The fire still burns brightly for Anthony Ogogo to pursue dream after fears for his boxing career
PUBLISHED: 10:30 30 March 2017 | UPDATED: 16:00 30 March 2017
Anthony Ogogo could be whatever he wants to be.
He is one of ‘those’ people that are good at anything they put their minds to.
Whether it’s reality television, punditry or being an athlete – the 28-year-old wants to be the best and more often than not, is exactly that.
But strip it right back and Ogogo wants one thing: to be a world boxing champion…or at least the chance to be a world boxing champion.
For too long he’s been deprived of doing the sport he loves. Since turning professional he’s had several operations on both his Achilles and his shoulder.
Just when it looked like he was getting up a head of steam and earning his stripes in the middleweight division he fractured his eye socket against Craig Cunningham and suffered his first defeat as a professional in the process.
Just 10 days ago Ogogo underwent a second eye operation despite being told that to do so could potentially put his long-term eyesight at risk.
When we meet at Chelmsford Athletics track there is still some mild swelling round his left eye.
His strength and conditioning coach David Davis is putting Ogogo through his paces in his latest comeback bid and, as he pounds round the athletics track you begin to wonder whether he should have chosen the 400m. Then between each lap, three minutes of shadow boxing is undertaken and when he releases a whirr of hooks and uppercuts it’s clear I’m in the company of one the country’s top middleweights.
Ogogo is told to picture who his opponent is on each occasion and there’s no prizes for guessing who he chooses first.
“Good question,” he says, laughing. “Cunningham – listen I’ve got nothing against the guy at all and good luck to him. I’m not going to make excuses there’s nothing worse than seeing someone sitting on the apron afterwards saying ‘I had a bad toe, I had a bad thumb’,
“But in boxing you’re trained to see punches coming at you and all of a sudden I’m getting hit with punches that I just couldn’t see coming.
“I had one eye pointing in one direction and the other was pointing in another – I had bad double vision.
“It was a horrible thing for my corner to have to do to pull me out. All I had to do was stand on my feet for the last few rounds and I would have won the fight.
“They threw the towel in because they were looking after my health.
“It wasn’t even like Rocky where he said he was seeing three of them so he hit the one in the middle. I was seeing two of them and I couldn’t hit the one in the middle!
“It was a scary place to be that night.”
Ogogo has admitted to enduring some dark days since that loss. Worse than suffering his first professional loss was the uncertainty around his future due to the severity of his eye injury.
Three specialists refused to operate on him for fear of Ogogo suffering long term loss of his eyesight.
Some people around Ogogo were worried about his long term health and as offers to do more television work came in, they implored him to take them up.
However, despite all the adversity Ogogo has faced since turning professional the drive to succeed and become a world champion remains.
He has no idea if and when his next fight will come but that didn’t stop Ogogo busting a gut around that athletics track in the hope that one day he can wrap a world championship belt around his waist.
“I could do other stuff and I believe I could be relatively successful at it,” said the likeable middleweight. “I’ve got quite a few strings to my bow I would like to think but the only thing that I want to do is boxing.
“All I want to do is become world champion and be the best that I can be.
“I’ve got some great people around me – those people look out for me. I had a meeting with my manager (Dean Baker) last Wednesday and I said to him ‘Dean, I’m going to become world champion’.
“I’m not going to give up until I achieve my dream. I’m more determined now because of the adversity I’ve faced.
“I want people to be inspired by my journey.”
He wants that journey to restart as soon as possible and there is only one opponent he wants.
“I would love a rematch (against Cunningham). I gave him an opportunity and hopefully he will do the same for me.
“For now I’ve got to stay focused on getting back fit. I’m so fit and healthy from the nose down. When the eyes get back it’s the final piece of the jigsaw.”