Lusizi gives SA fight fans hope
A win on Friday would earn boxer Siphiwe Lusizi a spot in the Olympic quarter-finals
SIPHIWE Lusizi became the first South African boxer to win a fight at the Olympics in 12 years when the welterweight beat unheralded Ahmed Ahmed of Iraq 17-13 in London on Sunday night.
Not since Danie Venter at the 2000 Games in Sydney has an SA pugilist scored a fistic victory in the Olympic ring.
Bantamweight Ayabonga Sonjica, SA's only other boxer at London 2012, went down 15-6 to veteran Bulgarian Detelin Dalakliev, the 2009 world champion, on Saturday.
Little was known about Lusizi's opponent Ahmed, but luckily he didn't turn out to be an Iraqi Rocky Marciano.
Perhaps Lusizi was inspired by swimmer Cameron van der Burgh, who had won the 100m breaststroke gold medal just two hours earlier. The part-time model who is based in East London, won the first two rounds 6-4, and drew the third and final round 5-5.
In his next fight on Friday, Lusizi will take on Gabriel Maestre Perez of Venezuela in what looks to be an evenly matched bout.
Perez doesn't look unbeatable - he finished fifth at the Pan American Games last year and 17th at the 2011 world championships.
Lusizi, who wasn't able to compete at the world championships last year because of study commitments, finished 17th at the previous edition in 2009. Like the Venezuelan, Lusizi was fifth at his continental championships, though he won bronze there in 2009.
Lusizi, 23, is younger than Perez, who turns 26 in September.
A win on Friday would earn Lusizi a spot in the quarter-finals.
No SA fighter has won two or more fights at an Olympics since the country's return from isolation.