Painful lesson provides pick-me-up for Wale Omotoso

Wale Omotoso’s American debut initially was an inauspicious one.

Wale Omotoso and Jessie Vargas

Wale Omotoso scored a second-round knockdown of Jessie Vargas before losing a unanimous decision in March 2013 for his only career defeat.

The Lagos, Nigeria, native had to pick himself up off the canvas in the first round after being knocked down by Calvin Odom in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in September 2011. But he quickly regrouped, flooring Odom in the fourth and finishing the job in the fifth to improve to 19-0.

“It remember that I went in, threw my right hand and I got caught with a left hook. It was funny, because I had never been dropped before,” Omotoso says. “I got up and I smiled at [Odom]. Then I dropped him twice before the referee stopped the fight. But I learned a lot from that fight, because it told me that in America, you had better mean business. Boxing is a job that you had better take serious.”

It’s back to business for Wale Omotoso (25-1, 21 KOs) on Sunday when he faces Sammy Vasquez Jr. (18-0, 13 KOs) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas in a 147-pound clash airing on CBS (4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT).

Omotoso, 30, is seeking his third straight knockout since losing a unanimous decision to still-unbeaten Jessie Vargas in Carson, California, in March 2013. He failed to capitalize after dropping Vargas to a knee with a second-round body shot, instead succumbing to the atmosphere in the biggest fight of his career.

“Wale learned that you have to stay focused, handle your business and not showboat or take your foot off the gas,” says trainer Eric Brown, who began working with Omotoso before that fight. “But since that fight, his focus has improved, and skill-wise he’s definitely stepped his game. Wale’s more capable of adapting to different styles.”

In Vasquez, Omotoso is facing a power-punching southpaw who stopped eight straight opponents before winning a 10-round unanimous decision over Emmanuel Lartei Lartey in February.

“I know this kid can punch and that he’s exciting, but he’s in the ring with a totally different fighter than he’s ever seen,” says Omotoso, who is coming off a second-round KO of Abraham Alvarez in November.

“Whatever he brings to the table, I’ll be ready. I’m going to show him that I’m tough, I can punch, I can move, I can box and I can fight. If it goes the distance, I’m ready for that. But if I see the opportunity, then I’ll take him out.”

For full coverage of Vasquez vs. Omotoso, visit our fight page.

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