UAE's Al Naqbi steals the spotlight on a big night for Arab boxers

Al Naqbi, who made his pro debut in 2019 at the age of 22, is only the second professional boxer in the country

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UAE's Majed Al Naqbi scored the seventh victory of his career at EMD Fight Night in Dubai.
UAE's Majed Al Naqbi scored the seventh victory of his career at EMD Fight Night in Dubai.

By Leslie Wilson Jr

Published: Sun 12 Jun 2022, 8:14 PM

The UAE’s Majid Al Naqbi grabbed the opportunity to showcase his boxing skills and demonstrate to potential Emirati fighters what can be achieved if they pursue their dreams when overcoming a tenacious Said Baguani from Kenya in the co-main event at EMD Fight Night 3 on Saturday.

Al Naqbi, who made his pro debut in 2019 at the age of 22 and is only the second professional fighter in the country, won the four-round Super Lightweight contest which was sanctioned by the Middle East Boxing Commission, by a split decision.

Despite being wobbled by a right cross early in the fight, Baguami was able to survive the round and at times even out-boxed Al Naqbi for long periods. The fighter from Khor Fakkan later acknowledged that the home advantage played a big role in the seventh of victory his career,

“To be honest I thought it was a decisive win,” he said. “Yet it was scrappy and there were close rounds, but I thought I certainly dominated the first half of the fight and knocked him down as well.

“I want to take this opportunity to tell the world that Emirati fighters can perform on the biggest of stages and compete with the best. This is our time. You will see a lot more talent coming through the ranks.”

Al Naqbi capped a big night for Arab boxers who won five more bouts on the 12-fight card promoted by Eisa Al Dhabi, the UAE’s first-ever professional boxer who is a trailblazer for the combat sport-loving youth in the country.

Elsewhere on the card, Yusuf Ali, Bahrain’s first professional fighter, turned prizefighter when scoring a points decision victory over Uganda’s Medi Mino in a featherweight bout.

Despite having a fraction of the experience of his boxing peers from other parts of the Arab world, Ali promised to continue making a name for Bahraini fighters.

“I think a lot of youngsters in Bahrain would have watched the fight and will want to do the same,” he said. “You will hear a lot more from our country in the years to come.”

Meanwhile, Turkish-born Fatih Ulusoy, who has become somewhat a cult figure in UAE boxing circles, was knocked out in the second round of his heavyweight bout by big puncher Austine Nnaamdi. The imposing Ugandan, a fitness trainer and motivational speaker from Abu Dhabi, said he always intended to win and to prove to his students what they can achieve through commitment and self-confidence.

“He’s a big guy but I could see that I was hurting him early in the fight,” Nnaamdi said. “You can have heart but it’s the boxing skills that win you a fight and I thought I proved that tonight.”

Ulusoy acknowledged that he was beaten by the better fighter on the night.

“This is the hurting game, the fighting business One time we win one time we lose, but we learn and never give up, I’ll be back, Alhamdulillah,” Ulusoy said.

Other notable Arab wins came via Egypt’s Ziad Wael Hamza who scored a first-round TKO over Uganda’s Cliff Tamale, and Morocco’s Germany-based fighter Younes Zarraa, who recorded a second-round TKO over Egypt’s Moaz Allam, and Syria’s Mohamad Alhammoud through his unanimous decision win over Uganda’s Tamale Lawrence.

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