Kenya national team’s welterweight mainstay Rayton Okwiri debuted AIBA Pro-Boxing (APB) ranks on a winning note in the Sarhadchi Complex in Baku, Azerbaijan on Saturday.
At the same time, Commonwealth Games bantamweight bronze medallist Benson Gicharu of Kenya departed the country on the same day for Argentina, where he is scheduled to fight a home boxer in another APB duel slated for Buenos Aries on November 1. Gicharu, who was accompanied by coach David Munuhe from Police said he hopes to maintain a clean sheet in South America after being spurred on by Okwiri’s performance.
“I hope to perform well given that this is also an Olympic qualifier,” said Gicharu who is plotting Kenya’s second victory when he slugs it out with Argentine Alberto Melian.
Kenya has only two boxers in the APB whose opening week of pre-ranking phase continued in Baku Saturday night with the Welterweights (69kg) giving a good account of themselves.
The first fight of the night was one of the biggest surprises of Week One as Kenya’s Okwiri knocked out the Austrian pugilist Marcos Nader. Nader boasts a glittering pro record of 18-1-1.
Okwiri is considered an outsider in his weight category, particularly in comparison to his opponent, who holds EBU European Union belt and is seeded top in the welterweight. His right hand hook in Round 2 turned out to be a shock for his Austrian opponent.
Nader, who is the only Austrian boxer in APB ranks now bears a tremendous responsibility in front of his home-country supporters and will be looking forward to getting back on track on his way to APB glory.
Okwiri, who enjoys phenomenal support from his fans in Kenya, gained even more supporters from around the globe and will do now do everything he can to make them feel proud and earn the chance to represent his nation’s colours in Rio 2016.
Meanwhile, Boxing India is confident of Sarita Devi’s return to the ring before too long after the International Boxing Federation (AIBA) suspended the 29-year-old for her petulant display at the recent Asian Games at Incheon, South Korea.
Sarita was furious after losing her semi-final bout in women’s lightweight division to local favourite Park Ji-na and lodged a protest against the verdict which was rejected.
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