WBO Global lightweight champion Jeremiah 'Lowkey' Nakathila is still rough around the edges, but showed he is ready for the big time with a hard-fought eighth-round stoppage of Zimbabwe's Peter Pambeni in Windhoek on Saturday, his trainer and promoter Nestor Tobias says.
Nakathila (19-1-0) survived a spirited challenge, including a nervy opening round when he got staggered by a Pambeni left hook to the temple, to close off the 'Champions in Action' main event in style.
The result kept Nakathila's world title fight aspirations alive, with Pambeni (16-4-3) having to go back to the drawing board.
"It's just a matter of time before I get the chance to bring another world title to Namibia. I'm happy to win again. It was tough, but we did it," Nakathila told The Namibian Sport as his delighted fans swarmed the ring.
The Zimbabwean gave as good as he got, with his sleek movement and sneaky blows worrying the champion over the first six rounds before running out of steam in the seventh and eighth rounds.
Tobias praised the challenger for a spirited effort against the WBO world No 2.
"For sure, Pambeni was a tough opponent. He fought very well, and gave Lowkey problems. You can see he is a good fighter, but Nakathila is world-class," he said.
"He fought a tough fight, and he won. That's a sign to the nation and the world that we have an unpolished diamond, but we're busy polishing him," Tobias continued.
"But he's ready to go for the world title. He's got all the tools. He can only improve, especially on his timing and his tactics."
Tobias was visibly agitated with his prodigy for ignoring instructions to target Pambeni's midriff, as the Zimbabwean showed signs of tiring.
Having gamely absorbed pressure from the champion, Pambeni dropped to his knees towards the end of the seventh when Nakathila winded him with a left hook to the body.
Pambeni, searching for a fourth win in Namibia, came out firing in the eighth with a barrage of punches, forcing Nakathila to retreat. However, once he regained his composure, Nakathila ended the contest with another body blow, backed up by a hook to the head as Pambeni slumped to his knees, and referee Deon Dwarte from South Africa stopped the contest.
"He wanted to knock this guy out, and sometimes if you go into the ring already telling yourself you're gonna knock this guy out, you'll go the whole night looking for it.
"Sometimes, you have to listen to the corner, and strategise how you're gonna get the guy," Tobias said.
"When he started hitting the body, this guy was vulnerable on the head, and when he came with the left hook, he was always catching him. But he's a good kid, he's hardworking, and he will learn as long as he keeps listening," he added.
On the undercard, Harry Simon Jr continued his steady progress with a fourth-round technical knockout victory over Limbani Chipaka from Malawi, while the other notable supporting bout saw Charles Shinima score an impressive junior middleweight victory inside two rounds against Thembani Mhlanga of Zimbabwe.
Simon Jr and Shinima remain undefeated after 10 fights each.
The rest of the 'Champions in Action' boxing results are as follows - Joseph Abel beat Salatiel Edundja by unanimous decision (featherweight); Paulus Aileka lost a unanimous decision to Wanangula Wilhelm (super bantam); Fillipus Shaanika beat Nelson Hango by unanimous decision (super bantam); Abed Shikongo defeated David Haufiku by majority decision (jr middle); Paulus Amavila outclassed Michael Kambunga inside three rounds (lightweight); Fillipus Nghitumbwa beat Ronald Tamani of Zimbabwe by TKO in round two (super bantam); and Fillemon Nghutenya earned a majority decision over Japhet Amukwa (super fly).