When the first bell is rung on Sunday at the Indoor Sports Hall of the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos, venue of GOtv Boxing Night 16, it will signal- more than anything else- the start of a march to stardom of a new crop of Nigerian boxers.
Young, talented and brimming with ambition are eight of the 45 boxers discovered at the last two editions of GOtv Boxing NextGen Search. On the big stage for the first time are 18-year-old Opeyemi Elijah, best boxer at GOtv Boxing NextGen 4, who will take on Sheriff Ogunbanjo in a super bantamweight duel; Taiwo Agbaje who faces Tope Musa in a lightweight clash; Azeez Tijani, who will confront Waheed Shogbanmu; Isaac Chukwudi, who goes up against Adeyemi Adekanla in a welterweight clash; and Aminu Akintayo, who squares up with Mutiu Lawal.
Each will hope to emulate Rilwan “Baby Face” Babatunde, a graduate of the inaugural edition of GOtv Boxing NextGen Search in 2015 and current West African Boxing Union (WABU) champion. Babatunde, on two occasions, also won the best boxer award at GOtv Boxing Night.
On Sunday, each of the kids will seek to make his mark, in the hope of kicking off from there. Over the last two weeks, the raw talent, which accounted for their selection from hordes of trialists, has been refined at a camp run by the country’s best coaches. How well they haveinternalised the instructions will be known on Sunday.
GOtv Boxing Night 16 will feature a total of nine bouts across weight divisions. The pick of the lot is the WABU lightweight title bout between the flamboyant Rilwan “Real One” Oladosu of Nigeria and the powerful Benjamin Lamptey of Ghana. “Real One”, a former winner of the best boxer award at GOtv Boxing Night, will seek to add the sub-regional title to the national title he currently holds. Another big hitter in action at the event is the reigning African Boxing Union (ABU) lightweight champion, Nigeria’s Oto Joseph, who faces Ghana’s Emmanuel Mensah, a replacement for his compatriot, Anama Dotse, who was ruled out by injury. Next to this is the national lightweight title duel between Kabiru Towolawi and Adewale Masebinu. The fight provides the latter the chance to avenge his defeat by knockout in a previous edition of GOtv Boxing Night. Masevex has boasted that the fight will not go beyond two rounds. Will he deliver?
Another rematch will see fan favourite, Waidi Usman attempt to establish his dominance over Chibuzor Obi, whom he defeated in a featherweight clash at GOtv Boxing Night 1.
The best boxer on the night will go home with a cash prize of N1.5 million alongside the Mojisola Ogunsanya Memorial Trophy.