AFTER missing out on qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics TT boxer Nigel Paul used that bump in the road to fuel his training and is now one win away from securing a medal at the International Boxing Association Men’s World Boxing Championships in Belgrade, Serbia.
Paul, who competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics, did not qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Games held earlier this year which was delayed by one year because of the covid19 pandemic.
Paul advanced to the super heavyweight +92kg quarterfinals at the world championships, on Sunday. Paul, the only man standing for TT at the championships, defeated an aggressive Ayoub Ghadfa Drissi El Aissaoui of Spain on points in the round of 16.
Paul won the fight 4-1 as four judges gave the TT boxer a 29-28 victory. Ghadfa won 29-28 according to the fifth judge.
Paul wants to improve as the competition progresses.
He told Newsday, “I still have one or two instructions that I am neglecting from the coaches to make my fight a little bit easier, but we are satisfied with the win (and) moving on which is most important.”
Discussing how he dealt with Ghadfa’s attacking style, Paul said, “The tactics that the coaches wanted me to use was to fight long, stay outside (and use) jabs and uppercuts.” When Ghadfa started to tire in round three Paul was instructed to throw more punches.
“I have confidence in my ability to go at a high pace for a duration of three rounds so when he began to run out of gas it is there the coaches told me to take it up (a notch), go at him, press on him, use my weight (and) rough him up a little bit.”
Paul is aiming for a medal at the championships but has his sights on the 2024 Paris Olympics after missing out on the Tokyo Games.
“Medalling at the world games may just be the icing on the cake, but we looking at the bigger picture and from the team.
“Even when the coaches Reynold Cox and (Rolston) Dopwell had to leave with (Aaron) Prince to go to the (Olympic) Games they were in close contact with me every day encouraging me, (telling me) don’t stop training.”
Paul said former TT Olympic boxer Kurt Sinette has supported him during the past few months leading up to the championships.
Paul said losing out on a spot in Tokyo served as motivation. “I don’t want to call it disappointment not going to the Olympics, but that hunger that I wanted to get back and wasn’t able to go to that Olympics really kept that fire burning in me to continue training.”
Cox said Paul is starting to “show what he is made of.”
Ghadfa was swinging from the opening bell, but Paul fighting in the red corner responded with punches of his own.
Fifty seconds into the fight Paul, who was bigger and taller than Ghadfa, connected with an uppercut with led to a standing count by the referee.
Both boxers were not shy to throw punches as the first round was intensely contested throughout. At the end of round one three of the five judges had Paul in front.
Round two started just as the first did with Ghadfa coming out swinging with a flurry of punches, but Paul fought back and landed a couple of blows that led to another standing count.
Despite the attack from Ghadfa, Paul demonstrated his defensive ability by blocking punches from the Spaniard.
At the end of round two, there was little separating the boxers as four judges had the match even at 19-19 and one judge had Paul in front 20-18.
The third and final round did not begin with the same intensity. After Ghadfa’s mouthpiece fell out which led to a short delay, Paul was more aggressive as the boxers battled for a spot in the quarterfinals.
With 45 seconds remaining, Paul started to attack the tiring Ghadfa.
At the end, Paul did enough to grab the win.
On Thursday, Paul won his opening fight against Nelson Hysa of Albania.
Paul will fight in the quarterfinals on Tuesday against Berat Acar of Turkey. If Paul wins that fight he will earn a medal because both losing semifinalists get bronze.
The other four fighters who represented TT at the championships lost their opening bout. They included 2020 Olympian Prince (middleweight 71-75kg), Blessing Waldropt (light-welterweight 60-63.5kg), Donnel Phillip (lightweight 57-60kg) and Anthony Joseph (featherweight 54-57kg).