“Looking at my next fight, there are people that are buying tickets that I don’t even know. I’m used to people that are family and friends buying them, but it’s mad that people I haven’t met are supporting my career. It feels like I’ve built what I needed to build, put myself out there so people could see what I’m about and now, people are buying into it.”
The hard work is paying off for Linus Udofia. Approaching his seventh professional bout on Friday 17th February, the Luton middleweight has invested in himself both inside and outside the ring. Victories in all six fights, three KO wins on the way, things are coming together nicely for the 24 year old who trains under the guidance of wily veteran Terry Steward. But he is learning that building a fan base isn’t just about stopping opponents, but about how he builds his own brand for fans to buy in to.
“I’ve been posting a lot of different content recently, not just the update that I’ve run five miles, or I’ve eaten well today” says Linus. “Those are the thing everyone expects me to do anyway, people don’t need to see it. I want to show them a different side, something else. It’s very hard to be new, post different types of content. I really want to push my personal side out there, which is something I was always reluctant to do before as the social media platforms were for my boxing. But people need to feel like they know you, that you’re not just a robot.”
For his next bout, Udofia is getting the opportunity to branch out again. He will be a part of a big night of boxing on the undercard to Olympic silver medallist Joy Joyce, as Hayemaker Boxing take ‘The Juggernaut’ to York Hall. “I’m hoping this opens new doors” enthuses Udofia. “I just want to fight on the bigger stages and this gives me the opportunity. More pairs of eyes, different pairs of eyes, people that can find out about me.”
With the main card being broadcast live on the channel Dave, Udofia is hopeful that if he can put on a standout performance, his own bout will make it into the highlight package of the show. There have been difficulties though in tying down an opponent, with two changes made since his original was lined up. Does he think that he is building a fear factor for those he faces?
“I hope there is an element of that. I hope they type my name in and see about me, realise I must be decent. But then, I also need one of them to take the chance and take the fight! I want someone to come in and give it back, you’ll see the best of me that way”
It is in the gym where Linus fine-tunes the armoury he hopes to show off to a potential new fan base on February 17th. The gym itself is buzzing; stable mate Freddy Kiwitt fights on the same card for the English welterweight title, while fellow middleweight Brad Pauls contests an Area title eliminator in March. “It’s massive that they’re all getting ready. It means the whole gym are focussed and pushing on; it couldn’t be better” says Udofia. The one man that overseas it, the father figure of the gym, is Terry Steward.
“I really admire the man. He has a different strategy and a different plan for every single one of us. He’s very calculated in what he does and we all benefit from it” says Udofia when talking of the man who has been in the corner for world title fights with super middleweight James DeGale, who shares a training base at Club KO. It has lead to Udofia sharing the ring with the former IBF super middleweight champion.
“I learn so much. Every single time I spar him I come away better. Since that loss to Truax, James looks sharper, quicker, smarter, stronger.”
One thing that Linus does differently in the gym is allow training footage to be filmed and released. It’s a new era of thinking in boxing, where traditionalists may insist on ‘what happens in the gym, stays in the gym’. But Udofia is a new breed, recognising the need to offer engaging media to help build his growing fan base.
“I had a video made by T&N TV; I really like the final version because they captured the real sparring footage. It didn’t just show me bashing Brad up, because that isn’t how it goes. It showed him having the upper hand as well as me unloading on him. That’s the realism of it. When you see sparring footage of someone and all they’re doing is battering someone, we all know that isn’t how it goes. And if it does happen like that, then you’re not learning anything.”
The video shows the hard graft that Udofia puts in during training camps. Himself and Brad Pauls in back-and-forth sparring sessions, ending each with a smile on their faces. Two up and coming young propsects that push each other in the gym, with the aim of sharpening up for fight nights. It is these sessions that Udofia hopes will bring him title success in 2018. In fact, he has his target already laid out.
“The same week as I’m aiming to fight in March, the Southern Area belt is being contested by Matt Legg and Tey Lynn Jones. I’m going to be onto my management as soon as my fight is over, me against the winner of that fight has to happen in June. It has to.”
First though, there is business at hand this coming Friday. York Hall is familiar to Udofia, each of his professional bouts taking place there. The opponent may be unknown and the platform may be new, but the routine for the likeable lad from Luton. He has done a brilliant job of building his own brand and fan base, and now he is aiming to use the platform of The Juggernaut to move onto the next level.
Linus wishes to thank his sponsors who play a key part in supporting his career, from supplying healthy food in training camp to helping pay for medical fees and gym equipment. These are Corefit Pilates, Cwood and Son, LIB electrical contractors, D&I family butchers, GB Staffing, Advanced Roofing Solutions and JFB sports.
To purchase tickets direct from Linus for his next fight click here
Interview written by Martin Theobald (Twitter: @NewAgeBoxingUK)