Fabio Costa has vowed to make the island’s Portuguese community proud and insists Nikki Bascome is merely a stepping stone to bigger things.
Costa has become a symbol of the “old country” for many of Bermuda’s large base of Portuguese descendants and was treated to a hero’s welcome at Clube Vasco da Gama last night.
He maybe fighting outside Portugal for the first time, but Costa will certainly have no shortage of fans among the sell-out crowd at the Fairmont Southampton hotel tomorrow and believes their support will spur him to victory.
“I knew there were a lot of Portuguese people here, but this is beyond my expectations,” said Costa, speaking through an interpreter. “It’s given me a lot more motivation, knowing I’ve got a crowd pushing me towards and throughout the fight.”
On paper, at least, Costa appears a far less dangerous opponent than Bascome’s two previous fallen foes, Iwan Azore and David Rangel, who were both seasoned operators at the regional level.
Costa, meanwhile, has largely fought novices or journeymen with résumés littered with defeats, although he is presumably naturally the bigger man, having dropped down a weight to 147lbs to meet Bascome at welterweight.
The son of Porto says he has had no problem shedding the extra poundage and believes he will carry more power into the six-round bout than Bascome.
“I had to lose some weight, but it’s only a difference of four pounds and I feel comfortable fighting in this category,” said Costa, who has had two fewer fights than Bascome. “I think I will have more power than Nikki; I’m a very aggressive fighter, but I’ll look to approach the fight with intelligence.”
Although Bascome will be Costa’s first foreign opponent, and arguably the toughest test of his fledgling career, the Portuguese is confident of extending his undefeated record to six wins. The pair were in talks to fight in July, but those plans were shelved to give Bascome more time to recover from his gruelling points win over Rangel in May.
“I’ve watched a few of Nikki’s fights with my coaching staff and we’ve analysed them,” Costa, 25, said. “I don’t think he will be my most difficult opponent. I’m going to have harder fights throughout the rest of my career.
“Fighting away from home comes with the territory and it’s something I’ll have to deal with.”
In keeping with the night’s “Bermuda v Portugal” theme, the undercard pits several local amateurs against boxers from the Don Kinguell Academy in Porto.
Andre Lambe has been matched with Jorge Guedes, Tyler Christopher faces Jose Sousa, Robert Somner meets João Azevedo, and Jaylon Roberts takes on Nuno Santos.
Both Lambe and Christopher, stablemates at Rego’s Gym in Warwick, harbour ambitions of reaching the Olympic Games in Toyko in 2020.
Nathan Dill, the Bermuda Boxing Federation president, has charted a path to Toyko for the pair of southpaws, which includes the Central American and Caribbean Games in Barranquilla, Colombia, next year and the Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru, in 2019.
“We are launching our training and fundraising initiatives as we seek to support local amateur athletes, as they vie to qualify and compete in various international events,” Dill said.
“We have watched the growth of athletes like Andre Lambe and Tyler Christopher, who with the support of Rego’s gym, have confirmed his their intent to participate in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
“We are assessing and finalising the training, funding and coaching necessary to make the dreams of our young athletes a reality.”
Dill expects the “Undefeated Fight Night” to serve as an exciting precursor for what is in store for the local boxing scene next year.
“This year, the executive has had the privilege of facilitating growth in both interest and support for the sport of boxing, specifically by way of our Youth Boxing Academy,” Dill said.
“We hosted the first fight of the year, ‘The Greatest’ and later ‘One World Boxing Festival’ and we can’t wait to take these experiences and implement further events and programmes that will enhance the growth of amateur boxing in Bermuda.”