In 2015, boxing was one of the sports codes that enjoyed massive support.
Unlike 2014 when less than 10 professional boxers fought the international stage, this year saw the figure rise to 20.
New Dawn Boxing Promotions and No Pain No Gain Boxing Promotions made sure local boxers were not starved of international fights.
Malawian boxers trekked to Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania.
However, a string of poor results characterised the international bills.
Only Limbani Masamba and Alick Gogodo managed to pluck victories in Namibia and Tanzania respectively.
Masamba earned a second-round knockout victory over Namibian undefeated national champion Alfeus Shilongo while Gogodo was awarded a technical knockout win over Tanzanian Nsajigwa Mwaipopo.
Overall, the performance of Malawi boxers on the international stage has been at its lowest in 2015, despite promoters such as New Dawn Boxing Promotions and No Pain No Gain Boxing Promotions in collaboration with Zimbabwe’s Delta Force Boxing Academy organising more bouts for local boxers.
It was quite disappointing that within just the past two months, nine of 12 Malawian boxers who fought across the border lost either on knockout (KO) or technical knockout (TKO).
The likes of Wilson Masamba, Gogodo, Moses Mahilasi, Robert Kachiza, Aubrey Masamba, Chikondi Makawa and recently-turned-professional female boxer Anisha Bashir made that list.
But perhaps the most shocking defeat was that of prominent Malawi Defence Force (MDF) boxer Wilson Masamba, who lasted only 47 seconds of his four-round non-title bout in Wndhoek, Namibia.
He was knocked out by Namibian Jeremiah Nakathila.
This happened over three months after he lost on points a 12-round International Boxing Federation (IBF) Africa Lightweight fight against Namibian Albinus Felesianu.
The most embarrassing moment for Malawi professional boxing arrived in May when Kachiza got knocked out inconscious by Zimbabwe’s Tinashe Mwadziwana in the second round at Lilongwe Community Centre ground.
The country’s boxing fans hoped for a solace from celebrated South Africa-based boxer Isaac Chilemba, but unfortunately, things did not work out for him as he lost on points in a closely-contested World Boxing Council (WBC) eliminator bout against Canadian Eleider Alvarez.
The result caused Chilemba’s fall on the WBC light heavyweight rankings from first position to third.
Had he won the bout, Chilemba could not only maintain his first position on the global rankings but also become a mandatory challenger to WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson next year.
But that dream was shattered. No wonder he openly wept in disbelief after the results of his bout in Quebec, Canada were announced.
“Not only was the prospect of dropping on the rankings devastating but also the manner through which I lost the bout because I believe I won the fight,” the 28-year-old former champion was quoted as saying in The Nation on December 4.
But not all was lost in 2015, as Malawi’s celebrated female boxer Agnes Mtimaukanena managed to win three international bouts at Robin’s Park in Blantyre upon her return from a two-year maternity break.
The former World Boxing Federation (WBF) light middleweight champion beat Kenyan Joyce Awino twice and also defeated Tanzanian Amina Mhumbira.
However, her lack of firepower and shoddy endurance could be her stumbling blocks as she prepares for her WBC welterweight title bout against Zambian Lorita Muzeya sometime in 2016.
Let us hope that winds of change will blow across the local professional boxing arena so that Malawi boxers can finally perform better in 2016.n