Can Ajagba deliver Nigeria’s first medal tonight?

Ajagba (right) during his bout with Nigel Paul.

Nigeria’s sole flag bearer in boxing at the ongoing Rio Olympics, Efe Ajagba is on the verge of making history tonight as he faces Ivan Dychko of Kazakhstan in a quarter-final super heavyweight bout billed for the Riocentro-Pavilion 6.

A victory for Ajagba again tonight will earn him a semi-final berth and automatic medal as well at the Olympics.

It will also be Nigeria’s first Olympics boxing medal since Duncan Dokiwari’s bronze feat at Atlanta ‘96 and the first medal by Nigeria since Beijing 2008 Olympics.

Ajagba announced his arrival at Rio 2016 two days ago when he delivered a right hook to the chin of his opponent from Trinidad and Tobago, Nigel Paul to end the bout in just two minutes 44 seconds of the first round.

Unarguably, the Delta State-born boxer faces an uphill task in his bid to make the podium given the pedigree of his opponent.

Dychko, who is rated world’s number two won a bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympics when he lost to the eventual gold medallist, Britain’s Anthony Joshua 11-13 in the semi-final.

The six-feet eight and a half tall boxer could be rated higher also in terms of preparation for Rio 2016 aside having access to better facilities also had the ample opportunity to train in June in Austria for two weeks with the former WBA, IBF and IBO heavyweight champion, Wladimir Klitschko and his team.

“Everything was top notch. Of course, it was interesting to check yourself in sparring against such a great and experienced fighter as Wladimir Klitschko. The two weeks with Klitschko’s team were a great experience,” Dychko had remarked before heading for the quadrennial Games.

The 25-year-old boxer in his first bout too at Rio 2016 showed his devastating form when he stopped Azerbaijan’s Magomedrasul Majidov in the second round to set up a showdown with Ajagba.

But the 2015 All Africa Games gold medallist, Ajagba is also prepared to rewrite history at Rio 2016 as he declared that he had techniques to demystify any opponent including Dychko.

“Efetobore Apochi taught me how to fight bigger opponents and avoid being hurt.

“Dychko is a heavy hitter, a fighter, but he cannot box. He is slow and has a weak chin, so if I cannot win by boxing technique, I will turn to fighting. I have so many weapons to use against him,” the 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist said.

Meanwhile, Apochi, a bronze winner at the Glasgow 2014 believes, Ajagba’s day of glory is around the corner.

“He (Ajagba) will be different from what he put up during the last fight against Nigel. He is going to fight Ivan and not box. We discussed Ivan’s glass face and his height. Ajagba just needs to have a better mindset because boxing is 100 per cent emotional.

“Ajagba is ready physically and mentally even though he did not get the physical preparations he needed from Nigeria. He is looking forward to fighting three of them (super heavyweight boxers) Ivan, Tony Yoka of France and Joe Joyce of Great Britain, “ said the 2015 All Africa Games silver medallist.