IT was a big day when worldclass boxers displayed the type of boxing that Tanzanians missed for a long time.
Uhuru stadium arena in Dar es Salaam was the venue, and thousands of boxing fans were there to witness. Tanzanian, Hassan Mwakinyo was representing Africa, and his opponent, Arnel Tinampay from Philippines, was representing Asia.
The game was a true continental- level showpiece, and Mwakinyo, who overpowered his opponent, made Tanzania and Africa proud. It was not an easy fight for Mwakinyo, but he won the tough game and, perhaps, it could have been tougher for him hadn’t it been for the Tanzanian crowd who cheered him.
The cheering became his encouragement and motivation as well. “There was huge support from my fellow Tanzanian’s, I was happy to see them. It was motivation that encouraged me to perform well,” Mwakinyo said after the bout.
Looking at Mwakinyo, his stance, guard and punches, there was a lot to say, and a lot to question, which made spectators to worry about his game tactic, and they were not sure if he could win the fight.
Mwakinyo constantly back peddled, hanging on the ropes, guarding his face, which gave the Filipino an opportunity to pummel his lower abdomen, which was dangerous enough to knock Mwakinyo’s wind out and devastate his power.
That kind of tactic, if used carelessly, could make a boxer lose his guard and offer his opponent an opportunity to deliver a killer punch. But it was not easy for Mwakinyo’s opponent, because despite the fact that he was hit repeatedly, his guard was effective, and did not give Tinampay a chance to deliver a devastating uppercut.
This kind of tactic takes us to the fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, also a Filipino, on May 2nd 2015 at MGM Grand Garden arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Floyd won the fight by unanimous decision, with two judges scoring 116-112 and the other 118-110.
Some of the viewers thought Floyd did not deserve to win the fight, as Pacquiao had delivered a big number of punches compared to Mayweather, but the question was, where did Pacquiao or Floyd hit? It is simple, Pacquiao was busy with the lower abdomen to wind out Floyd, but he did not succeed, and instead offered Floyd an opportunity to study his rival and target him repeatedly.
Pacquiao and Tinampay’s fans thought that the decision was biased, but the truth was that Floyd and Mwakinyo were better in tactics, patience and calmness.
Another relevant fight was between Mayweather and Conor McGregor on August 26th, 2017, where Mayweather won by technical knockout (TKO) after the referee saw that it was impossible for Mc- Gregor to proceed. His victory made him become the first boxer to finish his career at 50-0.
Mwakinyo’s game included footwork (going away), although it is common to understand that you cannot attack when you are running away, and the best way to attack is to counter your enemy, although it needs much energy to bring yourself back into range again and fire counters.
The importance of using this game tactic is because it is the easiest way to move away or avoid getting hit, and a great way of frustrating your opponent, tiring him out by making him hit on empty space, which works well against slower, heavy-footed opponents.
“The act of moving back might not have a meaning to the audience, and some thought that I was favored by the judges because I was fighting in my own backyard, but it was a defensive mechanism to reduce the speed of my opponent because he was fast and strong,” he said.
He added that if he had decided to be aggressive, he would have offered an opportunity to his opponent to knock him out, because his opponent knew that he was taller than him. Mwakinyo’s strength to withstand a hit was a clear witness that he had good preparation in building his stamina, or else he would have been knocked out earlier.
There is need for Mwakinyo’s technical bench to install new game tactics, because if Tinampay had heavy punches to hit Mwakinyo’s lower abdomen, it would have been easy to wind him out and ensure a knockout.
During the fight however, it was embarrassing to note that Mwakinyo was not well prepared, and this was displayed with the way he had to change gloves in the middle of the fight.
“We had proper gloves, the organizers realized that the gloves which I was directed to use were missing, which forced Tinampay to question why he was using different gloves, so we had to change them,” said the President of Tanzania Professional Boxing Regulatory Commission, (TPBRC) Joe Anae Joseph.
Such kind of disorganisation, to say the least, can reduce the country’s chance to host other major professional games. Thus, it is important for TPBRC to be careful in their preparations, considering that the fight was an international bout.