Jasper Seroka won the vacant SA junior lightweight title when he beat Xolani Mcotheli on points in East London on Sunday.
Referee Allen Matakane seemed to stop the fight in the last second of the final round when Seroka was hammering away at Mcotheli, who had taken a count a little earlier.
However, the 12-round bout went to the scorecards and the Phalaborwa veteran won 116-110, 116-111 and 114-112 after one of the toughest fights of his career.
Mcotheli took a count in the second round when Seroka’s right dumped him on the floor and it seemed the action would not go on for long. But the local fighter stood his ground in the third and stuck around until the end.
Seroka did not show the composure of a man with 27 professional bouts behind him and threw too many wild punches as he traded blows with his enthusiastic opponent.
By the sixth round, “Tiger” Mcotheli was boxing with confidence and the taller Seroka, ranked No 1 by Boxing SA, became frustrated as he failed to find the elusive target.
Seroka, 32, who also holds the African Boxing Union title, seemed to be slipping as the fight reached the championship rounds but he finished well to make sure of a victory that he had to work hard for.
Mcotheli might have been fighting with a broken nose during the second half of the bout and indicated to his cornermen after the tenth round that he was having problems with it.
The Mdantsane resident, who had won eight of his nine previous fights inside the distance, is the Eastern Cape featherweight champion and was ranked second by Boxing SA.
Seroka improved his record to 23-4, with 10 wins inside the distance. Mcotheli’s dropped to 9-1. He had won eight of his nine previous fights inside the distance.
KHOMINISI STILL CHAMPION
Lusanda Khominisi retained his SA featherweight title when he stopped an out-of-his-depth Sabelo Nokhele 2 minutes 5 seconds into the fifth round.
The challenger was on a hiding to nothing from the first bell and took a count in the second round as Khominisi, making his first defence, did just about everything his trainer, Nick Durandt, could have asked.
A big overhand right was the last blow of the fight and referee Lulama Mtya did well to stop it right there and then.
Khominisi improved his record to 15-3, including 14 wins inside the distance, and Nokhele who did land a couple of satisfying blows after his first trip to the canvas, dropped to 10-10-2.
The champion won the title in December last year when he stopped Aphiwe Mboyiya in the sixth round.
Earlier, undefeated Sithembiso Faye beat a game Masixole Kwesa on a majority decision in a junior bantamweight six-rounder, winning by 58-56, 60-55 and 58-58. Faye improved his record to eight wins in eight bouts.
Phila Gola, now unbeaten in five professional fights, won his bantamweight six-rounder against the much taller Bongani Ngozi (3-4-2) on points.
The tournament was presented by Mzi Mnguni of Eyethu Boxing Promotions and televised live on SuperSport.