Boxing - Mathebula drops baton
SOUTH Africa should now bank on Nkosinathi Joyi, Moruti Mthalane, Thomas Oosthuizen and Noni Tenge to take over the baton from the country's world champions of yesteryear, says Loyiso Mtya.
Mtya, the director of operations at Boxing South Africa, said yesterday that all eyes were on Jeffrey "The Mongoose" Mathebula to win the history-making IBF and WBO junior featherweight unification against Nonito Donaire, who is rated No4 pound-for-pound in the world by Ring magazine.
But Mathebula, who had height and reach advantage, failed to win the contest in the US on Saturday.
It was the first legitimate dual world championship featuring a South African.
Mtya said Brian Mitchell, Vuyani Bungu, Dingaan Thobela and Zolani Petelo were the only locals who won their fights against foes who were rated highly by Ring magazine.
Mitchell and Thobela both defeated Tony Lopez for the WBA and WBO belts, while Bungu saw off Kennedy McKinney for the same IBF belt that Mathebula surrendered to Donaire. Petelo won the IBF mini flyweight from Ratanapol Sor Vorapin.
"Its a pity that Jeffrey lost because we really need a South African boxer to win at that level. I believe boxers like Joyi, Mthalane, Oosthuizen and Tenge will win against the best in the world. They just need to be given the opportunity," Mtya said. Joyi holds the IBF mini flyweight title, while Mthalane rules the flyweight division as the IBF holder. Oosthuizen holds the IBO super middleweight belt, while Tenge is the current IBF female welterweight queen.
Donaire ended Mathebula's reign via a lopsided points decision. Scorecards read 117-110, 118-109 and 119-108. He dropped Mathebula with a left hook in round four and that knockdown took the South African completely out of the fight.
Meanwhile, Thobela and Takalani Ndlovu, who followed the action live from SuperSport 4, were not impressed by Mathebula's performance.
"I don't know whether he was overawed by the occasion or if he did not have a game plan," said Thobela.
Ndlovu said Mathebula lost concentration after the knockdown. "His focus was to avoid that left hook which dropped him. He just wanted to survive. It was not the Jeffrey I know. I fought him twice and I know what he is capable of."
l The IBF has sanctioned Ndlovu and Mexican Alejandro Lopez to meet in a IBF junior featherweight title eliminator. The winner will earn the mandatory rights to challenge Donaire, guided by Bob Arum.
Arum co-promoted the unification bout with Mathebula's promoter Branco Milenkovic.