Barely two years ago, it was regarded as the stuff of dreams, of the very wild variety, for a professional Nigerian boxer fighting locally to earn N1 million from a bout. Boxers’ purses were notoriously poor, leaving even the best of Nigerian boxers a little better than beggars.
Promotions were thin on the ground, as boxing promoters, discouraged by tepid public interest and lack of institutional support, drifted into other endeavours.
What seemed like fantasy two years ago has, however, become a consistent reality with GOtv Boxing Night.
When it debuted in November, 2014, the sponsors announced it as an intervention to restore the sport to its previous glory through better funding and organisation, the latter provided by Flykite Promotions.
Part of the scheme was the institution of the best boxer award at each edition of GOtv Boxing Night. Winners at the first two editions went home with the Mojisola Ogunsanya Memorial Trophy attached to the award.
Things would, however, change at the third edition, when the sponsors attached a cash prize of N1 million to the award. This is apart from the purse paid to all participating boxers. That begun a line of production of Nigerian millionaire boxers.
The first winner of the cash prize was Olaide “Fijaborn” Fijabi, the explosive light welterweight boxer and crowd favourite, who had recently turned professional.
At GOtv Boxing Night 4 on July 3, 2015, another millionaire boxer emerged in the shape of Oto “Joe Boy” Joseph, the doughty lightweight star, who has since repeated the success two more times (GOtv Boxing Night 7 and 9).
On December 26, 2015, the organisers, taking into consideration the festive period, increased the prize money to N1.5 million.
Stanley “Edo Boy” Eribo won the prize by defeating Sunday “Capo” Olalekan to win the national welterweight title.
The next edition, having not fallen within a festive period, had N1 million on offer. This was claimed by Fijabi, first winner of the cash prize.
At GOtv Boxing Night 8, the winner was Waidi “Skoro” Usman, national featherweight champion, who had made a long-awaited ring return following his loss in the African Boxing Union title clash to Uganda’s Edward Kakembo.
The best boxer at each edition emerges through points awarded by journalists in attendance, with the one with the highest tally announced as the winner.