Mike Tyson inspired me into boxing, says Agbaje
Fast-rising featherweight Nigerian boxer, Taiwo ‘Esepo’ Agbaje has revealed that he decided to take to the profession after watching fights involving former heavyweight champion, Mike Tyson.
Agbaje, one of those dominating in the GOtv Boxing Night, has won the top prize and the Mojisola Ogunsanya Memorial trophy on two occasions since the event made its debut in 2014.
Speaking with The Guardian at the weekend, Agbaje, known for his power punches inside the ring, said he was inspired by the way Tyson handled his opponents inside the ring in his glorious days.“Mike Tyson remains my role model in boxing,” Agbaje told The Guardian. “He actually inspired me into the profession some years ago, and till this moment, I draw a lot of inspiration from his fights whenever I am inside the ring.”
Last month, Agbaje emerged the best boxer at the GOtv Boxing Night 19 in Lagos, his second award having defeated Tope ‘TP Rock’ Musa by unanimous decision to clinch the N1.5 million top prize during the 16th edition of the event at the Teslim Balogun Stadium last year.
At the Indoor Sports Hall of the National Stadium in Surulere in July, Agbaje wowed the crowd with his commanding performance to defeat Waidi ‘Skoro’ Usman, former African Boxing Union (ABU) champion, in their eight-round national challenge bout. With vicious punches, Agbaje left no one in doubt of his mission from the first bell, as he twice left Skoro sprawling in the first round.
With attention now focused on the 20th edition of the GOtv Boxing Night, Agbaje says he was ready to beat everyone to the top position once again.“I am the best Nigerian boxer at the moment, and I want organisers of GOtv Boxing Night to arrange a title fight for me. I am tired of fighting in that same level,” he said.
Perhaps, one fight, which Agbaje will live to remember, was the Mike Tyson versus Buster Douglas bout in 1990.Going into the fight, Tyson was the undefeated and undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, holding the WBC, WBA, and IBF titles. Tyson had scored a 93-second knockout against Carl ‘The Truth’ Williams in his previous fight, making many boxing followers to consider the fight against Douglas a warm-up bout for Tyson before meeting up with then-undefeated number one heavyweight contender, Evander Holyfield. Apart from being viewed as such a dominant heavyweight, Tyson was the number one fighter in the world pound-for-pound.
But a day so much was expected from Mike Tyson against Buster Douglas, who was ranked number seven heavyweight then, the American boxer suffered a knockout at the historically significant event, which saw Japan paying $6 million to boxing officials for the privilege of staging the fight in Tokyo.
The great ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson losing by knockout to the 42–1 underdog Douglas became one of the biggest upsets in sports history. “I learnt a lot of lessons from that fight,” Agbaje told The Guardian. “That is why till this moment, I approach every fight as if my life depended on it. I don’t underrate any opponent once I am inside the right because in boxing, a little mistake can cost you everything. I fight like lion once I am inside the ring and that is why my fan base keep increasing because they all love the way I approach my opponents.”
Despite losing to Douglas in the battle of Tokyo, Agbaje says Mike Tyson remains his best boxers. “I will forever cherish Mike Tyson for his doggedness, determination and approach to every fight. He had a unique style of boxing, and his upper cut punches had no equal,” he stated.