Nigerian heavyweight Raphael Akpejiori has said he looks forward to challenging Anthony Joshua for the World Heavyweight titles.
“I can guarantee that the whole country would be tuned in. I can guarantee that the whole of Africa will be tuned in,” Akpejiori told Sky Sports.
“I’ve actually thought about the prospect of that, I still have a lot of work to do.”
Born and raised in Surulere Lagos, Nigeria, 29-years-old Akpejiori has remained unbeaten in six professional victories all by knockout, with only one opponent reaching the second round.
With his imposing 6’8″ frame and athleticism brought him from Lagos to Florida, Akpejiori has already excelled in college basketball at the University of Miami.
However, he chose Boxing as a career as he enjoyed fighting during his secondary school days in Nigeria.
“I actually always loved fighting. I don’t know if that’s a good thing, but when I was in secondary school in Nigeria I fought like every other day.” He revealed.
According to Sky Sports, his raw credentials caught the eye of trainer Glen Johnson, the battle-scarred Jamaican, who famously defeated Roy Jones Jr to become IBF light-heavyweight champion.
Akpejiori recalled not getting praised by Johnson whom he expected to impreesed with his fine amateur start.
“He saw my amateur tapes and kind of thought I was terrible,” recalled Akpejiori.
“He has such high standards, because you know as a champion, you see things from a championship perspective, and I was the second ever boxer that he was training.”
The young Nigerian spent an entire year with no competitive fights as he received his harsh lecture from Johnson about graduating at the highest level.
Akpejiori had sparred with World amateur champion Bakhodir Jalolov and Olympic bronze medallist Ivan Dychko as well as Filip Hrgovic, Croatia’s ruthless contender.
“It’s boxing man. If you can’t box, that’s when you’re going to say somebody is mean. If I’m sparring guys like Dychko, or Jalolov – world championship guys, guys that we’re going to fight in the future for money.
“If I’m sparring those kind of guys on a weekly basis, I can’t come here and be complaining. I have goals to see them in the future.”
However, Akpejiori who is hoping for a fight against Joshua to be scheduled on Nigerian soil, recognises he will not be challenging for the WBA, IBF and WBO belts in the near future.
“Obviously I want to fight Anthony Joshua tomorrow,” admits Akpejiori.
“If he has the belts at that time, I’m going to collect the belts from him at that time.
“Fighting Joshua is not just about having a great record, or whatever. There’s a business side to it that I have to accomplish too.
“I have to get my name out there. I’m going to have to show some quality, in my boxing. I’m going to have to present myself to the public and to promoters as this is a fight that needs to happen.
“But if that happens, it would be a great fight for the country and for the continent. That could happen in Nigeria, that can happen in Lagos, Nigeria, that can happen in Abuja, Nigeria, that can happen in Calabar, Nigeria.”
Akpejiori has set himself a target of two years to reach world title contention as he expects to resume his climb up the rankings in September, with a fight in Miami.
For now, all eyes are on Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury who are the current kings of Heavyweights in the boxing world.