Johannesburg – With his pink, white and brown dyed hair resembling an advertisement for Neapolitan ice cream, South Africa's Hekkie Budler retained his IBO strawweight title with a sweet, clear-cut points win over the Philippines' Renan Trongco at Emperors Palace on Saturday night.
The judges gave the decision to Budler by runaway margins of 117-111, 117-111 and 118-110 respectively against a gallant Trongco, but the Filipino is ranked no more than number five strawweight in his own country, 29th by the IBO organisation and hardly a genuine title contender.
Still, he performed as best as he could for the furious 12
rounds and made a fight of it for the entire contest - with Budler only looking in any trouble in a couple of rounds midway through the contest when he became reckless and lost his composure.
The gruelling, evenly-contested lightweight contest between South Africa's Thompson Mokwana and Argentina's Matias Gomez highlighted what was otherwise a largely mundane supporting programme in which the standard of the visiting boxers left a great deal to be desired.
The South African judges were unanimous in awarding the decision in favour of Mokwana by a clear margin after eight vacillating rounds, but the previously unbeaten Gomez more than held his own and it was not surprising that his handlers claimed “we wuz robbed” after the Argentinain had raised his arms in a victory salute after the final bell.
Gomez came to South Africa with an imposing unbeaten record from his 29 fights, with 28 of them ending within the distance. But the statistics proved somewhat misleading, with the Argentinian having fought no one ranked higher than 92nd by the IBO and little evidencethat he possessed a lethal punch.
Mokwana, however, put up a valliant performance in trading punch for punch and enhanced a reputation that had faltered in recent times.
The other visiting fighters, however, either looked amateurish and over-rated or long past a retirement date.
Although bleeding profusely from cuts on his head and eyes, South African Rayno Liebenberg outclassed 47 year-old Flash Issaka from Ghana to retain his IBO Africa light heavyweight title with a bludgeoning fourth round tko victory.
Issaka, who started on what seemed rubbery legs from the outset, finished the fight outside the ring and in the arms of the tournament's surprised doctor after a flurry of Liebenberg punches sent the veteran Ghanaian tumbling through the ropes.
Issaka had likened himself before the fight to “a professor who will teach Liebenberg the finer points of the boxing art.”
But four crunching knockdowns threatened to scramble his mind, with the self-proclaimed professor learning a thing or two about continuing to fight on close to the age of 50.
Ilunga Makaba annexed the IBF cruiserweight youth title while delivering, a cruel, one-sided beating on Georgian Gogita Gorgiladze until the fight was mercifully halted in the fourth round.
Gorgiladze came to South Africa with a misleading unbeaten record from his 12 fights, but he looked no more than an amateur against the dominating Makaba and raw couragein absorbing punishment was his only notable asset.
Paraguayan Javier Corrales needed to shed more than 7kg in three days to make the stipulated catchweight limit for his fight against Kevin Lerena. But even at 93kg he was too slow and ponderous in the clear-cut ponts defeat against the more nimble and incisive Lerena.– Sapa