Fighter left fans gazing in disbelieve with his skills 16 years ago

Unknown Klassen's IBF win rocked boxing world

Malcolm Klassen
Malcolm Klassen

Yesterday marked 16 years since then unknown boxer Malcolm “The Stone” Klassen from Toekomsrus produced a top-drawer performance to dethrone IBF junior-lightweight champion Gairy “Superman” St Clair at Emperors Palace.

The defending champion from Georgetown in Guyana had won that title and the IBO strap from Cassius “Hitman” Baloyi at the same imposing venue a few months earlier.

Klassen came in as a substitute for Baloyi, who could not come to terms for the rematch against St Clair. An accidental world champion, Klassen, who was trained by Manny Fernandez, became a mainstay in SA boxing over the years to come.

The former SA featherweight champion lost the world title via a split points decision to Mzonke  Fana at OR Tambo Hall in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, on April 20 2007 before regaining it on April 18 2009 by destroying Baloyi in seven rounds of their historical fight – the first between stablemates – that was staged by Branco Milenkovic at North West University Sports Complex in Mahikeng.

Klassen and Baloyi were both trained by Nick “Mthakathi” Durandt. Klassen opted for trainers Bernie Pailman and Gert Strydom to bark instructions in his corner while Durandt stood by Baloyi.

Klassen lost that title again to American multiple weight world champion Robert Guerrero in the US on August 22 2009. Klassen, who left Fernandez for Durandt, continued to compete at international level.

Under new trainer Pailman – Klassen’s ninth – the boxer added the IBO junior-lightweight title to his collection on August 5 2016 after outpointing defending champion Jack Asis.

Klassen quit in 2018 with 34 wins in 45 fights.

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