By Ron Jackson
Over the years there have been many outstanding South African fighters who have won an International Boxing Federation belt, with Sivenathi “Special One” Nontshinga becoming the 27th when he traveled to Mexico and against the odds beat the local favorite and undefeated Hector Flores Calixto on a 12 round split decision, to claim the vacant IBF light flyweight belt at the Centro de Usos Multiples in Hermisillo on September 3, 2022.
Amongst the South African fighters who have won an IBF belt are Isaac Hlatshwayo, Mzonke Fana, Mbulelo Botile, Phillip Holiday, Welcome Ncita, Brian Mitchell, Vuyani Bungu, Cassius Baloyi and Malcolm Klassen.
Nontshinga was born on December 3 1998, and after a short amateur career, he made his pro debut on 30 July 2017 with a third-round technical knockout win over Sandile Wessels at the Orient Theatre in East London.
He won his next three fights inside the distance and on 21 October 2018 at the Orient Theatre in East London he stopped Tiseto Mosadife (4-0) in the ninth round to win the vacant African Boxing Union light flyweight title.
In only his seventh fight he scored a first-round knockout against Adam Yahaya to win the vacant IBF International light flyweight title.
He then went on to retain the title with wins over Siyabonga Siyo (tko 9) and Ivan Soriano (ko 5).
After being out for more than a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, on 24 April 2021 in an IBF title eliminator, he managed to hang on after being knocked down in the last round against Christian Araneta, to win a close decision with scores of 115-112 and 114-113 twice, before going on to beat Calixto for the vacant IBF belt to take his record to 11-0, 9 KOs.
This was the first time in recent years that South Africa had a world champion from one of the major organizations, as Nontshinga, trained by Colin Nathan and rated at #1 by the IBF scored a knockdown in the third round against the 29-year-old Flores before winning on points.
He also claimed a world title in the least number of fights by a South African.