Makaringe lauds Hlatswayo

CLASH: Joseph Makaringe  and Issac Hlatswayo. 13/05/2007. © Sowetan.
CLASH: Joseph Makaringe and Issac Hlatswayo. 13/05/2007. © Sowetan.

Bongani Magasela

Bongani Magasela

Joseph Makaringe saluted Isaac Hlatswayo who defeated him convincingly last Saturday night.

This is a rare gesture, for a vanquished fighter to glorify his conqueror. Defeated fighters usually accuse judges of robbery.

"Isaac is a very good champion. I am proud to lose to him," said the tough as nails Makaringe, who is affectionately known as "Smoking Joe".

The fighters met for the IBO welterweight title at Emperors Palace in a clash billed the "Battle of the Fittest".

It formed part of Golden Gloves' "Clash of the Warriors - Impi Yamabutho" programme.

"Hlatswayo is very strong. Hitting his face is like hitting a brick wall," said Makaringe.

"I resorted to hitting his body after feeling terrible pains after four rounds. Even now, as we speak, my hands are very sore. Now I know why a hard puncher like Phillip Ndou could not knock Isaac out.

"It's a pity Isaac does not hit that hard otherwise he would be untouchable."

Hlatswayo, the crafty and strong fighter who is nicknamed "The Angel", is under the mentorship of trainers Manny Fernandez and Gert Strydom.

Some of Hlatswayo's victims from his 26 wins include Sam Malinga, Lucky Lewele, Benedict Dlamini, Ndou and Cassius Baloyi, who are Makaringe's stablemates at Nick Durandt's gym.

Hlatswayo has a single defeat and a no-contest.

Makaringe still holds the record for defending the SA title 10 times.

He reigned supreme for six years before abdicating his throne earlier this year.

Makaringe will soldier on.

"It will be unfair to write me off because of this defeat," he said after his second defeat against a local fighter.

The first loss was against Jan Bergman, who poleaxed him in three rounds in 2001.

Makaringe has 30 wins (25 KOs) and four defeats from a fruitful career that started in 1996.