Nigerian cruiserweight boxing sensation Efetobor Apochi continued his rise in the category with a third round knockout victory over former undefeated prospect Deon Nicholson in a 12-round WBA title eliminator at the Shrine Explosion Centre in Los Angeles on Sunday.
The 33-year-old improved his record to 11 wins in as many professional fights with a 100 per cent knockout ratio.
He landed 93-of-198 total punches (47 per cent), including 53-of-90 power shots (59 per cent), according to Compubux.
Both fighters went into the bout undefeated, with Nicholson, who had won his previous 14 fights, ranked fifth in the WBA ratings, while Apochi sat in sixth position. But that did not matter as the ‘Nigerian Pitbull’ went to work on his opponent from the sound of the bell, scoring two major knockdowns before finally dismissing the American, producing a stoppage at 1:12 of round three.
“I knew I had him hurt after the opening round,” Apochi told Fox Sports after the fight. “I told my trainer, Ronnie Shields. He told me, ‘Finish him! Finish him!’
I just get better with every fight, right from when I started boxing from my first fight, I’ve seen the transformation and I know I can only get better.”
With the victory, the Delta State-born pugilist becomes the mandatory challenger to France’s Arsen Goulaimirian (26-0, 18KOs), who holds the WBA Super Cruiserweight title, and Belgium’s Ryad Merhy (29-1, 24KOs) who holds the WBA world version of the title.
Apochi stated that he is ready for the bouts.
“This is the elimination isn’t it? Where’s the title, that’s what we talking about, bring it on I want the strap.”
Russia seeking military aid from China, says US official
Beijing rejects the US assertions as ‘disinformation’, as senior US and Chinese officials set to meet in Rome.
A United States official says Russia has asked China for military equipment to use in its invasion of Ukraine, a request that heightened tensions about the ongoing war before a meeting between senior US and Chinese officials in Rome.
In advance of the talks on Monday, White House NSA Jake Sullivan bluntly warned China to avoid helping Russia evade punishment from global sanctions that have hammered the Russian economy.
“We will not allow that to go forward,” he said.
The White House said the talks in Rome will focus on the direct effect of Russia’s war against Ukraine on regional and global security.
A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said in recent days, Russia had requested support from China – including military equipment – to press forward in its ongoing war with Ukraine. The official did not provide details on the scope of the request. The request was first reported by the Financial Times and The Washington Post newspapers.
The Biden administration is also accusing China of spreading Russian disinformation that could be a pretext for President Vladimir Putin’s forces to attack Ukraine with chemical or biological weapons.
Beijing on Monday accused Washington of spreading “disinformation” over China’s role in the Ukraine war, ahead of talks between the two countries’ envoys in Rome.
Without directly addressing US media reports of a Russian request for help from Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said: “The US has been spreading disinformation targeting China on the Ukraine issue, with malicious intentions.”
Lifeline against Russia sanctions not ‘allowed’
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has put China in a delicate spot with two of its biggest trading partners: the US and the European Union. China needs access to those markets, yet it has also shown support for Moscow, joining with Russia in declaring a friendship with “no limits”.
In his talks with senior Chinese foreign policy adviser Yang Jiechi, Sullivan will indeed be looking for limits in what Beijing will do for Moscow.
“I’m not going to sit here publicly and brandish threats,” he told CNN on Sunday. “But what I will tell you is we are communicating directly and privately to Beijing that there absolutely will be consequences” if China helps Russia “backfill” its losses from the sanctions.
“We will not allow that to go forward and allow there to be a lifeline to Russia from these economic sanctions from any country anywhere in the world,” Sullivan said.
In brief comments on the talks, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian did not mention Ukraine, saying the “key issue of this meeting is to implement the important consensus reached by the Chinese and US heads of state in their virtual summit in November last year”.
“They will exchange views on China-US relations and international and regional issues of common concern,” Zhao said in comments posted on the ministry’s website late on Sunday.
China-Russa cosy relations
China has been one of the few countries to avoid criticising the Russians for their invasion of Ukraine. China’s leader Xi Jinping hosted Putin for the opening of the Winter Olympics in Beijing just three weeks before Russia invaded on February 24.
During Putin’s visit, the two leaders issued a 5,000-word statement declaring limitless friendship.
China abstained on the United Nations votes censuring Russia and criticised economic sanctions against Moscow. It has expressed its support for peace talks and offered its services as a mediator, despite questions about its neutrality and scant experience mediating international conflict.
But questions remain over how far Beijing will go to alienate the West and put its own economy at risk. Sullivan said China and all countries are on notice that they cannot “basically bail Russia out … give Russia a workaround to the sanctions” with impunity.
Chinese officials have said Washington should not be able to complain about Russia’s actions because the US invaded Iraq under false pretences. The US claimed to have evidence Saddam Hussein was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction though none was ever found.
On CNN, Sullivan said the administration believes China knew that Putin “was planning something” before the invasion of Ukraine. But he said the Chinese government “may not have understood the full extent of it because it’s very possible that Putin lied to them the same way that he lied to Europeans and others.”
Russia accuses West of seeking ‘artificial default’ over Ukraine
Russia is ready to pay its debts ‘in roubles’ as a large part of its foreign currency reserves are frozen over Ukraine attack.
Russia’s finance ministry has accused foreign countries of wanting to force Russia into an “artificial default” through unprecedented sanctions over its war in Ukraine and said it would meet its debt obligations.
“The freezing of foreign currency accounts of the Bank of Russia and of the Russian government can be regarded as the desire of a number of foreign countries to organise an artificial default that has no real economic grounds,” Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said in a statement on Monday.
Ratings agency Fitch last week downgraded Russia’s sovereign debt rating further into junk territory, warning that the decision reflects the view that a default is “imminent”.
The government is due to pay $117m on two of its dollar-denominated bonds on Wednesday.
“Claims that Russia cannot fulfil its sovereign debt obligations are untrue,” Siluanov said. “We have the necessary funds to service our obligations.”
The finance ministry said it had approved a temporary procedure to allow banks to make payments in foreign currency, but said the possibility of those payments going through would depend on sanctions.
Several Russian banks have been banned from the SWIFT international payments network, hampering efforts to move money outside Russia.
Payments in ‘roubles’
If payments are not possible, Siluanov said, Russia “is ready to make payments in roubles” according to the exchange rate of Russia’s central bank on the day of the payment, including its Eurobond issued since 2018.
Western sanctions on Moscow over its war in Ukraine delivered an unprecedented blow to Russia’s banking and financial system, with a large part of its foreign currency reserves frozen.
Russia has boosted efforts to prevent money from leaving its borders and to support the rouble, which has already seen a precipitous drop in value against the US dollar.
Buhari Sacks CEOs Of DPR, PPPRA, PEF, Scraps Agencies
The Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government has officially scrapped the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF).
This was made known by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, while speaking on the side-lines of the inauguration of the boards of the Nigerians Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority and the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission, Naija News reports.
He stated that the Buhari-led administration has also sacked the chief executive officers of the three agencies.
According to the minister, the passage of the Petroleum Industry Act, the NPRA and NURC had taken over the functions of the DPR, PPPRA and PEF.
On the DPR’s fate following the inauguration of the board of NURC, Sylva said, “It is now a matter of law.
“The law states that all the assets and even the staff of the DPR are to be invested on the commission and also in the authority. So that means the DPR doesn’t exist anymore.
“And, of course, the law specifically repeals the DPR Act, the Petroleum Inspectorate Act, the Petroleum Equalisation Fund Act and the PPPRA Act. The law specifically repeals them. It is very clear that those agencies do not exist anymore.”
Speaking on what would happen to their CEOs, he said, “The law also provides for the staff and the jobs in those agencies to be protected.
“But I’m sure that that doesn’t cover, unfortunately, the chief executives, who were on political appointments.”
The minister revealed that the process of integrating the workers of the scrapped agencies with the new bodies has already started
“The authority has its staff coming from the defunct PEF, PPPRA and DPR. The commission has staff coming over from DPR and the process is going on for the next few weeks,” he said.