Interview With Rising Light
Middleweight Star Erick ĎThe Eagleí Ochieng
By Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro
Iím sure that the majority of those reading this will
already be well aware of the talented young Light
Middleweight prospect Erick ĎThe Eagleí Ochieng from Stoke
Newington in London. Itís hard not to be as Erick receives a
lot more column inches in the boxing press than most seven
fight veterans. Rightly so as young Erick is proving to be a
true star in the making.
His undoubted talent has already earned him a shot at the
British Southern Area title. Whilst this would normally be a
huge step-up in class for most young fighters, who are
highly protected and fighting only carefully matched
contests for their first ten or so bouts, Erickís
manager-trainer Brian Lawrence has always felt confident
enough to take any fight offered for his young charge
throughout his fledgling career.
Prime examples are his third and his most recent fights.
Back in May last year Brian was offered another unbeaten
prospect Curtis Valentine, as an opponent, which he gladly
On learning he was to fight Valentine, Erick told Boxing
Newsí Andrew Wake, ďI donít really want to be put in with
journeymen. The better people I fight now will show my
potential. If you are protected you donít get better, if you
are challenged in your early fights it makes you a better
fighter in the long run.Ē
That statement just about sums up Erickís attitude, he
doesnít want to be protected he wants well matched fights
where he is tested. Something you would have expected when
he took on the challenge of facing reigning British Masters
Light Middleweight Champion Lee ĎLightningí Noble in a
non-championship bout for his sixth fight back in February.
The stern test he had been hoping for failed to materalise
as Noble closed shop and pulled down the shutters,
preferring to go on the defensive and hope for a chink to
appear in the Eaglesí armour. It never did and Erick cruised
to a shutout 60-54 points victory having barely broken into
Immediately after the victory over Noble, Erick was told
that he will be challenging for the Southern Area title at
the first opportunity, which will probably be sometime in
May or June.
With his first title shot on the horizon you could easily
expect young Erick to sit back and relax before starting his
preparations, but youíd be wrong as on the 18th March he
fought again, on Spencer Fearonís Hard Knock Boxing
Promotions ĎShamrock Showdowní - and controversially lost.
As before Erick had accepted another tough challenge, this
time against Castlefordís Luke Robinson, who had a five win,
one draw and one loss record. I say controversial loss
because everyone, the assembled media and packed York Hall
crowd, felt he had clearly won by at least three rounds to
Robinsonís one, however the only person who didnít share
that view was the man that counts - referee Ken Curtis - who
for some reason scored it the complete opposite way with a
38-39 points decision in favour of Robinson.
My fight report of the Shamrock Showdown event, which was
taken from the round by round recordings I make during the
breaks, clearly shows that in my view Erick is the clear
winner by a country mile - a view that was shared by all the
Back to the action as the second bout of the night, between
highly rated and unbeaten Erick ĎThe Eagleí Ochieng and
former ABA winner Luke ĎLionheartí Robinson, proved to be a
cracking fight, albeit with a highly controversial end
Robinson was out of the traps quickly to close down Ochieng,
to neutralise his highly effective jab. Ochieng used a bit
of savvy and went on the back foot to find some room to get
his jabs off. Robinson kept coming forward throwing some
pretty wild shots until eventually he had backed Ochieng
onto the ropes. Robinson kept throwing wild off target shots
at the ever ducking and weaving 'Eagle'. Ochieng responded
with some highly effective stiff jabs to force Robinson back
until his next rally. It was a close round, Robinson the
more aggressive, but failing to hit the ever moving target,
whilst Ochieng was more controlled and getting results by
landing good solid jabs.
Round two was more of the same with Robinson pushing.
Ochieng on the other hand was content to stay with his back
to the ropes and pick off Robinson at will, with stiff jabs
and punishing one-twos to the body. An easy round to call as
Robinson barely landed a punch for all his wind milling
whilst Ochieng, who barely threw a couple of dozen shots the
whole round, landed each effort solidly, much to the delight
of this fans who in unison chanted ĎEagle, Eagle, Eagleí
after each contact.
Both rounds three and four were more of the same, Robinson
flies out of the trap but ĎThe Eagleí just stays calm and
picks him off at will - Robinson pushes forward but barely
lands a glove on the ever mobile Ochieng, yet gets caught
himself by every precision counter.
The crowd jeer as the referee raises Robinsonís arm aloft
declaring him victorious by a 39-38 points margin. Ochieng
and his manager-coach Brian Lawrence look around confused as
Shortly after the result was officially read out promoter
Spencer Fearon announced that there will be a rematch at his
next show, much to the delight of the assembled crowd.
Even after being robbed of a clear win Erick just shrugged
his shoulders and said. ďI know I won and the fans know I
won, thatís what matters. Iím disappointed to have a loss on
my record but have put that behind me and focusing on the
next fight, which I have been told will be for the Southern
You just canít help admiring Erickís attitude, I donít think
I for one would just accept such a blatant bad decision so
easily. Saying that there is a lot to admire with this young
man, as I found out when I caught up with him, at the TKO
Boxing Gym in Canning Town, and got to talk with him about
his career to date as well as his future aspirations.
Rio) Hi Erick, thank you for taking the time to talk with me
today. Howís training been going?
Erick) First of all I want to thank God for my career. I
also want to thank my supporters, theyíre awesome I get such
Iím focused and coming on strong with my technique, you know
Iím really happy with the progress and the coaching. Brian
Lawrence, my coach-manager, does great work, great support.
Iíve had seven fights now, six wins, one loss and Iím
looking for the Southern Area title, which will be my next
fight. So things are looking bright, as I say I am already
World Champion as the world is about to find out soon.
Rio) Your first couple of fights were unusually tough for a
prospect. How do you feel having such tough fights against
quality opponents so early on in your career has benefited
Erick) My first fight I had Matt Scriven, for my second
fight I had Prince David, that was his debut fight. When you
go in against them kind of guys theyíre coming to win. It
was good to have this fight, fights like this make you
I knew that I had greatness in front of me, fighting those
kind of guys showed me what kind of fighter I am. It shows
what category of fighter you are fighting people like Prince
I then fought Curtis Valentine, who was also unbeaten, so
you can say I have been tested and not protected. Which is
good, too many fighters are protected until the reach ten or
sometimes even twenty fights before they get a proper
challenger in their career.
So for me itís good, because I know having these kind of
fights just make me stronger. You know I get stronger every
time. The better my opponent perform, the better I perform.
The higher I go the brighter I shine.
Rio) I was at York Hall when you stopped the highly durable
Alex Spitko, it was a classy performance, could you give us
your view on the fight?
Erick) Alex Spitko, heís known as a hard man, hard chin, he
doesnít crack and give in. Heís a tough fighter and I just
stayed with him and just boxed him. Looked good, I was in
great shape, I had great fun there and I just picked him off
with my jab. He was like walking into my jab and then I just
On the last round I knocked him out. He walked into my right
hand, Ďcos I couldnít hit him with my jab, after you hit
with the jab you couldnít hit him with any other punches.
Heís a good fighter. Iím happy Iím getting this kind of
fight in my early stages.
Rio) Your fight was against British Masters champion Lee
Noble, not quite the nonstop action type of fight weíre used
to seeing you in, why was this?
Erick) I was quite relaxed on the fight because I knew what
kind of fighter he is. He came out covered up and was
waiting for me to run out of gas and get tired. But I knew
what kind of fighter he is so I just used my jab. I listened
to my corner and just worked my jab, I was setting him up
with my jab so that if he opened up I could have caught him.
Ever since I see what he did with Pat (TKO Gym mate Pat
McAleese), I respect him as a good fighter, heís strong.
Heís not a bum, heís been down that road plenty of times.
Heís had twenty five fights, he knows his stuff. Heís quite
strong and was heavier than me. I knew I had to be smart,
use my jab. I feel I could have done a bit more because I
knew what type of fighter he is. I made sure I had a lot
more in reserve. After the six rounds I feel quite good, I
could have done more rounds. But itís all good I was happy
to do the six rounder, now Iíve a six rounder under my belt.
Rio) OK, now weíre up to your last fight against Luke
Robinson - The referee Ken Curtis gave the decision against
you. What are your thoughts on the fight?
Erick) Iím disappointed to have lost, It was supposed to be
a six rounder, but it was reduced to a four rounder.
My plan for a six rounder was to break him down and then
knock him out. I stuck with the plan even though it was now
a four rounder. I rocked him a couple of times but didnít
have enough time to take him out. I thought I had done
enough but the referee said I lost by just one point. Thatís
boxing, Iím disappointed to have a loss on my record but
have put that behind me and focusing on the next fight.
Rio) Youíve got the Southern Area coming up soon, and you
just touched on your aim to fight for the British by the end
of the year. I assume these are the first titles you aim to
Erick) Weíre looking to the Southern Area soon and then our
eyes are on the British. Weíve got time to wait as I am
young, strong and smart. But Iím ready to rise and do the
business, we donít want to have padded fights and then wait
before challenging for the British title, that doesnít make
sense, thatís a lot of time being wasted.
I have the potential so why not go for the title when I can
do it. Iíve got what it takes, Iíve got the goods and I
believe I can go for it soon.
My plan is by my fifteenth fight Iíd want to challenge for
the European, I could then challenge for a World title when
Iíve had around twenty fights. So weíre looking for on my
tenth fight the British, God willing, and then a couple more
fights under my belt and a bit more experience then the
European and then weíre going to knocking at the Golden Boy
for the World title.
Weíre aiming high, but I canít say enough about Brian
Lawrence, heís an expert coach and heís been at that level.
When he looks at me as a fighter, he looks at me as a World
Champion, thatís why he wants me to perform at a higher
level. Thatís why he push me to perform higher. He has the
experience, as you know heís worked with Don King and
others, so you canít go wrong. And Iíve got Christ on my
Rio) Youíve been with Brian from the start, what made you
Erick) As I have said Brian is a very good coach,
experienced and he knows what heís doing. He knows how to
watch fighters and can see things before it happens. Some
coaches, to be honest, donít know what they are doing. They
might get you fit but they donít know when to let you rest
and the like. Brian is an awesome coach.
Heís got Ian Napa on the team. I learn a lot from Ian, his
style, his defense. Heís a great fighter and has been
European champion, heís been there and knows what it takes.
Itís good because heís also got Ben Murphy, heís strong and
you learn sparring him, itís a different style. Iíve even
sparred Damian, we did a two or three rounds.
The TKO is an awesome gym, always buzzing, fighters of all
weights and experience. Great sparring anytime, you canít
ask for more than that. Awesome.
Rio) You touched on that you get great sparring, who have
you sparred recently?
Erick) Iíve sparred here with lots of the guys here. I
sparred Sam (British Light Middleweight Champion Sam Webb)
when he was preparing for Martin Concepcion, Ben (Murphy)
obviously. I sparred Kevin Mitchell here when he was
preparing for the Michael Katsides fight. Sparred lots of
the guys here
Iíve sparred Darren Barker and Lee Purdy, not here though. I
sparred with Sugar Jackson in Belgium. I went there and
really had to dig deep you know. I went there for a week and
then they bought in another guy for the second week, but he
got tired so they sent him home and called me and said could
you come back for another week. So I went back for the
second week. Which was awesome, because heís a strong
fighter and keep coming forward. Iím strong myself, however
that taught me to be able to box on the back foot, use my
jab and make him miss. It went great, itís that kind of
sparring that make me a great fighter.
Rio) Thank you for taking the time to talk with me today,
finally is there anything you would like to add?
Erick) I want to give a shout out to all my supporters, you
know who you are - EAGLE, EAGLE, EAGLE - I want to give
special thanks to Ken from BoxFit, he sponsor me at the
moment, and I want to give special thanks to Tim, Dan and
Paul of my sponsor King Apparel . Thank you for your
support, itís much appreciated.