THE MTC Nestor Sunshine Tobias Boxing Academy changed its maligned view of World Boxing Federation titles after Onesmus Nekundi won the sanctioning body's lightweight world title on Saturday.
Promoter Nestor Tobias famously made disparaging remarks of the WBF's status in world boxing, declaring that his stable would not associate with the organisation.
But following Nekundi's seventh-round technical knockout of Portuguese Antonio Joao Bento in Luanda, Angola, he became Sunshine's fourth world champion.
Tobias most notably led Paulus Moses to the WBA lightweight title; Paulus 'The Rock' Ambunda to IBO and IBF bantamweight straps; while Julius Indongo was the unified light-welterweight WBA, IBF and IBO world champion.
"The WBF is not a recognised sanctioning body - nobody in our gym will ever fight for those titles because it's a waste of time and money. Nobody will ever take you seriously with a WBF title, and promoting such titles is a total embarrassment for Namibian boxing, and quite unfortunate," Tobias told New Era daily in 2016.
MTC backed that position last year when announcing it had split its boxing sponsorship to include Salute Boxing Academy, who before that sponsorship sanctioned several WBF contests, including Bethuel 'Tyson' Ushona's world title fights.
Salute and Sunshine are expected to attract titles commissioned by reputable bodies like the World Boxing Council, International Boxing Federation, World Boxing Organisation and the World Boxing Association.
"It's two different things when you're taking a fight and promoting a fight," Tobias told The Namibian Sport yesterday. "I don't think that is the issue. I think the issue is that the guy went to fight, and he won. He improved his record."
Sunshine will not promote Nekundi's title defence due to a contractual agreement with MTC.
"We are limited to promote the top four. That's how it is at the moment," said Tobias.
Angola's Desporto said Nekundi, who went into the bout as the continental WBF title holder, put on an impressive performance in defeating the hard-punching Portuguese veteran.
Bento, who found himself at a disadvantage, showed that he could surprise with a blow that took the Namibian to the carpet after a misstep in the sixth round, but the fight continued.
In the seventh round, Onesmus took advantage of a guard position of his rival, landing several blows to the head and face of the Portuguese, who was visibly unable to continue as referee Elroy Marshall of South Africa stopped the fight.
The noticeably faster 31-year-old Namibian began the fight by striking successive blows that sent the 41-year-old into guard position, the WBF reported on its website.
"Nekundi is a much better fighter than his spotted statistics suggest, and he appears to have found his true form as he hopes to continue building on his momentum towards even bigger fights," the WBF said.
Nekundi improved his record to 10-5-3 (2), while Joao Bento, who made his paid debut in 1999 and has held various WBA, WBC and IBF regional belts, drops to 33-18-3 (21).
"The experience was good for Nekundi, fighting away from home and against such an experienced opponent," said Tobias.
"Our fighters need to master the art of winning away from home. I wish to reiterate that although he won the title, we will not defend or promote it.
"Our only interest in this fight was for him to fight an experienced opponent and improve his record, and we have achieved that.
"We are now looking ahead to get Nekundi a top four regional title either in the WBO, WBA, IBF or WBC," he said.