Mbenge conquers the world

He claims IBO belt after impressive victory over Chaves

Thulane Mbenge wins the IBO welterweight title after knocking out Diogo Chaves of Argentina during the Bombs Away Box and Dine event at Convention Centre, Emperors Palace on Saturday in Johannesburg.
Thulane Mbenge wins the IBO welterweight title after knocking out Diogo Chaves of Argentina during the Bombs Away Box and Dine event at Convention Centre, Emperors Palace on Saturday in Johannesburg.
Image: GALLO IMAGES

Thulani Mbenge has arrived at the world stage.

If there was any doubt he erased it in emphatic fashion when he knocked out highly decorated Argentinean Diego Chaves with a cracking right in the seventh round to win the vacant IBO welterweight title at Emperors Palace over the weekend.

It was not winning the title that left the packed crowd riveted, but how he did it.

Coming to the fight Mbenge had not knocked out his last three opponents even though by comparison they were less illustrious than the South American.

On the other hand, while Chaves was coming off a knock out loss he was still viewed as a dangerous opponent for the still developing Mdantsane puncher.

Mbenge had fought only 13 times but his rich amateur background was often ignored when analysing his boxing potential.

By the fifth round Chaves was only fighting for survival, giving Mbenge leeway to intensify his offence.

But he put it all together when it mattered most as he fought a disciplined fight underlining his maturity and readiness to be counted among the elite class in the deep talented welterweight division.

After dominating the fight from the first round, which Chaves may count as probably his best, Mbenge pulled away as he peppered the visitor with crisp punches which often jolted his head backward.

The Argentinean, who went to the fight with just three losses and a draw in 30 bouts, showed his class as he used a short left hook every time Mbenge was about to throw a right hand.

But that success was only temporary as Mbenge began to use his reach advantage to tee off from a distance.

A succession of right hands downstairs gradually broke down Chaves and virtually ebbed his offence.

By the fifth round Chaves was only fighting for survival, giving Mbenge leeway to intensify his offence.

Unlike his previous fights when he would attack aimlessly with wild swings, this time Mbenge was composed and articulately selected his punches.

He whacked the body with thudding blows which forced Chaves to lower his guards to protect his midsection. Mbenge would then fire home on the chin.

Towards the end of the sixth round a two punch salvo to the chin dropped Chaves hard leaving him kneeling on all fours.

The bell mercifully came to his rescue but as he trudged to his corner it was obvious that Chaves had the fight beaten out of him.

Mbenge sensed that the Argentinean was ready to go and came out charging in the seventh round driving him to the ropes behind a fusillade of punches.

Measuring with a left, which was obviously preceding a right hand, Mbenge uncorked the right cross which surprisingly exploded right on Chaves’ chin to send him face first down to the canvas.

Referee Deon Duarte picked up the count as the towel flew in but quickly abandoned it when he realised that Chaves was never going to make an effort to get up.

It was a sweet victory for Mbenge with his promoter Rodney Berman kissing him intimately in jubilation.

When asked what he thought of the win, a still beaming Berman could only say “incredible”.

At 26 years old Mbenge should be counted among the major players in the welterweight division and Berman will have nice headache plotting his next move.

In the main undercard, Thabiso Mchunu breathed massive life to his career when he floored Ricards Bolotniks twice before putting him away in the sixth round of their cruiserweight scrap.

With the win Mchunu will face Thomas Oosthuizen who was at ringside, on September 1.

Duncan Village star Ayabonga Sonjica needed less than two minutes to blow away Tumelo Motsane in their junior featherweight clash.

Rowan Campbell stopped Malkhaz Sijashvilli in eight rounds of their super middleweight bout, while Wade Groth prevailed on points over Andile Mtungwa in a middleweight clash.

 

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