WHEN the two boxers walked to the ring from the dressing room, I had a hunch middleweight Benny Muziyo would certainly win his quarter final bout against Mauritian Olivier Cedric who had the subdued look of a beaten fighter even before the first punch compared to the Zambian who was brimming with self confidence.
My premonition did not, however, give a hint as to the manner in which the Morocco 2010 African Youth Championships gold medalist Muziya would annihilate his nemesis—needing only 50 seconds of the first round to force the referee to halt the proceedings after the Mauritian looked groggy after the mandatory eight count.
Due to the awkward hours for the boxing tournaments, I missed most of the fights involving Zambia’s representatives at the Glasgow show piece, but was lucky to watch Christopher Katanga and Muziyo. For Muziyo, I made it a point to deprive myself of sleep and watch all the bouts from 03.00 hours until his came up around 06.00 hours.
And what a worthwhile wait it was! With the first round knock out, Muziyo appeared set, at this writing, to cruise to the semi-finals and the penultimate medals bracket and, thereby, etch his name in the annals of Zambian boxing history.
The list of previous medal winners at these Games includes legend Lottie Mwale, the first to win a gold for Zambia at the 1974 Christchurch Games in New Zealand, Kennedy Kanyanta followed with his own gold at the 2002 Manchester Games, while Dennis Zimba and Davies Mwale took silver and bronze medals respectively at the same event.
It’s worth noting that on his way to a medal hunt, Muziyo has stamped his superiority on his opponents with two stoppages and one unanimous points victory, which speaks volumes about his caliber and is a pointer to the direction his boxing career must start facing after these Games.
His strategy to get to the level he reached was a careful, calculated strategy backed by enough self-belief and hunger to win. Any wonder that he vowed to knock out his opponents ; in other words, leaving nothing to the judges whose verdicts have been suspicious in some bouts where the winner was the guy who was largely on the receiving end?
Against the Mauritian, Muziyo showed some flashes of his hero-legend Roy Jones Jr- with quick jabs, explosive crosses and upper cuts from angles. When a boxer combines speed with power and can move, he’s deadly.
After being in the amateur ranks since 2005, will he consider turning professional and provide the excitement in the middleweight division? Will professional boxing stables be looking at him without trying to lure him and nurture him into a world champion?
Nine years in the unpaid ranks is rather too long, in my view, for one to ply his trade in the amateur ranks because a a boxer is not getting any younger and if he has to compete at the highest level, maybe time was ripe for Muziyo to make a career defining decision.
The Commonwealth Games, like the Olympic Games, are a good launch pad for boxers with ambitions to compete at the highest level as professionals. Amir Khan, Floyd Mayweather Jr and Lennox Lewis are some of the marquee fighters who graduated from amateur to professional after excelling at the Games.
I know a number of stables that are struggling to recruit quality boxers and I’m sure with Muziya’s sterling performance they should be falling over one another relishing the prospect of securing his signature, no? These are my thoughts and I would like to hear your views on this matter, dear reader. Comments: email@example.com / 0966 755 574/0953744074