Olympic trials: Ssemuju, Masembe book tickets

Monday January 6 2020

 Semujju in Red lands aheavy punch to the face

Semujju in Red lands aheavy punch to the face of Yusuf Nkobeza in Lugogo on Sunday. PHOTO BY JOHN BATANUDDE. 

By ABDUL-NASSER SSEMUGABI

Kampala- David Ssemuju justified his status as an African silver medalist by the way he contained Yusuf Nkobeza, easily the toughest opponent he has faced in Uganda.

This wasn’t just a boxing fight. It was a war. With both middleweight fighters having nothing like loss in their minds, they unleashed whatever manner of punches in their means in what was by far the fight of the day. I had never seen a fight where both fighters throw and land as high a number of quality punches.

Nkobeza was strong. Had the skill and will to frustrate Ssemuju. But the 2019 African Games finalist summoned his experience to combine left and right hooks, especially in the latter stages of the first round when he went inside, narrowing Nkobeza’s reach and chopping on every inch of his body. You don’t let Ssemuju do that unless you have surrendered the fight. But Nkobeza did it and stayed in the fight, throughout.

Ahead of the third round, Hussein Khalil, a 1982 Commonwealth champion, who was in Ssemuju’s corner, told us the opponent is ripe after conceding many body shots. He was right. But just fractionally right. Nkobeza showed signs of tiring, but he also showed signs of resilience and could land a deadly blow. Ssemuju was just fractionally better.

Not the outright favourite as he said post-match. “This is done, he was tough but not tougher than the ones I faced in Morocco. I was wiser and this is just the beginning of the mission to win the Olympic medal, “ Ssemuju said after a split decision victory.
Both picked fighters, with bodies evaporating, picked cash tokens from the crowds after the pulsating brawl.

Hence, Ssemuju joined fellow African finalist Isaac Masembe, who also used his experience to tame the stubborn Jonah Kyobe in a bloody featherweight contest to book the ticket to the Africa Olympic Qualifiers in Dakar next month. Yasin Adinan also finally got the chance to represent Uganda for the first time after a controversial split decision victory over lightweight nemesis Joshua Tukamuhebwa.

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“This fight was easier for me than the first one, and I’m happy for this victory, “ Adinan said comparing his loss to Joshua in May. But his opponent felt cheated and didn’t want to talk about it.

Light heavyweight Joshua Male, scored the only knockout of the day, when the referee stopped his contest with Edris Mukiibi in round one.
Meanwhile Bombers captain Musa Shadir made light work Stanley Mugerwa with a unanimous decision win for the welterweight ticket.

The ladies
Susan Akello upset African Games quarterfinalist Jalia Nali, in featherweight, Rebecca Amongin beat Sarah Laker to the lightweight ticket,
Emilly Nakalema beat Lydia Nantale to the welterweight ticket, Catherine Nanziri beat Teddy Nakimuli for the flyweight slot.

assemugabi@ug.nationmedia.com

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