AFTER capturing an IBF ‘European’ welterweight title, Larry Ekundayo said he wants to take the belt back to his native Nigeria. The 36-year-old Ekundayo (14-1, 3 KOs) won the vacant title after outpointing John Thain (17-4, 1 KO) at York Hall, Bethnal Green, on the MTK Global’s Seize The City, staged on Friday, July 13.
Ekundayo’s sole career defeat came at the hands of former WBO world title challenger Gary Corcoran via a tight split decision in July 2017. “I was quite pleased with the performance, because John Thain is a very game and tough fighter,” Ekundayo said. “I stuck to the game plan and when I stick to the game plan everything works out well and goes how we want it to.”
Ekundayo has a formidable record at Britain’s spiritual home of boxing, York Hall, having picked up his International Masters title there, while also winning the Prizefighter tournament in 2012.
“The atmosphere was buzzing,” Ekundayo said. “All the loud Nigerians came out and all my supporters and fans came out and it was a good atmosphere.”
Up until now, Ekundayo’s Prizefighter triumph was arguably the most notable success of his career, as he beat Terry Carruthers, Kris Carslaw and Craig McEwan, a former opponent of Andy Lee and Peter Quillin, in the same night.
But comparing the Prizefighter success and the Thain victory is no mean feat, as Ekundayo himself struggled to decide what one ranks as more meaningful. “They’re both big in their own way,” he said. “Prizefighter was a tournament and when it’s three-threes it’s like sprinting.
“The people I met and was up against- someone like Craig McEwan who fought two world champions was hard, and even though I won, people still said it’s only because it’s three-threes.
“But now, I fought a 12 rounder against a very good opponent- so they both have their own qualities.
“They are both great in their own way, but I can’t say this is better, even though the IBF [belt] gives me a world ranking.”
Although Ekundayo is now in a position to push on in the IBF rankings, the welterweight admitted mapping out his next step will all be down to his team.
“I would like to defend the title, obviously I would like to take it back to Nigeria if possible, I want to try and inspire the young youth there,” said the MTK fighter. “But main thing is what my team think, they’ll pick the right route for me, I’ll leave it to my team.
“I could wish for one thing, and they’ll have a better one. I don’t have the power, it really does depend on what my team thinks is right.
“I can always want to push myself with the IBF but they might have another option for me, I just always keep my options open too be honest.”
If the Nigerian doesn’t control who he will fight next, he at least can decide on the amount of time he has before returning to training.
“I’m going to have a week off, but then it’s back to training. You could always get a phone call and you never know what’s next.” he said.