Boxing’s day of shame! … as Sackey, Wasiru WBO championship fight ends in bloody violence

GBA Executive member Rabon Dodoo (right) appears to be challenging Referee Bertin on his decision

GBA Executive member Rabon Dodoo (right) appears to be challenging Referee Bertin on his decision

THE much-heralded World Boxing Organisation (WBO) Africa super bantamweight championship fight between holder Isaac Sackey and Wasiru ‘Dzatabi’ Mohammed ended abruptly as supporters of the two boxers got entangled in a blood-spattered clash that left many with broken heads at the Bukom Boxing Arena (Trust Sports Emporium).

It was a weekend’s boxing day of shame on an otherwise explosive night of pugilism.

Instead of, perhaps, celebrating the emergence of a new king – Wasiru – whose imaginatively aggressive style was a near spitting image of the legendary Azumah Nelson, the night was rather splattered with blood, tears and agony.

The night’s horrendous anarchy started only in the third of the scheduled 12 rounds when Benin referee Adoin Bertin frantically signaled for the end of hostilities after the African champion, Sackey, had been felled by Dzatabi’s fiery right-handed corker.

Indeed, Sackey went down like a piece of log from a razor-sharp chainsaw – but gamely sprang onto his feet like a true champion – almost immediately.

Majority of the crowd, at this stage, may have been expecting the mandatory count – from the referee and perhaps holding the distressed champion by the hand to find out whether he could continue. But to the utter surprise of the well-filled roofed auditorium, he called it over.

And, boom – the night caught fire!

That decision did not go down well with Sackey’s corner-men led by coach Akai Nettey who pierced into the ring to attack the referee – cascading into a free-for-all fight as supporters of both boxers jumped into the scandalously disgraceful fray.

Other fight officials – Shadrack Acquaye, Erasmus Owuo and May Mensah Akakpo – were also manhandled.

Indeed, chairs, tables, bottles, iron metals – name them – flew menacingly from many directions as the outnumbered security on duty tried desperately to bring the situation under control.

A number of boxing fans including women and children were seen in tears of horror as they hurried swiftly away from the gory scene whilst others were spotted with blood-stained shirts.  It could have been worse.

This happened in the full glare of several boxing bigwigs including Nii Amarkai Amarteifio, Ghana Boxing Association (GBA) boss Peter Zwennes and his vice Manley Spain, WBO representative Samir Captan and celebrated boxing judge Ataa Eddie Pappoe, among other luminaries – who all had to run for cover – with some resurfacing later after calm had been restored.

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, Wasiru, who holds the national crown, started the first round at full-tilt and greased-lightning speed and sent Sackey sprawling on the canvass with the champion clutching firmly to the left foot of the challenger to survive the round. This was after the two boxers had spent nearly two minutes sizing each other in reverence.

Round two turned out to be a give-and-take affair, a roughshod act that was extended even after the bell had sounded for the break. It was suggestive of what could probably happen in the second round. And, predictably, it was fatal.

Goaded by chants of “Dzatabi” … “Dzatabi” … “Dzatabi” … (literally translated: son of lion, in the Ga language) by his energised supporters, Wasiru launched a series of raids on the body of Sackey before letting go the thunderous right that took the champion down.

Few hours ahead of the bout, supporters of the two undefeated boxers were said to have clashed at the boxing arena, leaving bad wounds on their bodies and had to be rushed to the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital – a few metres away.

It was a bad omen by several cuts; but no one predicted the night could end up on a more calamitous note.

In August 2007, the national featherweight championship between Emmanuel ‘Game Boy’ Tagoe and Malik Jabir ended abruptly in the 11th round when lights went off for the second time during the fight.

This culminated in the throwing of plastic chairs and other objects, forcing the referee to call off the fight that was staged at the James Town Mantse Agbona Park.

However,  days later, Tagoe – who was leading 100-93 on the cards of all three judges, was declared winner per the Match Commissioner’s report that referred to section 6.7 p.24 of the GBA’s regulations – which gives discretion to the referee to halt the fight – if he deems it necessary.

Experts say Saturday’s incident may have been a different ball game as Ghanaians wait with bated breath for the decision of the GBA. Whatever it is, fans are already famished for a quick re-match!

BY JOHN VIGAH

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