Guido Vianello, 12-1-1 (10) is at a stage in his career where he needs a significant win. On Saturday night (April 13) he gets the opportunity to do so against heavy-handed Nigerian Efe Ajagba, 19-1 (14). Speaking to Boxing News Vianello reflected on his career to date, what he thinks of his opponent, why he chose to be a boxer and why the 29-year-old from Rome doesn’t like football.

(Interview by Shaun Brown)

BN: What do you think of your career so far?

GV: I’ve worked with three different coaches in my boxing career. I started with Abel Sanchez, and I was really aggressive in the ring, but I didn’t like [that] I was too aggressive. In the heavyweights you have to think about the defence too, so I changed to Kevin Barry, Joseph Parker’s ex-coach. With Kevin I worked a lot with my jab. I worked like Joseph Parker in the ring. I appreciated his work, but I didn’t have the feeling in the corner. I understood this in my draw with [Kingsley] Ebeh. I didn’t understand my corner and didn’t have the right feeling, so I came back with my Italian coach with who I have the best feeling ever. He knows me in different ways, and he knows what I have to do in the ring, and this is the most important thing. I started to work with him again after three years in America and now I am with my Italian coach, and we go where we need. So, for this fight we went to England. We were in London where we had the best sparring partners for the fight. I sparred with Daniel Dubois, with Tony Yoka (from France) and three other heavyweights from England. I had the best camp ever because we found sparring partners very similar to the opponent and that’s very important for our camp. My last fight one year ago with Jonathan Rice taught me the fundamentals of boxing. In this moment right now, everything is set to take a big win. I think one year ago I wasn’t ready for a big win because I didn’t understand the important things. My mindset wasn’t in the right position but now everything is ready, everything is set. I’m re ready and happy for this fight this Saturday night and to take this big win for me.

BN: You mentioned your draw to Ebeh and your defeat to Rice but what have you learned from those fights which can help you against Efe Ajagba?

GV: Against Jonathan I was winning all the rounds, and I was controlling the fight and thinking, Okay let’s take this win on points. But I understood in boxing you control nothing because you can take one punch that opens your eyes, and then the Doctor stopped me. After that fight I started to understand. It’s like when you wake up from a long sleep you start to understand to live. That loss was very hard for me but it made me ready for this fight. I will control nothing. For me every round will be the first round. In the first round you have the energy and the power to close the fight so for all fight I will be ready to close it.

BN: What does Efe Ajagba do well in the ring?

GV: He’s dangerous with fighters that are not smart in the ring. He has a very strong right hand and a good jab. I sparred with Efe before, so I know him. I feel ready, I feel happy, and I will be very smart in the ring. I will use my fast hands. I really don’t care about his power. I want to see how powerful his right hand is in the ring, but I don’t care, I don’t worry.

BN: We don’t get a lot of Italian heavyweights in the sport. You’re tall, strong and handsome so why did you want to get into boxing and not have an easier life.

GV: This is a beautiful question (laughs). I think because I have a different mind. In Italy the Police and Army [boxing] clubs pay you to be an amateur all your life. You can do five Olympic Games getting paid every month and you don’t have problems because they pay you. You can do an easy life. I was in the Police when I was an amateur. I did the Olympic Games when I was 22 and I was thinking about the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. But two years before Tokyo Bob Arum called me. I saw the opportunity that Bob is giving to me, and I said, “If everything is real, I come tomorrow.” Everything was real so I left the Police. I gave back my uniform, my gun, everything. I left the Police; I left the national team. I took risks and I came here. Now, I feel lucky. My Italian people are with me because most of the time I live alone here in America, but I was happy to do this because it made me stronger. In life if you don’t take risks, you are not living. The hard life makes happy, beautiful life in the future. Easy life makes things boring. I am happy now and I want to be happy all my life and I want to see what happens.

BN: So, did you work as a Policeman or just train?

GV: You are a Policeman, but you go to the gym and train. You train two times a day. You go in the National Sports Centre, you go around the world doing tournaments because you have the Police name on your t-shirt but you don’t work on the street as a Police officer. When you stop boxing, when you retire the Police send you to work where they need you but that’s after the boxing career.

BN: Why did they give you a gun if you didn’t work?

GV: You have the gun, but it’s locked away at the Police station. In Italy you can bring the gun if you have the uniform and work.

BN: What was it like to fight back home in Italy against Jay McFarlane in 2022?

GV: It was fantastic because usually I have to fight all over the world. I fought 20 minutes from my family house, so it was brilliant. It was a good little start for Italy, but we have to do big things. I wasn’t with Top Rank at the time, but we have to do a Top Rank show in Italy. The Italian people love boxing because we have a very good story in boxing. With Top Rank we have to show the people that boxing is back. This is my dream.

BN: Being Italian do you have a favourite football team?

GV: (Laughs). In Italy everything is about soccer, but I don’t like soccer. Everything is about soccer, soccer, soccer. I’m tired of soccer (laughs). I want to fight for a world boxing title in Rome. That’s what I want. But if you ask me (for a team), I can say I’m happy when Roma win.

BN: When you were younger which fighters did you like to watch?

GV: I liked to watch Wladimir Klitschko. I remember Tyson Fury versus Klitschko. I was in Ireland at a tournament with the national team when the fight happened. I love Lennox Lewis; I think he was one of the best boxers in the world, but I like to see the little guys too. I like Lomachenko because I like his style and I try to move like him sometimes (laughs).

BN: What type of fight will Ajagba vs. Vianello be?

GV: The people will see me never stop, never give up. The people will see a very exciting fight because I want this win and I will use everything inside me to get the win. I will never give up.

BN: What about the rest of 2024, do you have any other ambitions beyond beating Ajagba?

GV: I think day after day about this fight. After this fight we will think about the next, but I think I have to fight Jared Anderson after Saturday night. We can make a beautiful fight. There are many good heavyweights. But Saturday is first.

BN: Is Anderson a top contender? Is he any good?

GV: I think he is a brilliant fighter. I like him. He is very fast; he has perfect movement, but the life is something else. He needs to stay focused all the time, it’s not just about being a brilliant boxer. Yes, this can happen, but the first thing is to stay focused but sometimes I think Jared thinks about other things that we don’t need. I’m 30 and there are little changes when you are 30 but I understand there are many fundamentals for our life. Our power has to go in one direction not in different ways.