Agbaje: Next Big Thing in Nigerian Boxing? 


Just when fans thought that Waidi “Skoro” Usman, former African Boxing Union (ABU) featherweight champion and conqueror of many domestic and sub-regional opponents, was about making a return to the big time, he ran into Taiwo “Esepo” Agbaje at GOtv Boxing Night 19.

The lesser known Agbaje made it clear to the former ABU champion that a return, if he nursed such an ambition, would have to come later and certainly not against him.

Their national featherweight challenge duel at GOtv Boxing Night 19 on July 21, at the Indoor Sports Hall of the National Stadium in Lagos turned out to be a mismatch and perhaps an indication that Skoro is verging on being classed as over-the-hill.

From the first bell, Agbaje, with tinted hair and body a mosaic of tattoos, peppered his more famous opponent with fast and furious combinations. It did not take the former ABU champion a long time to realise that he was up against something different from what he was used to. A lightning-fast sequence midway into the first round left Skoro sprawling on the canvas.

A few seconds later, he was back on the canvas.

The hall erupted in cheers and Agbaje, milking the fans’ excitement, let rip.

 From then on a pattern of not just dominance, but supremacy was established, as Agbaje-to unrestrained cheers from the capacity crowd-thumped Skoro almost for fun.

But there was surprise from the former ABU champion: lasting the distance. It was such a one-sided bout that it was a minor miracle that Skoro lasted the distance and Agbaje won-unsurprisingly- by unanimous decision. Fittingly, he was voted best boxer on the night, walking away with the Mojisola Ogunsanya Memorial Trophy and a cash prize of N1million, the second time he was winning the award.

His first was at GOtv Boxing Night 16, when he faced Tope “TP Rock” Musa who, in his own right, is a boxer of great guile and speed of thought. It was a firecracker of a bout, as both boxers went for each other with the rage of a bull. Unlike Skoro, Musa gave as much as he got. Well, almost. But there was going to be only one winner-Agbaje, whose coordination, even when on the offensive was top-grade.

 Agbaje, who currently has eight wins in as many fights-five by technical knockout-combines flair and functionality seamlessly. He spots openings as though he has a third eye and has the speed to quickly exploit such in devastating manner, as Skoro discovered. His fight against Musa also showed that he can thrive against less obliging opponents and does not need to greatly alter his all-action style. He is currently attracting attention and, barring a drastic form loss, looks likely to have a big say in where the domestic, sub-regional and even continental featherweight titles should go.