Asiku seeking featherweight acclaim on Hilton fight card

Someone tried to put a sombrero on Jackson Asiku’s head to promote the Mexican Independence Day fight card tonight at the Las Vegas Hilton.

But Asiku would have none of it. Let Jhonny Gonzalez, who is from Mexico, pose for the cameras. Asiku is concerned about more important things, such as having a successful performance in the main event so someone outside of Australia and Uganda might know who he is.

“This is my first time fighting in America, so I need to have a good performance,” said Asiku, the IBO featherweight champion, whose title is at stake in tonight’s 12-round main event.

“I’ve worked very hard for this fight. I want to be in there with the rest of the great featherweights.”

Asiku was referring to Yuriorkis Gamboa, the current WBA and IBF champ; Juan Manuel Lopez, the WBO champ; and Elio Rojas, the WBC champ. His record of 26-3 with 14 knockouts has been built against relative unknowns. If he can beat Gonzalez (45-7, 39 KOs), the former WBO bantamweight champion ranked the No. 3 featherweight by the WBA, it would bolster his resume.

“I deserve to be mentioned with them,” Asiku said of Gamboa and Lopez. “I am a world champion. I have been to the Olympics. This is my time. That’s why I am here (in America).”

At age 31, Asiku, who grew up in Uganda and as a kid befriended former world junior middleweight champion John “The Beast” Mugabi, doesn’t have a lot of time. Gamboa is 26. Lopez and Rojas are both 27.

If Asiku is going to fight himself into the conversation, he has to make his move now. Which is why he’s considering moving from Australia to the United States so he can face better competition.

“It’s possible,” he said. “I’m considering it. But first, I want to win this fight.”

In the co-feature, Tyrone Harris (34-6) faces Miguel Roman (30-7, 22 KOs) in the IBO super featherweight eliminator. The winner of the 12-round bout gets a shot at Juan Carlos Salgado for the IBO belt.

Also on the card is heavyweight Quadtrine Hill, a former University of Miami football player who will try to improve to 2-0 as he faces Yohan Banks (3-4-3, 1 KO) in a four-round bout.

The first bell is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913.

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