Dingaan “The Rose of Soweto” Thobela makes his return to the ring on October 27th when he challenges Soon Botes for the South African light-heavyweight title. This will be their second fight. Thobela defeated Botes in 2000 for his national super-middleweight title. It was that victory which opened up Thobela’s shot at Glen Catley for the WBC super-middleweight world title, which Thobela won via a sensational and devastating 12th round knockout.
Thobela, who also held the WBA and WBO lightweight world titles, hopes that a repeat performance against Botes could unlock a match against Clinton Woods. “I’m taking this fight very seriously,” says Thobela, “and am intent on delivering the goods to prove that I still have championship fiber flowing through my veins.”
Admittedly, Botes looked strong and improved when winning the national light-heavyweight title and this fight could be a lot tougher than their previous encounter. Botes has been in the ring with a number of big names in the super-middle and light- heavyweight ranks, and although he has lost to them he always comes to fight and gives a good account of himself.
There was talk about Thobela being matched with Australia’s top super-middleweight contender Danny Green, but without an official offer being tabled from the Green camp, Thobela signed to fight Botes. “I would love to fight Green,” says Thobela “Norman (Hlabane – Thobela’s trainer) was ringside when Green fought Anthony Mundine and said I could beat both of them on the same night.”
There was huge disappointment this past Friday night as the scheduled IBF super-bantamweight world title fight between Canada’s Steve Militor and South Africa’s Gabula Vabaza was cancelled after Vabaza failed the pre-fight medical. “I’m very disappointed,” said Molitor. “Not only for me and my promoters, but for Branco promotions and Gabula Vabaza. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. It’s too bad. Short term it looks like I’ll have to fight Michael Hunter for the IBF title. I came to South Africa to fight one of the slickest southpaws around in Gabula Vabaza and if I have to go to England to fight Michael Hunter then that’s what I’ll do. It’s all still so fresh, so we don’t know yet when or where things are going to happen.”
Hunter and another South African, Takalani Ndlovu, are earmarked to face each other in an official eliminator for the title in November, so Molitor is likely to face another opponent for the title with the winner of Hunter-Ndlovu then challenging the winner.
“When a boxer fails a medical, he receives the reason in a sealed envelope and it’s up to the boxer if he wants to release the details,” said the tournament’s promoter Branco Milencovik. “Emotions are still very high and I certainly hope that we will be able to continue and I can promote Vabaza in the future.”
The tournament staged at the Nasrec indoor arena continued and featured three national title fights. The main event was a battle between two former IBO world champions for the national super-flyweight title between champion Simon Ramoni and Zolile Mbityi.
Mbityi, the more skillful boxer, took the first round against the fighter, Ramoni, by staying on the outside and landing some well placed hooks. Ramoni landed some solid blasts in the second and the third was fairly even with both men landing good shots.
Ramoni continued to soldier forward in the fourth round, prepared to take a few shots from the quicker Mbityi in order to land his own more powerful shots. Mbityi, who recently turned a new leaf on a personal level by finding religion, also found a new trainer in the guise of former two-time world champion Vuyani Bungu. These changes seem to have given him more focus and his conditioning certainly belies the fact that he’s 37 years old.
Both men landed solid blows to each other’s jaws in the fifth and it was clear that one of them was going to fall tonight. It would come down to who could take the most. Earlier in his career when he was IBO bantamweight world champion, Ramoni was a stylish boxer with a big bang. As he has progressed he has, however, become more of a one-dimensional boxer who fights with his heart on his sleeve and relies completely on landing the knockout blow, something of a mini-Rocky Balboa.
With swelling growing below his left eye caused by mixing it with Ramoni, Mbityi focused on staying on the outside of his man in the sixth round and making the champion miss. He continued to pepper his face with little effect and clearly Ramoni felt nothing but disdain for his challenger’s punching power. Ramoni landed a lot more in the eighth, but continued to take three shots to land one. It was fast reaching the stage that the only way the champion was going to be able to retain his title was if he stopped his man.
The bout continued on the same line throughout the ninth to eleventh rounds, with the challenger displaying beautifully placed combinations and keeping out of the danger zone of the champion’s blows. Ramoni left his corner full of determination at the start of the last round, but was greeted with a five punch combination, before he could even release a punch. With seconds slipping away, Ramoni landed a few good shots, which if followed up well could may have saved the day for Ramoni, but it was too little too late.
Judges scored the entertaining fight 119-111, 120-110 and 118-113 for the new champion Zolili Mbityi. In other results, Lucky Lewele stopped Thabo Mashishi in the fifth round to win the vacant national welterweight title
In other news: Zolani Morali faces Frenchman Jean Marie Cadet on September 8 for the WBF junior-lightweight world title in Durban and Isaac Hlatswayo has been matched to face Vivian Harris in an official IBF jr. welterweight world title eliminator on October 14th in the US.