CAPE TOWN – The term champion does not necessarily mean donning a belt around your waist.
The true definition of champion is revealed when your back is against the wall… And Thembani ‘Baby Jake’ Mbangatha can tell you all about that.
One of Cape Town’s most loved sons put on a display of heart and substance this past weekend when he successfully defended his WBF Africa featherweight title for the first time at the Wynberg Military Base in a 10-round fight.
At Kalakoda Promotions’ Battle Ready event, Mbangatha’s worst nightmare came back to haunt him in the sixth round when he dislocated his shoulder in a fight against the experienced Themba ‘Doctor’ Ntsele.
It was indeed a daunting reality for Mbangatha, especially after working so hard during rehabilitation to come back and defend his title after earning it in sweet style against Mayihlomo Mjonono, in a fight that initially caused his shoulder to pop.
It was on that night in 2017, at the same arena, that Mbangatha won the hearts of the fans.
Fast-forward to two years later, on his way to hearing the ring announcer shout “And Still” as he dominated his opponent with quick movement, and timing, the man from Capricorn starting banging on the canvas in frustration as he and the doctors tried to get his shoulder back into socket in between the six and seventh rounds.
The boisterous crowd waited with bated breath to see if the champ would continue. However, they were in for a treat as he stood up for each and every round to follow as it seemed as though he had managed to pop it in again.
He continued to outbox his opponent with one arm, deploying an educated jab, bob and weave, as the songs and cheers got even louder as Mbangatha out-thought the former South African flyweight champion Ntsele, who was unable to make his presence felt even after Mbangatha’s injury.
The unanimous decision came down to both judges Elroy Marshall and Eddie Marshall scoring it 97-93, and judge Fred van der Ross calling it 99-91.
As referee Darryl Ribbink lifted Mbangatha’s hand, the crowd showed their love and gratitude as they broke out in song once more.
Respect was present in a beautiful manner as both fighters embraced each other after the festivities.
Mbangatha improved his record to 10-0-4, and Ntsele’s record dropped 22-12-1; 14.
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