Nikki Bascome can come back stronger from his brutal knockout defeat by Portuguese Fabio Costa last month, according to Olympic medal-winner Clarence Hill.
Bascome suffered the first loss of his professional career after Costa landed a vicious combination in the fourth round of their welterweight contest at the Fairmont Southampton.
In the immediate aftermath of the six-round showdown, Bascome vowed to make significant changes to rebuild his career and admitted to adopting the wrong tactics against a naturally bigger opponent.
Hill, a bronze medal-winner at the Montreal Olympics in 1976, believes that Bascome is too talented not to learn from his mistakes.
“Nikki is a young man who is very talented,” Hill said. “He can learn from the defeat and use it as a stepping stone to greater things.
“If you’re not a good fighter you won’t learn, you’ll just fall back into bad habits. But Nikki is a good fighter and he will learn from his mistakes.”
Bascome will need time to recover from the mental wounds of defeat before plotting his comeback, according to Hill, who lost three of his 23 professional bouts. The 27-year-old has been earmarked for a ring return in February.
“I don’t know what he’s going through mentally; only he knows that,” said the former heavyweight southpaw. “Although I’ve never been knocked out, I’ve been knocked down, lost fights, and come back from it. I know Nikki can do the same.”
Hill believes Bascome showed naivety by engaging in a toe-to-toe battle with Costa, who dropped down from super welterweight to meet the Bermudian at 147lbs.
He also feels Bascome tried to rise from the knockdown prematurely, dragging himself to his wobbly feet only to career into the adjacent ropes before coming to rest on the canvas.
It is unlikely, however, that he could have beat the count after being on the receiving end of such explosive punching.
“Nikki is a boxer, not a brawler, so when I saw him brawling against that gentleman I wondered why,” Hill said.
“Why would he stand toe to toe against someone heavier and taller than him? It didn’t make any sense to me.
“That’s why he got caught by that uppercut and left hook, which dropped him to the canvas. When he dropped to the canvas and the referee started counting, Nikki starting jumping up at the count of three. He should have stayed down until seven, not try and jump up as fast as he did.”
Hill has repeated his call for Bascome to leave the island for a portion of the year to experience more competitive sparring in the United States. The 66-year-old fears it will be difficult for Bascome to realise his potential if he stays in Bermuda.
“Nikki is a friend and every time I see him I say, ‘Get out of Bermuda,” said Hill, who is set to have a boxing gym named in his honour in St George’s. “I suffered the same thing he is suffering from in Bermuda: no competition and no proper sparring partners.
Hill added: “Bermudians need to understand that boxers want to win every fight they go into, but sometimes you can’t.
“Don’t count Nikki out, though, because he’s got so much talent.”