It looked as though Sakio Bika was destined to be one of boxing nearly men, someone who was capable of giving the very best super middleweights on the planet a tough nights work but not able to get over the hump and win a world title.
Having represented Cameroon at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Bika liked Australia so much he decided to stay. He’s initially went 0-2-1 in world title fights, drawing with Markus Beyer in 2006 when their bout was stopped on cuts in the fourth round and losing spirited decisions to Joe Calzaghe and Andre Ward.
However, when the now 34 year old winner of the third season of The Contender series was offered a shot at the vacant WBC title that was stripped from Ward earlier this year, he made the most of it by outpointing game Marco Antonio Periban. After 12 nip and tuck rounds, Bika was proclaimed the winner by majority decision by scores of 116-112, 115-113 and 114-114.
“It is very hard to describe the combination of emotions of happiness, satisfaction and relief that came over me after all the hard work and sacrifices I have made to get here,” Bika (32-5-2, 21 knock outs) would say of finally becoming a world champion.
On Saturday, as part of a bumper show from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Bika meets Anthony Dirrell on the undercard of the Paulie Malignaggi-Zab Judah welterweight showdown. Bika-Dirrell is the first bout of a Showtime broadcast that starts at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT.
Anson Wainwright – What are your thoughts on the Dirrell fight?
Sakio Bika – I just want to go and win that fight. I have trained really hard. I’m just looking to keep my title. Anthony Dirrell is a good fighter but he never fought anyone like me, he has a good record but I’m going to show I’m the better fighter.
AW – You were due to fight in New York at the end of October on the Hopkins-Murat card but you were injured. Could you tell us about the injury?
SB – I injured my left shoulder. It’s good now. I did the MRI scan and it showed a little tissue damage but I’m looking forward to Dec. 7, my shoulder is good.
AW – The last time we saw you, you won the vacant WBC super middleweight title over Marco Antonio Periban. Can you tell us about that fight?
SB – It was a hard fight against a young, tough, undefeated Mexican who, like me, was prepared to give everything we had to become world champion. I knew this was going to be my last chance to fight for a world title, so nothing was going to stop me from leaving the ring without that WBC belt around my waist.
AW – What was it like for you when they announced you were the winner and you’d won the world title?
SB – It is very hard to describe the combination of emotions of happiness, satisfaction and relief that came over me after all the hard work and sacrifices I have made to get here. It had finally paid off. I am also very proud to hold the same title belt as the great Sugar Ray Leonard.
AW – Some people have questioned the authenticity of the win because they believe Andre Ward was wrongly stripped of his title. How would you answer those people?
SB – I was the No. 1 contender for the WBC title and when they offered me the chance to fight for their title I took it. I was prepared to fight anyone they put in front of me.
AW – If we look back on your world title history, you’d drawn with Markus Beyer in a WBC bout, lost to Joe Calzaghe for the IBF and WBO titles, then lost an IBF eliminator verses Lucian Bute. You’d been disqualified when you had Jean Paul Mendy almost out in the first round and then lost on points to Andre Ward in a challenge for his WBA crown. Was there a part of you that thought it just wasn’t meant to be?
SB – I’ve had many ups and downs throughout my career but no matter how tough things got, I always believed in my ability to make it to the top. All of the experiences I’ve been through whether good or bad have only made me mentally stronger and more determined to succeed.
AW – If we look at THE RING ratings at super middleweight division, could you share your thoughts on each of the fighters listed…
C – Andre Ward - Great fighter and hopefully someone I get to meet again in the ring one day.
AW – If we look at your career you’ve fought many of the top Super Middleweight’s of the past decade, could you share your thoughts on a few of them…
SB – Calzaghe was a gentleman and a great fighter. Retired undefeated. Andre Ward great fighter, I respect him, he has never ducked anyone, he fought the best and still fights the best.
AW – Who do you consider the best fighter you’ve fought and why?
SB – Jaidon Codrington, because of his power, skill and youth.
AW – Not Calzaghe or Ward?
SB – You know, to me Calzaghe and Andre Ward are the big names but with Jaidon Codrington he fought me, he hurt me and hurt me bad; that was one of the best fights of 2007. I respect Joe Calzaghe and Ward but Jaidon Codrington gave me the toughest fight of my career. He was young, strong and powerful. When I fought Calzaghe and Ward they didn’t hurt me.
AW – Who was the best puncher?
SB – Jaidon Codrington.
AW – When I spoke with Joe Calzaghe he told me you were the strongest guy he ever fought he said “He’s one tough Son of a B__ch! I hit him with everything, couldn’t hurt him, physically strong guy.” What would you say about that?
SB – I always come to fight and give the fans what they want. Calzaghe was one of the toughest fights I had, due to his reflexes, skill and southpaw stance. We both respect each other because when we fought we left nothing behind.
AW – You are born in Cameroon, could you tell us about your youth growing up there?
SB – I was a very good soccer player when I was young. I injured my knee which forced me to step into boxing. I had a comfortable life compared to other Africans. My father was a business man and he looked after us, so that we had everything we needed. He was my hero, and because of this I started off by claiming national, African and Olympic titles before entering the pro stage to winning world championships. I achieved my dream because of my childhood upbringing. Now that I’m world champion I hope to be able to give something back to the community I grew up in and provide opportunities for other young people from Cameroon to succeed in life.
AW – How did you first become interested and then take up boxing?
SB – After hurting my knee, I remember living close to a gym that had boxing back in Cameroon, this interested me. Once I started training in it, I never stopped.
AW – You represented your country at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, and you stayed and fought there professionally, could you tell us about this?
SB – It was very difficult for me to decide where I should live and develop my career. I took a chance on an opportunity that was offered to me in Australia and that was the beginning of my journey as a professional boxer.
AW – Away from boxing, tell us about your life, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time, what are your hobbies and interests?
SB – I love time with my young family, taking my boys to soccer and taking care of my beautiful baby daughter. I am also looking towards my future beyond boxing. I would like to be able to give something back to the sport that has given me so much both in Australia and Cameroon, this includes establishing boxing gyms as well as managing and promoting young up and coming boxers to help them achieve their goals and aspirations.
AW – Do you have a message for Anthony Dirrell ahead of your fight?
SB – No message for Anthony Dirrell. I know he’s training very hard for the fight on Dec. 7th. He’s not fighting some young kid. I’m coming to retain my WBC belt and be happy.
Photos / Maddie Meyer-Getty Images, Nick Laham/Golden Boy