When talented heavyweight Martin Bakole Ilunga lost his unbeaten record in a tough battle with former Olympian Michael Hunter, there might have been a few experts that thought the resident of Airdrie, Scotland by way of The Democratic Republic Of The Congo had found his level.
Hunter has since gone on to take the scalp of former world title challenger Alexander Ustinov and secure himself world rankings with the WBA and IBF.
The Hunter fight was a bad night for not only Bakole but also his trainer Billy Nelson who was criticised for making Bakole continue in the fight after he suffered a shoulder injury. It appeared as if Martin wanted to pull out injured.
When fighter and trainer work together toward their goal of boxing glory, they form a bond that is built on trust and understanding. The trainer needs to know how to get the best out of his charge. He needs to know that in the heat of the toughest battle he can summon up that extra effort that takes his man to the finish post knowing that was nothing left to give.
After a fighter suffers his first loss while trying to make a big step up in opposition, it is the standard policy of most managers and promoters, in this case: Cyclone promotions, to bring back their boxer with a few easy wins to give them their confidence back and gain more experience at the same time.
When it was announced that Martin Bakole would travel to Poland and face former world title challenger Mariusz Wach in his comeback bout it hardly fitted the bill of an easy way back.
Wach had lost his last 2 bouts, first to Anthony Joshua's June opponent Jarrell Miller and then in a local derby with former WBC world title challenger Artur Szpilka, so this was meant to be Wach's fast track back to a world ranking.
It was clear from the 1st bell that Wach saw this as his chance in front of his home crowd to stop the downward spiral he had fallen into when matched with top opposition. Surely Bakole, who had failed at his first attempt at fringe world-class would also, succumb to the giant Pole.
Bakolie pushed the big former world title challenger backwards and piled the pressure on in an educated manner, dictating the pace and making the hometown man miss with most of his pawing shots, using excellent head movement and utilising great hand speed as soon as he got into range.
Bakole gradually raised the pace and in the 8th round landed a barrage of unanswered shots that persuaded the referee to step in and stop the fight.
Bakole and Nelson must feel some sort of redemption for the Hunter loss with this win. After all, Wach had taken the great Wladimir Klitschko the distance and a world title fight in 2012 and the last of his 4 losses, prior to this fight was to another former world title champion in Alexander Povetkin in Russia. Now they can look forward to the next challenge that they hope will get them nearer to the goal of a world title shot.
Bakole still only has 13 fights on his professional record, so to some, he is still a work in progress, but I expect Nelson and Promoter Mcguigan want to move things along a little quicker than with most prospects, so I expect to see Bakole matched tough from here on out.