London — BOXER Gilbert Choombe was made to appear like a real amateur by a more experienced Australian, Jeffrey Horn during the men's light welterweight contest at Excel South Arena2 at the on-going London 2012 Olympics Games on Tuesday night, losing 19-5 on points.
Choombe's loss dashed Zambia's hopes of an Olympic medal from boxing, being the sole representative in this sports category that previously dominated games of this magnitude for Zambia.
The two unseeded orthodox boxers started by sizing each other up at the go of the first bell, but it was the Australian who snapped out of it quickly to land some quick shots at Choombe.
The Zambian, who is inspired by American boxing icon Floyd Mayweather junior, a 1996 featherweight bronze medallist for the United States at the Atlanta Olympics, tried to react by throwing back some punches but ended up missing most of them.
At some point he slipped but got up quickly and before he knew it, the first round of three had gone with the judges recording 6-1 in favour of Horn. Choombe, who stands at 1.50m as compared to his opponent who is 1.75m, had a shorter reach and kept dropping his guard in the second round, allowing his opponent to land punches on his face that counted for points.
The 24-year-old Aussie stamped authority in the ring and appeared more assertive in the second round especially when he would use his foot work to closely follow Choombe who most of the time found the ropes as his shield. Choombe, 20, landed one or two on Horn's face and would turn his back to his opponent when ducking away, a thing he was cautioned against by Slovanian referee, Vladslav Malyshev.
He caught his opponent on the wrong footing on one or two occasions, hitting him in the ribs and accurately hammering Horn on the face to gain some points in the second round which ended 4-2 in favour of the Australian. Choombe, realising he should have fought with the same vigour in the first and second rounds, went full force in the third round trying to reclaim the lost time.
At one point he went for his opponent with so much force that he almost threw himself out of the ring and ended up hanging on the ropes. Horn, who boasts 57 fights, 58 after Tuesday night's fight, with a record of 46-0-12, realising he had won the third round, just started using skill and experience against Choombe who had gained confidence by then, only it was too late, as the third round passed by so quickly with the judges awarding the Australian 9-2 against Choombe, for the final score of 19-5.
Choombe described the fight as tough, saying before he stepped into the ring, he had a feeling that he would win, but realised that the Australian was stronger than him.
He said he started the first round on a slow note because he wanted to weigh his opponent and believed that he would catch up with him soon.
"Before the fight, I had a feeling I was ready, but I found that the other guy had more power than me and in the process I got tired.
"It was the first time I was fighting an Australian guy, but I will use this fight as my experience for future tournaments of this nature. I had to get protection from the ropes because he was following me closely with his attacks," Choombe said.
Choombe, who was camped in Cardiff for 19 days and spent two weeks training in Lusaka before coming to the London 2012 Olympics, advised the Zambia Amateur Boxing Federation (ZABF) to start preparing boxers for future tournaments in time.
His coach Elias Kataya, who trained 2002 Manchester Commonwealth gold medal winner, Kennedy Kanyanta, Dennis Zimba and Davis Mwale, who won silver and bronze, respectively, at the same games, described the fight as tough.
Kataya said Choombe tried the best he could, but that he could not perform any better because Zambia had not invested much in its boxers. "If you want to do well in any sport, you need money for boxers to participate at competitive international tournaments.
"We need to invest more in our local boxers because fighting in local tournaments does not help boxers, they know each other well at that level."
He said Choombe was a young boxer who still had a lot of boxing in him and could perform better at future tournaments if he and other boxers were well sponsored.