Tokyo Olympics: Kenyan boxers head back home empty handed

Tough day for Team Kenya

The full boxing team that headed into Tokyo. Front left (Christine Ongare), front right (Elizabeth Akinyi), back left (Captain Nicholas Okoth) and back right (Elly Ajowi). COURTESY: Kenya Boxing

Longstanding Kenya Open Champion Elly Ajowi and national welterweight champion Elizabeth Akinyi have been eliminated from the ongoing Tokyo Olympics.

Heavyweight Ajowi heads back home following 5-0 defeat to Cuban's Julio Cesar La Cruz while Akinyi's bout against Mozambican Helena Alcinda Panguana was stopped by the referee as it appeared Akinyi was incapable of continuing.

Ajowi

A five bench judgment ruled that Ajowi, a police constable by profession lost 30-26, 30-24, 30-24, 30-24, 30-23 to bow out of the tournament.

It was expected to be an uphill task for the Kenyan as his Cuban opponent has an Olympic medal and four world titles to his name.

The 31-year-old Cuban, nicknamed 'La Sombra' ('The Shadow'), won light-heavyweight gold at 2016 Rio Olympics and dominated that weight class for years with his fourth consecutive world title coming in 2017.

Heading into the bout, Ajowi who was crowned LG/SJAK Sports Personality of the month in March was confident that he could cause an upset however throughout the rounds, he failed to impress.

From the onset, Ajowi threw aimless punches at La Cruz who dodged them with ease. Despite a constant onslaught from the police officer, the judges awarded the Cuban the first round win.

Ajowi headed into the second round with a similar tactic. The former Dandora resident launched a barrage of assault against La Sombra but the Cuban defended well.

Ajowi was not clinical enough with his jabs which led to the judges unanimously awarding his opponent the second round.

There was confusion in the third round when Ajowi entered the ring without a mouth guard, an uncharacteristic, silly mistake.

The error led to a points deduction which spelled doom for the Kenyan. Ajowi seemed exhausted in the third round and this was evident by his constant dancing in the ring.

With the first couple of rounds in his favor, the confident La Cruz toned down his aggression and reserved energy. The safe and smart approach worked brilliantly for the Cuban.

La Sombra defended well in the final round and kept the pressure on the Kenyan by choosing his moments well enough to land his string of punches. The intelligent play didn't give Ajowi any chance of a comeback as La Cruz closed out the bout with ease.

Akinyi

From the onset, the Mozambican, Panguana unleashed a barrage of assault on Akinyi who tried as hard as possible to dodge them.

In the first round, Panguana took a few seconds to gauge the Kenyan who was making her debut but then produced a dominant performance.

The Mozambican's heavy combination punches left Akinyi in trouble. The intensity proved to be too much for the Kenyan to handle as Akinyi struggled to evade the onslaught.

Her efforts to dodge and block the fellow African later on didn't prove to be too successful as Panguana looked to be gaining in confidence as the round progressed.

The aggression from the 27-year-old impressed the judges who unanimously awarded her the round.

The second round started in similar fashion as Akinyi was the subject of constant jabs. Two consecutive jabs with no response from Akinyi saw the referee stop the bout with 1:34 minutes to go.

The duo’s elimination follows that of Nick Okoth on Saturday in the round of 32, as well as that of Christine Ongare.

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