Uganda’s budding heavyweight boxer Shafik Kiwanuka did not score the KO as his camp threatened but deserves the credit for winning his longest career fight ever.
Kiwanuka defeated Zimbabwe’s Thamsanqa Dube to win the World Boxing Federation All-Africa Heavyweight Title after impressing the judges unanimously in a 10-round duel in the wee hours of Saturday.
The lanky, chiseled fighter had won his first two pro bouts within just the first round and there were worries how he would handle a resilient opponent.
From the first impression Dube looked just a flabby body that could be pulped in a flash. Even the fact that he last fought in 2011 painted him a joker.
Kiwanuka also had the urge to finish off business instantly. But as the rounds rolled the few witnesses inside the International University of East Africa (IUEA) auditorium realised the former Pan-African champ is no sitting duck.
He combined a lethal jab, a strong jaw, quick movement, endurance, and pinch of dirty tricks, which reminded many of his experience.
Granted, Kiwanuka did not check his rotund belly and his fat-soaked ribs enough. But what if Dube himself had not aimed so much for Kiwa’s head and invested in more bodyshots?
On the canvas
In the sixth round, Dube trickily clinched Kiwanuka’s left arm, as if to thwart his jabbing prowess. Kiwanuka gestured in pain to draw attention, but action resumed.
Dube did it again in the seventh. But Kiwanuka returned with fury, scoring combinations. But Dube was still showboating like Tyson Fury did Deontay Wilder.
Coming into the eighth, Dube was limping, apparently injured in his right leg. We thought he would not last the distance. But Kiwanuka did not take advantage. Instead, he pushed him with his hands onto the canvas. Should he have been cautioned? He wasn’t. It was becoming evident he was losing his temper.
In the ninth, Dube paid him in the same currency by pushing him to the canvas in his red corner.
“It was a good fight, the opponent was good and experienced, except he was clinching my fighter. But I’m happy Shafik lasted the distance, to show that he doesn’t only win by KOs because many doubted his endurance,” said trainer Abdul Tebazaalwa.
Like the fans, the fighters expected 12 rounds. But even then all concurred both fighters passed the test.
“I thank all my promoters Great Strikers, my university, and all my fans. Team Killing Machine we gonna win more,” said Kiwanuka, the first Ugandan heavyweight to win an African title.
Promoter Emmanuel Mwesigwa said he could be back in the ring in January.
KIWANUKA v DUBE
Judge 1: 100-89
Judge 2: 100-89
Judge 3: 100-89
Supervisor: WBF president Howard Goldberg
UNDERCARDS @IUEA AUDITORIUM
Aldina Muzeeyi bt Ben Ssajjabbi
Saul Male bt Charles Kakande
Hudson Muhumuza bt Joseph Mpungu v
Ignatius Onyango bt Saidi Chako
Ratib Muwonge bt Jimmy Odongo