Ghana's only world boxing champion, Joseph Agbeko, has reiterated his pledge to Ghanaians to hold on firmly to his International Boxing Federation bantamweight title for as long as he remains in the division, or relinquishes it to fight in a higher weight class.
At the official announcement recently of a management contract between him and Optimum Media Prime (OMP), the boxer said he had already begun training at the Liberty Professionals gym and would move to the United States early next month to intensify his preparation towards his first title defence.
“I am training hard to retain the world title and I promise to keep it for as long as I remain in the division or decide to hang my gloves,” he said.
The first test of Agbeko's steely resolve to rule the division comes off on February 2, 2008, when he mounts the ring at the famous Madison Square Gardens in New York for a voluntary defence of the title against a yet-to-be-named opponent. The fight was originally fixed for January 19 at the Gardens.
Agbeko, who won the IBF title last September with a seventh-round TKO over Nicaraguan Luis Perez in Sacramento, is the latest addition to OMP's stable. He joins Gideon Baah, winner of the MTN Sports Academy soccer reality show on Metro TV, who is also managed by OMP.
The Agbeko deal further expands OMP's involvement in sports after recently buying division one side, Kade Hotspurs, and acquiring majority shares in premiership side, Zaytuna United FC.
Mr Ken Ashigbe, General Manager of OMP, said the contract provided the company an opportunity to market the boxer into a global brand. It includes syndicating sponsorship for all fights by Agbeko and the sale of local broadcast rights.
He added that the boxer would make available exclusively to OMP his international fight broadcast rights.
Agbeko also used the occasion to advise Baah, who left Accra last weekend for a two-week trial with English premiership side, Chelsea, to work hard to enable him to “walk confidently on the red carpet” laid before him after the soccer reality show.
Story by Nathaniel Attoh