Ochieng says he’s ready for big title bouts after Ally Pally clash
Erick Ochieng says that Saturday’s English light middleweight title defence against Ryan Toms on the Betfair ‘London Calling’ bill at Alexandra Palace, live on Sky Sports will be his last at that level as he eyes the British and Commonwealth titles.
Ochieng saw off a spirited challenge from AA Lowe on the undercard of Carl Froch’s stunning World title win over Lucian Bute in May in Lowe’s backyard of Nottingham, with ‘The Eagle’ scoring a wide points win in impressive fashion.
That defence was the tenth win of the Stoke Newington man’s career, and after beating Nick Quigley in a barnstormer in January to claim the vacant belt, Ochieng has began to win admirers as his career gets into full swing.
‘Beating Lowe took me into double figures which was a nice feeling,’ said Ochieng. ‘So now I'm ready to step it up with another defence and then hopefully keep moving up the levels. I really feel that I'm developing well and at a good pace, and I'm showing that I am a World champion in waiting.
‘Eddie Hearn has said this is my final fight at English level and I think I am overdue for a British or Commonwealth shot to be honest – the future is bright and by the end of the year I want to have one of those belts.
‘I am looking to move through the titles but I have to take it one step at a time. I know what I can produce and I know I need to pass this test. Ryan is a tough southpaw with some power but I am confident in my skills and I take every opponent seriously and preparations have been superb. I've sparred with heavier guys like John Ryder and we've left no stone unturned to make sure I'm at 100 per cent tonight.
‘I've been linked with fights with Jamie Cox (Commonwealth champion) and Brian Rose (British champion) and I'm ready for fights like that, I think that they are holding on to my titles and they will be handing them over sooner rather than later. I don't fear anyone in the division, I see myself reaching the top and I know I have to beat the best there is out there in order to get to the top. I'm determined to face them and I'm gunning for them this year, but tonight is the focus.’
While the Quigley fight was a small hall classic at York Hall in Bethnal Green, the Lowe win was a new experience for Ochieng – taking on a hometown fighter in a huge arena. Ochieng rose to the occasion at the Capital FM Arena, snuffing out any threat from the challenger and imposing himself from the off, and he added to his burgeoning reputation in front of the largest crowd he’s boxed in front of to date.
‘He was a strong guy and very proud in front of his home fans so even though he didn't throw a lot but he did enough to make me work hard and go the distance so it was a good defence,’ said Ochieng.
‘It was a brilliant experience, an electric atmosphere and it felt like the type of occasion that I want to shine on, just like tonight. It was a pleasure to box in the same ring as Froch and it was so inspiring watching him beat Bute as I aspire to be a World champion just like him.
‘I'm a smart fighter and I've got a lot of skills. Even though I like to box on the backfoot, I'm a strong guy and if you ask my opponents they always say after the fight 'Wow, you are a strong fighter'. I am working on my speed and my combinations all the time in the gym, but they are already good and they are getting more dangerous.’
Ochieng came to the UK when he was 12 years old and used boxing as a way to stay away from trouble, something he wants to use his influence to pass on to other youngsters in London.
‘Boxing isn't just what happens in the ring, and being a role model is really important to me. Sport is a great tool to help young people to help them to grow and achieve things in their lives, even if they don't take the sport up as a job. You learn about teamwork, discipline and dedication and when you look at the power of the Olympics and how it has gripped the nation and got young people interested in sport then you see the possibilities there for boxing to help young people to improve their lives. Sport has changed me and made me a better person, so I like to motivate young people and get them out of trouble like boxing did for me.’
Tony Bellew tops the bill with his mouth-watering clash with Edison Miranda. The Liverpool star is a red-hot 2-9 favourite with Betfair to beat the Columbian, who is 16-5 to spoil Bellew’s night.
Lee Purdy is aiming to break into the World welterweight scene by beating unbeaten Argentine Gumersindo Carrasco in their chief support bout for the IBF International welterweight title. Exciting light middleweight star Erick Ochieng defending his English title for the second time against Southern Area champ Ryan Toms, hotly tipped Islington middleweight John Ryder will also be in action while popular unbeaten Chris ‘The Flash’ Evangelou fights for the first title of his career when he tackles Danny Connor for the vacant Southern Area light welterweight title.
There is a debut for Team GB star Martin Ward, who hopes to follow the example set by Kal Yafai when he stopped Delroy Spencer on his debut in July. Yafai fights for the second time as a pro, as does cruiserweight prospect Wadi Camacho and Ryan ‘Crash Bang’ Taylor completes the line-up in his seventh pro outing.
Tickets for Betfair’s ‘London Calling’ led by Bellew and Purdy are available priced £40 unreserved, £60 ringside and £120 VIP from Matchroom Sport on 01277 359900 and www.matchroomboxing.com