The Highs and the Lows of Lateef Kayode’s Boxing Career
Editorial By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent
He was once undefeated in his first 23 pro bouts, a Freddie Roach protégé, and a legitimate world ranked challenger for both the world cruiserweight and world heavyweight titles. A loser of his last four professional bouts, with two more controversial no contest outcomes, at the career of 36-year-old Nigerian fighter Lateef Kayode is probably over.
Before the fall, at least two of Kayode’s bout had controversial outcomes involving cheating by his opponents, and the damage incurred by Kayode due to those bouts served to end his career. Kayode is a fighter who almost reached the top, like so many others, but was dealt an ugly hand. It merits taking a look back at what happened to Kayode, and why.
Kayode turned pro in August 2008 with a four-round decision win over journeyman Mike Miller in Washington. He went undefeated in his next 22 pro bouts, with 16 knockouts in his first 23 bouts, an impressive greater than two of every three opponents stopped or knocked out. Based out of Hollywood, California, Kayode won the WBO NABO, NABF and NABA regional cruiserweight titles. He seemed on his way to stardom.
In June 2012, Kayode drew with Antonio Tarver in a significant bid to win Tarver’s International Boxing Organization World Cruiserweight title. Tarver, who earned 1.1 million dollars for the fight, tested positive pre-fight urinalysis for the steroid Drostalolone (Maseron). The California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) changed the bout result to a ‘No Contest’, suspended Tarver and fined him 2500 dollars. The key to understanding the bout is Kayode took cumulative damage due to Tarver’s unfair advantage.
After stopping Travis Fulton in 2013, and Jonte Willis in 2014, Kayode challenged for the interim World Boxing Association World Heavyweight title against Luis Ortiz in September 2014. Kayode went down in the first round, and Ortiz scored a first-round technical knockout at 2:55 of the first round. This result was subsequently reversed when Ortiz was found to be using illegal drugs, presumably performance enhancing drugs. Kayode’s career never recovered from the damage done by Ortiz in this particular bout.
After winning a 10 round decision over Nick Kisner in Tennessee in 2015, the reality set in as this would be the only bout Kayode would win in his five years as a pro. In November 2015, Kayode was knocked down four times by Denis Lebedev and stopped in the eighth round in a failed attempt to win the World Boxing Association World Cruiserweight title.
Two years later, Kayode attempted a comeback in September 2017, did not win a round and was knocked down by Keith Tapia, to whom he lost a 10 round decision at Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. In May of 2018, Kayode was knocked out in the sixth round of a heavyweight bout with Andrew Tabiti in Las Vegas, Nevada. Two months later, in July 2018, Kayode’s career ended on his stool after the sixth round when referee Edward Hernandez Sr. called a halt to his bout with undefeated Russian heavyweight Aleksei Egorov. Kayode had three world title opportunities, in which two title bouts resulted in No Contests with opponents using illegal substances to enhance performance.
Lateef Kayode will be forgotten, a champion who never was, destroyed in large part by opponents who did not play the game by the rules, and who escaped with a slap on the wrist. It was not fair, but whoever said life was fair? The damage was done, and Kayode wound up as a trialhorse opponent for rising cruiserweight prospects. Better to retire under such unfair circumstances. In retrospect, many boxers worldwide get away with use of performance-enhancing drugs.