Vacating belt was right move, says Bascome
Nikki Bascome says it was a tough decision to vacate his IBA International Welterweight Championship to free him up to pursue fights at super lightweight.
Bascome believes he is more suited to the lighter division and will make his debut at 140lbs against Filipino Alvin Lagumbay at the Victualling Yard in Dockyard on June 29. It will be Bascome's first outing since winning the IBA strap by defeating Mexican David Martínez via unanimous decision at the Fairmont Southampton last November.
Bascome said he sought advice from Jeff Mayweather, who prepared him for his previous bout at the Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas, before deciding to drop down to super lightweight.
“We were supposed to get the rematch [against Martínez], but after getting advice from Jeff, my team decided that I was risking too much fighting at welterweight,” Bascome said.
“I've basically been the B-side fighter in my own country. I need to be the A-side if I'm fighting in Bermuda. It does hurt [to vacate the title] because I worked hard for it all last year. However, I know there are bigger things down the line.”
The 28-year-old, whose nine professional bouts have been at welterweight, has become accustomed to fighting taller and heavy opponents, who have themselves often moved down a class to meet Bascome.
David Rangel, who lost to Bascome in May 2017, and Portuguese Fábio Costa, who condemned Bascome to his first and only defeat via knockout six months later, both dropped to welterweight for those bouts and have since moved back up.
“When I was fighting [Ivan] Azore, Rangel and definitely Costa, I was definitely the smaller man.
“It played against me in the Costa fight. My past few weigh-ins, I've been coming in way below the limit. I think that's natural because of my structure and build. With the work that I'm putting in, the weight just shreds.”
Despite earning a shutout win over Martínez, Bascome said he was not satisfied with his performance and believes he has “something to prove” when he faces Lagumbay, who has ten wins and a draw from 15 bouts.
Known for his all-action style, the Filipino lost to Armenian Gor Yeritsyan by technical knockout for the vacant WBO Youth Welterweight title in his previous bout in Kazan, Russia, last December.
“I feel hungry,” Bascome said. “My last fight, with the long layoff, I didn't get to perform to the best of my ability. I feel like I have something to prove to myself.
“I've taken a little glimpse of him [on YouTube], but I will leave most of that to my coaches. I have a tough opponent in front of me and I'm preparing myself mentally, physically and emotionally to conquer him.”
Bascome intends to spar extensively with Bermudian left-handers Andre Lambe and Tyler Christopher at Forty Rego's Gym in Warwick, where he will conduct his entire eight-week training camp.
It is a contrasting approach to the build-up to the Martínez fight, with Bascome spending six months in Vegas under the watchful eye of Mayweather before continuing his camp in Orlando, Florida.
“Jeff has some obligations in June, so I didn't make sense me going to Vegas if he's not there and couldn't make the fight,” said Bascome, who has been working with strength and conditioning coach Devon Bean, a former sprinter, who represented Bermuda at the Olympic Games in Athens in 1996.
“I looked at training in Florida, but logically it makes sense to stay here and spar with Andre and Tyler, who are both southpaws like [Lagumbay]. The way they have developed over the years, I know it won't be a cakewalk. They will give me the work I need.”
In Mayweather's absence, Bascome said his game plan will be mapped out by the coaching team at Rego's Gym.
“Jeff is a great friend first and foremost,” he added. “He always makes me laugh and we have conversations on WhatsApp. I'll always look at him as part of my team. He always gives me good advice.
“For this fight, I'll have Goofy [Jermel Woolridge], hopefully Troy Darrell, and Varo Pelon Andrade in my corner.”