Then there is the wildcard, Macbute ‘Macman’ Sinyabi. He is 18-1 (18) with eleven first round stoppages and seven defences of the national title to his name. Moscardi says of him, “He’s not yet been tested against any international opposition but on the home front he’s iced everybody. He’s a terrific puncher but the chin is a bit suspect and he’s still to be tested at top level so he’s certainly a great prospect but the jury’s still out.”
Moscardi picks IBF flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane as a close runner up to Ndlovu in the fighter of the year stakes.
“Obviously second place would have to go to Moruti. He’s a terrific fighter and he went out of the country and defended his title in Italy. I don’t think the opposition was as tough as that which Ndlovu faced but nonetheless he did a great job and came through the year with flying colours.”
I saw Mthalane’s fight in Italy – a seventh round stoppage of Andrea Sarritzu – from ringside and wholeheartedly concur with his high opinion of the little champion. He could well be the best in the division. Earlier in the year he also stopped ex-WBO interim champ Johnriel Casimero.
Fight of the year: Chris van Heerden W12 Boitshepo Mandawe (SA welterweight title), 29th January; Lubabalo Msuthu W12 Dennis Tubieron (WBF bantamweight title), 19th November
For his fights of the year, Moscardi chose two close split decision fights.
“We’ve got some very unheralded fighters in the welterweight division. They’ve never been glamour fighters or popular fighters but they are still extremely good. And Boitshepo Mandawe was one of them. He’d give anybody a hard time and he gave Van Heerden one. Chris had to pull out all the stops to beat him and it was an absolute war from start to finish. The verdict was in doubt right up to the final bell. It could have been anybody’s fight but I think Chris’s aggression probably just sneaked it for him.”
For those of you who haven’t seen either fighter, Moscardi describes their styles:
“Van Heerden has a straight up style, he’s an attacking fighter and he hardly knows anything else other than to go forward and throw bunches of punches. He’s not the cleverest fighter defensively. He’s a southpaw, hits hard and hits often. He’s a buzzsaw who just comes in swarming. Madawe is a general all-rounder. He could punch, he could box and he could hit a bit as well. The first fight (back in 2009) was the same sort of fight. The two guys are the sort of fighters you could put them on together every night of the week and each time they’d produce a potential fight of the year.”
Van Heerden had a great year. Not only did he produce a fight of the year but he also went on to scalp two of the country’s top fighters. First he beat 14-1 Bongani Mwelase, a one-time hot prospect, then he outpointed Kaiser Mabuza, the fighter who was causing Zab Judah all sorts of problems before he got knocked out.
As for Moscardi’s second choice, first he gave us a bit of background on Msuthu.
“Now Lubabalo Msuthu is a very good little fighter. He had not fought for years. I think about two years. Again through various reasons which don’t relate to his ability at all – for example he is managed by a black manager and he was previously promoted by black promoters. All those guys were connected to the national broadcaster, SABC, who two years ago decided to stop televising boxing. Because of the camp he was in the white promoters were not too interested in matching him – which is a huge pity – and resulted in him being out of action for two years. Now the WBF in their wisdom, and I think this is a mistake because it goes against their own rules, decided that it was not his fault that he hadn’t defended his title and they allowed him to keep it. When this new promoter - Showpony Promotions – popped its head up and said it wanted to promote a bantamweight fight, it was the ideal the opportunity to give Msuthu a chance to defend.
“They brought in a Filipino. Now my own opinion on Filipinos is that any fighter out of that country can give anybody a good fight. They’re all as tough as nails, they all come to fight. They don’t necessarily all have the same degree of ability but they’re all good honest, hard fighters. This guy Tubieron had real ability and he came to take the title away. In the second round it looked as though he was going to do that because he floored Msuthu and had him in a lot of trouble. It was absolute action all the way through, absolute non-stop action.”
Look out for the second part of Moscardi’s breakdown of South African action in 2011, including the most impressive imports, those fighters who disappointed and the prospects to look out for.
January 12, 2012
This article has been amended. The original article stated that the purse bid for the Joyi-Takayama fight was 26,000 Rand and attributed the information to Pete Moscardi. In reality the purse bid was for 26,000 Dollars - a much higher bid than originally stated - and the mistake was entirely the author’s. Peter Lerner and Secondsout would like to apologise to Branco Milenkovic and Pete Moscardi for this oversight.