In one of her training sessions while preparing to defend her SA featherweight title against Unathi Myekeni, Asandiswa Nxokwana broke down and cried.
But her trainer, Zalisa “Pretty Boy” Petela, did not hold back. Instead, he pushed her to the limit.
At the weekend, Nxokwana was crying tears of joy after sensationally stopping Myekeni in the ninth round to retain her crown.
Nxokwana came in as the clear underdog at the Zbashy Promotions event, held at the Mdantsane Indoor Centre. Because of her meagre five-fight record she was expected to quickly wilt under the pressure imposed by her battle-tested foe.
It was Myekeni’s 15th fight, and she had lost only three, against credible opposition.
Furthermore, she had never been stopped in her professional career, having lost her WBF world crown in the boardroom.
Myekeni, 35, had also benefited from top training from world-class trainers, including Nick Durandt.
But all that did not faze the 23-year-old champion, who seized control of proceedings from the first round, with her stiff jab being her money punch. The punch totally befuddled Myekeni.
It came as no surprise when she hit the deck in the fourth round. From there on it was one-way traffic as Nxokwana brilliantly used angles to outfox her more experienced adversary. The end came in the ninth round, when Nxokwana rained a fusillade of punches on Myekeni, forcing the referee to stop the fight.
Speaking after her biggest win, Nxokwana said dedicated training had carried her through to victory.
“I trained very hard for this fight because I knew that Unathi presented me with an opportunity to stake my claim in the world,” she said.
“She came in thinking that I was going to be easy meat, but I surprised her.”
Nxokwana, who trains at the back of a shack at Leaches Bay, otherwise known as Amagali Abomvu, is another perfect example of someone triumphing over adversity.
She and Petela have been crying out for support in the informal settlement, beset by heavy substance abuse and prostitution.
Now, having achieved the biggest win of her career, Nxokwana is gunning for international stardom, and is targeting one of the major world titles. “The beauty about her is that she is underweight in the featherweight division,” Petela said.
“This makes her light on her feet. So she is able to do everything in the ring, and she is a keen listener in the corner.”
Nxokwana said she knew when Petela pushed her to tears in training that it was going to benefit her.
“I never thought of quitting, but I knew that eventually this would help me. Look at me now. I want to conquer the world.”
Zbashy Promotions, her promoters, have promised her another fight in the near future. She had been subjected to lengthy spells of inactivity. “We do not want to be starved of fights again. We need to be kept active,” said Petela.
Other event results: Nozwelethu Mathontsi beat Siphosethu Nxazonke (fly); Ntombokuqala Tolashe beat Nolubabalo Ngqondelana (junior bantam); Matsediso Mokebisis TKO 2 Ntombokuqala Zenzile (catch); Xolelwa Suka beat Lillian Molala (catch). — DDR