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David, Goliath and the Rocket Men

Duels are as old as the Bible.  The most famous duel chronicled in the Bible is the one between Goliath and David where the underdog defeated the boastful, intimidating Philistine Goliath causing the biggest and the fastest upset in the history of creation.

About this time last Saturday, the boxing world was getting ready for another showdown between a Goliath and a David called Saul.   The Goliath whose real name is Gennady Gennadyevich Golovin but better known as Triple G or GGG.  He is a fearsome Goliath from Kazakhstan.  Such is his boxing prowess that for every boxer in his weight class, the fear of GGG is the beginning of wisdom.  He fights like a machine, a bionic man, a superhuman, a boxer who attacks with the ferocity and relentlessness of a wild animal fighting in a cage watched by millions around the world.  When you hit him with powerful shots, it unfazed him.  He has the best chin in modern boxing and has never been dropped in a total of 388 fights from his amateur days to when he became a professional.  Boxer after boxer avoids Triple G.

His opponent is Saul Canelo Alvarez, 27, a younger boxer from Mexico, a country which has produced hall-of-fame fighters like Julio Cesar Chavez, Eric Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera and Salvador Sanchez, just to name a few.  Canelo is a three-time world champion in two weight classes.  He had been groomed from childhood to become a boxing great.  He was on track to being an undefeated boxer until he tested his might on the unbeaten Floyd Mayweather who defeated him in a “majority decision.”  The fight was remarkable for the eccentricity of one judge who declared it a draw just like Adalaide Byrd, a female judge currently facing global opprobrium for her weird scoring of the Golovkin-Canelo fight in favour of Canelo resulting in a controversial draw.         

After the farcical Mayweather-McGregor fight, the Golovkin-Canelo fight was advertised as the bout bringing back boxing to its glory days, echoing unforgettable fights like Sugar Ray Robinson versus Jake Lamotta who died this week, Cassius Clay versus Sonny Liston, Muhammad Ali versus Joe Frazier, Sugar Ray Leonard versus Marvin Hagler, Sugar Ray Leonard versus Tommy Hearns, Mike Tyson versus Evander Holyfield and to bring it nearer home Anthony Joshua versus Wladimir Klitschko. 

As a boxing writer, this was one historic fight I couldn’t afford to miss.  So I set my alarm clock to 3 o’clock.  And even before the alarm, I was already up.  So was my equally boxing fanatic son Babajide who had kept vigil for the fight.  We had tuned to our cable TV in search of the fight only to discover that DSTV won’t show the fight in Nigeria.  They would show it only in South Africa.  What a disappointment!  I was shaking like a man who had just caught fever.  But my son, pitying my condition, came up with a deus ex machina, an idea of watching it online through live streaming.    You can imagine my happiness watching it on my laptop connected to the TV with the same clarity of a cable TV.   

Who did I want to win?  I admire Triple G, but I am forever on the side of the underdog.  I just wanted to enjoy good boxing regardless of who won.  Canelo started well winning the early rounds.  But in the middle rounds Triple G took over.  And in the late rounds, Canelo fought back, delivering the heaviest punches of the night, slowing down the usually aggressive Triple G whose face was now bruised.  He has never faced anyone like Canelo.  This was his first real test.  It was a fight that matched the hype with both fighters giving their best to satisfy the bloodthirsty boxing crowd.  I thought Triple G had done enough to win on points but surprisingly, the judges declared it a draw, triggering a chorus of boos.  Still it was a good fight, regardless of the controversial scoring of the woman judge Adelaide Byrd who must have been watching a different fight.  But then, a draw still gives back Triple G his belt and the opportunity to fight Canelo again sometime next year.  At the end of it all, both fighters raised their hands, each declaring himself a winner in a symbolic draw. 

Donald Trump versus Kim Jong Un

Meanwhile on the global political scene, the world is watching another duel in the making, between the tough-talking American Goliath Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, the North Korean Kid Bomber or The Rocket Man (as Trump calls him) who has just developed a fist of fury fueled by the acquisition in his boxing camp, the destructive Hydrogen bomb.  In defiance of the world, he had twice tested his rockets hovering overhead across the skies of Japan.  An angry Trump has warned of the consequences of the North Korean leader embarking on a “suicide mission” and promising “fire and fury” that would lead to the total annihilation of North Korea from the world map.  Before the UN, the sabre-rattling Trump called the North Korean leader “The Rocket Man” who would be taught an unforgettable lesson leading to the end of his regime.

“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” Trump said in the most bellicose and undiplomatic speech ever made in the UN. 

In boxing terms, Trump is the equivalent of Golovkin, an undefeated champion facing North Korea’s Canelo Alvarez, a younger, fast counterpuncher who cannot be intimidated by words of war because he has an atomic bomb.  North Korea dismisses Trump UN talk as the “sound of a dog barking” which cannot intimidate them.

If Golovkin-Canelo duel is a return to the good old days of great boxing, Donald Trump and the Rocket Man are taking us back to Nikita Krushchev versus John F. Kennedy (Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962), back to the evil days of The Cold War when the world was polarised and at the brink of total annihilation.  I am catching cold already.

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