HOMEBOY Francis Cheka beat American Phil Williams on split points decision, to claim the World Boxing Federation (WBF) super middleweight world title at the Diamond Jubilee Hall in Dar es Salaam on Friday night.
The fight, the main event at the "Title Night in Tanzania", pitted one of Africa's most celebrated boxers against an up-and-coming brawling fighter from the United States of America.
All the three judges had Cheka winning. The first judge Eddie Marshall from South Africa scored 116-113 in favour of Cheka, while Fidel Hayness gave out 119-118 and the last judge John Chagu recorded 117- 116. The other two judges are Tanzanians.
The fight was well handled by South African referee Drake Ribbinck and Cheka entrance to the fight was delayed but when he did arrive he started sluggishly in the opening round only to pick up in the third round. Cheka impressed in the third and fourth rounds as he landed more meaty blows.
The Morogoro based fighter, better known as SMG by his fans, caught Williams "The Drill" with heavy blows in the fourth round and the American took to his knees but managed to continue with the bout as he appeared unhurt from the straight jab.
Williams went down again in the seventh round after taking a sharp slip but the American was immediately on his feet to counter flurry of punches from his opponent. The fight that was graced by the Minister for Information, Youth, Culture and Sports, Fenella Mukangara saw the two fighters exchanging blows in the closing moments but Cheka was technically clinical.
Following the latest victory, Cheka the current IBF Continental Africa champion and the number one ranked super middleweight in Tanzania has now made 29-7 record with 16 KOs against Williams who has now compiled 13-6 record with 11 KOs.
This latest victory proved that Cheka, 5' 10 ½", is one of the finest boxers in the country and Africa in general. The main fight was preceded by four other exciting fights.
In the curtain-raiser to the bout, Thomas Mashally beat Mada Maugo on points to claim WBF Super middle Champion Africa in the 10 round bout, while Alphonse Mchumiatumbo beat the Iringa based boxer, Chupaki Chipindi with TKO in fifth round of 6 rounds heavyweight bout.
Alain Kamote from Tanga beat Deo Njiku from Morogoro on points in the 6th round bout, while Ramadhani Class "King Class Mawe" outpunched Simba wa Tunduru on points in the four rounds bout.
However, the event could not go smoothly as almost all local boxers went on strike over allegations of un-cleared payments, whereby the audience had to wait for almost an hour while promoters were sorting out the problem. Some journalists were barred to enter to cover the event and several people were arrested with fake tickets.
The WBF sanctioned title fight was orgsanised by Hall of Fame Boxing & Promotions (HOF), based out of Canton, Ohio, US in collaboration with the Tanzania Professional Boxing Association (TPBA).
According to HOF representative Jay Msangi, this is the first time the company is staging professional boxing matches outside the US.
At ringside was two-time defending world heavyweight champion Francois Botha. The "'Title Night in Tanzania" was a prelude to a larger event scheduled for April next year in Tanzania billed as "Knockout Malaria".
HOF is working with top-ranking officials of the government to hold a day-long event at the National Stadium to raise funds to help fight malaria, one of Africa's deadliest diseases.
"Knockout Malaria will have far-reaching benefits beyond raising money for malaria research and prevention," observed Msangi.
"We expect this event to attract more tourists to Tanzania, bring this part of Africa in the international spotlight and allow Tanzanian citizens to take pride in their community and even volunteer their God-given skills to help produce this incredible day-long affair."