12 April 2019

Namibia: History Beckons for Ambunda

PAULUS Ambunda says he will be the first Namibian to win a fight on American soil when defending his IBO super bantamweight title against top prospect Stephen Fulton on 11 May in Fairfax, Virginia.

The fight precedes that of unified and undefeated IBF and WBA 154-pound champion Jarrett 'Swift' Hurd's defence against primary contender Julian 'J-Rock' Williams on prime time television.

"If you are a boxer and you have never fought in America, then don't consider yourself a fighter," a laid back Ambunda quipped in an interview with The Namibian Sport on Thursday.

"I'm very excited about fighting in America. It was the one thing I wanted most. I have been praying to get a fight in America, just to showcase my talent," he said.

America is widely regarded as the mecca of boxing, given the lucrative broadcasting deals which attract the world's biggest fights.

Ambunda may not be the headline act, but it is still expected to generate a lot of interest, given the involvement of one of the US's rising stars.

Ambunda's countrymen and former world champions Julius 'Blue Machine' Indongo, namesake Paulus 'The Hitman' Moses and more recently Walter 'The Executioner' Kautondokwa have all found the 'Land of Dreams' an unhappy hunting ground.

"I'm not going there to drop off my title. I'm just going to show it to them, and come back home with it," Ambunda said confidently.

At 38, Ambunda (27-2, 11 KOs) is Namibia's oldest, and presently only, world champion. He earned the honour in Singapore last September when he beat Muhamad Ridhwan of Singapore.

A rematch, with the added incentive of the World Boxing Council silver featherweight title, set for 29 March in Singapore fell through.

Ambunda's camp claim the Asian developed cold feet and opted for an easier fight, which he lost by split decision, against Filipino Landy Cris Leon earlier this month.

Nonetheless, the champion is now fully focused on his American assignment, which he intends to pass with flying colours.

"Just because it was announced now does not mean we only got the offer last week. We have known about this fight for about two months when the Ridwan fight was cancelled," his trainer Immanuel Moses of the African Connection Boxing Academy said.

"He [Ridhwan] chickened out. He went to rethink after he agreed on the rematch. So, that fight is no more. Maybe it will happen in future," said Moses.

The fledgling Fulton (15-0, 7 KOs) fights out of Philadelphia, and defeated previously unbeaten fighters in five of his last nine contests. The ambitious American is a full 14 years Ambunda's junior, and with half as many fights as the decorated Namibian.

That lower mileage is of little significance, Ambunda said.

"Don't say that you're late or old. There's still time to shine. I don't feel old. I feel like I'm 18 years old, and I will keep shining," The Rock declared.

Moses agrees, and while he rates Fulton high, he foresees another victory for Ambunda.

"He's young, undefeated, and is a real prospect. But he's never faced a boxer of Ambunda's calibre. We're going there to defend our title and keep Namibia's flag flying high, like we did last year in Singapore," he predicted.

"When we went to Singapore, nobody thought we had a chance, but we took the fight. We studied the opponent very well, and realised we could beat him in his backyard and get the world title," Moses continued.

"We want Ambunda to finish his career on a high. Not just any fighter gets a fight in the US. You only go there if you're a world champion. It's about the quality of the fighter and the belt you have. They are looking for a guy who can go there and entertain them in a professional manner.

"We're not in boxing to be fighting at home. We want to fight outside as much as possible. It doesn't help you fighting bums in Namibia, because when the real test comes, you will struggle," Moses noted.

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