When the first bell rings at the Indoor Sports Hall of the National Stadium, Lagos, today, a slice of fans’ attention will be focused on the man who will win the N1.5 million cash prize for the best boxer at the event. This is the second time the sponsors are deviating from the N1million cash prize that normally accompanies the accolade. The first time was last December, when Stanley ‘Edo Boy’ Eribo was chosen as the best boxer.
This time, the cash prize has been reviewed upwards in celebration of the fifth anniversary of GOtv operations in Nigeria and the commemoration of the country’s independence, according to a release.
GOtv Boxing Night 9 is also a deviation from the six-fight format that has marked the event since it debuted in 2014. There will be an additional fight, making for a seven-fight arrangement. In addition, GOtv Boxing Night 9 will provide the stiffest test for the country’s top boxing talents, who have been paired with elite-level opponents from Ghana, one of the superpowers of African boxing.
The Ghanaian challenge, a continuation of the Nigeria/Ghana sporting rivalry, will be mounted by Raphael “Iron King” Kwabena King and Richard “Desert Warrior” Amefu. King will face a stiff test from the quick-punching Olaide “Fijaborn” Fijabi, the national light welterweight champion, while his compatriot slugs it out with the explosive Oto “Joe Boy”, the national lightweight champion. Fijabi and Oto remain undefeated and have made a habit of stopping most opponents within the distance.
Fijabi’s last two fights ended in the first round. King is also undefeated, winning eight and drawing one of his professional fights. Amefu has lost two from 14, a record that cannot be sniffed at.
Another star billed to fight is Jude “Great Jude” Iloh, the national light heavyweight champion, who goes up against Adewale “Masevex” Masebinu. Iloh remains unbeaten in seven pro fights, five of which he won by Kos. This, however, is a record Masebinu claims has no relevance. The opponent has only one fight, lost, but believes Iloh will fall.
The cruiserweight division offers the much awaited national title defence by Ekeng “Fighting Policeman” Henshaw, ranked seventh by the African Boxing Union. Coveting his title is Idowu “ID Cabasa” Okusote (also known as Ojuelegba Terror). Okusote’s last fight was won via a knockout. His previous fight, a loss, was against one of the country’s biggest boxers, former Commonwealth champion, Isaac Ekpo, who also trains him.
Okusote believes that the tutelage from the girdled Ekpo puts him at an advantage over Henshaw.
The other light heavyweight clash will feature the Bariga mauler, Kabiru “KB Godson” Towolawi against Emmanuel “Man Mopol” Igwe. Both boxers are making their pro debut, but are well regarded in the amateur ranks.
Other debutants include Sikiru “Omo Iya Eleja” Shogbesan, who takes on the slightly more experienced Prince “Lion” Nwoye in a lightweight challenge contest. Nwoye has one pro fight to his name and won.
Also debuting is the pair of Ebube “Coded Man” Edeh, a man from whom much is expected, and Semiu “Jagaban” Olapade. Ede was discovered at the GOtv Boxing NextGen 1 last February and has been under the tutelage of coaches Joe Mensah and Obisia Nwakpa.