Irrespective of the results tonight, boxing lovers in Uganda will count the Glasgow 2014 campaign as a success.
Having lost a massive six years to administrative wrangles, there was little hope the sport of boxing would get back to its feet in such a short time.
But within less than one year of establishing a new federation, boxing has scooped two Commonwealth Games medals for the country.
Super heavyweight Michael Ssekabembe and Fazil Juma Kaggwa will step into the Scottish Exhibition Conference Centre for their semifinal bouts tonight without any doubts about their potential to match the world’s best.
Ssekabembe produced one of the most entertaining displays of the Games while punishing Ghanaian Haruna Osumanu on Tuesday. Kaggwa replicated Ssekabembe’s show by recovering from a very awful first round to outpunch another Ghanaian Selemanu Tetteh 2-1 in the quarters on Wednesday.
Uganda nearly sent another Bomber to the semifinals but Nasir Bashir narrowly lost to 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Conlan Michael of Northern Ireland, who evidently thrived more on home support, reputation and biased officiating than his performance on the day.
Coming up against Englishman Joyce Joseph, Ssekabembe will have many factors working against him as Bashir came to learn on Wednesday.
Ssekabembe, a UPDF sergeant, nonetheless is unbothered by any external forces that might determine the outcome of the three-round contest.
“I am here to beat everyone,” the 34-year-old, on his first national team outing, told Daily Monitor. “I have seen him, he is a good fighter but he is beatable,” he added. “I want the gold and will try my best to get it.”
Joseph earned himself the favourite’s tag after recording a brutal quarterfinal knockout win over Scotland’s Ross Henderson on Tuesday.
“Ssekabembe can win it. He just needs to maintain his mobility in the ring and throw as many precise punches as possible.
“Joseph fights like a robot so I have told Mike to keep close to him and avoid getting cornered into the ropes,” Bombers coach Dick Katende revealed.
Kaggwa, on the other hand has an even more enviable task, coming up against two-time Olympic medallist Patrick Barnes of Ireland.
Kaggwa is only 19 and the Irishman, aged 27, has the vast experience to roll over the Ugandan, at least on paper. But Katende has told his fighter not to have any fears.
“He is fighting a formidable opponent but he is equally good. He can match him,” noted the coach.
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