By Ron Jackson
Boxing SA has announced that the annual awards function will be held on Friday, April 23 at the St George Hotel near Pretoria. This years awards have been downsized due to cash restraints with awards only in the following categories: prospect, boxer, manager, ring official, fight, promoter and media personality of the year for 2009.
South African fighters had a good 2009 winning ten “world titles” but unfortunately some of them were unable to hold on to the titles for very long. The two stand-out fighters of the year were IBF champions Simphiwe Nongqayi and Moruti Mthalane who could be ranked in the top ten of any organisation.
Unfortunately there were fewer SA title and “world” title fights than last year. There were only 24 SA title fights in 2009 as against 29 in 2008. In “world” title fights South Africans were involved 22 against 27 in 2008.
There were no SA title fights in the heavyweight, light heavyweight and middleweight divisions. Unfortunately the standard of boxing in national title fights also left a lot to be desired. The quality of the challengers also caused concern, as did the officiating in some fights.
In February Francois Botha won his second world belt when he beat Ron Guerrero from the USA to win the vacant Word Boxing Foundation heavyweight belt.
In March Takalani Ndlovu won the vacant World Boxing Foundation featherweight belt and in April, Zolani Marali won the vacant IBO junior lightweight belt.
Lovemore Ndou who fights out of Australia won the vacant IBO welterweight belt when he upset come backing Phillip Ndou in Kempton Park on July 11.
In August Isaac Hlatshwayo outpointed Delvin Rodriguez in Uncasville, USA to win the vacant IBF welterweight belt.
In an outstanding performance Simphiwe Nongqayi went to Mexico and against the odds beat Mexico’s Jorge Arce to win the IBF super flyweight belt in September.
On October 31 at Emperors Palace Mlungisi Dlamini stopped Zolani Marali in the fourth round to win the vacant IBO lightweight belt.
In November Moruti Mtahlane beat Mexican Julio Cesar Miranda to take the vacant IBF flyweight belt.
Unfortunately Malcolm Klassen, Zolani Marali and Isaac Hlatshwayo did not hold on to their belts for too long and lost shortly afterwards in very low key and disappointing performances.
Strong contenders for boxer of the year must be IBF champions Moruti Mthalane and Simphiwe Nongqayi. IBO champion Mlungisi Dlamini who died tragically in a motor accident could be given the award posthumously.
The Malcolm Klassen v Cassius Baloyi and Sabelo Jubatha v Luthando Vukuza fights must be strong contenders for the fight of the year.
Among the promising fighters who impressed during 2009 were Jason Bedeman and Florante Simba who must be a firm favourite to take the prospect of the year award.
In the manager of the year category Nick Durandt should take the trophy with Gert Strydom a close contender.
Promoter Jeff Ellis of African Ring did outstanding work for charity with his box and dine tournaments and also produced some good developments tournaments.
However, the number one pick for promoter of the year could be Branco Milenkovic of Branco Sports Productions who kept world class boxing alive in South African during the year.
The ring official of the year is not an easy pick but strong contenders could be Siya Vabaza and Jaap van Niewenhuizen.
There will also be an award for media personality of the year.