Boxing bosses promise they'll get it right this time

20 June 2019 - 15:19 By David Isaacson
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Boxers Thato Bonokoane and Innocent Mantengu.
Boxers Thato Bonokoane and Innocent Mantengu.
Image: David Isaacson

Boxing SA (BSA) is vowing to get it right this time when Thato Bonokoane and Innocent Mantengu meet once again for the vacant SA junior-featherweight crown in Kagiso next Friday night.

The duo battled hard for 12 rounds in March‚ only for officials to break their own rules by declaring it a draw — they’re supposed to choose a winner for vacant titles.

BSA’s regulation 35.4 clearly states that “in a championship fight for a vacant title‚ each judge shall nominate a winner and the winner of the bout shall be the boxer nominated as the winner by the majority vote of the judges”.

The boxers themselves‚ however‚ expressed their confidence at a press conference in Randburg on Thursday that they would not need the judges.

“I didn’t bring my A game last time‚” said Bonokoane‚ a full-time boxer who sports the scars of an old car accident on his right forearm.

“But this time I’m bringing my A-plus-plus game.”

Mantengu‚ an economics and accounting teacher who left his job in the northern KwaZulu-Natal town of Mtubatuba to pursue his love of boxing in Johannesburg‚ is predicting an early night.

“How are you going to catch me?” interjected Bonokoane‚ who engaged in playful banter with his opponent throughout the function.

Mantengu took a sideswipe at BSA too. “Officials must know they have to learn about their job.”

A BSA representative at the press conference insisted they would get it right.

“We’ll do that‚ don’t worry. It won’t happen again.”

SA boxing rules have refused to allow contests for vacant titles to end in draws for as long as anyone seems to remember.

In 1978 black SA junior-lightweight champion Norman Sekgapane took on white SA counterpart Andries Steyn for the vacant Supreme title that‚ for a few years during apartheid‚ was a mixed-race belt.

It ended in a stalemate with Stan Christodoulou scoring it to Steyn by one point‚ Matt Lotter for Sekgapane by one point‚ and Len Hunt marking it even.

Referee Peter Lock walked across the ring to Hunt and told him he needed to choose a winner.

With the nod of his head‚ Hunt gave it to “Pangaman” Sekgapane‚ who in his next outing became the first black SA boxer to challenge for a world title.

The no-draw regulation will also be in effect for the main preliminary bout next Friday when unbeaten Simon Dladla takes on Linda Ntshingila for the vacant Gauteng junior-middleweight title.

The six-bout bill at the Kagiso memorial and recreation centre‚ will be streamed live on YouTube by Vision View Productions and will kick off at 5pm.

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