By Mark Etheridge┬áin London
A last-minute change of tactics was probably the difference between defeat and going through the second round for boxer Siphiwe Lusizi at the London Olympics on Sunday night.
Southpaw Lusizi, fighting in the welterweight (69kg) division beat Iraq’s Abdulkareem Ahmed comfortably enough, 17-13.
That set the Eastern Cape teenager up for a second round clash with Venezuela’s Gabriel Maestre Perez.
Manager Andile Mofu took Road to London 2012 through Sunday night’s fight.
“We knew nothing, zilch, about the Iraq guy as there were no tapes etc.┬á But at the weigh-in we had a look at this guy and saw that he was shorter than our man.
“Siphiwe also had a longer reach so our plan was to work from the outside.”
Mofu says the biggest battle was to convince his charge to box and not fight. “He’s more a fighter but he definitely can box. This fight proved to him that he doesn’t have to get into a slugging match but that he can win by boxing to plan.”
Lusizi is getting some invaluable experience in recent years, having gone to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi and also World Championships in Baku, Russia last year ÔÇô on both occasions losing in the first round.
“This win is particularly pleasing because it’s been a long time since we managed to get a boxer through the first round at the Olympics,” said Mofu.
Lusizi won the first two rounds 6-4 6-4 and then drew the last 5-5.
“He told me after the end of the second that he was tired. He wanted to go back to his fighting style but I convinced him that we’d win if we continued to box clever. So he did and that was key because the guy came back strongly in the last round as he was trying to win it. But our guy saw that if stuck to instructions he’d come through.
“This is so good for him because as we know, boxing is very much a psychological sport. If he knows that he can win fighting to instructions etc he’s only going to get better.
“We’ve got tapes of the Venezuelan now and will be studying those and work out what we’ll do for the next fight. But he must also be allowed to celebrate his win as well, while staying focused.
“He’s already phoned his family back in Mdantsane [East London] and you won’t believe how much support is coming back to us from South Africa.”
Should Lusizi get through his fight on Friday that will take him into the quarters and if he wins that one he’s into the semi-final with a guaranteed medal.