Nigeria and West Africa Boxing Union (WABU) Middleweight champion Abolaji “Afonja Warrior” Rasheed will take on Moroccan boxer, Bilel Jkitou, for the vacant Africa Boxing Union (ABU) title.
The fight comes up on Saturday, 20 January, in Morocco.
Prior to departing for Morocco, Rasheed, in this exclusive interview with completesportsnigeria.com
‘s JAMES AGBEREBI, talks about his chances against Jkitou, how he hopes to use his experience of losing in England in the fight and also rooting for the home-based Super Eagles to win the ongoing 2018 CHAN in Morocco.
What is your expectations from your upcoming fight in Morocco?
I am well prepared for the fight. This is my opportunity for me to go for the ABU title. It is a vacant title and I am confident of bringing it home. I will defeat Bilel Jkitou, by God’s grace.
Have you ever fought a North African before?
No, this is the first time I will fight someone from North Africa, but there is no difference fighting someone from North or West Africa.
I can see my experience from fighting in England and Ghana as an advantage for me. I learnt some things over there. During my fight at the last GOtv Boxing Night (Dececember 26) against the Ghanian boxer, I was able to use my experience from other big fights to defeat him.
What do you know about your opponent, Bilel Jkitou?
I have watched his past fights. In fact, I watched his last fight and I can say he doesn’t have my kind of record. I have 15 fights while he has eight, though he has never lost, but I am confident of beating him. I don’t care whether he will be fighting at home.
Talking about fighting Bilel in his country, Morocco, don’t you think home support will favour him?
When I fought in England, I learnt a lot . So now I know how to arrange my fights. There is nothing they can do to me over there in Morocco. Like I said, I have promised the
country that I will be coming home with the belt.
Looking back to when you fought in England and lost to Sam Sheedy last April, what are those things you have learnt going into this fight?
When I went to England, I was maltreated. All what I needed they did not give me. There was no training camp, no gym to train, I was training in the cold. The weather wanted to
change my body system but because of the way I use to train back home, I was able to adapt. And talking about the fight against Sam Sheedy, I know I did not lose the fight, but
due to home advantage, I lost. Even Sheedy confessed that I won the fight but because he is their boy, they decided to give him the fight.
This is an opportunity for me. I am not scared of any white man because my fight in England was the first time I fought against a white boxer. I don’t want to sound too boastful, all I want to do is go there, beat him and return with the belt.
Let’s look at support for you concerning this fight. Is there any support coming from any where?
Truth is, there is no support coming from any where. But Remi Aboderin is my manager, he is the only person I see. If there is anybody that has anything to give me, I don’t
know. But Remi Aboderin is the only person that I know and I appreciate whatever he gives me.
Don’t you think lack of support could affect you?
As we all know, in Nigeria, you have to work really hard before you become popular. And I thank God that since I became a professional boxer, I don’t rely on anybody. I focus on my training so that is it for me.
Do you have an idea how much you will make from this fight?
Whatever contract that comes, it first gets to the manager. And being someone that is looking for record, you cannot be going after money. It’s when you are through with
the job at hand, then it will start to yield dividend. It’s just like a business, when you are through with the business, you will now see your profit. So if I start to tell you this is how much I signed for the fight, you will be like so why am I stressing myself.
So you don’t have an idea how much you will get after the fight?
Yes. But I know after the fight, I will become a millionaire by God grace. If I bring the belt home, I will be opportuned to meet a lot of people. Like my state governor in Kwara State (Abdulfatah Ahmed), I’m going to meet him. I will meet Lagos state governor (Akinwunmi Ambode), even my king at my place, I will meet him. Also, I will get somethings from people close to me. So I believe after the fight, I will become a millionaire.
How have you been able to handle your popularity as a boxer especially in your area you live?
Though boxing has made me popular, but I am still the same Afonja that they know. Even some of the money I make, I share with my fans. I even have to share with area boys. So being a popular boxer has not changed me, I still remain the same person.
Finally, the home-based Super Eagles are in Morocco for the 2018 CHAN, are you going to be supporting them?
Of coure, I will surely support my country. And I believe we are coming home with joy, football together with boxing, We will come back from Morocco with joy.