Boxing fraternity flexes its muscle despite SABC’s TV blackout

2010-12-23 14:52

Boxing news was this year ­dominated by the SABC ­television blackout as well as ­infighting among top ­officials.

This eventually led to then sports minister Makhenkesi ­Stofile appointing a two-man commission – of Dumile Mateza and Mesuli Zifo – to look into the ills of the game and to come up with a remedy.

Their report was quite ­scathing and recommended some wholesome changes.

The TV blackout, which many attributed to the huge amounts the public broadcaster splashed out on the World Cup, caused a ­major setback for both ­promoters and boxers.

Despite these setbacks, inside the ring, South African boxing stood out like a colossus this year, accomplishing feats that previously seemed to be ­exclusive to the US.

For the first time in the ­country, four official International Boxing Federation (IBF) fights were held in one ­tournament. South Africa ­ultimately carved her name on hearts, not just on marble.

In the main bout for the ­vacant junior lightweight crown, Mzonke Fana met and humiliatingly pounded old rival Cassius Baloyi to win on points.

In the main supporting bout, Moruti Mthalane retained the flyweight title by beating Zolani Tete on a fifth-round technical knockout.

In a junior featherweight ­elimination encounter, Takalani Ndlovu beat Jeffrey Mathebula on points.

In another elimination contest for the mini flyweight title, ­Japan’s Katsanuri Takayama taught Tshepo Lefela a boxing lesson, beating him in five rounds.

This stupendous show was staged by Branco “Baby” Milenkovic, matching exploits of two world-title fights and two elimination ones in one bill that had only previously been the domain of the likes of Don King, Bob Arum and Oscar de la Hoya. South ­Africa did not miss an invaluable opportunity, grabbing it with frantic hands.

As if that was not enough for the country, South Africa was acknowledged when the ­Serbian-born Milenkovic seized the IBF Promoter of the Year award.

He said: “I did it for South Africa. I would not have done it were it not for the fighters. They deserve the credit.”

It was also a year in which unbeaten heavyweight and most exciting prospect Flo Simba won all six of his fights, five on knockouts.

His trainer and two-time world champion, Brian Mitchell, said: “Like Manny Pacquiao stands out in the world, Simba stands out in South Africa.”

Few made their mark. The country’s lightest fighter, Nkosinathi “Mabere” Joyi, seized the IBF mini flyweight crown on points against previously ­unbeaten Mexican, Raul Garcia.

On a sad note, publicist Terry “Master of Ballyhoo” Pettifer and promoter Joe Gumede passed away.

Nonetheless, the boxing ­fraternity is still celebrating the removal of Stofile as sport ­minister and hailing his ­replacement in the form of Fikile Mbalula.

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