The graph of rising boxing star, Brendon “Boika” Denes, continues to grow after a huge win over highly-rated Afgan fighter, Ahmad Samir Dawran, in a non-title bout in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Saturday evening.
But, that’s not the only reason the Masvingo-based pugilist is celebrating.
He also met one of the world-acclaimed promoters, and former world and Commonwealth champion, Amir Iqbal Khan, of Britain.
The latter, actually hoisted Boika, and told him how he had impressed him.
There are already plans for the 26-year-old to fight in Pakistan, this year, courtesy of Khan.
The 39-year old former boxer, whose record stands at 34 (21 KOs)-0-5, had a video clip with Boika, in which he was heard praising the Charles Manyuchi Boxing Academy product.
“Hello everybody in Zimbabwe, I would like to come to Zimbabwe. Boika is a great fighter,” said Khan.
Before that, Boika, who is the reigning WBF international and WBO Africa champion, stuck to his orthodox style to outwit his rival by a unanimous decision.
That he was fighting outside Africa, for the first time since turning pro, and facing a respected opponent, in a main supporting bout to a world title fight, made the victory even sweeter.
The pugilist took his record to an impressive 10-0.
But, the contest against Dawran, streamed online, was far from a walk in a park.
Boika had to summon extra energy, and employ smart tactics, to avoid a knockout, which the powerful Dawran seemed keen to attain.
In the initial rounds, Dawran was determined to keep Boika as close to his body, as he could, as he targeted to deliver his trademark left upper-cut.
But, Boika who fought like a veteran, and was darting around, harvesting points at every turn and avoided spending too much time closer to his rival, for the entire match.
His coach, Ali “Otto” Phiri who has built a huge reputation in the sport, said Boika took his instructions well.
“From the onset, Dawran wanted to knock us down and we had to devise a strategy to counter him,” said Phiri.
“The strategy worked wonders as Denes implemented every bit of it.
“We had to avoid keeping him (Dawran) close as he was good at close fighting so keeping him away was the way of winning the fight.
“Boika knew how to do that in the ring and with our guard on, and defensive strategy well oiled, we always caught our opponent on the counter and at one point we were actually closer to knocking him down instead.”
A tearful Boika said he had to draw all his means, and even improvised, as the fight got tougher.
“It was definitely one of my toughest fights since turning pro,” he said.
“He was aiming to claim a knockout but, as soon as we realised that, we quickly changed tact.
“We concentrated on picking up the points while he wandered in the ring looking for a knockout.
“With a little luck, we were even supposed to send him to the canvass but at the end of the day, winning is all that matters.
“I am already looking at my next assignment.”
For the victory, Boika has been afforded a chance to fight in the United States and he will be starting his preparations for what now looks like a loaded year for him and his team.
Both Phiri and his triumphant pugilist were supposed to arrive in the country yesterday afternoon but their departure was delayed as their Covid-19 certificates had expired.
There won’t be enough time to rest for Boika as he has an upcoming duel against Tanzanian star, Hassan Mwakinyo, for the Africa Boxing Union title, next month.
Boika’s showdown against Dawran was arranged by Gilbert Munetsi’s Box Africa as they wanted to help him prepare for the title fight against Mwakiyo.
While Boika gave a good account of himself, another rising boxer Jeremiah Mhere lost to Sebastián Nathanael of Namibia, via a UD, in the WBO Africa featherweight title in Namibia on the same day.