KAMPALA- Despite some shocks and surprises, several exhilarating bouts await revellers at the National Boxing Open finals at the MTN Arena Lugogo today.

Except KCCA’s peers Nassir Bashir and Muhammad Kassim, who suffered early exits, most title favourites will be in the ring vying for gold at the most prestigious national tournament and most importantly for places on the national team codenamed The Bombers Squad.

In what is expected to be the bout of the tournament, KCCA’s David Ssemuju takes on UPDF’s Muzamir Kakande in the welterweight.

Revenge is on the cards as Ssemuju seeks to settle scores with Kakande, who defeated him in the National League last year.
“It is a tough task, I know, but I am more than ready for victory,’’ Ssemuju told us after beating Mizilaimu Koloma of Police on the semis on Friday evening.

“Kakande beat me in the league but I was injured and fatigued due to lack of rest; but now I have no excuse.’’

Meanwhile, Kakande, who won gold at the Bingwa wa Mabingwa tournament in Dar es Salaam, is not threatened. “Winning is my business and I think it is going to be business as usual,’’ he retaliated in this mind game.
“They think my strength is in knockouts. I am going to surprise them with a unanimous decision (victory).’’

With due honesty, this is the proverbial match made in hell. So close to call.

Exciting duels
In the other bouts on card, Uganda Sports Press Association (Uspa) Boxer of the Year Musa Shadir of KCCA’s thrilling form will be tested fully by familiar foe Tony Mukiibi of Lukanga.

This is going to be one of the most awkward brawls between Shadir’s grace and Mukiibi’s grit.
Nevertheless, if Shadir maintains the ruthlessness with which he knocked out Police’s Emmanuel Komodo in the semis, the rising light welterweight star might add another gold to his collection. He is also one of the gold medallists from the Bingwa regional tournament.

Interim Bombers captain Yusuf Babu is another man on a mission. He has been superb but he knows better that he must be at his best to defeat UPDF’s Batista Tabu in the middleweight final.
This is another fight with thick layers of vengeance as Tabu seeks to pay back for that humiliating defeat in the 2016 final.

Talking clubs, it is still slippery business to bet, who will emerge winner, especially in the tightly contested Elites category. After the semis, defending champion Lukanga is trailing in third place on 15 points. The battle between UPDF, on 19, and KCCA on 18 will be decided by the aforementioned duels. 2017 Intermediates champions Police have 12 points.

NATIONAL BOXING OPEN 2017
SELECTED FINAL FIXTURES
64kg (Light Welterweight)
Musa Shadir (KCCA) vs. Tony Mukiibi (Lukanga)
69kg (Welterweight)
David Ssemuju (KCCA) vs. Muzamir Kakande (U’F)
75kg (Middleweight)
Yusuf Babu (Cobap) vs. Batista. Tabu (UPDF)
81kg (Light Heavyweight)
Reagan Ssimbwa (KCCA) vs. Jonh Owino (UPDF)