For every fighter a hometown fight is the dream, all your fans screaming your name and baying for blood. The opponent surrounded by a periphery of noise, a wall of friends and family willing you on to victory. This is what every fighter wants to experience and for unbeaten English welterweight champion Ekow Essuman (13-0 KO5) this is no different.
“I think that’s every fighter's dream and even Leigh Wood who’s been on a few Matchroom bills has been saying he’d love it if Matchroom came back and put on a super show at the City Ground (home of Nottingham Forest FC). They came to the Nottingham arena which was amazing, but the City ground would be amazing.
I think it would be a team effort, the midlands boxers bringing it back and I’d love to be a part of that.”
Essuman has recently signed with Frank Warrens Queensberry promotions and is hopeful of a British title shot when boxing returns.
“I’ve had the British title in my sights and that’s been my main goal recently. I’ve got the English and I’ve defended that against a veteran in Tyrone Nurse which was voluntary & I choose Nurse as a voluntary because I wanted to send out a statement.
I then defended against my mandatory in Curtis Felix who was an undefeated fighter as well, and I still hadn’t gotten a shout from the boxing board about any kind of British eliminator - I’ve now got that eliminator against Liam Taylor I’d like to take the opportunity with both hands.”
Essuman sees himself winning the fight against Taylor and feels he has a better boxing brain than him.
“I’m a boxer he’s a boxer, I see myself winning and I’m sure he sees himself winning, I think we’re both similar in our styles in some respect, he’s a very good boxer and he grits his teeth and keeps his work on when the going gets tough and I’m very much similar in that aspect but I think I have more of a boxing brain than him and I think that’s what sets me apart.”
With a British title eliminator set against Taylor, Essuman sees a fight with either Chris Jenkins, Johnny Garton or Conor Benn as the next logical step.
“I think that’s a very interesting fight, I think Jenkins is a good boxer but Johnny Garton, the Pexican, is very good at what he does as well so it will be interesting to see how the fight pans out and if the fight goes the distance. With Chris’ susceptibility to cuts but what’s more interesting is the winner of that fight has to defend against Conor Benn.
I see both of them beating Conor Benn, but I can be proven wrong so I’m just waiting to see, god willing I get past Liam Taylor, I’ll be fighting the winner of Garton, Jenkins, and Benn.”
Ekow admits he’d love the fight with Benn but doesn’t rule Benn out because of his lack of amateur background.
“Yeah, I’d love that fight with Benn, you’d like to think my amateur background would play a part, but I’d be stupid to rule him out just because of that because he has been learning as a pro and they’re picking opponents for him that he will learn things against and what not so it would be stupid to rule him out for his lack of amateur experience.
But I do think I would do him over and not because of that past boxing experience but just because of where my boxing brain is at and where I think his boxing brain is at.”
Essuman does have a history with Josh Kelly and admits he’d love to fight him.
”He got the nod for the Olympics over me, so there will always be that rivalry and I wanna get to the point where I can call him out and beat him to just prove a point.”
Essuman has been sparring with Kellys next opponent David Avanesyan and is intrigued about that fight.
”I was very interested to see that fight and I’ve been doing a hell of a lot of rounds with Avanesyan for that fight and I was wanting to see just how far Kelly has come since the Team GB days.”
Ekow feels like he is coping okay in quarantine and has found a routine.
“Quarantines alright it just takes some getting used to, for me because I’ve been sticking to a routine, I’ve been coping with it in that respect, I’ve been training twice a day and still going out for my runs and I’ve got a boxing bag out in the garden and just finding little ways around it to keep me sane.”
Essuman is training, working on technique, and getting the odd pad sessions with his trainer when he can.
“It’s going as well as it can do in quarantine, just drilling technique and getting the odd pad session with my trainer when he’s free, I know he’s isolating as well, so I’m just ticking over really.”
Essuman is hopeful that boxing can return sooner rather than later.
“Well Warren and Hearn's people feel they should be able to do a closed-circuit show, no crowds, by the end of July so if I’m hearing all these whispers, I’d hope it’s around then.”
Ekow does anticipate that it will be strange with no fans but does feel like he will adjust to it.
“It’ll be a weird atmosphere, it’ll just be like having a spar with very few people around and you’re just doing what you’re doing and I don’t mind that, as long as you get to give people free smoke, I’m okay with that.”
With restrictions bound to be in place when boxing does make its comeback Essuman feels that boxers will just have to accept the new normal.
“Beggars can’t be choosers really. If we want to be able to box and those are the stipulations then we don’t really have a choice, to be honest, but I have heard the test they do for Coronavirus where they put the swab up your nose is supposed to be really painful.
It should be interesting but like I say if you want to box then you have no choice.”
With wins over Tyrone Nurse and Curtis Felix in the bag, Ekow believes there are a lot of good fights out there.
“There’s a lot of good guys out there and at the moment everyone is sort of making their mark, there’s Michael McKinson, Luther Clay & Chris Kongo who has had some time out of boxing and is making a comeback with Dillian Whyte as his manager. There’s like a wealth on the scene and we all know each other and there have been offers flying about for us all to fight each other but the thing is there’s no point in us fighting each other if it isn’t going up your ranking or your stature with whichever belt you’re going for.
The way I think of it if someone is in my way for the belt, I will work hard to make myself the mandatory and fight them and for me, that’s what it’s about furthering yourself with big fights at the right time.”
Essuman has always been big on sports but only got into boxing to keep fit.
“I’ve always been into sports, I used to play basketball for quite a good team round my way and I didn’t get into it one year in the trials and one of my mates suggested I do boxing to keep fit so I did that and I never looked back at Basketball again.”
Finally, Essuman spoke about his background, having moved over from Botswana to England at only 11 years old.
“It was definitely a culture shock moving to Nottingham, but everyone was very accommodating and I just got into it well, I learned American English so that didn’t help as I got a lot of stick for that but I soon lost the accent and stopped speaking American and I fit in.”
Luckily for the Botswana man, he didn’t make the cardinal sin that most American speaking people do of calling football, soccer.
“No, no that was one of the mistakes I didn’t make but I was calling the curb a sidewalk and the boot of cars, trunks, and mum, mom so I did get a lot of stick.”
It is definitely set to be a big year for the man they call “The Engine” when boxing does finally make its anticipated return.