'It hurt bad,' says former freestyle motorcross rider Lee Dyer

Lee Dyer cried out in pain when the left hook dug into his right side in the second round at Emperors Palace on Saturday night.

A former freestyle motorcross rider‚ Dyer had broken more bones than he cares to remember‚ but Alfonzo Tissen’s blow to his short rib inflicted its own brand of pain‚ as if the fist had sliced through skin‚ smashed through bone and was gripping his kidney. 

“It hurt bad‚” Durban-based Dyer admitted afterwards. “It took the wind out of me‚ but my heart kept me up.”

Dyer‚ a businessman who does packaging for a toy store chain and imports copper‚ is relatively new to boxing‚ having had one amateur bout before turning professional 12 fights and a decade ago. 

“This is a hobby‚” his bruised but smiling face said. 

Most men would have gone down for a reprieve‚ but not Dyer‚ who was last on the canvas when he won the South African super-middleweight crown‚ in the second round‚ last year. 

“I don’t like going down.”

For a split second Dyer looked as if he were going to crumple‚ but he instead retreated into the ropes. Even so‚ there seemed no way to survive as Tissen rained bombs on him. 

At one stage Dyer’s head briefly resembled a pear ball‚ bouncing back and forth as he got nailed by a couple of hard blows. 

The referee must have been waiting for just one or two more unanswered blows before waving this one over‚ but Dyer had no intention of surrendering. 

He retaliated with just enough punches to show he was still in the fight‚ and that got him to the bell. 

And then he came out for the third round and he went to war with Tissen‚ who signed for this fight hoping to impress Golden Gloves promoter Rodney Berman. 

That’s what he did; that’s what they both did. For 12 rounds Dyer and Tissen‚ a middleweight who strangely struggled to make the super-middle limit on this occasion‚ hammered each other to produce one of the most entertaining bouts seen in a South African ring in years.

They stole the show‚ overshadowing the contestants of the main bout‚ where Thabiso Mchunu easily outboxed Johnny Muller for a lopsided points win. 

IBO strawweight champion Simphiwe Khonco and welterweight Tulani Mbenge had easy points victories too‚ both over Filipino opponents.

But neither thrilled like Dyer and Tissen‚ who dished up the type of action the old-timers like to talk about. 

Rarely did these two warriors have to be separated for clinching‚ taking brief breathers by leaning against each other before throwing their bombs again. 

And just when one looked like taking control‚ the other came back. 

The bout ended in a split draw after 12 brutal rounds‚ with both boxers feeling they’d done enough for the decision. 

“Lee had the reputation of being a body puncher‚” said Tissen‚ who grew up poor and rough in the working class suburb of Jeppestown in the east of Johannesburg. 

“My coach [Gert Strydom] told me a body puncher don’t like to be hit with a body punch. 

“So when I caught him in the second round I was shocked that I had hurt him I actually took a step back.”

As they passed each other on their way to their dressing rooms after the bout‚ Dyer shouted to Tissen: “Alfonzo‚ why did you come after me? Go after Christopher Buthelezi.”

Buthelezi is the South African middleweight champion‚ but Tissen‚ ranked the No1 contender‚ said he hadn’t been able to secure a shot. 

He was emotional as he recounted how he had come from nowhere to run a national champion one division above him so close. 

“When I went to live with my dad in Jeppestown when I was 11‚ the kids were rough. They used to throw bricks at me.

“My dad said ‘no kid of mine is going to get bullied’‚ so he took me to the gym to learn how to box.”

Berman has promised a rematch in October.​ - TMG Digital/ TMG Sport

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