By Lwazi Ndzobongo at ringside: Ryno Liebenberg out boxed Denis Grachev on his way to winning the vacant WBC Silver Light Heavyweight title at Emperors Palace, East of Johannesburg.
Liebenberg jabbed and counter punched his way to scores of 117 - 111, 116 - 112 and 120 - 108.
This highly anticipated grudge match lived up to expectations with both men giving and receiving all they could, Liebenberg surprised many by boxing more in this fight compared to his come forward, throwing bombs strategy he is known for. He used his jab effectively early on, keeping the rugged Grachev at bay, Grachev did have his moments when he had Liebenberg against the ropes and landed his combinations.
Liebenberg was always in control though, his jab and left hooks were the order of the day on Grachev facial menu. He simply landed the cleaner and more effective punches throughout this competitive boxing match, which saw both men suffer cuts, Liebenberg in the 1st round, above his right eye and Grachev in the 4th round on the side of the head. Liebenberg did admit to being bothered by the cut initially as it happened so early in the fight, but as the true warrior that he is, he soldiered on to probably his biggest win in his career so far.
The fight was closer then the scores suggested, with the 116 -112 being the most accurate of them, the 120-108 must have been filled in before the fight and the judge must have slept through the actual event on Saturday night.
The win puts Liebenberg in line for some big things going forward and is testament to his hard work and dedication and the great work that his team, HotBox Gym, is doing. Having the WBC Silver title and Golden Gloves as his promoter will surely get him a good ranking and if he keeps winning, he’ll be in line for a shot at the title soon. Liebenberg improved to 16-0 (11), whilst Grachev dropped to 13-4 (8), having lost three in a row now.
Thabo Sonjica beat Roli Gasca over twelve rounds of somewhat entertaining but frustrating action, he had lost his title on the scales, having come in 2.3kg’s over the junior featherweight limit. Sonjica was making his second defence of his IBO title and the writing was on the wall when the talented Duncan Village fighter missed his flight from East London, hence missing the scheduled weigh in, only to come in over weight when he finally took to the scales. The judges scored the fight 117 - 109 and 116 - 109 twice.
Sonjica had a once in a life time chance to impress his promoter and the Johannesburg crowd at Emperors Palace, having generally fought in East London. The fact that he blew his chances on the scales already put question marks around his professionalism and his performance did nothing to convince those who had never seen him fight.
Sonjica is way more talented then he showed on Saturday, having height and reach advantages over Gasca he laboured to a points decision. Gasca was even able to continuously tag Sonjica with the straight right, had he more power, we could have been singing a different tune.
It was a messy affair, full of rabbit punches and holding, both men hit the canvass, Sonjica in the 7th, from a punch that caught him as he slipped and Gasca in the 11th, from a left uppercut right hook combination. Gasca also had a point taken off in the 11th for accessive holding, this without warning and after the referee had warned Sonjica about rabbit punches all night.
Sonjica improved to 20-2 (14) and Gasca dropped to 22-5 (6).
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August 11, 2014