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Lerato Dlamini loses in Liverpool

Lerato Dlamini and trainer Colin Nathan.
Lerato Dlamini and trainer Colin Nathan.
Image: Supplied

So close yet so far from paradise. This phrase describes having made enormous effort to achieve a goal but failing by a whisker.  Just to steal a line or two from Elvis Presley’s song, So Close, Yet So Far. “I hold, you in my arms, in paradise; Is mine then you slip away.” 

That is probably what Lerato “Lights Out” Dlamini said after just failing to capture the IBO featherweight boxing belt on Saturday night in Liverpool where his ambition to become the first world champion from the Free State were shattered.  Dlamini had that belt right in his hands but he let it slip away.

It was a close fight but two judges scoring of 115-112 and another 116-112 suggest that it was obvious that James Dickens was the winner. But the truth is that there was absolutely nothing spectacular that the Englishman did – and that includes taking the vacant title away with the South African.  

Dlamini’s performance was also not great. He spent too much time thinking when he was supposed to react. Thinking is done in the gym. The success of any professional boxer is decided by the ability to respond to the opponent’s moves as fast as possible.  He was superior in skill but whatever he ate or drank before the fight killed him because it took away his legs. They were unstable and he was falling all over without being hit. His knees were wooly, like someone afraid, ill or exhausted. They were like those of a newly born calf. 

Still, Dlamini scored with cleaner punches and he threw more blows than Dickens. Dlamini has had little rest. He knocked out Filipino Jelbirth Gomera in round 4 on September 30 and had to be back in the gym the following week to prepare for Dickens.  The break between the two fights was just 14 days. And there was also much travelling in those 14 days. 

The body language of trainers Colin Nathan and Shannon Strydom and cut man Bernie Pailman while waiting for the verdict was unconvincing, while their opposite numbers were already celebrating. It was the third time for 31-year-old Dickens to challenge for the world title, having twice failed to win the WBA Super junior featherweight and IBF featherweight belts.

The win was his 32nd against four losses while Dlamini suffered his second loss against 16 wins.  Meanwhile Deontay Wilder knocked out Robert Helenius in one round of their WBC heavyweight elimination fight in the US on Sunday morning, Wilder’s home girl Claressa Shields became the undisputed world middleweight champ after defeating her rival Savannah Marshall in London on Saturday night.

Shields held the WBA, WBC, IBF, WBF and The Ring belts before winning the WBO title from Savannah.  Devion Haney retained his WBA Super, WBC, IBF, WBO and The Ring lightweight titles with a unanimous points decision against George Kambosos Jr in Melbourne on Sunday morning. Haney, also from the US, did the same to Kambosos four months ago.

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