Boxing SA board allows unrated boxer to challenge for national title

David Isaacson Sports reporter
Ayanda Matiti of Xaba Promotions, seated on the left of the three men at the main table, adresses boxers, trainers and officials at the weigh-in ahead of his scheduled tournament in Soweto on Sunday.
Ayanda Matiti of Xaba Promotions, seated on the left of the three men at the main table, adresses boxers, trainers and officials at the weigh-in ahead of his scheduled tournament in Soweto on Sunday.
Image: DAVID ISAACSON

Boxing South Africa’s (BSA) board on Saturday overturned a decision by its sanctioning committee and gave its blessing for an unrated boxer to challenge for a national title in Soweto on Sunday.

Sifiso Hlongwane, who does not appear on the junior-lightweight rankings which feature just eight boxers, was cleared to take on No 1 contender Asanda Gingqi for the vacant belt only shortly before the weigh-in on Saturday afternoon.

BSA’s three-man sanctioning committee refused to give the bout title status, with chairperson Sakhiwo Sodo writing a letter to the regulator’s chair, Luthando Jack, giving reasons for the decision.

Boxing’s regulations require a promoter to find the two highest-ranked available contenders to fight for a vacant belt, a process that promoter Ayanda Matiti followed, although he was unable to find a willing rated opponent for Gingqi.

In his letter to Jack dated August 16 and seen by TimesLIVE, Sodo wrote: “The regulations make no reference for any such opportunity cascading down to non-rated boxers in the event of the non-availability of rated contenders.”

He also pointed out that Matiti had not been happy with the decision. “The promoter also questions the fact that the boxer is not rated. The chair of the ratings commission, Andre de Vries, states that the boxer has not fought a single fight in the junior-lightweight division.

“He [De Vries] points out that Hlongwane’s last opponent lost seven fights in a row, his previous opponent (a Zimbabwean) has lost all his three fights in South Africa by TKO.”

At Saturday’s weigh-in for his tournament, Matiti said there had been other unrated challengers for national belts. When asked by the Sunday Times who some of the challengers were, he replied: “Plenty.”

He countered further that Hlongwane was more experienced — he has nine wins, four losses and two draws — than other boxers included on the ratings.

Sodo said Matiti had put forward various arguments.

“All these arguments fail to make Sifiso Hlongwane a rated boxer.”

The BSA board overruled its sanctioning committee just weeks after the Sunday Times ran a story by an outgoing staff member accusing the executive of interfering in operations. 

Jack and BSA’s acting CEO Erick Sithole didn’t respond to questions sent to them by WhatsApp.

Hlongwane nearly threw a spanner in the works by tipping the scales more than half-a-kilogram over the 58.97kg limit at yesterday’s weigh-in, but he cut the excess in just more than an hour.

Matiti, who was named promoter of the year by BSA last month, has obtained sponsorship from the Gauteng government for his tournament scheduled for the Orlando community hall in Soweto in honour of former president Nelson Mandela.

The scheduled main bout is between Phumelelo Cafu and Genesis Libranza of the Philippines for the IBF International junior-bantamweight title.

Mpumelelo Tshabalala is set to take on Jesse Espinas, another Filipino, for the WBO Intercontinental junior-flyweight title and Landi Ngxeke is scheduled to face Luciano Baldor of Argentina for the WBO Global bantamweight belt.

Matiti laughed off suggestions that there was a snag with the venue, saying the Gauteng government was sorting out the required permission for use of the hall from the City of Joburg.


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