Nam ranked high by WBOBy: HELGE SCHUTZ
NAMIBIAN boxing is growing from strength to strength, with a record seven boxers currently ranked among the world’s top 15 in their weight categories by the World Boxing Organisation.
Tyson Uushona and Paulus Ambunda lead the way, with Uushona ranked second in the welterweight category while Ambunda is ranked third in the bantamweight category.
Immanuel Naidjala is ranked eighth in the bantamweight category, Paulus Moses ninth in the lightweight category, Abmerk Shindjuu ninth in the flyweight category, Wilbeforce Shihepo 13th in the super-middleweight category, and Sacky Shikukutu 15th in the welterweight category.
Namibian boxing promoter Nestor Tobias said it was a great achievement for Namibian boxing.
“It’s great. When last did you see Namibian boxers rated like this – it’s a record,” he said.
Tobias said that Ambunda will soon become the number one challenger for the WBO bantamweight title and will be in line for a shot at the world title early next year.
The two top-ranked boxers, Alex Jon Banal of the Philippines and Pungluang Singyu of Thailand, will fight it out for the vacant WBO bantamweight title on October 20, with the result that Ambunda will move up to the number one ranking. As the number one ranked boxer he will then have to get a mandatory shot against the champion within 120 days, or before 20 February 2013.
“I’ll try and keep Ambunda active and hope to organise another fight for him before the end of the year to keep him busy,” he said.
“I would love to organise the fight in Namibia but it will cost a lot of money and I would need the support from Namibia’s private sector,” Tobias added.
Uushona is ranked second behind the WBO’s world champion Timothy Bradley of the United States and he, too, could get a shot at the world title in 2013. Interestingly enough, he is ranked higher than the third-ranked Jan Zaveck of Slovenia, who beat Ushona on a controversial points decision in March in Slovenia.
“Ushona put up a great fight against Zaveck but suffered a controversial defeat and a lot of people thought he was robbed. He has a great record and always fights well abroad so all these things are taken into account for the rankings,” Tobias said.
“I’m also trying to get Ushona a fight before the end of the year so that he can remain active and ready if he gets a chance for the world title,” he said.
Tobias said that Namibian boxers are starting to make a name for themselves but are also becoming more expensive.
“Our boxers are becoming the main attraction which is good for Namibian boxing, but I also have to pay them more now. At the last boxing bonanza we did not have a sponsor and I had to cover 40 per cent of the expenses out of my own pocket,” he said.
The highlight of that boxing bonanza was undoubtedly the bloody encounter between Wilbeforce Shihepo and Johannes Mwetupunga, which saw Shihepo retaining his WBO Africa super-middleweight title on a unanimous points decision over 12 rounds.
Both boxers were covered in blood after an early accidental clash of heads but they fought on bravely for the whole 12 rounds and had the fans on the edge of their seats throughout the fight.
“It was a cracker of a fight and both boxers gave everything they got. Shihepo was very impressive and showed that he has the heart to go far. He has got the power but he is still young and can still learn a lot. He can become a champion but he needs to commit himself to the sport,” he said.
Tobias also commended Mwetupunga on a brave fight but said that a rematch was not on the agenda, for now.
“Mwetupunga has got a big heart. He was knocked down in the first round but got up and fought bravely till the end. They both showed that they have the heart to go far and I think it’s better to keep them separate for now to develop their careers,” he said.