Boxing League: Kemisi back big and better

Highlight. Ibrahim Kemisi (L) trading blows with Brian Ssekyejwe in the main act of Week Two of the Uganda Boxing Champions League Season Three. Kemisi won the action-packed lightweight duel 4-1 at New Obligato. PHOTO/AKRAM MBABAZI

What you need to know:

There was commotion as his habitually rowdy Kibuli crowd, including his mother, accused  the ring officials of bias.

Upon the announcement of his 4-1 victory, ten minutes past Sunday, at the New Obligato, Ibrahim Kemisi prostrated, his forehead kissing the canvas twice, to thank God for this redemptive performance. 

In late April, Kemisi, a master of showbiz, could not do this after shockingly losing his semifinal bout to Police's Shafick Nasasira in the National Open Championship.

There was commotion as his habitually rowdy Kibuli crowd, including his mother, accused  the ring officials of bias.

At that moment, for failing to reach the finals of the Open, Kemisi was technically out of Season Three of the Uganda Boxing Champions League.

But somehow, for his passion and a big following, he was given a second chance into the league. Boxing as a bantamweight youth, Kemisi was unbeaten in the first two league seasons. But he outgrew the age category and the weight, to compete in the elite lightweight. 

The challenge got tougher. And that loss to Nasasira was a rude reminder. And at the weekend, against the more experienced Brian Ssekyejwe, Kemisi was a better boxer, shooting the body with deliberate frequency and impact, moving in and out of attack, on time, while braving some hard shots, signs of a fighter keen on convincing the judges. 

"He was much fitter today. He didn't train enough for the Open because we hadn't decided whether he would do boxing this year at the same time finish his Senior Four," said Kibuli Mutajjazi head coach Henry Kalunga, aka Bob J, about Kemisi's improvement. 

"He decided to continue with boxing as well as school and we shall give him the due support."

As early as the second round, Kemisi started showboating, dropping his guard, opening his head and body to the opponent. His coach thought it was silly. 

"The fans may love but the judges don't. It's better you do it by luring your opponent and hit him. Otherwise, it's energy-sapping and sometimes you may be caught off guard."

But most times, Kemisi got away with it, and most times he meant business. Perhaps, he is more comfortable against fellow southpaws.

We hardly saw that dirty stuff of clenching and wrestling that was common in his fights against Shakur Mugambe.

This was real five-round business from both fighters keen to justify their wildcard inclusion into the league after losing their respective Open semifinals. 

Prior, Richard Kasujja triumphed 4-1 after a pulsating five-round welterweight duel against Alex Kanabi, in what was the bout of the day. 

KCCA's Samuel Ochieng stopped Lukanga's Shafick Sentamu in three rounds, after Police's Stephen Saate and CSCA's Umar Fahad served a spectacular special contest.