Two of our top boxers have provisionally qualified for the Olympic Games in London later this year, writes Mark Etheridge.
Fighting at the AIBA African Olympic qualifying event in Casablanca, Ayabonga Sonjica and Siphiwe Lusizi both reached the semi-finals in their respective weight divisions.
Eastern Cape’s Sonjica was contesting in the 56 kilogram division and beat Antonio Macie Watch of Mozambique. Sonjica took bronze in last year’s All Africa Games, held in Watch’s home country. Part of a squad of boxers that spent some time in Cuba last year, Sonjica built up enough of a lead in the first two rounds to hold off a strong-finishing Watch. The final points tally was 20-10 in the favour of Sonjica.
He’ll now take on Isaac Zion Dogboe, from Ghana but based in London, in the semi-finals. Dogboe, still only 18, is studying accounting and business at a London College. He beat Tanzania’s Emilian Patrick Pollino, a relative veteran at 30 years of age.
Lusizi was fighting in the 69kg bracket and a had a great victory against All Africa Games title winner Joseph Maluma of Cameroon, who was tournament favorite in the welterweight division. The fight was hotly contested but Lusizi came out tops by virtue of a 14-13 points decision.
Lusizi, was part of Team South Africa at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India in 2010 but lost via KO to Namibia’s Mejandjae Kasuto. Lusizi will now take on Mali’s Mohamed Diaby in the semi-final contest.
Team SA manager in Morocco, Peter Armstrong said: “Ayabonga and Siphiwe have reached the semi-finals and have qualified for the Olympic Games in London. We will however go all out to win the gold medals. Ladumo Lamati can still end up in fifth or sixth place and can still qualify.”
The final decision on which boxers will represent South Africa in London lies at SASCOC board level.