The good, the bad and the ghastly

There was much to enthuse about when the ring warriors mixed it up

Televised boxing returned to Mdantsane when Xaba Promotions held their Heritage show at Indoor Centre headlined by Thembelani Nxoshe bidding to revive his international career with a challenge to Mexican Ulises Lara with the WBC international flyweight title up for grabs.
We analyse the bouts and the tournament.
1. Ulises Lara W12 Thembelani Nxoshe
Lara, who has lost 16 bouts with just 20 wins, was visiting this country for the first time since brutally knocking out Nxoshe’s nemesis Nhlanhla Ngamntwini in July.
The free-swinging Mexican is deceptively capable with his style of tilting his head on the right setting up his wicked right cross. But Nxoshe was able to see the dangerous punch by ducking behind it until very late in the fight.
While Nxoshe lost the fight he fought very well and the changes in his boxing makeup are highly visible.
The problem with him is he tends to be disorientated if things don’t go his way.
This was evident when in one of the rounds XP boss Ayanda Matiti went to his corner to remind him what was at stake. Following that visit Nxoshe fought courageously and even managed to back up the rampant Mexican.
But he later returned to his old self of just fighting for survival. Even when it was obvious that he was trailing on points entering the final round he did not throw caution to the wind by throwing haymakers.
Overall his loss was not disgraceful and if he continues to improve it will take a lot of effort to topple him as an SA champion.
2. Ntlantla Tyirha W8 Luyanda Nkwanka
The respect an old warhorse like Nkwankwa gave the 19-year-old in the first three rounds cost him the fight. On the other the left-hander continued to bag points and by the time Nkwankwa decided to fight he was doing catch up which was never going to be easy against a determined opponent who fought back with gusto.
Nkwankwa complained bitterly about the outcome but other than charging foward in the latter rounds he did nothing significant to change the complexion of the fight.
He should have been aware that the fight was over eight rounds and not 12.
Even the judge who scored the fight in his favour was being generous to him because besides intimidating tactics he did not do much to win the fight.
3. Sibusiso Bandla W6 Thembelani Okolo
This was another bout whose outcome invoked plenty of debate but in essence the right man won.
Bar clowning tactics by Banda, he actually delivered a consistent offensive unlike the occasional bursts by Okolo.
Bandla nearly made a mistake of underestimating Okolo by gunning for a stoppage early in the fight. When that did not work he resorted to clowning antics while also scoring some points.
Okolo was aggressive throughout but Bandla negated his attack by clinching on the inside. In fact Bandla was lucky the referee was Alan Matakane who often does not mind excessive holding.
Both Bandla and Tyirha have bright careers but they need to work on a few technicalities to become well-rounded boxers.
4. Mziwamadoda Mbexeshi W6 Lucas Mbokazi.
Mbexeshi was the third former amateur star to fight in the tournament and he prevailed albeit in not impressive fashion. One had a feeling that he and Mbokai from KwaZulu-Natal knew each other from the amateur ranks judging by the way they fought.
The KZN dude was elusive to pin down despite Mbexeshi trying to nail him with his vaunted left. When he could not he also resorted to clowning by dropping his guard low and surprisingly he started to connect with his punches. Mbexeshi had actually done that in his professional debut at the same venue in August when after dropping his guards he started to hit home leading to a stoppage win. But he is in safe hands with Jackie Gunguluza, who is a former three-time SA champ and who challenged for world titles during his fighting days.
5. Gavin Nkwenteni TKO6 Mzukisi Mthalane
Nkwenteni, who also comes from Gunguluza’s tutelage, is very big for a mini-flyweight but he is yet to use his advantages such as height and reach to make his fights easy. Instead he fought much like Mthalane in trying to turn the bout into a brawl. This despite being gifted with several tangibles including an Ali Funeka-like frame which should help him shoot out his jab. Still it is early days and with experience he will improve.
6. Sinethemba Kotana TKO1 Sonwabo Twatwa
Twatwa was looking for the safe place to fall the moment he felt Kotana’s blows. After visiting the canvas twice in the first round there was no point in continuing with the bout.
There were several remarks about the poor attendance in the hall with even those watching on television blaming the organisers.
However there were several issues that led to the half full hall. Firstly headlining the show with Nxoshe whose previous dirty boxing style did not resonate with the fans had an effect. Admittedly Nxoshe has now changed into a disciplined boxer who uses his fists to win bouts but fans are yet to embrace his new style. Also the fact he was fighting an unknown boxer from abroad did not help matters. Lara’s claim to fame was his knockout of Ngamntwini. Otherwise he is an unknown boxer here at home.
The organisers did a good job to feature several amateur stars but they are not known.
The inclement weather as well as hosting the tournament in the evening also had an effect.
Mdantsane Indoor Sports Centre has never been a popular venue for top-class boxing but for development tournaments.
Considering those factors the attendance cannot be described as too bad, especially considering tournaments in other parts of the country, televised by the same channel...

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