By Ron Jackson
Zolani Tete from the Eastern Cape is a worthy Supersport Boxer of the Year. The southpaw Tete retained his WBO bantamweight belt with successful defenses against Andres Narvaez and Mikhael Aloyan and advanced to the semifinal of the World Boxing Super Series.
Even though Hekkie Budler lost his WBA junior-flyweight belt at the end of the year to Hiroto Kyoguchi, he must be given honorable mention for traveling to Japan, to score an upset win over Ryoichi Taguchi to claim three belts in one night.
Budler won the IBF, WBA and Ring magazine light-flyweight belts which is unprecedented in the history of South African boxing and was elevated to the WBA “super” junior–flyweight champion.
After he was offered a ridiculously low purse to defend the IBF belt, Budler decided to relinquish it.
The 36-year-old Moruti Mthalane must be commended for regaining the IBF flyweight belt in July and making a successful defense in December.
Review of the Year
Rather sadly the boxing year we have just experienced, is once again one of the poorest in the history of South African boxing, with standards at a low ebb, with a few exceptions.
However, one must accept that due to the high cost of importing top class fighters to South Africa and the negative exchange rate, promoters can only afford to promote fights with the lesser world bodies.
There have been no South African fighters fighting for one of the major organizations in South Africa during 2018.
Only three South African fighters, Zolani Tete, Moruti Mthalane and Hekkie Budler took part in titles for one or other of the major organizations.
At present the only other South African’s to hold “world” titles are Kevin Lerena (IBO junior-heavyweight), Thulane Mbenge (IBO welterweight), Gideon Buthelezi (IBO junior-bantamweight), Simpiwe Konkco (IBO minimumweight), Xolisani Ndongeni (WBF lightweight), Zolani Tete (WBO bantamweight) and Moruti Mthalane (IBF flyweight).
It is a rather sad indictment of the current depression in South African boxing when outstanding world class fighters like Hekkie Budler, Zolani Tete and Moruti Mthalane only had two fights each during the year.
Despite tough conditions in a poor economic climate, the local promoters managed to keep the sport afloat, staging 19 national title bouts, but unfortunately, there were only 6 “world” title fights on South African soil.
In the 17 SA weight divisions, there were no fights at junior-featherweight, lightweight and junior-middleweight.
Number of tournaments during 2018
There were 72 tournaments in South Africa during the year, which was 3 less than last year, with the following breakdown for the year:
Eastern Cape 23
Western Cape 7
KwaZulu Natal 8
Free State 1
North West 2
Boxer of the Year: Zolani Tete.
Fight of the Year: On May 20, 2018 year Hekkie Budler beat Japan’s Ryoichi Taguchi on points over 12 rounds at Tokyo, Japan to claim the IBF, WBA and Ring magazine junior flyweight belts and become the only South Africa to receive a Ring championship belt since Vic Toweel in 1950.
He is also the only South African to have been elevated to a “super” champion and also has the distinction of being a “super” champion in two weight divisions.
On January 20; 2016 he was elevated to WBA “super” minimumweight champion and on May 20, 2018 elevated to WBA “super” light-flyweight champion.
Prospect of the Year: Azinga Fuzile – although it is not usual to recognize a champion as the Prospect of the Year, an exception must be made in the case of the 22-year-old southpaw junior lightweight Fuzile, with a record of 12-0; 7, who must be close to challenging for a world title after an outstanding 2018, with wins over Immanuel Andeleki (ko 1), Waidi Usman for the vacant IBF Continental Africa junior light title, the fourth round stoppage of former two-time IBF junior-lightweight champion Malcolm Klassen and in his fourth fight this year a sixth round stoppage win over Ibrahim Class. He has now won five title in his four year career.
Promoter of the Year: Rodney Berman of Golden Gloves Promotions who continues to produce quality tournaments including nursery tournaments at Emperors Palace near Kempton Park. Recognition must also be given to Jeff and Marie Ellis for their tireless work for Golden Gloves Boxing Promotions.
Upset of the Year: Walter Dlamini smashing Wade Groth to defeat in one round to win the South African middleweight title.
Mismatch of the Year: South African heavyweight champion Ruann Visser in a non-title fight against two-fight novice Luke Sutherland, who only had five rounds as a professional.
Knockout of the Year: Nkosinathi Joyi’s seventh round knockout win over Mpho Seforo.
Manager/Trainer of the Year: Colin Nathan.
Best Fight Venue: The Orient Theatre in East London which is aptly described as “The Mecca of Boxing” and Emperors Palace near Kempton Park which always creates a tremendous vibe.
Media: SuperSport again made it possible for boxing enthusiasts in South Africa and the rest of Africa to watch live television coverage, as well as repeat broadcasts, of SA tournaments and some fights abroad.
Boxing writers Bongani Magasela and Mesuli Zifo have once again as always made a major contribution to keep boxing alive in reporting on the sport in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape.
South Africa’s number one record keeper Andre de Vries must be complimented for his tireless work in keeping the records of all South African fighters up to date.
Ring Officials: Referee Deon Dwarte from Cape Town continued to perform in a competent manner as a referee and judge in South Africa and abroad and could possibly be rated as the number one official in South Africa.
Long serving judge and referee Stanley Christodoulou who is soon to have a book published on his life in boxing, continued to officiate in title fights around the world.
Results of All SA Title Fights in 2018
Heavyweight: Feb 23 – Ruann Visser beat Osborne Machimana, ko 7, at Vanderbijlpark.
Junior heavyweight: Dec 8 – Thabiso Mchunu beat Charles Oosthuizen, pts 12, at Kempton Park.
Light heavyweight: Sept 28 – Nicholas Radley beat Khayeni Hlungwane, pts 12, at Cape Town.
Super middleweight: Aug 10 – Rowan Cambell beat Renson Hobyani, pts 12, at Kempton Park.
Middleweight: Aug 10 – Wade Groth beat Wynand Mulder, tko 6, at Kempton Park. (interim title); Dec 8 – Walter Dlamini beat Wade Groth, tko 1, at Kempton Park.
Junior middleweight: None
Welterweight: Sep 23 – Mziwoxolo Ndwayana beat Shaun Ness, tko 8, at Johannesburg.
Junior welterweight: Apr 6 – Xolani Mcotheli beat Warren Joubert, tko 6, at Pretoria.
Junior lightweight: July 29 – Phila Mpontshana beat Koos Sibiya, pts 12, at East London; Oct 21 – Phila Mpontshana beat Anthony Maloisane, pts 12, at East London.
Featherweight: July 29 – Khanyile Bulane beat Tello Lithebe, pts 12, at East London.
Junior featherweight: None
Bantamweight: Apr 8 – Toto Helebe beat Mbulelo Dyani, pts 12, at East London; Sep 23 – Ronald Malindi beat Mbulelo Dyani, pts 12, at Johannesburg.
Junior bantamweight: April 6 – Yanga Sigqibo beat Sabelo Ngebinyana pts 12, at East London; Aug 26 – Arthi Dumezweni beat Lindile Tshemese, tko 4, at Mdantsane.
Flyweight: Jun 17 – Thembelani Nxoshe draw 12 Ntlanta Ngamtwini, at East London.
Junior flyweight: June 17 – Bongani Silila beat Luyanda Kwanka, tko 10, at East London; Dec 7 – Nhlanhla Tyirha beat Bongani Silila, ko 3, at East London.
Minimumweight: Dec 9 – Xolisa Magusha beat Siphamandla Baleni, pts 12, at East London.
SA Boxers in ‘World’ Title Fights in 2018
Feb 10- Malcolm Klassen lost to Shavkatzdzhon Rakhimov (Russia), tko 8 at Ekateringburg, Russia (IBO junior-lightweight title).
Mar 3 – Kevin Lerena beat Dmytro Kucher, (Ukraine), pts 12 at Kempton Park. (IBO junior-heavyweight title).
Apr 6 – Xolisani Ndongeni beat Abraham Ndauendapo (Namibia), pts 12 at Pretoria (WBF lightweight title).
Apr 21- Zolani Tete beat Andres Narvaez (Argentina), pts 12 at Belfast, Northern Ireland (WBO bantamweight title).
May 20 – Hekkie Budler beat Ryoichi Taguchi (Japan), pts 12 at Tokyo, Japan. (IBF and WBA junior flyweight titles).
Jun 2 – Kevin Lerena beat Roman Golovashchenko, pts 12 at Baku. (IBO cruiserweight title)
Jun 23 – Thulani Mbenge beat Diego Gabriel Chaves (Argentina), tko 7 at Kempton Park. (IBO welterweight title).
Jul 15 – Moruti Mthalane beat Muhammad Waseem (Pakistan), pts 12 at Kuala Lumpur, Philippines. (IBF flyweight title).
Jul 22 – Simpiwe Konkco beat Toto Landero (Philippines), pts 12 at Mthatha (IBO minimumweight title).
Jul 27 – Gideon Buthelezi beat Lucas Emmanuel Fernandes Leone (Argentina), pts 12 at East London. (IBO junior-bantamweight title)
Jul 11- Xolisani Ndongeni beat Salimu Jengo (Tanzania), tko 4 at Soweto. (WBF lightweight title)
Oct 13 – Zolani Tete beat Mikhael Aloyan (Russia), pts 12 at Ekateringburg, Russia. (WBO bantamweight title).
Dec 2 – Simpiwe Konkco NC 4 Joey Canoy (Philippines), at East London, South Africa (IBO minimumweight title).
Dec 8 – Thulani Mbenge beat Miguel Vasquez (Mexico), tko 10 at Kempton Park, South Africa
Dec 31 – Hekkie Budler lost to Hiroto Kyoguchi (Japan), tko 10 at Macao, China (WBA junior-flyweight title).
Dec 31 – Moruti Mthalane beat Masahiro Sakamoto (Japan), tko 10 at Macao, China (IBF flyweight title).
Sinethemba Magibisela (2017), Willie Toweel (25/12/2017), Bert Blewett, Ella Mfene, Rudy Dembskey, Norman “Pangaman” Sekgapane, Gladys Tsenene, Phindile Mbhele, Glanville Gorton, Gert Steyn, Manelisi Mbilase, Daniel Mapanya, Themba Zulu, Gideon Tshabalala, Billy Hurley, Manny DosSantos, Gabula “Slashing Tiger” Vabaza.
Saddest moment of the year
Former South African featherweight champion Manelisi “Leli” Mbilase passed away on July 26. Some reports have his age as 42 and others at 40.
According to reports he was brutally stoned to death in the Eastern Cape for an alleged robbery against two women and that his attackers were ‘shouting and singing’ as they, ‘took turns to beat him up before loading him in a wheelbarrow’ and shockingly ‘leaving him by the Government building’ as an apparent example to others. By the time the police arrived, it was too late to save him.