Khonco claims IBO title

Simphiwe Khonco was declared the new International Boxing Organisation minimumweight champion after beating   Siyabonga Siyo on Saturday night at Emperors Palace. Picture: Leon Sadiki/City Press
Simphiwe Khonco was declared the new International Boxing Organisation minimumweight champion after beating Siyabonga Siyo on Saturday night at Emperors Palace. Picture: Leon Sadiki/City Press

Simphiwe Khonco was declared the new International Boxing Organisation (IBO) minimumweight champion after beating Siyabonga Siyo last night.

The judges scored the bout 112-116; 112-116, and 110-118 in favour of Khonco.

The fight got off to a blistering start with the two small men from the Eastern Cape throwing leather non-stop to show who could take a punch as much as he could dish it out.

Khonco, the more experienced of the two, dominated with great shots that often forced Siyo to fight on the retreat.

He scored in almost all rounds and got the crowd roaring with approval after Siyo appeared to be hurt and was forced to clinch. Siyo only exerted himself in the seventh, eighth and ninth rounds.

But Khonco was simply great as he used the ring to good effect to unsettle his foe. It came as no surprise when he was awarded the IBO belt.

In another fight, Kevin Lerena beat Argentinian Roberto Bolonti by a unanimous points decision in their cruiserweight ten-rounder

All three judges scored the fight Lerena’s way. Lerena controlled the proceedings throughout by catching Bolonti with great left hooks, but often failed to finish off his opponent who enjoyed a slight reach advantage.

Lerena, fighting from a southpaw stance, pinned Bolonti against the ropes in the fourth round, making life difficult for the Argentinian who relied entirely on his right hooks to do the job, but could not land effective punches to take his man out.

Lerena landed a big right to Bolonti’s rib cage in the sixth, but once more failed to follow up with a knockout punch when Bolonti exposed himself.

Both boxers were clearly tired in the last three rounds, but Lerena scored well with a barrage of body shots to force Bolonti against the ropes and fight on the retreat.

Bolonti scored with left hooks but his punches were thwarted.

Lerena was cautioned in the seventh by referee Thabo Spampool not to use his head as a worn-out Bolonti tried to answer with clean shots.

It was clear in the last two rounds that Lerena was ahead on points as he connected well with body shots, although he was tired.

Immediately after this contest, former cabinet minister Tokyo Sexwale entered the ring to ask the crowd gathered at the tournament to observe a minute’s silence to pay tribute to the late former world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali who passed away last Friday after long battle against Parkinson’s disease.

He was buried in Louisville, Kentucky on Friday.

Meanwhile, Ayanda Nkosi defeated Joshua Studdard by a majority points decision in their junior featherweight six-round fight.

Nkosi from Katlehong caught his Eldorado Park foe with a number of body shots for the better part of the fight. Studdard was forced to fight on the back foot throughout by a more polished Nkosi who scored well with crisp shots.

Fiston Kabamba of the Democratic Republic of Congo and South African Chaz Wasserman fought to a draw in their lightweight four rounder.

The judges scored the bout 39-37 for Kabamba; 38-38, and 38-38.

The fight was evenly balanced with both fighters catching one another with crisp shots that were really not good enough to cause any  knockdowns for the better part of the proceedings.

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