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Boxing | South Africa

Jeffrey Mathebula © Gallo Images

Mathebula takes Ndlovu's title



Jeffrey Mathebula beat Takalani Ndlovu on a split decision to take over the IBF junior featherweight title in Brakpan on Saturday night.

Mathebula won 117-111 and 116-112 on the cards of Neville Hotz and Jaap van Nieuwenhuizen. Alfred Bukwana scored it 115-113 for Ndlovu.

Ndlovo seemed to be marching to a convincing victory halfway through the bout, having won at least four of the first six rounds.

But “Mongoose” Mathebula, who seemed to be short of breath at the end of the fourth round, staged an astounding fightback to take revenge for the split-decision defeat he had suffered in their previous fight.

Ndlovu, who was so focussed and composed during the early rounds, surrendered control of the fight as Mathebula stepped up his work rate.

The new champion was swinging wildly at the start of the bout and Ndlovu landed the cleaner blows, stalking the challenger and building up what seemed to be a useful lead.

Age may have been a factor as Ndlovu's accuracy deserted him in the second half of the fight. He changed from front-foot aggressor to back-pedalling, dropping his gloves in the process. Mathebula needed no invitation to cash in on the opportunity.

There were no knockdowns and neither fighter looked capable of winning by a knockout but Mathebula won the last three rounds to relieve the champion of his belt, and certainly his No 6 position on Ring magazine’s rankings list.

The fight on the Branco Sports Productions tournament at Carnival City did not quite live up to expectations. The two South Africans just did not look good enough to take on the leading international fighters in the division.

Ndlovu, who is from Soweto, was making the second defence of his belt. The 34-year-old veteran’s record dropped to 33-7, including 18 knockouts.

Mathebula, a former Olympic Games fighter, improved his record to 26-3-2; 14.

NO PLANS TO RETIRE

Sapa reports that Ndlovu is not planning to retire. "I know people will say I'm done, but I'm still young. I'm still going up; I'll bounce back," he said.

"I'm proud of what I've done in boxing through all the years. This is the seventh loss of my entire career. I'm proud of what I did today.

"This is boxing. Things go up and down and we might meet again one day."

Promoter Branco Milenkovic pledged his support for Ndlovu. "At this level, whatever Takalani decides we will support him. It's a great pleasure to work with him.

"One of the possibilities is for him to move to featherweight, but we have to see the calculated risk because we need to keep his rating in the IBF high.

"We're going to sit and take a decision that is the best for Takalani."

MOKWANA RETAINS SA TITLE

On the undercard, Thompson Mokwana beat Patrick Malinga on a split decision to retain his SA lightweight title.

The scores were 115-113 on two cards for the champion and 117-112 for the challenger.

The fight produced more action and certainly more aggression than the main bout but high-class boxing it was not.

Mokwana improved his record to 17-7; 10 and his 34-year-old opponent dropped to 27-8-2, with 24 stoppage wins.

A year ago – on March 26 – Mokwana stopped Malinga in the seventh round to win the national title.

In October last year he retained his title when he stopped Takalani Dangala in Welkom, also in the seventh round.

CHAUKE KNOCKS OUT THAGAMBEGA

In the opening bout, former Olympian Jackson Chauke, fighting at flyweight, was too strong for Nyelisang Thagambega.

He dropped Thagambega with a sweeping left hook to the jaw for the full count 2 minutes 47 seconds into the second round of a bout scheduled for six.

Chauke improved his record to 8-0-1; 5 and Thagambega dropoed to 4-2; 3.

In a non-title clash, WBF cruiserweight champion Lunge Makabu from the Democratic Republic of Congo stopped Ghanaian Michael Bengal in the fifth round of an eight-rounder.

In what resembled a sparring session Makabu (11-1; 11) toyed with the smaller Gbenga (11-6; 11) through the first four rounds.

In the fifth, he picked up the pace and landed with a series of rights and lefts from the southpaw stance. Referee Thabo Spampool stopped the fight 2 minutes 53 seconds into the round.



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