Welterweights Delvin Rodriguez (23-2-2, 14KO) and Isaac Hlatshwayo (28-1-1, 10KO) battled to a 12 round draw on Monday night in Hlatshwayo's home country of South Africa. At stake in the bout was an IBF #1 ranking and future date with IBF welterweight champion Joshua Clottey.
From the opening bell it was an entertaining fight as Hlatshwayo looked to press the action while the sharp shooting Rodriguez was content on firing off crisp combinations from the outside.
It was obvious that Rodriguez was the much superior boxer as he would throw beautiful three and four punch combinations from the outside and then tie Hlatshwayo up before the South African could fire back.
By the middle rounds the fight had become a classic boxer vs. brawler bout with Hlatshwayo taking four shots just to land one. While Rodriguez was the more accurate of the two, Hlatshwayo's wide shots brought loud reaction from his hometown crowd.
In the 9th round, just as the fight seemed to somewhat be turning Hlatshwayo's way, Rodriguez landed a picture perfect right hand right on the button that send Hlatshwayo down. Hlatshwayo showed his toughness though and he was able to get up and survive the round.
Rodriguez came out in the final two rounds looking to put Hlatshwayo away, not wanting the fight to go to the judges scorecards in his opponents backyard. Hlatshwayo hung tough though and was able to hold on and make it to the final bell. With the knockdown it seemed as though Rodriguez had done more then enough to pull out the decision. Unfortunately fighting in Hlatshwayo's home country seemed to play in his favor as Hlatshwayo was awarded a split decision victory over a very disappointed Rodriguez. Upon further review of the scorecards by Rodriguez's promoter Joe DeGuardia, it was revealed that there was a mistake made in the calculation in one of the judges scoring. Upon an intense review by both camps and IBF official Mahsan Scott, the fight was changed to its correct decision, a majority draw.
"Delvin came into Hlatshwayo's backyard and put on a great showing," said DeGuardia, CEO of Star Boxing. "He was the busier fighter, landed more punches, and dropped Hlatshwayo. I will give Hlatswhayo credit he is a tough fighter, and just kept coming all night long though." Under the rules of the IBF Rodriguez and Hlatshwayo will fight in a rematch immediately.