JOHANNESBURG – Akani Phuzi retained his WBA Pan African cruiserweight title on a hard-earned majority 12-round point’s decision over the vastly more experienced Willbeforce Shihepo at the Blairgowrie Recreation Centre in Johannesburg on Sunday.
The judges scored it 116-112, 115-113 and 114-114.
In what was a gruelling affair against Shihepo, who knows all the tricks of a wily old veteran. He closed down the 25-year-old champion at times, and made him work for victory which augurs well for his future career.
Shihepo (87.90kg) came out fast at the opening bell to surprise the champion and scored with some big lefts and rights to the head to take the round.
The challenger was warned at the end of round one and two for hitting after the bell and received stern warnings from referee Simon Mokadi who did a fine job controlling fight with the ring-wise Sihepo using all the tricks he has picked up over his long career.
There was very little in it for the first six rounds with Phuzi taking a slight lead.
Shihepo was in the fight through the next five rounds and finished strongly. However, this was not enough in the eyes of two judges as Phuzi (90.65kg) emerged a popular winner in front of his home crowd.
In the main supporting bout Bangile Nyangani (47.50kg) won the vacant African Boxing Union SADC mini-flyweight with a wide unanimous 10-round point’s decision over the gutsy Oscar Richard (47.52kg) from Tanzania.
The scores were 99-91 on all three judges’ scorecards.
Welterweight: Yaseen Domingo beat Cecil Maluleke, pts 4
Junior-bantamweight: Trevor Nghonyama beat Mxolisi Masina, pts 4
Junior-lightweight: Jeff Magagane beat Paul Mangxilana, pts 8
Junior-bantamweight: Sikho Nqothole beat Thulani Gumede, tko 2.
African News Agency (ANA)