Johannesburg – The South African boxers' invasion of the international scene on Saturday night (Sunday morning SA time) produced moments of both ecstacy and agony.
With three leading local fighters taking part in high-profiled IBF title bouts in three different countries, overshadowing all else was the shock seventh-round stoppage of top South African pound-for-pound fighter and IBF mini-flyweight champion Nkosinathi Joyi at the hands of Mexican journeyman Mario Rodriguez in Mexico City.
“The result was totally unexpected,” said BSP promoter Branco Milenkovic, “and is a major blow for South African boxing. Joyi was planning fights with other champions in his division after meeting Rodrigues and becoming the only South African currently holding a unified world title. Now all this planning is blown sky high.”
Milenkovic said Joyi's defeat was countered by the superb showing of Moruti Mthalane, who retained his IBF flyweight crown while stopping the fancied Ricardo Nunez in the eighth round at the Roberto Duran Arena in Panama City.
Nunez had previously won 22 of his 24 fights – 18 of them via the knock-out route.
“The mandatory contest was Mthalane's fourth title defense,” said Milenkovic, “and not only showed he is truly a world-class boxer, but it is all that more praiseworthy because most of his title fights have taken place overseas.
Simultaneously in Buenos Aires, Zolani Tete was shaded in a split points decision against unbeaten Mexican Roberto Sosa, in what was a mandatory eliminator for the IBF junior bantamweight title.
The previously unbeaten Joyi was ranked the No 1 fighter in the world in his division by the authorative Ring Magazine and Milenkovic says American boxing authorities are hailing his defeat as one of the major surprises in world boxing this year.