ORDINARILY, when two fighters meet in a rematch, the expectation by fans is that the underdog, the man who was vanquished in the previous bout(s), will come out trying to exact revenge and prove the first outcome was a fluke.
This is exactly the situation Francis “Galagata” Zulu (22- 17, 8 KOs -3-2) finds himself in as he and compatriot Joseph “No Pressure” Chingangu (36- 27, 20 KOs- 9) prepare to face off for the upcoming vacant International Boxing Federation Continental Africa heavyweight title to be staged at Al Habtoor Grand 5 Star Beach Resort & Spa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates on February 28.
Although this fight is coming earlier, it has somewhat been under- hyped and almost eclipsed by choice of venue as well as by the World Boxing Council (WBC) double- header bill featuring ABU bantamweight champion Catherine Phiri against Pia Mazelanik for the silver belt and Charles Manyuchi-Patrick Allotey for the vacant international welterweight title on March 15.
Chingangu dethroned Zulu for the local title seven years ago via a fifth round knockout, but at at 48, his sell-by date is certainly well past him, unless he has something of a magic wand that he can be another Bernard Hopkins, his age mate, who is the oldest champion in boxing history.
Chingangu last fought in 2012 and won a six rounder on points against Elvis Moyo at Turfontein Racecourse, Gauteng, South Africa. I don’t know what he’s been doing the last two years, but if he hasn’t been in the gym, he could be exposed for rust.
For his part, Zulu, 40, last fought and romped to a unanimous points decision victory over 10 rounds against Rocky Kalenga in March 2013 and so, by comparison, he’s fresher than his rival. What makes the fight intriguing is that both fighters are not getting younger in a young man’s sport.
The question is: will Francis remind Chingangu that the conspiracy of two years absence from the ring and as many years before clocking half a century portend Chingangu’s waterloo? Will Chingangu be a Hopkins and defy age by repeating the beating he inflicted on Zulu in 2007?
This column has always criticised Zulu for his one-dimension style which tends to make most of his fights farcical, scrappy, ugly and boring. He appears to believe that he can win a fight by throwing one or two punches and then clinch. That’s his pattern of fighting. He’s so mechanical.
If Galagata truly wants the title, he should have it in mind that he’s younger than Chingangu and should therefore take the fight to his rival. I trust that Galagata’s trainer will ensure that this time around his man will be adequately prepared in terms of conditioning (Galagata often appears to tire easily), heart, self belief and focus, among other attributes also appear suspect.
Chingangu, on the other hand, is a focused, tenacious and methodical fighter who hits hard and, true to his moniker, seems to fight with no pressure, whatever the circumstances. If, however, he met someone with the gift of speed of hand and movement, Chingangu would always be in trouble because his slow, plodding style is tailor made for such boxers.
The question now is, can we expect a different result in Dubai when the two Zambians clash for supremacy and a passage to bigger things? Well, Galagata claims he has the tools to retire his veteran senior.
If he will be supremely fit on fight night, self confident and focused, then he could pull the upset.
Otherwise, despite his inactivity and clearly advanced age, I’m inclined to lean towards Chingangu with a 55.56 per cent KO record to repeat his previous performance against Zulu (36.36 per cent KO record).
If Zulu wants to win, however, he will have to discard his business-as-usual approach and step up to the plate offensively.
He will certainly need to be the busier of the two, or there will be no surprises from Dubai. Fast forward to February 28!
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