Ryno Liebenberg fought and bled his way to a memorable points victory over Denis Grachev at Emperors Palace near Kempton Park on Saturday night.
The South African added the WBC silver light-heavyweight belt to the four others he had collected by winning a bloody twelve-round battle 120-108, 117-111 and 116-112.
Liebenberg, who is fast becoming South Africa's top crowd favourite, bled from start to finish in a fight that turned even messier when his Russian opponent also started bleeding.
Having already won the IBO All-Africa, IBO intercontinental, WBC international silver and WBC international belts, Liebenberg took his professional record to 16-0, including 11 wins inside the distance.
The crowd at the venue near Kempton Park saw a war that will be a strong contender for the fight of the year award.
Liebenberg was cut above the right eye halfway through the opening round, in which the Russian impressed with his hand speed and accuracy.
Two classic rights in the third swung the scale in the 30-year-old South African’s favour before Grachev was cut near his receding hairline in the fourth.
Liebenberg was leading after four rounds and rocked the Russian with a gem of a left in the sixth. After eight rounds, he was leading by four points on two cards and by six on the other, thanks to jab that earned him most of the points.
Grachev, 32, did not have enough punching power to ruin Liebenberg’s unbeaten record and left the ring with a record of 13-4-1, with 8 knockouts.
SONJICA WINS BUT LOSES BELT
On the same bill, Thabo Sonjica, who had lost his IBO super-bantamweight belt by coming over the weight limit, beat Roli Gasca of the Philippines on points over 12 rounds.
The scores were 116-109 on two cards and 117-109 on the third.
The Eastern Cape southpaw was 2.3kg heavier than Gasca, who was also at a huge height and reach disadvantage. But the compact Filipino scored with telling combinations in the opening rounds as Sonjica neglected to keep him at a distance.
The champion started landing good uppercuts in the fourth round and seemed to take charge but Gasca refused to leave him alone.
Gasca, who would have won the now vacant title had he won the fight, was credited with a knockdown in the seventh when he caught Sonjica off-balance and also scored with a big left in the eight.
But size counted in the end and Gasca was battling to stay in the fight. Sonjica knocked him down in the 11th round after being docked a point for hitting his opponent from behind.
Sonjica’s record improved to 20-2, with 14 wins inside the distance. Gasca now stands at 22-5-1, with six knockouts.
Sonjica won the IBO belt in July last year when he stopped Silvester Lopez in the sixth round. In his first defence, on June 8 this year, he stopped SA bantamweight champion Toto Helebe in the first round.
SAPA reports that Sonjica had failed to turn up at the official weigh-in on Saturday. He apparently missed his flight to Johannesburg.
LERENA REMAINS UNBEATEN
Marcos Antonio Aumada of Argentina looked a little under-prepared for his cruiserweight bout against fellow-southpaw Kevin Lerena, who won on points over eight rounds.
The powerful South African always looked likely to cause more damage as the two traded looping lefts but spectators who had to go to the loo during the middle rounds missed nothing much.
Aumada, who seemed to be running on the reserve tank in the last two rounds, was a deserved loser. Lerena won 79-73, 78-74 and 77-75, taking his record to 10-0, with 6 wins inside the distance. Aumada dropped to 14-3; 10.
The first bout on the Golden Gloves Promotions card had a sensational start and a sensational end.
Thabang Ramagole knocked Olwethu Ngamlana down with a down-the-middle right in the opening round of their junior flyweight bout and did it again in the second.
Before he could do it again, Ngamlana turned his back on his opponent and quit. Just like that. The official result was a technical knockout 18 seconds into the third round.
Ramagole, who could develop into a title-chasing crowd pleaser, improved his record to 8-0-1, with 6 knockouts. Ngamlana’s dropped to 5-2; 5.
The next fight, also scheduled for six rounds, lasted 2 minutes and 2 seconds.
Junior lightweight Ashley Dlamini knocked Thanduxolo Gatyeni down with a booming right and referee Jaap van Nieuwenhuizen counted to eight before stopping the bout right there and then.
Dlamini improved to 11-2-1, with 11 knockouts. Gatyeni’s dropped to 11-4; 6.