I don’t actually have anybody particularly in mind. I have a goal and that is to have a fight with whoever is the world champion and take over as the world champion. So my goal is to become the world champion as quickly as possible. I am working towards that goal and whoever is the champion when I get chance becomes the person I will fight.
Yes, Tyson Fury’s name has been associated with my ambition but it is just because he has the belts. My drive is after whoever is wearing the belt.
An all-Nigeria heavyweight clash
Is there a big deal about that? I don’t think so. Americans fight Americans all the time and so that wouldn’t bother me in any way. He has done well for Britain remember. He has made a huge name for himself and for Britain but that’s the much it has to be for me. Whoever stands in front of the world title and me has to give way. I have a goal and I am pursuing it with all that I have got.
Transiting from basketball to boxing
At a point I just started going to the gym to train to become a boxer and that was how the change began. Eventually everything fell in place and it became a profession where I can chase my goal.
Influence on you
It was not that way of somebody influencing me. First basketball was no longer giving me the kind of thrill I wanted towards the end of my time in college and then I had a few injuries playing basketball, and I was not feeling the way I wanted on the court. I was not okay and this was not in any way helping my goals. My spirit was going off and I had picked up serious interest in the boxing gym. My heart and head wanted boxing and so I decided to go for it. That was how the switch came.
And certainly no regrets about the move
No regrets in anyway. I like what I’m doing; I am exactly where I should be and that is helping my drive.
Impressive fight record
It is 14 fights now and the last fight went the full distance. It was not a knockout and so I have shown I can fight well in all situations.
But know something. I have never gone into the ring with the mindset to end the fight in round two or three. I go in there with just one goal and that is to win the fight. So I go into the ring fighting aggressively to win and if the fight ends in round two it is a bonus because it was not exactly a plan.
Possible fight in Nigeria
Yes, possibly in future; I’m very open to that. Venue is largely determined by many factors but I would love to have a fight back in Nigeria if it’s possible.
Your next fight
Yes, definitely. Something is on for this December and it has practically been tied up except that I can’t say much about it until it is announced. Certainly a fight in December and the details would soon be made public.
Interest in the NBA season
Not exactly, I watched but not like a super fan of the league. I live in Miami and so the Miami Heat are of interest to me but the last time I was live at the arena was last season when they played their first home game of the season. But now I watch more games on the TV than going to the centres.
I like to keep my private life off the public but certainly I am not particular about where the person is coming in from or where she resides. All I want is a happy home; a truly happy marriage. That is the most important thing.
You know that I have not had hundreds of fights. It is a gradual process. But do those wealth measurements matter? What I am sure of is that I am not hungry; I don’t really lack anything to the glory of God.
Family ties in Nigeria
Yes, my family is majorly in Nigeria but my younger sister is based in Toronto.
Meeting Masai Ujiri
Yes, definitely I know Masai and we are good together. Masai is a wonderful guy and doing so positively for the game, himself and Africa.