Since his breakout win over Lyon Woodstock in October 2018, Archie Sharp has been building momentum and steadily climbing the world rankings in the super-featherweight division.
On Saturday, at the BT Sport studios, the 25-year-old ‘Sharpshooter’ returns to defend his WBO European title against Jeff Ofori, who will be dropping down in weight after his defeat at the hands of Ohara Davies in February.
However, the Sidcup man is unfazed by the challenge and happy to be back in action, as the UK continues to make its way slowly out of the lockdown enforced by the Covid-19 Pandemic. Sharp (18-0, 9 KOs) is adamant that the lockdown has actually been a blessing in disguise for him.
“I was very active last year so lockdown actually came at a good time for me,” Sharp told Boxing Social. “My last performance wasn’t my best and it showed I was perhaps ready for a bit of a break, so I could come back firing properly on all cylinders in my next fight.
“Lockdown been peaceful and I’ve really enjoyed spending time with my family. Obviously, it’s been frustrating for boxing, but every other sport and person has been going through the same process, so you can’t get upset. It’s good to be sort of getting back to normal though.
“Ofori will be a tough test. He would be anyway, regardless of coming out of lockdown or not, but that’s what I’m all about. Plenty of fighters worry about taking these tough, domestic fights, but I want to be at world level, so these are the fights that I should be taking to prove that is where I belong.”
Sharp, like most aspiring fighters, has his sights set much higher than domestic level and the stakes in the WBO super-featherweight rankings are intensifying. Champion Jamel Herring had been due to defend his belt against Puerto Rican Jonathan Oquendo, until the American twice tested positive for Covid-19, ahead of a proposed clash with Carl Frampton.
Now Frampton will fight on the same bill at the BT Sport studios, which has captured Sharp’s attention. But he refuses to look past Ofori and the added prospect of fighting in a studio with no crowd; something the big ticket seller hasn’t been accustomed to since his amateur days.
“Real champions adapt to the situation no matter what it is. I love the crowds and entertaining, but this time it will be different as neither fighter will be able to take the advantage of having the crowd on their side into the fight,” said Sharp. “I’m confident it will go in my favour, as it’s similar to fighting in the amateurs.
“I’m strong-minded and I will turn whatever situation I’m in into a positive. I’ve got big plans after this and I’m in a division that is flying at every level. I’m ranked No.3 with the WBO and I want the winner of Carl Frampton and Jamel Herring when that eventually happens. Fighting on the same bill as Frampton will be a bonus.
“I’ve also seen that Shakur Stevenson is moving up as well and Oscar Valdez won’t take the fight, so I’d be more than willing to take that fight in a heartbeat. We’re both young and he’s a big name as well, so when we fight it will really be sink or swim.”
With the news that Sharp’s promoter Frank Warren and rivals Matchroom might put hostilities aside to work together in the future, there could be even more opportunity.
But Sharp isn’t allowing himself to be taken in by what could be nothing more than promotional bluster. He is solely focused on getting back in the ring and maintaining his unbeaten record.
“It will be hard to gauge where everyone is at, but I can honestly say that no one has seen me at 100% yet. I’ve got a job to do on Saturday and I’ve defended my WBO title four times, so I’m ready to fight in some sort of eliminator next time out, whenever that will be,” said Sharp.
“Boxing could get very exciting soon, especially if Frank and Eddie Hearn start working together and make the fights that everyone wants to see. That is a huge positive for the sport and could take it to another level. We’ve all heard similar promises before, but this one seems to have legs this time around.
“I firmly believe I’m a world level fighter and I’ve set my sights on getting there as soon as possible. It’s been a while since December, when I had my last fight, but I’m refreshed and looking forward to exciting everyone again.”
Main image: Queensberry Promotions.