Undefeated middleweight Derrick “Take it to the Bank” Webster (16-0, 8 KOs) officially returns to action this Friday night when he steps into the ring to meet 32-bout veteran Michael Gbenga (19-13, 19 KOs) at the Pennsylvania Sheet Metal Workers Hall in Philadelphia. The fight comes just two weeks after Webster was scheduled to meet former Ghana Olympian Bastie Samir (14-0-1, 14 KOs) as a feature bout on ShoBox: The Next Generation, but that contest fell through after Samir claimed to have suffered a shoulder injury and pulled out of the fight just days before it was slated to go down.
“When I received the phone call that the fight was off, I already had a feeling that it wasn’t going to happen,” Webster admitted. “So I wasn’t as disappointed as I have been in the past. I’m pretty much getting used to people pulling out of fights with me. This isn’t the first time that I was supposed to be on the national stage, only to have my opponent pull out.”
Webster and his team immediately jumped on the offer to fight Samir when it was proposed to them, and the Glassboro native increased his training intensity to an even greater level to ensure he would be fully prepared for the bout. “Whatever the excuse, he dodged a really big bullet, career-wise,” Webster stated. “Somebody’s ‘0’ would’ve had to go, and it wouldn’t have been mine. I don’t care what he did in Ghana or in the Olympics. I don’t care if he sparred with Floyd Mayweather. I’ve sparred with world champions who come from all corners of the planet, and I’ve been everyone’s key sparring partner in each of those camps.”
Among the current and former world champions who Webster has joined in training camp include Roy Jones Jr., Bernard Hopkins, Andre Ward, Sergey Kovalev, Jean Pascal and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
“I was eager for the fight. I trained extremely hard,” Webster said of facing Samir. “My trainer, Denny Brown, even stepped up his game, which made me train even harder. Then we got the call that the fight was off. Well, the worst thing that you can do to Derrick Webster is allow him the time to train a little bit more, to learn a little bit more. That’s when I become even more dangerous.”
With Samir out of the picture at least for the immediate future, Webster now has his focus set on Gbenga, who like Samir is also a Ghanaian fighter who has won every one of his professional victories via knockout.
“A similar style (to Samir) means a similar beat down,” Webster predicted. “He will go back to Ghana, and he will find Bastie Samir to let him know that he better not fight me. That’s the message I’m going to give to him to send back to his homeboy: ‘Don’t fight this boy. I was dumb. Don’t fight him. Be smarter than me.’
“A similar style means a similar whooping, period. He’s going to get the show that Showtime missed out on. He’s going to get the show that these promoters once again missed out on. And I’m just going to keep looking forward to bigger and better things from here. I just hope that these promoters will finally start to open up their eyes, put something in ink and put something on the table. I just hope these promoters will wise up and realize that they could have a fighter who is marketable, who is business-minded, who can fight many different ways and is the best southpaw in the game. Hopefully, they finally open their eyes and realize what’s really going on out here.”
The Pennsylvania Metal Sheet Workers Hall is located at 1301 South Columbus Boulevard in Philadelphia, and tickets for the Webster vs. Gbenga card are available now by calling his team at (609) 680-7131. The first bell of the night is slated to ring at 7:00 p.m.