20 Feb - 15 Mar 2020
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Qualification Tournaments
Dakar, Amman, London, Buenos Aires, Paris
Bout-by-bout text updates, video highlights and reaction from the African qualifiers, as Olympic Channel bring you all the action on the Road to Tokyo 2020
This was out live blog for
Friday 28th February.
After a rest day on Thursday, this is day 8 of Olympic boxing qualification for Tokyo 2020, with more tickets to the Games up for grabs.
Dakar is hosting the first of five qualifying events, with African Nations taking part from 20-29 February, and you can watch all the action LIVE on Olympic Channel right here.
Refresh for updates. All times are UTC/GMT, which is also the local time zone in Dakar.
Day 8 brings a mixture of finals and box-offs. While the finals will decide who leaves Dakar with the gold medal, the boxers involved have already booked their places at the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer. However, there are also three box-offs between losing semi-finalists, who will all be boxing for their place on the plane.
The first box-off will be bout No 3 today, at men's flyweight between Tetteh Sulemanu, of Ghana, and Juliano Maquina, of Mozambique, who already qualified an impressive two boxers on Wednesday.
Two bouts later, Abdelhaq Nadir, the tournament No 1 seed from Morocco, will be facing Fiston Mulumba, of the Democratic Republic of Congo, for the third lightweight spot in Tokyo.
Then, at middleweight, we probably have the contest of the day, as the impressive Wilfred Seyi Ntsengue, the 22-year-old Cameroonian, who is an unbeaten professional based in Montreal, faces David SSemujju, the No 1 seed from Uganda, after both were surprisingly beaten in the semi-finals.
There will be only nine bouts today, after Abdelhafid Benchabla, of Algeria, decided to withdraw from the heavyweight final, having secured a place at his fourth Olympics. So Youness Baalla, of Morocco, will take the heavyweight gold in Dakar by a walkover.
The session starts today at 4pm (UTC/GMT).
After today, there is one final session on Saturday, before the action switches to Amman, Jordan, where the Asia/Oceania qualifying event begins on March 3.
20 Feb - 15 Mar 2020
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Qualification Tournaments
Dakar, Amman, London, Buenos Aires, Paris
Yegnong Njieyo enjoys a bit of head slapping.
Maxime Yegnong Njieyo (Cameroon): I came here to win, I am a warrior. I didn’t come here for anything short of African title. That is after a lot of perseverance, hard work, a lot of sacrifice. This is no magic."
Younes Nemouchi (Algeria): "I knew I would be travelling to Dakar only four days before the competition. I was used to being the reserve. I was always training in the national team and I stay behind. I am always the reserve. It’s the first official competition for me to travel and fight for Algeria and I become the African champion."
Wilfred Seyi Ntsengue (Cameroon): "It was really, really tough, his style is very similar to the Congolese I lost too before, which is dodging and throwing some hard jabs.
"I had to adapt my plan in the ring. I had to dig deep on my fighting spirit and mental hardiness. In Rio, I won my first fight and lost my next and even lost consciousness. I like to be different and unique. My style from the dreadlocks and tattoos is my identity. I love tattoos but my favourite, the one on my face, is the whiskers of the lion. It is my signature, even in the ring, I reincarnate the Lion."
Jonas Jonas (Namibia): "It feels great even though it’s not my first winning at this stage. This is my seventh African title. It’s always the same for me at the qualifiers, so the feeling is mutual.
"I was in the U.S. about a month ago training at the Olympic centre, I was sparring there with the likes of the USA, Great Britain, Italy…there is a lot of difference. You cannot compare that kind of boxing with this boxing. So these guys must step up otherwise we won't make it at the Olympic Games. Now I am going back home and keep it local, we will maybe get two coaches from abroad. I want the gold medal obviously at Tokyo 2020. I haven’t changed a bit from Rio, it was just the circumstances that I was kept away and didn’t train for almost a week but that was just it."
Abdulhaq Nadir (Morocco): "I know how I lost my last fight, so today was all about correcting that. But the guy was tough. I kept my distance halfway in the first round and I noticed that he did the same too and came all out attacking then I had to switch and punch more in the second. I had wanted to qualify top but I had to wait. Now it’s the time to train even harder for a good show at the Olympics after earning my slot for Tokyo."
Man mountain Maxime Yegnong Njieyo, of Cameroon, pounded out a 4-1 split decision over Chouaib Bouloudinats, of Algeria, to win the super-heavyweight gold medal. Yegnong Njieyo was positive throughout, using his jab well and keeping Bouloudinats off balance. And while the experience Algerian had his moments, the Cameroonian was well worth his win.
Mohamed Flissi (Algeria): "It was close because I was a bit tired today, it’s because I gave my all in the semi final against Tetteh. That was hard. I am happy to be able to regain my African title and show what I have got. I was third at the African Games and today I just put in my years of experience to finish at the top. As I go back to the Olympics, my dream, God willing, is to win the medal that eluded me in London and Rio, I know I can do it as the judging there will be clean and fair."
Here is a short film with Mozambique Olympic qualifiers Helena Panguana and Rady Gramane.
Younes Nemouchi, who only got a place in Dakar at the last minute because of illnes, not only booked his place in Tokyo on Wednesday, he secured victory in the tournament, as he won a 4-1 split decision over David Tshama, of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Tshama was aggressive, but the Algerian worked well on the backfoot to catch the eyes of the judges.
The middleweight box-off lived up to the hype as David SSemujju and Wilfred Seyi Ntsengue stood toe-to-toe for nearly the full nine minutes. Seyi Ntsengue, from Cameroon, who boxed in Rio de Janeiro four years ago, did the smarter work, claiming the opening round, but found himself under constant pressure, as Ssemujju came forward throwing punches. Ssemujju, the No 1 seed from Uganda, was non-stop in rounds two and three, but while the Ugandan had the edge in the second, Seyi Ntsengue raised his game again in the third, boxing well with his back to the ropes, to avoid the Ugandan's best shot and counter. Still, it was incredibly close on the card, Seyi Ntsengue, 22, who is now a professional based in Montreal, claiming a 3-2 split decision.
Jonas Jonas, of Namibia, won a battle of experienced campaigners as he won a split decision over Richarno Colin, of Mauritius, in a cagey bout in the final at lightweight.
Abdelhaq Nadir was a happy man after victory
The Democratic Republic of Congo have been on the wrong end of of some rough-looking decisions in Dakar and another cost Fiston Mulumba a place in Tokyo in the lightweight box-off, as the judges sided with Abdelhaq Nadir, of Morocco, despite Mulumba battering him around the ring for the last two rounds.
Mulumba made a fast start, but Nadir came back into the first round with some good body shots to take the first on the scorecards. Nadir began to fall apart in the second round, though, as he had a point deducted for punching incorrectly and then took a stream of heavy punches. It put Mulumba in charge on the scorecards, with four judges giving him the round 10-8. One judge, though, inexplicably scored the second round 9-8 to Nadir, meaning he believed it would have been a 10-8 round to Nadir without the point deduction, which seemed outrageous.
Mulumba could sniff the opportunity, though, and charged after Nadir at the start of the final round, battering the Moroccan into the corner. Nadir was trying to survive and was bleeding heavily on the nose, while Mulumba landed big punch after big punch.
Somehow, though, Nadir was given a split decision. Even more remarkable, four judges gave the final round to Nadir. It means one judge had it to Mulumba, one to Nadir and three had it 28-28, so at least two of those must have plumped for Nadir by countback. Boxing and judging controversy are never far apart.
Nadir becomes Morocco's fifth qualifier.
Tetteh Sulemanu (Ghana): "It has been a long time since I try to qualify for [the Olympic Games] 2012. I pray to God so he should help me. People have been saying that we [Ghana boxers] cannot qualify and we know that we can qualify and our coaches know these fighters can qualify. And I know three others can qualify, I pray to God that they should qualify to come and join me."
A total of 11 years separates Patrick Chinyemba and Mohamed Flissi and experience counted as Flissi, the 30-year-old Algerian, won the flyweight final on a 4-1 split decision over the 19-year-old Zambian. Chinyemba was aggressive and quick and gave Flissi all the problems he could handle. The judges sided with the backfoot work of Flissi, though, as he claimed the gold medal. Both will have high hopes for Tokyo.
A great start by Tetteh Sulemanu, who comes out looking for Juliano Maquina, of Mozambique, in the men's flyweight box-off, and lands a big right hand. That inspires Sulemanu, who gets even more aggressive, imploring Maquina forward for a punch-up. It's a good first round for the Ghanaian, but Maquina gets an element of control in the second round, getting the nod from three of the judges. to leave the result in the balance. The third is a close round too, Sulemanu, 27 - who boxed at London 2012 - coming forward, Maquina boxing on the back foot. And Sulemanu gets it, by a 4-1 split decision, becoming the first boxer to qualify for Tokyo from Ghana.
Oumayma Bel Ahbib (Morocco): "This was by far the most difficult fight for me in a long time. Panguana beat me at the African Games and finally today I got my revenge. I have been waiting for this moment since then.
"I came here focused and I put it my head that no matter what happens in the ring, I have to win this fight and qualify top for Africa. I will take the same mentality to Tokyo. Now it’s time to step up my training and focus ahead it would be a dream come true to win a medal for Morocco at the Olympic Games,"
Khouloud Moulaki (Tunisia): "I had a good feeling about this fight. I know Kenosi very well and I have fought her before at the continental events. At the African Games I fought and won in the 60kg, and I dropped down to 57kg for the featherweight title.
I wasn’t worried at all going into the ring today. I knew all I had to do was to do my thing fight from start to end. My aim was to finish as the African Champion as I head to the Olympics where I pray for a medal. I can get an Olympic medal."
On to the first box-off of the day, with Tetteh Sulemanu, of Ghana, and Juliano Maquina, of Mozambique, about to box for the third flyweight spot in Tokyo.
If the main work of getting to Tokyo had been completed on Wednesday, no one was telling the welterweight finalists Oumayma Bel Ahbib and Helena Panguana, who started trading shots at the opening bell with little let-up. Panguana, of Mozambique, was getting the better of the first round until she was knocked down by a left hook just before the bell. Bel Ahbib did better in the second hand to build a commanding lead, although Panguana started the final round well, catching the Moroccan on the way in and then chasing Bel Ahbib around the ring. With a minute to go, and no let-up from Panguana, Bel Ahbib was starting to look wobbly, but she lasted to the final bell without taking a count and claims a split points decision victory.
Aggressive start from Khouloud Moulaki, of Tunisia, who takes no time to cut down the distance to Sadie Kenosi, of Botswana. Kenosi has a big height advantage by Moulaki is not deterred and gets under Kenosi's jab to land some good hooks. The second round goes more to plan for Kenosi, who walks the Tunisian on to a good straight left-right combination that dislodges Moulaki's gumshield.
But, as in the first round, Moulaki's industry is rewarded by the judges as she opens up a two-point lead on the cards.
There's going to be no comeback from Kenosi, though, as Moulaki whales away with both hands, while Kenosi, the No 1 seed, seems content to just box, without taking any chances. Moulaki wins a unanimous decision, winning 30-27 on four cards and 30-26 on the other.
Just five minutes until the first bout of the day. We start with two women's finals, featuring boxers who have already qualified for the Olympics, so these might give an idea as to which one might go further in Tokyo. The first is at featherweight, when Sadie Kenosi, of Botswana, takes on Khouloud Moulaki, of Tunisia. Then there is a welterweight final between Oumayma Bel Ahbib, of Morocco, and Helena Panguana, of Mozambique.
After booking his spot to Tokyo on Wednesday, fearsome super-heavyweight Maxime Yegnong Njieyo will be going for gold in Dakar today. We caught up with the Cameroonian.
Today's look back at a great African boxer from the past takes us only back as far as 2008 in Beijing and the brief Olympic appearance of Badou Jack. Despite being from Sweden, Jack qualified for Gambia through his parents and carried the flag at the Opening Ceremony. After the Olympics, he moved to the United States, where he was signed up by Floyd Mayweather's promotional company, winning the WBC super-middleweight title and the WBA light-heavyweight title. Here is his bout in Beijing with India's Vijender Singh.
For day 8, we've got one busy session of boxing action, starting at 16:00 UTC/GMT which you can watch live on OlympicChannel.com and follow in text form right here on the blog.
The full schedule of bouts can be found here.
As well as watching all the action from Dakar on Olympic Channel, we've also got three special interactive live shows later today.
Olympic Channel host Rahul Pathak and two-time gold medal winning boxer Nicola Adams will be reviewing the best bits of the competition and answering your questions.
You can watch the Live Shows here, wherever you are in the world and without subscription.
You can get involved in the show by sending your comments and questions to our team via Olympic Channel social media accounts.
If you've not watched our Live Show previously, here's an episode from earlier in the week to give you a taste of what's to come.
Stay with Olympic Channel for all the action on the road to Tokyo 2020.