Azinga Fuzile beats Martin Ward in Las Vegas to set up title eliminator
SA boxer Azinga Fuzile has the world at his feet after beating Briton Martin Ward in an IBF junior lightweight title eliminator in Mandalay Bay‚ Las Vegas, on Sunday.
The Duncan Village fighter proved his credentials in stunning fashion by flooring Ward twice before a technical knockout in the seventh round.
The fight was the undercard to the WBC lightweight title duel won by Devin Haney, who beat Jorge Liranes on points.
Fuzile, fighting in the US for the first time, was a picture of confidence as he broke down the Brit‚ flooring him once in the fourth round in a dominant performance.
Using brilliant counters‚ which included a sneaky right hook every time the Brit threw a left jab‚ Fuzile built a points lead on two of the judges’ scorecards.
“We practised it in the gym‚” Fuzile said. “We knew that he was going to throw a left jab and we planned to counter it with a right hook. The plan worked like a charm.”
Fuzile again dropped Ward with a right hook in round seven‚ forcing the Brit’s handlers to throw in the towel.
The win sets up Fuzile for a fight against the winner between his lone conqueror, Shavkat Rakhimov, and Kenechi Ogawa‚ who will fight for the vacant IBF title in Dubai in July.
Fuzile was leading on all the cards when Rakhimov rallied to stop him in eight rounds of their controversial September 2019 title eliminator.
The Tajikistan-born Russian was caught as he was being administered what looked like smelling salts before the stoppage.
“I wish Rakhimov wins the fight because I have unfinished business with him‚” Fuzile said after beating Ward. “We need to put this straight, but whoever wins‚ I will be ready for him.”
Fuzile’s win was celebrated across the province, with premier Oscar Mabuyane’s office also joining in to hail it as a big moment for sport in the province.
The boxer’s promoter, Teris Ntutu‚ who accompanied him to the US‚ said the victory is a validation of Fuzile’s world-class credentials.
“We are grateful for the strategy the technical team devised for the fight‚” he said. “Our next step is a world title shot and we are going after it.”
Fuzile and his team led by trainer Mzamo “Chief” Njekanye are expected be back in East London on Monday.
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