Steven Bagwasi stole a split decision win over veteran Koos Sibiya on Thursday night to win the main bout as ESPN Africa kicked off its re-entry to live boxing in Johannesburg on Thursday night.
It was a decision that could have gone the other way without any complaints, but the 27-year-old from Botswana, who improved to seven wins and loss, was considered the prospect coming into this fight.
The 40-year-old Sibiya, who now has 25 wins, 14 losses and a five draws, made life difficult for Bagwasi, making him miss and catching him with punches. He was surprised by the result. “The other guy's trainer came to me afterwards and said they'd lost the fight.”
But the journeyman who has never really had a promoter pushing his cause has found himself on the wrong end of a few decisions in his career. “Maybe if I'd been born in 1991 I would have won,” he said with a smile.
Either way, Sibiya has been a credit to boxing.
This junior-lightweight battle was clean and without dramatics, but it was a fair rescue act for a bill that had lost its headline attraction, an SA title clash, just a day before.
In essence this was effectively a development tournament, but ESPN has the potential to be a good platform for a sport that was already struggling before Covid-19 spread around the planet.
With one live tournament a month, African boxers — and especially those in SA at the moment — will get much needed action and exposure.