Moruti Mthalane won the IBO flyweight title when he beat Jether Oliva on a split decision in Durban on Saturday night.
The South African, a former IBF champion, won 117-112 and 116-112 on two cards. The third judge gave it to the Filipino, 115-113.
Mthalane, fighting with a badly swollen left eye for eleven rounds, showed why he is regarded as the best boxer in South Africa as he took the vacant title in a hugely entertaining bout at the International Convention Centre.
He won the fight because of his excellent defence, which made it hard for the game Oliva to land enough scoring blows.
Oliva, in contrast, held his hands low and showed little head movement, allowing Mthalane to pick up points throughout the highly competitive bout. But there were times when Oliva’s hand speed enabled him to land telling blows.
There were no knockdowns but the spectators got more than their money’s worth as their hero improved his record to 30-2, with 20 wins inside the distance. Oliva’s dropped to 20-2-2, with 10 knockouts.
On the undercard, in another entertaining bout, Christopher Buthelezi beat Giovanni Bushby on points – 120-111, 117-111 and 120-108 – to retain his SA middleweight title.