Linus Udofia: A Growing Name In The British Middleweight Division
By Joe Alexander
Fittingly, the 2020 boxing schedule was vacant and disjointed. The final few months of the year received a revitalising lift, as the Covid proof ‘Bubble’ floated on to our television screens once again.
In October, the Matchroom bubble returned, easing the desperate appetite of British boxing fans. More importantly, fighters were able to compete again, stabilising career progression. Conceivably no more so than Linus Udofia. Defending his English middleweight title enabled Udofia to substantiate his position within the division, in front of a Sky Sports television audience.
Grasping the opportunity, Udofia demonstrated technical proficiency fused with a gritty willingness to trade in close quarters, culminating in a 9th round stoppage.
Several months down the line and in a new year which doesn’t feel too dissimilar from the last. Udofia has been able to reflect, providing his assessment of an advantageous bubble experience. The isolating nature of the bubble was a normalising comfort for the Luton man, whose usual fight preparations involve removing outside distractions to centre his focus:
“Fighting on the Buatsi undercard in the bubble was an interesting process and a great experience. Having fought within England and the home counties, I’ve experienced travelling out to somewhere and staying in a hotel during the fight week. It’s what I tend to do before fights anyway. I like to take myself away from any distractions. I find it a good way to keep focused. I feel confident in my mental preparations when I do this.”
Absent crowd-induced atmosphere is, unfortunately, the current norm in professional British boxing. However, in October of 2020 for most fighting in an arena with no crowds, it provoked a different yet somewhat reminiscent feeling:
“It was strange at first, but you get used to it. It’s similar to the amateurs. It comes with its advantages and disadvantages. Of course, you want to share the experience with the fans. They can spur you on when pushing out the last 10 seconds of a round. At the same time, the crowds can sometimes take you off your focus. With no crowd, it allowed me to take my time and box a little more conservatively.”
An eye-catching first defence of his English title stamped a confirmative declaration on Udofia’s position in the middleweight landscape:
“There was no doubt in my mind going into this fight that I wouldn’t retain my title. Nothing to do with my opponent, I just really believed in myself. I believed in my training and preparation. I saw it as a massive opportunity to display what I can do. I had every belief I would be able to show the level I am at.
“After the fight, I wasn’t completely happy and was probably a little over-critical. I’m always pretty critical of my performances. Now looking back on it, I did everything that I wanted to do and proved what I needed to prove. On occasion, I got a little lazy but not as much as I thought right after the fight. It was a good performance, but I know there is still room to improve. The work isn’t done.”
An impressive outing justified Matchroom’s selection. Udofia believes that, for his stature and career progression, it’s necessary to now only fight on significant, televised cards. However, these negotiation issues are left with his trusted manager Steve Goodwin. Udofia will do the business in the ring:
“Without sounding arrogant, I need to be on mainstream television shows from now on. It’s where I am now in my career. I feel I belong on these shows and need to be on them to continue pushing my career forwards.
“In terms of deals, I leave it to my management. We have a very good working relationship, they’ve done a lot for me. I just do the fighting and I’ll fight anyone. I know Steve has my best interests at heart. Steve will discuss options with whoever, once the right option is there it filters down to my coach and then down to me to decide. If they both feel it’s the right thing to do, I’ll go with that.”
With an English title and a growing reputation, Udofia is well-positioned in the division with a solidified base to build upon. 2021 will likely present the next progressive endeavours:
“I’ve got the English title and I’m ranked. I’ve got a lot of learning to do but I’m well up there in terms of the British middleweights. I need to keep getting the opportunities to keep pushing on.”
“There’s a lot of fights out there to be made. We’ve had a few offers since my last fight but, respectfully speaking, felt they’ve been backwards or sidewards steps. Every fight needs to build on from the last. I’d rather wait for the right opportunity. Business-wise, we feel the best offers come to you, so we are happy to remain patient.”
Udofia remains at ease, open to discovering what is next. Yet an underlying desire and focus towards his career advancement simmer. Udofia remains in the gym and prepares for the next offer to arise.
Ultimately, each fight now on will have progressive and precise intentions, inevitably leading to a British title fight in the near future. Possessing a controlled self-assurance and belief in going through the different titles; British, Commonwealth and onto European:
“I’m keeping myself prepared. We will see what happens, I haven’t had a worthwhile offer as of yet, but it will come. My team and I always believe you have to be brave in taking certain opportunities, but whilst developing it can also be damaging, especially if not prepared properly. It’s setting yourself up for failure in a way.
“I’m not in a bad negotiation position. We feel the chances will come sooner rather than later and when they do, we’ll make the most of them. I’m not necessarily saying when it will happen but I believe I can win the British title soon. I want all the belts, I’m willing to fight anyone to get where I want to be.”