Jeff Ofori Loks to Win the Golden Contract

By: Oliver McManus

Tottenham’s Jeff
is set for a career-defining twelve months with MTK’s Golden Contract
hotting up nicely. The format will crown a winner, in three weight divisions,
before the end of the year and, with it, a lucrative multi-fight contract with
“a world leading promoter”. Ahead of the semi-finals, on the 21st at York Hall,
Ofori began by reflecting on the year just gone:

“It was a
slopey up and down year. The first half was frustrating because I was meant to
defend my [Southern Area] title twice (against Lucas Ballingall) and then that
got put off twice. A lot of people told me that it wasn’t going to happen but I
was sticking to it. I think I learned a lot in that year so I’ve decided to
just let things be.

“I (look back and) see it as things working out for a reason. If I did fight Lucas Ballingall then perhaps I’d never be in the situation I am now. I’ve just got to go with the flow and everything will happen if it’s supposed to: the opportunities will still be there if it’s meant to be.”

When the 29 year old was able to defend his belt,
held at lightweight, his opponent was a distinguished amateur in the form of
Alfie Price. On the night Price, snapped up by Queensbury Promotions, executed
his game-plan from the off. It wasn’t to be for the defending Champion but Ofori
was able to reflect on the bout with real pragmatism.

“It wasn’t
the sort of fight I was expecting it to be because I was thinking it would be a
rough, tough bout. In the end it was more hype than the fight turned out to be
and I learned that is sometimes how it is in boxing: not everything will be the
best fight of your life. I feel as though I was too nice in that fight and
didn’t take things into my own hands when I should have done. Sometimes you’re
going to have to box in ways that won’t be pretty.”

Seven weeks later and Ofori was refusing to sit
and mope. “I wasn’t going to cry”, he told me, and was eager to return at a
similar level: no more six rounders against Aleksandrs Birkenbergs. This was
the start of an MTK Global love-affair with the Londoner brought to Liverpool
for a fight with, unbeaten, Ged Carroll.

“After the
title fight it didn’t take much out of me. It was my second ten rounder and, to
be honest, I just didn’t feel as though it had happened. In my first one
(against Jumaane Camero) I knew I’d be in a ten rounder for a good couple days
after but I was back in the gym on Monday this time. I was feeling ready and I
got the call “do you want to fight in Liverpool?” and I was thinking ‘I get to
go away, I get another, I get the TV experience, of course I’m saying yes’.”

Ofori found himself billed in the away corner for
the first time in his career but boxed as he always has done. “Rough, ready,
and raring to go”, Jeffy picked up a
79-75 win over eight rounds to return to winning rounds. A well-earned victory
that served as the highlight of a thoroughly enjoyable weekend for the

“It was
beautiful (Liverpool) and I’d never been to Liverpool before but everything was
there. Everything I’d ever want was right there. We were bang in the city
centre and all the people were lovely and I just felt calm and relaxed. I
definitely plan on going back up there, in my own time, it was a great place. I
got a good four, five days out of it.”

“I was
pushing for the stoppage but the guy was tough”
continued, “even though I felt, after six
rounds, I was winning this I really wanted to stop him. When they gave me the
decision I was thinking “okay, what’s next?”

Luckily for Ofori he didn’t have to think for too
long. Just five days later and his phone was ringing again. Once more it was
MTK Global on the other end after Lewis Benson was forced to withdraw from the
opening Golden Contract quarter-finals. Having been caught up in the bubble of
Liverpool, Ofori confessed to “not really knowing” what the format was but he
was keen to put ink to paper once hearing of his fellow competitors.

“Again I
got a call telling me what was next and I’m saying “for real, hell yeah.” If
they thought I was going to go in there as a soft touch then I don’t know what
was on their mind. When they called me I thought they were pulling my leg: they
rang me on the Wednesday night after my manager had offered me a slot on the
undercard. At that point I wasn’t really going for it because I’d obviously
only just had a fight but as soon as they mentioned a tournament there was no
need to think about it.”

Ofori stepped up to super lightweight for the
competition and fought to a split draw with, Welshman, Kieran Gething over ten
rounds; Ofori progressed in the tournament courtesy of the referee’s scorecard.
The former super featherweight highlighted the strains of making weight in
those early days as standing him in good stead for the 140lbs division.

down to super feather was good for me mentally because it made me aware of the
diet. I’ve learned all these things about nutrition because I had to make those
weights in the past so now, even when I’m fighting at super lightweight, I’m
aware of the process and it makes it so much easier. Mentally it’s made me
stronger, too.

where I feel things clicked with the (Gething) fight. In my mind because it was
all last minute I didn’t have time to think about things and overthink what I
was going to do. I got in there and I fought the fight, largely, on instinct.”

With that win, the always likeable, Ofori
continued his run of feel-good results. A semi-final awaits and, for a fighter
who was never meant to be in the competition, every opportunity really is a
golden one. Last year Ofori did a sponsored sky-dive in aid of Ringside Rest
and Care and it was noticeable his first thoughts were with that charity when
discussing the ramifications of winning the competition. “There’s a lot riding
on it because I want to win big for the guys at the care home”, he revealed.

When poked to talk about himself Ofori began to
open up on his experiences as a perennial underdog. Five years ago his goal was
to become a professional boxer and people were sceptical; two years he wanted
the Southern Area title but had to remain patient. This most recent opportunity
may have arrived in part to good fortune but Ofori is determined to show the
world just why it was him that got the call.

this competition would be a big statement for me. If you do win it then
obviously there’s a contract waiting and things can sort of take care of
themselves, you don’t have to force opportunities any more. I need to prove
(that I deserve to be there) and I want to keep proving it.

When we
first spoke I was all about being Southern Area champion and I’ve done that but
I’m now hungry for the next goal. There will always be someone that’s there to
give you a challenge and that keeps me going. Even when you’ve set yourself a
goal and achieved you don’t sit back and say “job done”, you set yourself a new

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