Olusegun and Chebah Go to War in American Debut

By John G. Thompson: Ajose Olusegun (30-0, 14 KO’s) and Ali Chebah (33-2, 26 KO’s according to Showtime; and 35-2, 28 KO’s according to put on an action packed show in front of the audience at the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, CA televised on Showtime’s “ShowBox: The New Generation.” Both fighters certainly made some fans in their first televised bout in America with their gutsy performances, though Olusegun becomes the mandatory challenger for WBC Super Lightweight Champion Erik Morales. In the undercard, Darley Perez (23-0, 18 KO’s) looked fantastic in
dissecting his opponent Oscar Meza (22-5, 18 KO’s), who failed to answer the bell to start the seventh round.

Olusegun fought for the 2000 Nigerian Olympic Team and then spent much of his career fighting out of London, England. And though Olusegun had fought almost exclusively in the UK, he now resides in New York City. His last bout was a six round decision in February against a boxer with an uninspired 10-33-2 record. From France and now residing in Montreal, Canada Chebah had won eight in a row (seven by stoppage) since his sole loss (a seventh round TKO) in 2008. Having fought all over the world, his last four bouts all took place in Algeria.

Olusegun came out extremely focused and Chebah allowed himself to be backed to the ropes almost immediately. Chebah fought his way off the ropes and then backed Olusegun into a corner where both men traded hooks to the head. Chebah became the aggressor, moving forward against Olusegun, who threw a higher volume of punches, many of which were wild looping shots. In the second, Olusegun tried to throw some big haymakers, but missed most and Chebah taunted him for it. Olusegun started connecting with some loaded shots however, and ringside commentator Steve Farhood said, “Keep in mind this is a scheduled twelve round fight and Ajose is burning up energy very quickly,” referring to Olusegun’s ducking, dodging and wild punching.

Olusegun looked as though he would close the show in the third, pounding away with both hands. At one point, Olusegun loaded up with the left, holding his arm up ready to strike, then delivered it and followed it up with a right hook which sent Chebah down. This was the first knockdown in Chebah’s career, even though he went down mostly because he was off balance. Regardless, Olusegun came in with a right hook which missed, but then landed a straight left and another right hook and Chebah went down again. With well over a minute left in the third round, the fight looked to be over as Olusegun came in throwing, but Chebah fought back. Olusegun started holding his right hand behind his back and working the left, then threw a multiple punch combination and actually landed with the right which had been behind his back. Olusegun shrugged at Chebah as if to say, “Yeah, I hit you with that.” Chebah came back with two solid rights of his own, but Olusegun
countered with a left which seemed to hurt Chebah who covered up for a moment. Olusegun threw a flurry, landing an uppercut, but Chebah came back with a left-right combination of his own.

Olusegun landed a huge left near the start of the fourth round and Chebah’s legs buckled for a second. Olusegun tried to capitalize but Chebah blocked the shots and Chebah shrugged back at Olusegun. Chebah then backed Olusegun into the ropes, but Olusegun responded by pounding away at Chebah’s body. Chebah kept up the pressure, trying to keep Olusegun’s back to the ropes, but Olusegun countered with an overhand left which bucked Chebah’s legs again. Olusegun backed him into a corner and with over half the round left, the fight again looked like it was almost over. But Chebah fought his way out of the corner and landed a good counter left and right. Chebah then came in with a big right and actually backed Olusegun to the ropes. Both men looked spent by this point from the back and forth action.

Olusegun elected to box and move in the fifth as Chebah came towards him. In the sixth, Olusegun landed a beauty of a lead uppercut to Chebah’s jaw, but undeterred Chebah came forward really bringing the pressure as Olusegun attempted to stick and move. Olusegun came forward in the seventh, but Chebah tagged him with a right uppercut. Olusegun nodded to Chebah, acknowledging the shot, and then dropped his hands to his waist to beckon Chebah in. Chebah obliged, catching Olusegun with a left-right. Olusegun tried to respond, but could not throw fast enough with his hands down by his waist.

The Nigerian picked up the pace in the eighth round, looking surprisingly fresh, and both men traded shots. After Chebah connected with a right, Olusegun did a little dance, acting like he was hurt, and then threw a combination. Olusegun looked very good in the ninth, boxing well, throwing single power punches or multiple punch combinations. Olusegun tried to box with one arm behind the back again in the ninth round, but this time he missed with the punch and Chebah countered.

Olusegun boxed well in the tenth as Chebah did little until the final seconds of the round. Chebah turned up the pressure in the eleventh though, working the body and then landing to the head. By the twelfth and final round Chebah looked tired, with little pop on his punches. Olusegun, for his part, tried to close the show in style, looking for a stoppage, telegraphing punches as Chebah covered up. The judges scored it 120-106 and 119-107 (twice) all for Olusegun. I had the margin a little closer at 117-109.

Darley Perez was a member of the 2008 Colombian Olympic Team. He had fought almost entirely in Colombia with just three prior fights in the US, and he won his last fight on July 22nd via first round knockout. From El Dorado, Mexico, Oscar Meza had won three straight, though he had only won four bouts in his last six. One of his three knockout losses came at the hands of current WBA World Lightweight champion Brandon Rios in 2009.

Perez controlled the bout from the start, moving backwards, allowing his opponent to come to him and countering efficiently with accurate flurries. Perez also worked behind a fantastic jab and countered extremely well with the left hook whenever Meza attempted to get in close. After the first round Perez’s corner man echoed the action (via translation), “Your best weapon is your jab… The left hook, that’s the key!”

However, Meza landed a big left hook to start the second round, but Perez reestablished his dominance with the jab, letting Meza come forward. Perez also landed a big straight right hand and followed it up with an uppercut to punctuate the round. Perez continued to work the jab and the left hook in the third, also landing another big right, and Meza began to bleed from over the left eye. The fourth round was the best round of the night for Meza as he landed a right to the jaw which seemed to hurt Perez, even though Perez responded with a couple of left hooks upstairs. Meza jumped on Perez, trying to attack, but Perez held on and shook his head as if to say he was not hurt. Perez retook control and dominated the second half of the round.

Meza’s face became worse in the fifth as Perez continued to pepper him with the jab and an accidental headbutt opened a cut on Meza’s cheek below the left eye. Perez really went on the attack in the sixth round, backing Meza up for the first time in the fight, and landing almost at will. Meza barely threw back as he was backed into the ropes repeatedly. Perez pounded away to the body and head. Meza made it through a hellish round, but his corner elected to stop the bout almost immediately, not wanting their man to take any more punishment at the hands of Perez.

Article posted on 01.10.2011

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