Will Kenya's Rayton Okwiri finally get his breakthrough in the paid ranks?
BOXING By Ochieng Oyugi | May 16th 2021
African Boxing Union (ABU) middleweight champion Rayton 'Boom Boom' Okwiri turned professional after his amazing show at the 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil.
Since then, he has been on and off the paid ranks following announcement by World amateur boxing body AIBA allowing pro boxers to qualify and compete in the Olympics.
He took advantage of this reprieve last year to take part in the Tokyo Olympics qualifiers in Dakar, Senegal where two Kenyan pugilists punched their tickets to the Summer Games.
Unlucky Okwiri returned home to carry on with his professional boxing, successfully defending his ABU title on December 14 in Nairobi.
His professional stint, which has not yielded much in terms of revenues, seems to have taken a lucrative turn on Friday when Kenya Professional Boxing Commission (KPBC) announced his forthcoming title fight against a yet to be named Russian opponent.
The World Boxing Organisation (WBO) duel slated for August in Nairobi has attracted global quarters including former world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, Floyd Mayweather's The Money Team Promotions and sport and technology firm Bet22 Kenya.
The fact that the bout has attracted big boys in the sport is a clear indication that the pugilist is set to reap big in the duel.
Also, Bet22 Kenya coming on board to sponsor his stay and training in Florida, USA ahead of the fight in addition to Sh350,000 to cater for his training expenses tells a lot about the magnitude of the fight.
Will he finally get his breakthrough in the paid ranks? Only time will tell.
Okwiri has been upping his exercises at the historic Pal Pal gym under head coach David Kiilu to prepare for the WBO fight.
"I have been engaging in strength and conditioning schedule in addition to the skills and sparring techniques," he told The Standard Sports.
His weekly routine involves long distance jogging at the weekend, shadow boxing on Mondays, normal training on Tuesdays, sparring sessions on Wednesdays, another normal training on Thursdays and another sparring session on Fridays.
In order to take his fitness to the next level, Okwiri will now travel to the USA to engage in high profile training.
"I'll be based in Florida till August under Raynelo Promotions," he said.
Okwiri will engage in competitive sparring in the US to gain exposure ahead of the fight.
"There are no worthy sparring partners in Kenya right now, most of the opponents I have get tired easily.
"While in the US, I'll be training in a state of the art gym with all the equipment. This will put me at par with my opponent," he said.
Okwiri is grateful that his trip and stay in America has been fully sponsored by betting firm Bet22 Kenya.
"With the Sh350,000 received, I'll buy gloves, pads, boots, tracksuits, headgear, skipping ropes among other training paraphanelias," he said.
Sam Malonza, 22Bet Kenya General Manager said they chose to sponsor Okwiri because the pugilist has potential.
"We supported him last December when he successfully defended his ABU title. We are glad he didn't disappoint," Malonza said.
Malonza explained The Money Team (TMT) Promotions by American boxer Floyd Mayweather and former world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson have agreed to be part of the forthcoming bout.
"We look forward to hosting Tyson in Nairobi soon before the fight," said Malonza.
Kiilu who is a former World Boxing Union and World Boxing Federation champion is happy that Okwiri has finally landed on a sponsorship deal to aid his fights.
"Now we have no financial problems, it's our turn to deliver the belt home," said Kiilu.
Kiilu will engage Okwiri online to monitor the boxers progress in the US.
Okwiri's Manager, Ahmed Juma believes the boxer will return to Kenya sharper and ready to deliver the coveted belt.
Kenya Professional Boxing Commission (KPBC) President, Reuben Ndolo said the federation and WBO will announce Okwiri's opponent in due course.
He also challenged Bet22 to sponsor other young boxers because they are the future of the sport.
"Okwiri was initially to fight Moshea Aleem of USA on May 19, but this did not take place due to the ongoing covid pandemic," said KPBC Secretary General Frankline Imbenzi.
"When I started boxing my dream was to represent Kenya in the Olympics (Rio 2016), own a continental belt (ABU) and now I'm focused to win a World title."-ABU champion Rayton Okwiri.
Okwiri's Tale of The Tape (Professional)
Name: Rayton Nduku Okwiri
Nickname: 'Boom Boom'
Wins:5 (4 KOs)
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