Ugonoh, considered by many to be one of the division’s most unique and fast-rising international stars, is ready for the next step in the heavyweight landscape.
“This is my moment and 2017 is my year,” Ugonoh said. “I want to challenge myself and show the world how good I am. I believe the heavyweight division is wide open right now, and the top fighters are going to bring the best out of me. If I do what I’m supposed to do, I can see myself fighting for a world championship in the next 18 months.”
Ugonoh’s U.S. debut will take place in early 2017, with the opponent and venue to be determined.
The 30-year-old Ugonoh was born in Szczecin, Poland, to Nigerian parents, has a 17-0 record with 14 knockouts and is a former Polish kickboxing champion who took up boxing in 2010.
“Ugonoh fits in well with the current group of young heavyweights who are vying for supremacy in a division stacked with talent,” said Tim Smith, VP of Communication for Haymon Boxing. “We’re excited that he has selected Haymon Boxing to help him pursue his career aspirations.”
Ugonoh is trained by Kevin Barry, cornerman for heavyweight contender Joseph Parker and former heavyweight title challenger David Tua. Ugonoh has been training and fighting out of New Zealand with Barry for the last two years, as well as with Parker, who will meet Andy Ruiz for the vacant WBO heavyweight title in New Zealand on Dec. 17.
“We’ve had eight fights together. They’ve all been in New Zealand. He’s destroyed everything that we’ve put in front of him,” Barry said. “He’s been hugely responsible for the development of Joseph Parker. He’s a very gifted athlete. I could see that from the get go. With Joseph Parker getting his chance for a world title, now it’s Izu’s time to take his path to the world title.”
Ugonoh says he plans to train in Las Vegas, fight out of the U.S. and represent Poland.
“I was born in Poland. My family lives in Poland. I will always represent Poland,” Ugonoh said.
Ugonoh has a master’s degree from Jedrzej Sniadecki School of Physical Education and Sports in Gdansk, Poland. Focusing on becoming an elite, all-around fighter, he trained in kickboxing, boxing and martial arts.
Not afraid to step out of his realm, Ugonoh was a contestant on the past season of “Dancing With the Stars” in Poland, making it to the final two rounds.
“It was a lot of work,” he said. “I trained for 35 hours a week to dance for 1 minute 15 seconds on the show. Dancing was more work than boxing,” he laughed. “People laugh when I say that because they think I’m joking, but it was as much work as training camp. One of the key benefits is it improved my footwork in the ring.”
Now Ugonoh is ready to waltz to the top of the heavyweight division.
“I want to get to the big stage. New Zealand has 4 million people. Poland has 40 million people,” Ugonoh said. “The next step is to go to America, and the right people to go with is Haymon Boxing. We want to work with the best. I’m dedicated and hardworking. Right now it’s about finding the right people to be with to get to where I want to be.”