BoxNation has another action packed night on Friday (20th September) with live coverage of Ultimate Boxxer 5: The Super-Welterweights.
We’ve spoken with former winners Mikael Lawal, Derrick Osaze and Shakan Pitters about their UB experience and tips for the boys in this week’s competition which takes place in the Indigo at London’s O2.
SHAKAN PITTERS (UB II)
Pitters won the Light-Heavyweight tournament last November and it was the springboard to winning the English Title last weekend, leaving him close to a British Title challenge.
He told Friday’s competitors: “If one of the lads called me and asked for advise on my Ultimate Boxxer experience I would just say; ‘You’ve done all the hard work, just enjoy it and soak up the atmosphere.’
“It is a great experience, the atmosphere is going to be good, you can hear the crowd roaring, but you have to fight to your own strengths and thrive on the experience of boxing on TV.
“If the boxers enjoy the night, everything else will come together. It’s like being at work and if you don’t enjoy your job you’re not going to do the job well.”
DERRICK OSAZE (UB III)
‘Punching Preacher’ Osaze won the Middleweight tournament in May, having to defeat former Southern Area Champions Tey Lynn-Jones and Grant Dennis, plus Kieron Conway who later drew in a British Title challenge against Ted Cheeseman.
Nottingham’s Osaze, an Ordained Minister, told BoxNation: “You must stay relaxed, don’t let the occasion get to you, try not think of the razzmatazz and TV.
“Take it one fight at a time, one round at a time. Of course I was confident of winning, but it was still tough. Also box to your strengths. Some people go in there to throw the kitchen sink at each other and go all guns blazing.
“Shakan Pitters showed that is not always the best way to win. Play to your strengths and be yourself. Don’t get dragged in.
“When I watched it back I relived the moment, but to me on the day it was just another fight.”
MIKAEL LAWAL (UB IV)
Londoner Lawal, who is now unbeaten in 12 fights, won the most exciting UB so far after toppling three Cruiserweights inside three hours in July to take home the £16,000 winners’ cheque.
He almost came unstuck against novice underdog Anthony Woolery, showing that being the hot favourite - like Steven Donnelly for this weekend’s competition - counts for nothing.
Lawal, 24, was also nominated for the Boxing Writers’ Club Young Boxer of the Year after his UB success.
He says: “It doesn’t matter what you have done in the past. It is pro boxing and a hard format. Everyone is going to be blazing.
“Donnelly has the background, but even big names would find this format different. It’s going to be a tough competition.
“Box. That is all I would say to these guys this week. Don’t think of finding the knockout, just box.”
So who wins when the ‘Channel of Champions’ cover this brilliant concept again? Our trio of former UB Champions can give advice, but can’t pick a winner with confidence.
Lawal says: “I know Obi Egbunike. Donnelly looks a serious guy but I have to support Obi as he is also from Shepherd’s Bush.”
Osaze, 25, also has a sneaky feeling that Egbunike can spring a surprise despite having only had four professional fights.
The Nottingham man who boxes a six-rounder on the bill says: “I'm not one for picking, but I have a good feeling about Egbunike. He comes from a good background and I feel like he might be the dark horse.
“Donnelly has a good chance because he is used to the format as an amateur, but he cannot allow the favourite tag to play in his mind.”
Winning UB is a wonderful springboard, as Brummie Pitters' win over English Champion Dec Spelman on Saturday proved. He explained: “It was a good experience and everyone at Ultimate Boxxer were very friendly and helpful, but crucially it opened a lot of doors.
“It set the foundation for me getting better known and people were taking notice of my name especially on Instagram and views on YouTube.”
Lawal, who is promoted by the Sauerland family, explained: “I’m a bit more recognised. Ultimate Boxxer did a lot for me and gave me credibility. I think it will help me get big fights.”
Osaze, is hoping to land a deal with a big name promoter, says: “It was good for me and good exposure. My name is out there and improved my ranking because I beat good opponents.
“Hopefully I will get a deal with a good promoter, but I don’t want Ultimate Boxxer to be the highlight of my career.”