LONDON Aug 1 Magomedrasul Medzhidov was among
the first amateur boxers to sign up to the Olympic governing
body's new professional ranks and the gulf between the
Azerbaijani and those not so lucky was evident on Wednesday.
World amateur champion Medzhidov, the favourite to take gold
in the super-heavyweight category, pummelled Meji Mwanba in his
first round bout, knocking the Democratic Republic of Congo
fighter down twice before the referee stopped the contest after
Medzhidov hit him so hard, his helmet flew out of the ring.
The International Boxing Association (AIBA) are setting up
AIBA Professional Boxing, or APB, next year in a to bid to stop
boxers leaving the Olympic movement to join the traditional pro
ranks and have so far signed up five highly ranked fighters.
It plans to give almost a quarter of available Olympic spots
to professional fighters in four years' time, still leaving
space for fighters from developing countries, some of whom it
held a free two-month training camp for prior to the Games.
However Mwanba, who works as a security guard by day, is not
provided with gloves or some of the basic facilities needed to
train in his home city of Kinshasa.
At an Olympic qualification tournament in May, he struggled
to find a helmet big enough for his head, a mandatory piece of
equipment to box. He secured a place in London as part of an
AIBA policy to include as many countries as possible.
"My opponent is a professional, he's just boxing all the
time, it's his job," the imposing Mwanba, who was nevertheless
furious that judges had scored the first round 8 points to 1 in
favour of Medzhidov, told reporters through an interpreter.
His coach, Adelard Ibula Masengo, said the country could not
pay for enough fighters to travel to Morocco for May's
qualification tournament and that the Congo Athletics Federation
had to buy five plane tickets to send their four competitors and
a coach to London.
Masengo, a former amateur fighter who was in the crowd for
the famous 'Rumble in the Jungle' fight of 1974 when Muhammad
Ali fought George Foreman in Kinshasa, said the country has some
great boxers but can only do so much.
"There is nothing suitable in Kinshasa for training, there
is no equipment or anything like that so we just get by."
Mwanba, however, said he would still like to turn
professional some day.
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin, editing by Justin Palmer)