By ELIAS CHIPEPO In Gold Coast, Australia –
COACH Wisdom Mudenda turned to the blame game after watching his boxers get eliminated one-by-one at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games but remained certain that the remaining pugilists will mint two medals.
Mudenda questioned the judges’ decisions as light welterweight Nkumbu Silungwe and bantamweight Everisto Mulenga were clobbered out of the Games at quarterfinal stage by Canada’s Thomas Blumenfeld and Hussamuddun Mohammed of India respectively.
What started as a bright medal chase of five suddenly was reduced to a ‘maybe’ two after the two pugilists joined Emmanuel Ngoma on the tourist list as Zambia’s realistic chance of minting a medal was left in the hard punches of middleweight Ben Muziyo and light heavyweight Mbachi Kaonga, who both fight today.
“We have reached a stage where we are fighting three opponents. The boxer, officials and the fans and this is why I have told my boxers to ensure they beat their opponent and impress the judges and fans. I have also warned Mbachi not to be over confident just because he beat a highly rated boxer in the previous round,” he said.
A visibly morale dampened Mudenda said he would ensure the boxers were in the right frame of mind heading into today’s matches.
And Mulenga said he was saddened after his loss to Mohammed and promised to work hard after a Commonwealth Games debut that saw him win one match prior to his elimination.
“I was sure I had won and surprisingly the referee docked some points from me when it was my opponent who kept holding. I am very sad but I will continue working hard for future competitions,” he said.
Mohammed dominated the rounds and frustrated Mulenga by opting to hold the Zambian whenever he landed some punches. But surprisingly the referee Ben McGarrigle ended up warning Mulenga and even docked him points in round two before Mohammed was declared winner on unanimous points decision.
On his part, Silungwe described the fight as tough and that anyone would have won.
“I know I am a good boxer but today (yesterday) I faced a fellow good boxer and that is why it was a tight match. I had put all my concentration and my heart to win the fight but it was just not my day,” he said.
Silungwe vowed to continue working hard in the upcoming events so that he may win Zambia a medal.
“I cannot dispute the judge’s decision because anyone of us would have won because we gave it our all but one only had to win,” he said.
Silungwe lost first and second rounds with identical 9-10 scores from the five judges while the third round saw one judge give him 8 as the rest recorded 9-10 in favour of Blumenfeld, who won on unanimous points decision.
Meanwhile, Muziyo would be hoping to restore Zambia’s medal hopes when he takes on Vikas Krishan of India in today’s middleweight quarterfinal before Mbachi Kaonga fights Clay Waterman of Australia in a light heavyweight quarterfinal.
Muziyo said he was ready to face any opponent and wants to win a medal higher than the bronze won in Glasgow.
“I am ready for my opponent. I expect a tough fight but I am sure I will win and win a medal for my country,” he said.
Mbachi said he was not scared fighting the Australian in-front of his home fans because what was important would be how he applied himself in the ring.
“We shall work on the tactics with my coaches and see how best we can approach the fight. Yes he will have fans cheering but it will depend on what he does in the ring and I will be ready for him,” Mbachi said.