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Boxing | South Africa

Mike Bernardo © SuperSport.com

Ex-champ Bernardo dies at 44



Former WBF heavyweight champion Mike Bernardo has died in Cape Town. He was 44 years old.

Bernardo was also a popular kickboxing and mixed martial arts fighter.

He won the vacant WBF belt when he stopped Dan Jerling from Czechslovakia in the sixth round in May 2000.

He retained the title with a 41-second knockout of American Peter McNeely in Cape Town on June 8, 2001, but was stripped of his belt in May 2002 because of inactivity.

Bernardo was born in Fishhoek near Cape Town on July 28, 1967. His surname was actually Barnardo, but most people knew him as Bernardo.

In his professional debut on February 28, 1993, he knocked out Delius Musemwa in the third round.

In his next fight he was stopped in the first round by Anton Nel, who later won the SA heavyweight title.

Bernardo won his next seven fights but was inactive from 1997 to 1999 before he knocked out Scott Connar in the second round in Chicago in January 2000.

On May 12 that year, he beat Jerling in Szekszard, Hungary, to claim the vacant WBF heavyweight title.

His fight against McNeely was his last and he finished with a record of 11-1, with one no-contest and nine knockouts.

He was better known as a kickboxer and was named Beru-chan in Japan, where he took part in K-1 from 1994 and competed in five World Grand Prix finals.

He was scheduled to meet Nigerian and Japanese TV personality Bobby Ologun on December 31, 2004 but withdrew because of an injury and never competed again.

JOE BYGRAVES DEAD AT 80

Former British Empire heavyweight champion Joe Bygraves has died in Jamaica at the age of 80.

Born in Kingston on May 26, 1931, he was one of 12 children. He left Jamaica when he was 15 years old to settle in England and became a British citizen in 1967.

As an amateur, Bygraves won English Northern Counties titles in the light-heavyweight and heavyweight divisions.

He made his professional debut on February 12, 1953 when knocked out Don Maxwell in the first round.

One of his best victories was against former British heavyweight champion Jack Gardner whom he stopped in two rounds in 1956.

In the same year he won the vacant British Empire heavyweight title when he outpointed Kitione Lave from Tonga.

Bygraves also knocked out Henry Cooper in the ninth round but lost to outstanding fighters such as Willie Pastrano, Zora Folley, Ingemar Johansson, Floyd Patterson and George Chuvalo.

He only had one fight in his home country, beating Wayne Bethea on points in September 1962.

He finished with a record of 42 wins, with 22 inside the distance, 28 losses and a draw.



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