Legendary former world champion Ayub Kalule says Sharif 'The Lion' Bogere has a good chance of emulating him when he takes on Cuban born Richard Abril for the World Boxing Association (WBA) lightweight title this Saturday, writes Moses Mugalu.
In 1979, Kalule defied odds when he dethroned WBA light middleweight champion Masashi Kudo in his hometown of Akita, Japan. He defended the title four times before surrendering it to the great Sugar Ray Leonard. Looking ahead, Kalule is optimistic about Bogere's chances.
"The fact that he's fighting a non-American is already an advantage", Kalule says. "It's difficult to win against an American in the US because they [Americans] control everything from referee to judges to glove and ring size."
Kalule, who like Bogere also started his amateur career at Kampala Boxing Club (KBC) before capturing world attention, is delighted that a Ugandan fighter is on the verge of stepping into his success path almost three and a half decades later.
Twenty-four-year-old Bogere is at the centre of Uganda's boxing fraternity as he attempts to become only the country's sixth world champion after Kalule, Cornelius Boza Edwards, John Mugabi, Kassim Ouma and most recently Jackson Asiku. If Bogere wins, he will become only the second Ugandan after Kalule to win a WBA title.
"I would be glad to share a photo moment with him if he gets that belt," says Kalule, who now maintains a low-key profile in Kampala.
The unbeaten fighter has put on an impressive show ever since he turned professional in 2008. He has won all his 23 bouts, including 15 knockouts while fighting from Las Vegas as his base.
Bogere has also assured his fans that he is set for the fight after an injury forced the postponement of the bout for three months. "I have fully recovered from the injury; so, I am mentally and physically fit for Abril. The belt is coming home," Bogere said in a statement over the weekend.
Meanwhile, the Florida-based Abril boasts of 17 wins, of which seven are by way of knockout, but the 30-year-old has lost three times as a pro.
Vacant WBA World lightweight title
Sunday March 3: Sharif Bogere v Richard Abril, (Approximately 6am)