Exclusive: Steve Gago ‘Excited As Hell’ Ahead of WBC Title Fight

Steve Gago

Australia’s Steve Gago (13-2) returns to the ring this Friday to challenge China’s Aketelieke Jieensi (13-4-3) for the WBC Australasian Welterweight Championship. The six-round bout will be the main event of Thunderdome 46, which will be held inside Metro City in Perth, AU. 

Gago has been out of the ring for over a year and is itching to step back into the squared circle as he looks to work himself back into the mix in the welterweight division. 

“I’m feeling good, feeling excited. I want to get this one out of the way, start fresh again and see what else is out there. It’s going good. I feel amazing, ” Gago says, speaking to Boxing Daily. 

The Perth-based fighter, never one to shy away from a challenge, is confident that he has a measure of his opponent and is looking to use Friday’s title fight to position himself for even bigger matchups in the future.

” I didn’t want to just have an ordinary fight, I wantΒ to have something [with] meaning, something to fight for. So now that the WBC is on the line, I’m as excited as hell,”Β he explains.

“He’s (Jieensi) almost a bit of a smaller version of me. I think I’ve got a better defense. I think I’ve got better footwork. He’s got a bit of power on him, but I think I might be a bit too strong for him, too”, Gago explains.

“I think it’s a good test for me”.

The past few years have seen Gago spend more time on the sidelines than he would have liked. The enforced layoff came about after suffering a hernia and two bulged discs during his 2021 points loss to compatriot Liam Paro. 

Watching boxing from bars, lounges, or front-row ringside seats gives fans an overview of what is happening. Still, often, some of a fight’s biggest storylines, as in the case of Gago’s third-round injury against Paro, remain hidden from the casual observer.

Going the distance with the world-ranked Paro despite suffering what for most boxers would have been a fight-ending injury is a testament to Gago’s toughness and mental fortitude. 

However, even before the Paro fight, Gago had been forced to deal with adversity. 

In 2019, he suffered a family loss on the eve of the biggest fight of his career, but with his family’s support, he took the ring to defeat the Philippines’ Adam Diu Abdulhamid and claim the IBF Pan Pacific Welterweight title. 

Following his win over Diu Abdulhamid, he faced a quick turnaround and was booked to take on the highly regarded Kazakh Nursultan Zhangabayev two months later. Yet, while still mourning his uncle’s passing, Gago suffered further heartbreak when a close friend of his passed away. 

“Their family and friends were saying go on with the fight; they are there with you, so I had a sense to go out there and do it for them, not just for myself but for them,” he explains.

Gago ultimately lost a contentious decision to the Kazakh, who hit him with multiple low blows and was fortunate not to be disqualified. Regardless of the results, the Zhangabayev and Paro bouts marked Gago as a fighter capable of competing even in the most trying circumstances. 

 Now, with his body healed and multiple bouts lined up for 2024, he is ready to begin the next chapter of his boxing story and showcase to the world exactly what he is capable of as a fighter when fully locked and loaded. 

“I’ve been on a standstill for a while now, but, you know, I’m ready to get back into it again.”

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