The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: African Boxing Title

After claiming the Uganda Professional Boxing Commission (UPBC) national light middleweight title at the C & C pub in Kibuye, new champion Mustafa Katende says he's ready to jump at any opportunity.

Unbeaten Katende (8-0, 6kos) who stopped Med Bukenya in the eighth round of a scheduled ten-round clash last Saturday wants his promoters to find bigger title bouts for him.

"I have proven my worth here; I want the East African title and then go for Africa," an elated Katende said after his fight.

He added: "After dropping to the light middleweight, I thought I could have some difficulty but I was at my best. Bukenya is a tough guy but I was too hungry and angry after [Med] Sebyaala dodged me; so, Bukenya paid the price. "

Originally, Katende had been scheduled to challenge for the middleweight title from Sebyaala but the champion opted out after failing to agree with the promoters on the fee. This forced Katende to seek a substitute who turned out to be Bukenya. By then, he had shed off 5Kg in less than two weeks.

On top of struggling to make the weight, Katende, 28, who has for years been a national team pugilist at amateur level, had nothing to show in terms of achievement until his recent title. In fact, his triumph on Saturday is his major breakthrough since turning professional in 2008. His coach and trainer, Mike Kizza, whose Fist-Knights Boxing Promotions (FBP) organised the contest says Katende will get two more tune up fights before challenging for the continental title.

"I'm glad he displayed great skills and improved stamina in destroying Bukenya but we need to give him some exposure against international opponents," Kizza remarked.

Indeed, tune-up fights will come in handy for Katende who wasn't tested much by a seemingly unprepared and lacklustre Bukenya. Bukenya was too immobile and slow. He also lacked tact; so, Katende shouldn't read much into this result.

Now Katende is expected to face either a Kenyan or Tanzanian opponent in the next FBP fights scheduled for May. If he wins, another tune-up and most likely with the East African title at stake will be lined up for him in August. However, before Katende can go in for the African title in December as promised by Kizza, he must improve his foot-work, movement and coordination of punches to match international standards.

Organisers of the FBP fights are pleased with the overwhelming interest shown in the professional fights last weekend.

"We now have plans of switching to a bigger and better venue," said Mansoor Mpagi, FBP's matchmaker and promoter.

In the other bouts on the under-card, bantamweight prospect, Frank Kiwalabye stopped Hamza Olum in the sixth round; Solomon Ssesanga scored a split decision victory over Raymond Ssentongo in a closely fought featherweight tussle, while Remy Iga knocked out Jowali Kalenze in the third round of their scheduled four-round bantamweight bout.

Julius Azumah Mutesasira was stretched to the maximum but went on to score a unanimous decision win over Armstrong Mwanje in the light welterweight bout.

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