Anthony Ogogo confident he can ‘fulfil destiny’ after shoulder op
IT wasn't supposed to be like this for Anthony Ogogo.
After beating the highly-fancied Russian, Artem Chebotarev at the World Championships, the Lowestoft fighter simply had to see off Esquiva Falcao Florentino from Brazil to confirm his place as part of Team GB at the 2012 Olympics.
Commentators thought it would be a formality for the precocious Ogogo, whose dream from the first time he pulled on a pair of boxing gloves was to see an Olympic gold medal dangling around his neck.
However, those pundits didn't know how much the victory had taken out of the 23-year-old, whose long standing shoulder injury was just about to give out.
Ogogo gallantly fought on in an effort to secure his Olympic place but it was a step too far as Florentino defeated the Triple ABC boxer.
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Worse news was to follow as doctors confirmed his shoulder had to be operated on if he was to have any chance of making it to the final Olympic qualifying event in April.
It's been a tough six months for Ogogo but he is finally starting to see light at the end of the tunnel in his rehabilitation from surgery. Training at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield under the guidance of Rob McCracken, he has started sparring again and is confident he can win next month in Turkey and 'fulfil his destiny'.
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'It's been horrible – I really didn't want to have the surgery done. I had exactly the same operation on the opposite shoulder and it took me well over a year to get back to where I was.
'I was really worried about it but they (Team GB) said they would give me all the best treatment. After the Worlds I was sitting there and I would be watching the other boys in the gym train.
'I was watching the other guys that did qualify at the World Championships and seeing them do all their media commitments and stuff really broke my heart.
'I don't want to sound big-headed but I knew that if I hadn't been so unlucky with my injuries last year I'd have been there as well.
'It was hard seeing them getting all the rewards that come with qualifying and it was hard not to feel bitter and be jealous of them.
'When you want something and work so hard for something, which I have done for the last 10 years, to get it snatched away from you at the last minute when it's not really your fault has been quite hard.
'I've tried to keep focused on the goal. Sometimes you do find yourself thinking that they are going to come round too quick or I'm not going to get back but I had to give myself a little slap.
'Rob McCracken is forever giving me a kick up the backside, telling me to snap out of it and that I'm going to go to the Olympic Games and win the gold medal.
'He thinks going through this tournament will be the making of me so I can fulfil my destiny.'
The Kazakhstan boxing team are currently over in Sheffield and Ogogo admitted getting back into full sparring has been painful. There's only one way to blow the cobwebs away but unfortunately that means taking some shots that a fully-fit Ogogo would dance around. 'I'm getting hit a lot by people, who shouldn't really be hitting me,' he said. 'That can be disappointing and upsetting because at the moment I'm nowhere near where I need to be to qualify.
'But it's going alright – I'm trying to be really positive – that's the main thing. The qualifiers are not a million miles away so all my thoughts are on that.
'I've been working so hard to come back.
'I had a week off after surgery and after that I was popping the painkillers like smarties and training as much as I could.
'I've really tried to maintain my strength and my fitness. I've been working particularly hard on my cardio fitness but getting back in the ring and sparring is a completely different type of fitness.
'I feel a bit off the pace at the moment but I'm working really hard to improve my reactions and my timing. I know that I'll be ready.'
Ogogo must win in Turkey to achieve London qualification but if he can attain the bout fitness required over the next month he is confident he will be able to see off whoever is put in his way.
'It will probably be around five fights to qualify – it depends on what side of the draw I'm on although I'm never on the easy side! I am confident because in the last 18 months I've beaten pretty much everybody. 'The Russian I beat (at the World Championships), was world number two. He hadn't been beaten in a couple of years.
'I remember watching him him at the Europeans in 2010 – in the final he beat the Irishman that I lost to earlier in that competition.
'He hammered this Irishman and I remember thinking 'wow this is the kind of calibre that I've got to get up to'.
'It was a reality check because I had been the best in England and Britain for a while but this was an extra notch.
'I boxed the same Russian at the World Championships and everyone thought he would be my hardest fight.
'Everyone thought the next fight would be a formality compared to him.
'But I managed to beat him when I wasn't 100 per cent fit. Because I beat him it doesn't mean that I'm going to beat everyone but that's the confidence that I can take into it. If I can get my body back, and it's on the way, in the next couple of weeks then I don't think anyone is going to beat me.
'If I can come through it then victory will taste that much sweeter.'