After close to five years of inaction, Harry Simon made a victorious return to the ring when he beat Stephan Ngueza of Gabon on a unanimous points decision over eight rounds on March 4.
But Ngueza can feel hard done by as he did everything but knock down Simon in a gutsy display in front of close to 1 000 fans at the Sam Nujoma Stadium.
Simon weighed in at 88,30kg â?? more than 12kg heavier than Ngueza, and looked ponderous and out of shape from the start.
Ngueza took the fight to Simon and regularly pinned him against the ropes with sharp combinations to the head and body. But Simon absorbed all Ngueza could throw at him and counter attacked with some heavy combinations of his own. At times Simon showed flashes of his old brilliance with his quick hand speed, but on the whole he was intent to absorb Nguezaâ??s blows and respond with the odd counter attacks.
But although Ngueza found an easy target in Simon, he couldnâ??t put him down. Simon, on the other hand, landed the heavier blows, a factor which probably counted in his favour with the judges, who all gave Simon a comfortable victory. In the end, the three judgesâ?? score cards read 79-73, 80-73 and 78-74 in Simonâ??s favour,
Huge investment by Hauwanga
The fight was the main drawcard of the Benam Boxing Tournament, which saw a new promoter, Amini Nambili enter the Namibian professional boxing scene. Since 2001, when Namibia hosted its first professional boxing tournament, Nestor Tobias had been the sole promoter of professional boxing events, but Nambili has now entered the fray, after receiving a huge sponsorship of close to N$500 000 from his employer Bennie Hauwanga, to stage the tournament.
â??Harry Simon first approached me with the idea of staging a boxing tournament and as a former boxer myself, I was keen from the start. I spoke to Mr Hauwanga, who agreed to sponsor the tournament, while we also signed a contract with Harry, which gives us the right to promote his first three fights,â? he said.
Nambili said Simonâ??s first three fights would be staged in Namibia, after which he would fight in Europe to try and regain his junior middleweight title. He said that although Simon was out of form against Ngueza, he was confident that he would retain his former heights when he held two world title belts in the junior middleweight division.
â??Harry was not fit enough for the fight, but I can see that he can still be a good boxer. He needs to do more training, so that he can lose weight and reach his normal weight. He is still strong and punches hard, but the problem in Namibia is that there are no sparring partners here for him. There is no one here who can give him a good workout, so he needs to go to South Africa to train and prepare for fights. I think Harry can still go far and I know he will make a good comeback,â? he said.
Namibili added that he thought the decision in Simonâ??s favour was a fair reflection of the fight.
â??I thought Harryâ??s result was fair. Ngueza threw a lot of punches, but they mostly landed on Harryâ??s arms. He would maybe connect with one out of six punches, while Harry was much more accurate and landed about three out of four punches. Harry did not waste his punches,â? he said.
Nambili said he planned to stage his second tournament in Ongwediva at the end of May, where Simon will once again be the main drawcard.
Uushona beats Kanime
The main bout of the evening between Namibian welterweight champion Tyson Uushona and Kanime Kanime was a bit disappointing. Uushona was an easy winner on points, but both fighters looked slow and missed a lot.
After a slow start, Uushona picked up the pace and started landing some solid combinations by the third round. He however struggled to land effective blows against Kanime, whoâ??se awkward style made him a difficult target.
Kanime landed some good jabs with his longer reach, but Uushona landed the stronger blows. Kanime was clearly tired in the final rounds, hanging on a lot, but managed to see out the fight.
Uushona won the fight on a unanimous points decision, 99-91, 98-92 and 100-90.
Superb display by Bergman
South Africaâ??s former WBO world champion Jan Bergman knocked out Namibiaâ??s Gottlieb Shileka with a vicious left hook seconds before the end of their fight.
Bergman dominated from the start and displayed his vast experience with a superb boxing display. He was constantly on the move and picked up points regularly with his jabs and quick counter attacks, while Shileka struggled to find his target.
Shileka managed to land some heavy blows in the third round, but Bergman came back and shook Shileka with a hard right in the fourth round.
By the fifth round Bergman had opened a gash over Shilekaâ??s left eye and kept on accumulating points with his sharp jab. Shileka tried to corner him to land his heavy blows, but Bergman used his experience to back pedal out of trouble.
Shileka went all out to land a knockout punch in the final eighth round, but with barely 10 seconds of the fight remaining, Bergman connected with a vicious left hook that sent Shileka crashing down to the canvas. Shileka was counted out with only one second of the round remaining.
Light flyweight Joseph Jermia maintained his unbeaten record with a unanimous points win against Khanyekude Mulansi of South Africa, while lightweight Philip Swartbooi made a triumphant debut, beating sparring partner Tommy Nakashimba on points over four rounds.
The results of the Benam Boxing Tournament were as follows:
Paulus Kapia (Namibia) beat Martin Haikali (Namibia) on points over 4 rounds.
39-37, 39-37, 40-37.
Mwetupunga Johannes (Namibia) beat Kobus Mothloding (SA) on points over 4 rounds.
40-36, 39-37, 39-37.
Joseph Jermia (Namibia) beat Khanyekude Mulansi (SA) on points over 4 rounds.
60-55, 59-54, 60-55.
Modestus Muatile (Namibia) beat Bully Muravha (SA) on the 3rd round TKO
Phillip Swartbooi (Namibia) beat Tommy Nakashimba (Namibia) on points over 4 rounds.
40-35, 40-35, 39-37.
Jan Bergman (SA) beat Gottlieb Shileka (Namibia) on an 8th round KO.
Harry Simon (Namibia) beat Stephane Nzuemba (Gabon) on points over 8 rounds.
79-73, 80-73, 78-74.
Tyson Uushona (Namibia) beat Kanime Kanime (Namibia) on points over 10 rounds.
99-91, 98-92, 100-90.