Nigerian Rookie Boxer, ‘Baby Face’ Fights His Way into Millionaire Boxing Pros in Just Five Years
A lot of people find it difficult to break even in a sport which people think is dead due to the dearth of promotions in Nigeria. Rilwan Babatunde is changing those dynamics and making it big in the world of professional boxing in Nigeria. In February 2015, Babatunde, whose ring name is ‘Baby Face’, was an unknown rookie in Nigerian boxing circles. He could not even make the selection during the inaugural edition of GOtv Boxing NextGen Search, a platform sponsored by Nigeria’s pay television giant, GOtv. The initiative was meant to unearth hidden talent in the amateur cadre of Nigerian boxing for nurturing and grooming into the professional world.
Baby Face shows off his latest million as he aims far beyond the sky
According to the Sponsor, the GOtv Boxing NextGen Search is an initiative conceived to find amateur boxers promising enough to be absorbed into the professional ranks and developed under the guidance of some of the country’s finest boxing coaches.
Timescape Magazine understands that the selectors at the GOtv Boxing NextGen Search in February 2015, including big names in Nigerian boxing such as Joe Mensah, Obisia Nwakpa, and Olympian Jerry Okorodudu, assessed the young boxers spar and made a list of those they thought were ready to take the next step. Baby Face could not make the list.
Providence, however, smiled on the 18-year-old when he made to leave the venue at Lagos Boxing Hall of Fame Gym in Surulere, Lagos; he was called back by an observer who persuaded the coaches to include him. The observer saw what the selectors missed out: the promise and scope for development. The young boxer did not waste time to prove the angelic observer right as he kept the promise of performance.
In 2105, he made his professional debut, winning his fight and seeing off much experienced opponents both at home and at subregional levels. He won the national light welterweight title and later the subregional welterweight title as well.
Baby Face, whose dream was to become a trained barber, has delivered 12 victories (four by knockout) in as many fights through the opportunity availed him by the GOtv Boxing Night tournament in Lagos. The victories have also earned him the national and West African Boxing Union (WABU) titles, the latter which he currently holds.
One of the victories was against a Ghanaian opponent, Edem Biki in the WABU title bout at GOtv Boxing Night 19. It was a hard-fought win for the Nigerian boy who sent his opponent gasping for breath in the title fight pundits thought would end at the 12th round.
On Friday, 27 November at Mobolaji Johnson Sports Complex, Rowe Park, Yaba, Lagos, during the GOtv Boxing Night 21, he picked up Mojisola Ogunsanya Memorial Trophy and the N1 million cash prize attached to the trophy.
On that night, Baby Face saw off Jubril “Terrible” Olalekan in the second round of their eight-round national welterweight challenge contest to emerge the choice of journalists who covered the event, the first edition of GOtv Boxing Night without fans. It was held behind closed doors because of Covid-19 protocols but was broadcast live to GOtv subscribers on SuperSport Select 2 (channel 34).
In March 2017 at GOtv Boxing Night 11, he won N2 million prize and the following year at GOtv Boxing Night 14, won N1 million (about USD2,600). He also emerged second-runner up at GOtv Boxing Night 13, winning N500, 000 (about USD1,300).
According to the boxer, the laurels and the money are just a tip of the iceberg of what he aspires to, as he sets his sight on becoming a household name in the world of boxing someday. He craved for more tournaments for young boxers in Nigeria for them to showcase their talents regularly just like the GOtv Boxing Night is doing.
“We need more of this night of promotion like the one we are enjoying through the GOtv Boxing Night. I cannot but thank the sponsor for doing a great job for us and I believe with more of this event, the sky is my starting point to greater things to come in boxing,” he said.
Remi Aboderin, Secretary-General of the Nigerian Boxing Board of Control Warns Baby Face not to allow the feats to get into his head
Mr. Remi Aboderin, Secretary-General of Nigerian Boxing Board of Control (NN of C) told Timescape Magazine that Baby Face has done a lot to improve himself in the trade since he turned professional few years ago.