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Okwiri win against Itabe earns him the vacant ABU belt

In Summary

•Referee Steve ‘Vedo’ Okumu stopped the proceedings after the Tanzanian failed to beat the count of 10.

•In a women’s super lightweight bout, Judy Waguthii demolished Tanzanian Asha Nzilani in the 23rd second of the third.

Kenya's Rayton Okwiri(L) trades punches with Hussein Itabe from Tanzanai during the Africa Boxing Union middleweight Title Bout at Charter Hall on Saturday night
Boxing Kenya's Rayton Okwiri(L) trades punches with Hussein Itabe from Tanzanai during the Africa Boxing Union middleweight Title Bout at Charter Hall on Saturday night
Image: Eric Barasa

Newly-crowned Africa Boxing Union (ABU) middleweight champion Rayton Okwiri believes he is now ready to work his way up the list of contenders in his quest for global titles.

The Olympian, who joined paid ranks after his 2016 debacle in Rio, delivered a scintillating flurry of punches which sent Tanzanian opponent, Hussein Ilabe, crashing onto the canvas.

The win earned him the vacant ABU belt which now improves his chances of fighting in Europe, America and Asia.

The Nairobi-based Kenya Prisons Service officer, better known as ‘Boom Boom’ in boxing circles, stretched his unbeaten record to four wins and a draw.

Referee Steve ‘Vedo’ Okumu stopped the proceedings after the Tanzanian failed to beat the count of 10. Ilabe went to his knees and couldn’t recover the thunderous onslaught.

The 10-round scheduled title contest ended on the 78th second of the third round. Okwiri pinned the Tanzanian at a corner to delver his killer antics. From the first Hong, Boom Boom fought as though each shot was to be the last.

“I realised he had heavy punches and with his massive physique, he threw heavy punches. The essence was to weave, bob and duck and I also frustrated him with some body shots in the initial stages,” said Okwiri.

Prior to the flurry, Okwiri chased the Tanzanian, caught him with a few hooks then nailed him at a corner and the visitor had definitely seen enough before the stoppage.

“I’m now the African champion with just five fights. Now I’m ready to face global contenders in my weight. I will be challenging for the World Boxing Council (WBC) title next year and should this come to fruition, then I will be rated among the contenders for the world title and this is what we shall be working on this year. I might fight once or twice locally or outside the country in the run up to the WBC big day,” Okwiri, who plied his trade in the now defunct AIBA Pro Boxing (ABP), said of his fight plan.

A sell out crowd at Charter Hall witnessed some startling moments in the six-card event sanctioned by the Kenya Professional Boxing Commission. Anderson Sifuna defeated Michael Nyawade in an all-Kenyan lightweight six-rounder while Fred Nyakesha drew with Dubai-based Nick ‘Makaveli’ Mwangi in another six-round super lightweight non-title bout.

Mwangi, however, claimed he was robbed of victory. “I had more of the fight. I handed him scares on many occasions and I’m surprised the judges thought otherwise. I respect the judges decision but I believe they can do better,” Mwangi fumed.

In a women’s super lightweight bout, Judy Waguthii demolished Tanzanian Asha Nzilani in the 23rd second of the third. Referee Leonard Wanga stopped the proceedings to save the Tanzanian from further punishment.

Kenya’s James Onyango was stopped by Tanzanian Hamisi Mayo in the sixth round. Former Kenya international Morris Okolla aka Maketho handed Tanzanian Alphonse Muchuatumbo a third-round TKO.

Like Okwiri, Okolla, a product of Dallas Muthurwa production line, received the wildest cheers on the night in the event promoted by Main Events promotions. In attendance were several former Kenyan international boxers including Olympians Benson Gicharu and Suleiman Bilali as well as Fatuma Zarika, the world super bantamweight WBC champion.