By Sulayman Bah
For Baye Mandione, it’s navigating in unchartered waters and giving Gambians who would troop at Sunday’s event worthy view for their expensive entrance tickets.
Baye Mandione is an inevitable pick for the favourite tagging in this promising sumptuous duel.
Quite unexpected, there is an argument this weekend encounter is a no-brainer on the basis Hoyantan’s opponent has a loftier career and is more grounded statistically.
While this lean close to the truth in times gone by, this submission, will, in today’s generation, be archaic in the face of game popularity and would, any day, make perfect sense for the promoter tying the combat owing to its crowd-pulling and buck-fetching drives.
In fact there is more lying at stake than meets the eye.
Baye Mandione has been there at the very pinnacle of the Senegalese game which is walls apart from the Gambian version, competing with the calibre of Modou Lo during the current Dakar arena’s king formative years. Gris Bordeaux, Boy Niang, Papa Sow, Baboye and King Kong are the other notable stars he has slugged it out.
Experience will be his biggest weapon and living that arsenal behind will sure be atrocious and perhaps seal the beginning of a swift end to the Thiaroye-born’s experimentation of Gambian wrestling.
Claims are rife he has taken Leket Bu Barra for a training partner in a bid to get a snippet of what to expect much like Hoyantan worked behind the scenes in his relentless efforts to get the crown off the Barra-born by using Manduwar as bait.
This development will only add to the already existing animosity between Leket and Hoyantan. And, for all its relevance, this tempestuous relation the pair share will not count on Sunday with the centre of attention to be the Kunkujang resident and Baye Mandione. This combat would not propel the latter up the ladder but it will be a feather on his cap to have bundled Gambia’s best gri-gris combatant.
However, it’s a totally different ball game for Hoyantan who would get the attention he’s clamouring if he routs his adversary.
A win represents a bolstering of his curriculum vitae and open the path for his entrance in the Senegalese game where the sport is a multi-million industry.
A Senegambian derby in any sporting discipline is bound to be fierce and this meeting will serve the crowd just that flavour. Hoyantan also dubbed, huyee, is undefeated.
Grappling is one aspect of the sport he quite fathoms but has struggled countless times when squaring opponents with a bit mastery of boxing, a case in point being his controversial win against capital-based aficionado France from Banjul Saku Ham Ham. Gambia’s king of arena appeared to have starved out of ideas to tame a blow-peppering France and won the tie on the basis of warnings. An unconvincing triumph, it was.
This aside, he has shown over the years he suffers from none of the affectations of ego and wouldn’t mind gingerly retreating out of the sacks when the pressure cooker is turned on him.
His most distinct style is prolonging games and catching his exhausted adversaries unawares and packaging them to the ground by the foot. Hoyantan seems to have added some pounds of weight but remain lighter than his challenger.
While it’s nearly impossible to avoid getting hit, upgrading his kamikaze defence, trusting his instinct and carrying out split-second decisions would be a major decider on how he survives on D-day.
Baye, on the other hand, is a proven boxer – his biggest weapon to date. He has got long arms for jabs to keep a distance with the opponent, deadly hooks and combinations. His strength, it’s claimed, lies in his upper body but remain weaker from down.
This would be an avenue to exploit but how true it is would be confirmed on Sunday night.