Interview: Prizefighter winner Larry Ekundayo

Interview: Larry Ekundayo
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Sports Mole catches up with Prizefighter champion Larry Ekundayo after his breakthrough performance at York Hall.

Larry Ekundayo announced himself on the British boxing stage on Saturday night with a stunning victory in the Prizefighter: Light middleweight tournament at York Hall.

'The Natural' surged past Scottish pair Craig McEwan and Kris Carslaw before stopping Terry Carruthers to earn a £34,000 jackpot.

Sports Moke caught up with Ekundayo moments after his victory to talk about arriving as a professional standout and his plans for the future.

You've gone from two professional fights to Prizefighter champion. Could you describe your emotions after a breakthrough moment in your career?
"Wow, you know what? Hearing it out loud it sounds great. I don't think there's anything more I can say after that, it hasn't sunk in. I couldn't ask for anything more."

Let's take you back to before the first bell tonight. You were pitted against bookies' favourite Craig McEwan in a particularly difficult draw. How tough a test was that to negotiate?
"He was really tough man, I knew the dude would bring it and he was no joke. I'd seen bits of him on tape and he's a very good, experienced fighter. Fair play to him, he came from middleweight for this, that shows hunger. But I'm a welterweight normally and managed to use my skills to get the job done."

You faced more opponents in one night than in your entire professional career to date. How did you deal with the unique challenge Prizefighter provides?
"People always ask me, 'What is the gameplan? How do you plan for these guys?' The answer is always the same to be honest, I never have one. That's why I'm The Natural, I can adapt to any style, I can make the switch when required to change things up. It doesn't matter what my opponent brings, speed, size or strength, I've got an answer for it. I showed that tonight. I rely on my instincts and that's how I live up to the title of The Natural."

Let's talk about that brilliant final and your opponent Terry Carruthers. Did he surprise you with his willingness to stand and trade?
"Terry is a warrior and this is what I want people to realise, what we do is a sport. It isn't all about how tough you are. I said to myself before the final, 'I'm not getting hit here, I'm gonna box your head off', and that's what I did. This is a sport, play the game and mess with their heads."

Under pressure tonight you still managed to crack a smile and seemed to revel in the step-up in class. Is the professional game still fun for you at this stage?
"The challenge, the competition is all fun for me. I love to go in there and have fun. My trainer always tells me not to get silly or careless. It's not something I plan to do, it just happens. I really love what I do and I hope that shows."

You had a vocal support tonight in a raucous York Hall. How important was it to you to repay those fans for backing you throughout?
"My fans are the best. For one second I would like to stop and thank each and every one of them for the support. I know most of them personally who came tonight, it really is like a family and anywhere I go or in preparation, I feel that support and it keeps me going. I love them all and tonight was for them just as much as me."

Do you feel like you proved something to yourself tonight, that you belong on a bigger stage after turning pro in March at the age of 29?
"I of course did this for myself to prove I have the skills to cause anyone problems, but I also did this for my family and my kids. That gives me the most satisfaction and I'm proud of myself for that."

Do you have any direction set out for 2013 to build on tonight's success and to try to make up for lost time?
"I'm not the type of guy to call out names. I don't trash talk or anything like that. I let my manager do the job and when they say it's time to fight, believe me I'll be ready. I'm a natural welterweight so my future will probably be back in that division."

Finally let's talk about leaving York Hall £34,000 richer thanks to the Prizefighter cheque and a £2,000 knockout bonus. How does it feel to earn a purse of that size for the first time and what will the money go on?
"Well first of all the majority will go in my kids' account. I've got three kids and it's money that will help secure their futures. I've made a huge jump forward and now I just want to continue on my path and fulfil a dream. I've had all sorts of problems to come through, immigration problems and family issues, it's been very tough. I feel now that I'm fully focused and I can beat anyone in my weight division so watch this space."

Larry Ekundayo
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