THE inaugural Nashua Cruiserweight Super 8 series held at Emperors Palace on Saturday night kicked off with all the drama that makes boxing such an enthralling sport.
Controversy, a chilling knockout and a fight that went the full distance were all on the menu for the boxing fans that packed the arena.
While Zack Mwekassa left us in no doubt that he is indeed the favourite to remain the “Last Man Standing” in line with the theme of the series, the big talk of the tournament centred on the controversial stoppage of Flo Simba’s fight against Thabiso Mchunu.
The bout, which had the potential to be the best of the tournament, was spoiled by referee Tony Nyangiwe who inexplicably jumped in to end the fight in the first round after Simba had been wobbled by Mchunu.
Simba threw a right hand that missed and left him off balance as Mchunu countered with a straight left which almost spun him around to turn his back on his opponent.
He recovered to cover up under Mchunu’s barrage of blows, many of which did not find the target. Simba punched his gloves together to implore Mchunu to bring it on only for Nyangiwe to jump in and stop the fight much to the surprise of the spectators.
Nyangiwe’s premature stopping of the fight robbed the fans of what was shaping up to be an action-packed bout although Mchunu appeared to have the upper hand and was probably on course to stop Simba in the following rounds anyway.
When the outcome was formally announced as a first round technical knockout victory for Mchunu, the packed crowd booed loudly.
Simba’s trainer Harold Volbrecht said his camp would lodge an official complaint with Boxing SA today about the outcome even though the result cannot be changed.
Earlier, Mwekassa was in a devastating form against Tshepang Mohale.
Having sent a chilling warning to other contestants that he would live up to his tag as tournament favourite, Mwekassa fought like a man possessed, hardly putting a foot wrong in an uneven contest that lasted less than two minutes.
Although he is the shorter of the two, Mwekassa brilliantly took away Mohale’s jab with a two-punch combination counter that left his taller opponent reluctant to throw his sticking punch.
A left-right combo sent Mohale crashing to the ropes and left him entangled there.
But Mwekassa was so confident of his ability that he did not take full advantage of the hapless Mohale and instead allowed him to disentangle himself before resuming his furious assault.
Another two-punch salvo dropped Mohale hard on the canvas and the bout could have been stopped right there and then.
However, Mohale rose on unsteady legs and tried to fight back but Mwekassa did not only smell blood, he could see it.
Another left-right combination knocked Mohale senseless, spinning him around to fall on his face, and forcing the referee to declare the fight over.
In another Super 8 clash, Danie Venter boxed beautifully, using angles and precise punching technique to easily beat Daniel Bruwer over eight rounds.
Venter underlined his superior technique by dropping Bruwer in the seventh round to leave no doubt that he was a deserving winner.
In the main bout, IBO welterweight champion Chris van Heerden won every round against Argentinian Sebastian Lujan who came to the country highly touted after going the distance with American Mike Jones.
All the judges saw Van Heerden winning the fight by 120-108 twice and 119-109 in what was predominantly an uneventful bout.