Namibia: Nakathila ‘Belongs to A-Level’

JEREMIAH ‘Lowkey’ Nakathila says he is an elite lightweight campaigner after bludgeoning former world champion Miguel Berchelt into a sixth-round submission to record a statement win in Las Vegas on Saturday.

Referee Russell Mora stopped the action once the sixth round ended after watching a relentless Nakathila (23-2, 19 KOs) batter Berchelt to a bloody pulp in the main event of the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card.

A big right-hand haymaker late in the sixth round, which sent Berchelt’s mouthpiece flying across the ring prompted the referee to end the action on the advice of the ringside doctor.

The dominant victory propels the MTC Sunshine Academy star into the world-title contenders conversation, while it may well signal the end for Berchelt (38-3, 34 KOs), who lost his WBC junior lightweight world title to a Oscar Valdez KO in February 2021.

“Berchelt is not a walk in the park. Everybody knows he’s a former world champion, he held the belt for four years,” Nakathila said.

“It was a tough fight, but I made it look easy just to send a signal to the lightweight division that Jeremiah ‘Lowkey’ Nakathila belongs to the A-level when it comes to the lightweight division,” he said.

“I know there are great champions in the lightweight division but I’m not fearing any of them. If I’m given an opportunity to step in the ring with any of them who’ve got belts, I’m ready.”

Nakathila is especially keen on a match-up with American Devin Haney who holds WBC lightweight title.

“I’ve been checking his fights and I can see his weakness. He’s very beatable.”

Nakathila was superior in all facets of the fight. He knocked Berchelt down in the third round, bloodied him and pummelled him relentlessly.

The 30-year-old Namibian found the mark with 125 of 503 punches he threw, with Berchelt connecting on 80 of 287.

In fact, Nakathila connected on 38 punches during round six alone, which was 10 more than he landed over 12 rounds in a shutout defeat to Shakur Stevenson on his United States (US) debut in June.

“We promised the nation a victory, and I said I was gonna put Berchelt to sleep, and that’s what I did,” Nakathila said.

“I already told the people here in Las Vegas that March is a big month for Namibia, because we’re celebrating our independence, so it’s a victory month for Namibia.

“I’m proud of myself, and I’m proud of my team. We’ve been working hard towards this fight, and we achieved a victory [on US soil] that has been a dream for the team. I’m looking forward to more fights in the future and to make my country proud.”

The lopsided affair was “the greatest win ever” for a Namibian on US soil, his trainer and promoter Nestor Tobias declared.

It was also a timely reminder to his critics who wrote him off after losing to Stevenson.

Before Saturday’s stunning upset, Tobias’ boxers had lost four high-profile fights in the US.

“What a great win. The greatest win ever, when it comes to a Namibian boxer. To win in Las Vegas, the main bout is not easy,” said a beaming Tobias.

“Jeremiah Nakathila destroyed Miguel Berchelt in six rounds. It’s proof that Namibia boxing is on a different level when you compare it to other nations.”

UNDERSTATED POWER

Berchelt was favoured to beat the unheralded Nakathila, but ended up being manhandled by determined rival.

“I’m a little bit surprised,” Berchelt said of the stoppage through a translator.

“I thought I was in a condition to continue, but the referee decided to stop the fight. He’s the ultimate authority. I have to respect that, but I wanted to continue.”

Nakathila, who was ahead 60-53 on all three scorecards at the time of the stoppage, says Berchelt may have underestimated his strength.

“In the fourth round, I could already see that he’s fearing the power. He could feel the power behind my punch, and he was just surviving. He didn’t know how strong I am, but I know what I have. I knew it was going to be difficult for him to reach the 10th round,” said Nakathila.

American’s ex-unified lightweight world champion Teofimo Lopez said it was a thrilling fight and praised Nakathila for his dominant performance.

“It was good call by the ref [to stop the fight]. I mean, he was taking too many blows to the head. I gotta give it to Jeremiah, he did a good thing. I think it was a great fight overall. The crowd was on their feet,” Lopez said.

Defeat may have signalled that Berchelt’s best years at elite level may be over at just 30 years of age.

However, he vowed to return with a vengeance.

“I’m going to get up, I’m going to rise from this,” Berchelt said.

“The great champions are not the ones who fall. The great champions are those who rise, and I will go home, spend time with my family, visit with them, get some rest, and I am going to come back stronger than ever.”

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