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Ezra Arenyeka is proof that getting in the door really works

IT STARTED with a voice in the crowd. Loud, confident, annoying, disagreeable. Hearing this voice, each member of the gathered crowd turned around, first wondering if this disturbance was planned, and next, no one around them could put a name to the face of the person who caused it. From there, attention returned to Ben Whittaker, the man whose voice was silenced by the latter. So we were wondering if maybe Whittaker could give context to what’s going on. We wondered if maybe he had the understanding that we all lacked.

At that time, you see, the view from the back of a hotel conference room in London, could have been anyone. For example, it could have been a disgruntled hotel guest from whom Whittaker once stole a leopard-print dress, or, at the time, a disgruntled rival of Whittaker’s for the “respect” he didn’t show Whittaker when they were together. a ring. It could be the voice of one of those new boxing managers who give all their thoughts in every lesson in cars or conservatories to fans on Zoom. Or it could be Mauricio Sulaiman with a new belt, or Turki Alalshikh with a new idea. It could be a retired fighter trying to whip up CBD oil, or the physical manifestation of Ryan Garcia’s tweet. Most likely, with Ben Whittaker on stage, it would be the ghost of Frankie Randall who wants his old nickname back: “The Surgeon.” Or, if not, it would be Emanuel Augustus looking for all his old moves and all his identity.

For now, all we had was a backup and some words. According to these words, he clearly wanted a fight, this man. The fight with Whittaker. Fighting for money. He also accused Whittaker of fighting imperfect people and avoiding him, which is when many fans armed with cameras let the caps on their phones ready for the title. Whittaker, remember, wasn’t about to play the same game. Instead he calmed any tension, in fact, by saying, “Someone get this man a Sprite and a banana,” at which point the only sound in the room was laughter.

Then he disappeared after that, the gate driver; a man with a voice but no name. Directed out of the room through a side door, directly into the lobby, the prosecutor had accomplished his purpose and quickly dispersed, never to return. There was really no need, because the work was done. After all, the room would soon learn that he was not just an attention seeker who wanted to cause a stir on the internet but was actually a boxer. A real boxer. A boxer like Whittaker.

How refreshingly old school, to see a boxer out in the wild, in real life, making an effort to come out to another man’s press conference when he could just as easily have stayed at home and harassed the man online, like so many. in boxing these days they can do it. How nice to know that others are still willing to go the extra mile, analog men in a digital world.

Later, we even found out his name: Ezra. Ezra something. The last name will have to wait. It will have to wait, that is, until a better phone signal allows to load on my phone. Until then, just for fun, I tried to remember all the famous Ezras I knew. A pound; a poet. Koenig; a musician. Miller; actor. On the boxing side, Sellers was the only one that came to mind, although it couldn’t be him because he died tragically in 2013.

No, this Ezra was a new word to all of us. Ezra Arenyeka. That was his name. Or, to give him his full title: Eworitse Ezra Arenyeka. Born in Nigeria, but based in Sale, we all found out, at the same time, that he was 28 years old known as “the king of Africa” ​​who currently held a record of 12-0 (10), hence his. unshakeable confidence. He has fought in Britain before, against Mohamed Cherif Benchadi in 2022, but was campaigning mainly in Nigeria, with rare appearances in Ghana, Holland and Colombia.

“Would you like to talk to him?” a few of us were asked that afternoon.


“Ezra. You are outside.”

I’m still not sure if he’s a boxer or not at the moment, it doesn’t matter if he’s a decent person, I’ve seen a lot of people who gave him this opportunity politely declined. Debate News indeed do, if only to stand: do not feed the birds; ignore those who want attention. Or something like that.

And yet, despite the belief that rejecting more attention was the right thing to do, there remained an overwhelming belief that Ezra Arenyeka had played blind and that he would have the last laugh. Indeed, when I watched him go about his work I was reminded of when Mahmoud Charr – then “Manuel” – did the same thing at the press conference at Upton Park following David Haye’s fifth round stoppage of Derek Chisora ​​in July 2012. That night, as Charr approached Haye through the table high, the reaction was very similar. Who is this man? What are you doing here? Why should Haye fight him next? However, regardless of all that uncertainty, this method worked. Suddenly, without beating anyone, and despite the fact no one knew his name, Charr, who was called “Diamond Boy”, was booked to fight Haye that September. It might have been, again, that fight, if Haye hadn’t found a more exciting and marketable circus like Tyson Fury shortly after the Charr fight was signed.

Arenyeka, likewise, on June 15 at Selhurst Park will be rewarded for his enthusiasm, his chutzpah, and his self-improvement. That’s when he will fight Ben Whittaker as expected, when he got the chance to back up everything he was crying out to the former novice at a press conference in a London hotel. Better yet, for both Arenyeka and Whittaker, one unexpected outburst at the press conference has ensured that this light-heavyweight fight on June 15 will be the first and most meaningful of Whittaker’s budding champion’s career. That’s quite a feat when you consider that no one, during an opponent’s outburst, would be sure to punch for a living.

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