In just under two weeks, former world title challenger Dominic “Trouble” Breazeale (17-1, 15 KO’s) makes his anticipated return to the ring against Izu Ugonoh (17-0, 14 KO’s) on February 25, 2017 in Birmingham, Alabama. The intriguing heavyweight match up is scheduled to open up the Premier Boxing Champions telecast on Fox Television. This will be Breazeale’s first bout since taking on IBF world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua last summer in a courageous and spirited effort, which took place in London, England.
It’s been an interesting 18 months for Polish heavyweight contender Izu Ugonoh. After moving to Las Vegas and hooking up with veteran trainer Kevin Barry, Ugonoh found his career tracking in the right direction with a busy schedule in 2015 that saw him own a highlight reel KO over Will Quarrie accompanied by a steady rise to number 15 in the WBO rankings.
Just at the point of launching into the next tier of higher ranked heavyweight opponents Izu, whose sporting profile was now growing steadily in his native Poland, was offered an opportunity to appear on their version of ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ With the potential to exponentially grow his fan base and popularity in Poland being too good to pass up,Izustarted the year by trading in his boxing gloves for dancing shoes.
Its Sunday midday in Auckland at the Pullman hotel and the brassiere/bar is going crazy, well at least moderately crazy as heavyweight contenders Izu Ugonoh and Joseph Parker have just watched underdog Tyson Fury dethrone Wladimir Klitschko to end his decade long reign atop the heavyweight mountain.
At this moment Izu is just a regular fight fan as he turns to me in excitement and remarks, ‘see that’s what I love about boxing, as I tell you anything can happen!’
Trusts Arena Auckland – Joseph Parker came out firing from the first round to break down and ultimately stop durable veteran and former world title challenger Kali Meehan early in the 3rd round of their scheduled 12 round fight to cap off a busy night of action.
Its funny how one big punch can change a career, either positively or negatively, especially in this brave new world of social media where ‘going viral’ can make or break a career. For undefeated Polish heavyweight Izu Ugonoh it was an experience in the positive providing his career with a well earned bump after a year of graft and hard work with new trainer Kevin Barry.
Just over two months ago Ugonoh ended his 13th professional fight against William Quarrie with a right hand so spectacular it blasted Quarrie out of the ring and onto the dinner plate of a ringside spectator.
Joseph Parker’s stable mate and chief sparring partner has had a busy couple of months. Having fought in New Zealand in March he accompanied Parker to Wladimir Klitschko’s Florida training camp where he sparred numerous sessions with the champion giving him some of his best work. He is now once again down under to fight in his first 8 rounder against familiar veteran Julius Long.
Being part of a Joseph Parker fight in New Zealand means the inevitable press tour, which in the middle of winter may not necessarily be an ideal preparation for a fight. Still I assume it is nowhere as cold as Poland his country of birth.
ESB: Doing a press tour throughout the country you must have had an opportunity to see a bit of New Zealand. It’s cold right now but I assume you are used to that being born in Poland. Where were you born in Poland and how could did it get down there?
It is rare to see 2 contenders fighting in the same division being coached by the same trainer at the same time. But that is exactly where unbeaten Polish heavyweight Izu Ugonoh finds himself ahead of his fight with Thomas Peato at Auckland’s Vodafone Arena on Thursday night.
In an old school tradition echoing some past greats like Cus D’Amato and Manny Steward, Coach Kevin Barry has both protégés Joseph Parker and Izu Ugonoh not just training with him but also living under his roof. ‘The only nightclub they see is the one in my living room’ quips Kevin of the situation.
It is borne from the idea that when it comes to the 5am training runs and the brutal gym sessions it is better working environment for Joseph and Izu to endure them together, working as a team. It also means an improved quality of sparring, Kevin also adding that ‘due to the very high respect they have for each other the sparring is always very intense and competitive.’
Kevin Barry is currently coaching Las Vegas based (by way of New Zealand) heavyweight prospect Joseph Parker. However Joseph Parker isn’t the only talented heavyweight Barry is training, he also has 28 year old Polish heavyweight Izuagbe Ugonoh (10-0-0) on his training books, and he thinks Ugonoh like Parker has the potential to be a world class heavyweight.
Ugonoh has been refining his skills sparring the likes of Bermane Stiverne, and later this year he will accompany Parker and Barry to spar with heavyweight King pin Vladimir Klitschko as Klitschko’s prepares for his April bout with challenger Bryant Jennings. Kevin Barry talks about how he came across Ugonoh and his development as a fighter.