This Day (Lagos)

30 July 2012

Nigeria: Jordanian Boxing Lesson Exposes Nigeria

Lukmon Lawal's 19-7 defeat by Jordanian Ihab Almatbouli Monday reflected the level of rot that had set on Nigeria's boxing.

Unlike in the past when it was only Cuban boxers that proved tough opponents for amateur Nigerian boxers at the global level, the two male boxers that represented the country were dismal and inexperienced.

Lawal succumbed 5-3, 6-3 and 8-2 in the three rounds of the 81kg, light heavyweight category fight that took place at the ExCel venue of the on going London Olympics.

He showed no brilliance at all in all the rounds and was more of a punching bag in the third. There was nothing to show that Lawal had any lesson in scoring techniques as most of his punches were none scoring.

For Almatbouli, the win was historic for Jordan's boxing at the Olympics.

Almatbouli's win is expected to create big news in his home town, where friends and family, including his five brothers, were reported to have gathered in cafes to watch him live on television.

At the venue itself, he was cheered by team-mates and supporters as the handful Nigerian officials, including the Sports Minister, Bolaji Abdullahi, watched in horror.

"Everybody back home will be proud. With this achievement hopefully I can become a role model. Despite a difficult life I never stopped doing my sport and it is a dream to be here at an Olympic Games."

Earlier on Sunday, Muiyideen Akanji was similarly battered in the men's 75kg, middleweight clash with Darren O'Neil of Ireland.

The female member of the boxing team, Edith Ogoke, is the only one left in the race as her preliminary bout against Elena Vystropova of Azerbaijan is scheduled for Sunday.

If she pulls through, she has a tough quarter final pairing against Russian Nadezda Torlopova who drew bye into the stage as the second seeded boxer of the weight category.

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