Paul guaranteed medal after advancing to final four at World Champs.
SUPER-HEAVYWEIGHT “Big” Nigel Paul, 32, is on the brink of creating history when he becomes the first Trinidad and Tobago boxer to secure an AIBA World Championships medal.
“It feels good!! It’s kind of a relief to know that after training so long, it finally happened,” Paul told the Express, after outpointing Turkey’s Berat Acar 4-1 on the judges’ scorecards in a quarter-final match-up, and thus advancing to the medal round.
The Chaguanas-based pugilist is at least assured of a medal, but what colour? However, Paul is desirous of getting to the gold medal bout. He has today to rest before contesting tomorrow’s semi-final in which he faces Russian Mark Petrovskii, who progressed to the medal round after a 3-2 split decision over Ecuadorian Gerlon Congo. The super-heavyweight gold medal bout is Friday.
In Paul’s quarter-final bout yesterday, Argentine judge Manuel Vilarino saw Acar a 29-28 winner, while Emerson Pastor (Guatemala), Simon Radoslav (Slovakia), Nagy Osman (Egypt) and Maria Rizzardo (Italy), all saw Paul winning 29-28 in the three-round contest.
Paul’s experience was evident as he used his physical attributes against Acar. Paul dwarfed his opponent and used his long jab to keep off the 22-year-old Turk, who prefers to fight close in. Acar won the first round but Paul, looking agile for a very big man, prussured his opponent, chasing the increasingly tiring Acar around the ring. Paul unleashed on Acar to the start the third round, which turned a fairly close fight up to that stage, in the Trinidadian’s favour. It was his best ever showing.
Previously, Paul had won regional silver at the 2018 CAC (Central American and Caribbean) Games, in Tijuana, Mexico. But he had never before had such international success. Now, in his fourth World Championships appearance, Paul, at the least, is guaranteed bronze, even if he loses his upcoming final four showdown. While the two finalists battle for gold and silver the beaten semi-finalist both are awarded bronze.
Notably, Paul will earn his first pay cheque as an amateur boxer-- a minimum US$25,000, which could increase to $100,000 if he cops gold.
Having reached this far, Paul promises to do his very best.
“I want to push all the way to the final,” Paul declared. “I have two tough opponents to face now, the cream of the crop. So, it will not be easy. But I want to get all the way to the final.”
Paul’s greatest success to date has come after the devastation of a humbling 2016 Rio Olympic Games first-round knockout defeat to Nigerian Efe Ajagba, who himself lost his 15-fight unbeaten professional record last month to unbeaten Cuban Frank Sanchez.
After exiting Rio early, Paul was further disappointed at not going to the Tokyo Olympics. First the Americas’ qualifying tournament was cancelled. And after the use of world rankings to select the qualifiers, he had the misfortune of being sixth-ranked in the region, with only the top five gaining automatic qualification.
It took great motivation to keep going and Paul also thinks he has benefitted greatly from the experience of past World Championships.
“When is your time, it’s your time,” Paul stated. “I have the experience now and it has worked for me.”