FLOYD Mayweather was undefeated in the ring in his boxing career, and now the American is keen to take on a different challenge in Africa’s most populous country.
The 45-year-old, now a boxing promoter after a successful 21-year professional career, is planning to establish a boxing academy in Nigeria to train young fighters.
“The ultimate plan is to find the next Mayweather,” said the American, a former five-weight world champion from super-featherweight to light-middleweight, earlier this week.
“We just want to help. It’s all about giving back, helping the youths and the young generation coming up.
“I want to build a boxing camp for the kids. Different American trainers will come over and work with them.”
With 27 knock-outs from his 50 career victories, Mayweather was masterful at winning rounds – and therefore winning fights – but unlocking Nigeria’s potential in the sport could also need a calculated and long-term approach.
Dick Tiger made history when he won the world middleweight title in New York in 1962 – and successfully defended his crown on home soil a year later.
In the years since, Nigeria has won six boxing medals at the Olympic games, taking three silvers and three bronzes.
Yet the most recent was over a quarter of a century ago when Duncan Dokiwari won super-heavyweight bronze in Atlanta in 1996, to follow silvers from David Izonritei (heavyweight) and Richard Igbeneghu (super-heavyweight) four years earlier in Barcelona.
In the professional ranks, Samuel ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ Peter (41) is among his nation’s most successful boxers, having won the WBC heavyweight title in 2008 and earning fights with both Klitschko brothers along the way.
Meanwhile, Britain’s Anthony Joshua – a two-time unified heavyweight champion – is proud of his Nigerian heritage and is an idol in a country where he briefly attended school in his formative years.
Mayweather visited the Nigerian capital Abuja this week and discussed his plans with the country’s Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.
The American revealed he chose to visit Amaechi because he often speaks about empowering Nigeria’s youth, with Mayweather believing his support could be key to realising his goal of setting up the academy.
Mayweather will take on Don Moore in an exhibition match in Dubai on 14 May, and says he is eager to visit Nigeria again.
“Before I go to Dubai, I couldn’t choose a better place than Nigeria,” he said.
“I look forward to coming back to Nigeria to train and continue to build my legacy. I’ve been to Johannesburg, Morocco, Egypt and now Nigeria in Africa.
“And, hopefully, before I’m gone, I get to see every country in Africa. It’s such a beautiful place. Africans worldwide show me love, and there’s nothing like African love.”
Amaechi said he believes Nigeria’s federal government would support any initiative that will harness more talent in Nigeria and would also create jobs. – BBCsport.