SA punching above its weight

Guest column: Ron Jackson

South African boxing is looking good with six reigning world champions and a potential seventh when Moruti Mthalane challenges for the IBF title on July 15.

When Thulani Mbenge (14-0; 11) scored an outstanding victory over the vastly experienced Diego Gabriel Chaves at Emperors Palace on Saturday night to claim the vacant IBO welterweight title he became the sixth South African to currently hold a world title.

The longest reigning South African world title holder is the talented Gideon Buthelezi (20-5; 4) who won the IBO junior-bantamweight title on December 18, 2015, with a points victory over fellow South African Makazole Tete. He fights from the southpaw stance and has made three successful defences, but has been inactive since last July and is fortunate that the IBO has not stripped him due to inactivity.

Southpaw Zolani Tete (27-3; 21), who holds the WBO bantamweight title and has made two successful defences, is far and above the number one fighter in South Africa. Tete is scheduled to take part in the World Boxing Super Series for bantamweights with the draw scheduled to take place in Germany in July and the tournament to take place in September. Should Tete emerge as the winner of the tournament he will become a multi-millionaire in rand terms.

Xolisani Ndongeni (24-0; 12), a former IBO lightweight champion and current World Boxing Federation lightweight champion, has yet to reach his full potential. Kevin Lerena (21-1; 9), who also fights from the southpaw stance, won the IBO cruiserweight title in September 2017 and has made two successful defences of the title. He is also listed at a high number six by the WBC.

Hekkie Budler (32-3; 10) is considered by many to be the number one junior-flyweight in the world after his upset win over Ryoichi Taguchi for the WBA/IBF and Ring magazine junior-flyweight belts. The WBA elevated him to a “super” champion in January 2016 and in an outstanding career he has laid claim to 11 belts. He is to date the only South African to be elevated to a “super” champion and also the first to win three belts in one night.

The British boxing weekly Boxing News, who have their own independent world rankings, have recognised the undermentioned South Africans:

Featherweight – No 10 – Lerato Dlamini (11-1).
Bantamweight – No 3 – Zolani Tete (27-3).
Bantamweight – No 10 – Mzuvukile Magwaca (20-0-3).
Flyweight – No 6 – Moruti Mthalane (35-2).
Light-flyweight – No 3 – Hekkie Budler (32-3).
Strawweight – No 6 Simpiwe Konkco (18-5).
Strawweight – No 10 Deejay Kriel (14-1-1).