From Duro Ikhazuagbe in Rio
Trinidad and Tobago’s Nigel Paul wept like a baby on Saturday night at the Riocentro Pavilion of the Olympic Stadium here in Rio de Janeiro after it took Team Nigeria’s Efe Ajagba 2.44 seconds to knock him out.
Most boxing fans that trooped into the arena to see the stuff Nigeria’s lone qualifier was up to at the 31st Olympic Games in Brazil were still settling down when Ajagba unleashed a combination of punches to the face of the much heavier Carribean boxer.
He staggered to the ropes but Ajagba was not done yet. The Nigerian followed up with a devastating blow to the left chin of Paul to send him head-long to the canvass.
The Russian referee in-charge of the fight did not hesitate to end it. Paul rose up and wobbled to his corner to earn Ajagba a technical knock-out and a ticket to the next round.
The fight was over in the just 2.44 second of the first of the three rounds of the Super heavyweight category of the boxing event of Rio2016.
Team Nigeria’s corner led by Coach Tony Konyegwachie, younger brother of 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games boxing silver medalist, Peter Konyegwachie, erupted in celebration. Also among those celebrating was the doctor in-charge of Team Nigeria, Dr Ahmed Mu’azu, who was occasionally supporting as assistant coach to Konyegwachie.
The Trinidadian was sad and could not help telling reporters with sadness in his voice that his three-year preparation has vanished in less than three minutes.
“I did all necessary preparations, attending the Pan American Games as well as several championships to get myself ready for the Olympics but now all that has been destroyed in the first round,” stressed the boxer who had hoped to use his success here in Brazil to advance his boxing career.
The Delta-born Ajagba is a 2015 All Africa Games gold medalist in Congo-Brazzaville and a bronze medalist at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland in 2014.
His next fight in the quarter final is against Kazakhstan’s Ivan Dychko who similarly knocked out a fighter from Azerbaijan on the same night as the Nigerian pugilist.
Dychko is going to be a tough fight for Ajagba given how he dispatched his opponent, inflicting deep gash in the eyes of the Azerbaijan with ferocious punches.
He looks bigger and heavier to trim Ajagba. The Nigerian however remains unfazed insisting his target is to get a medal here.
“I am focused on my next fight and don’t care who ever he is. I have my eyes on winning a medal here in Brazil,” gushed the determined Nigerian fighter.
He said that part of his secret is that he remains largely unknown to his opponents as he refused to upload his fights on the YouTube social media platform.
“By the time I will the gold here, I can then put my fights on YouTube,” concludes the boxer.
Nigeria’s Commonwealth Games boxing silver medalist, Adura Lanlehi told THISDAY that he is very sure Ajagba can go as far as winning the gold medal of the super heavyweight category.
“He has everything to win the gold despite the many challenges Nigerian boxers faced ahead of Rio2016.
Adura stressed that whatever the outcome of Ajagba’s next fight, the determination to excel is the driving force and not any form of support from Nigeria’s sports officials.
“Ajagba would not have been the lone Nigerian qualifier for the Rio 2016 boxing event if those in-charge of Nigeria’s sports have been alive to their responsibilities. We had the chance of coming here with as many as seven boxers, majority of whom were in the quarterfinal stages of qualifying for the Olympics,” revealed the former boxer turned coach.