by James Slater – With Great Britain, not just America, looking for its next big thing at heavyweight, people in certain quarters within the U.K are getting excited about a 31-year-old giant named Larry Olubamiwo. Possessing one of the most impressive physiques this side of Evander Holyfield, the rock-solid, approx 260-pounder certainly looks the part. However, having come to the sport of boxing at a late age, and after only having had eleven amateur fights, there will be a lot of work to do if the man creatively dubbed “The War Machine” is to reach the heights he and his trainer, former British and European super-middleweight champion James Cook, feel he can reach..
Currently 9-1(8) as a pro (the sole loss coming on points against the durable and vastly experienced Russian, Daniil Peret back in May of last year), Olubamiwo scored his most impressive win to date this past Friday evening, when he took out the previously unstopped Dave Ferguson on the Tyson Fury-John McDermott rematch card in Essex. Raw and inexperienced he may still be, but the well conditioned big man looked pretty fast with both hands and feet, he looked hugely determined and big Larry was also surprisingly agile for one so massive. Ferguson, a decent enough fighter at domestic level, didn’t know what hit him!
Of course, it’s still way too soon to get too excited about Olumabiwo, and that loss to the Russian known as “Shrek” does cause concern. Still, Olumabiwo is a gym rat, he has a good trainer in Cook (who, by the way, claims that whoever his charge hits, they will “go”) and he is level-headed enough to admit that he needs a few more fights before going for the British title. But can the man who promoter Frank Maloney says “could be a new Earnie Shavers,” one day become the holder of this important title?
A pro only since October of 2008 and yet to be extended beyond six-rounds (Larry’s last three fights were won inside a single round), there are massive questions about Olbamiwo’s stamina levels. Putting the time in in the gym (as Larry clearly does, loving training as he says) is one thing, but with the sheer effort he puts into his fights each and every time out, critics will be wondering if “The War Machine” can relax in there, and if he can last in a ten or twelve-rounder at a good pace. Then there’s Larry’s chin; how will it react when cracked by a good shot?
Having spent some time training at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card gym, the 31-year-old has been putting in the effort, both from a physical and from a learning standpoint. Receiving a boost at Wild Card, in the form of a visit from former heavyweight king Lennox Lewis – who gave Olubamiwo some tips – Larry’s confidence soared.
“I finished training [at Wild Card] and Lennox was outside. I was shattered but I introduced myself and he told me to put the gloves on,” Olubamiwo said recently. “He showed me a lot in a short space of time, stuff that is going to be really beneficial to me. I will be going back this summer and we will meet up again.”
Word of Lewis’ helping hand reached British heavyweight champ Derek Chisora, a man Olubamiwo may soon be facing in the ring; yet “Del Boy” said no help from Lewis will ever help the older man when it comes to beating him.
We may find out soon enough.
Is the softly-spoken, respectful man with the superbly muscled body soon to become a big name player, at least in his homeland?