By Ron Jackson
Nkosinathi Joyi retained his IBF mini-flyweight belt when his bout against Katsunari Takayama ended in a no-contest at Carnival City in Brakpan on Saturday night. The Japanese challenger was cut on top of the head in a clash of heads in the third round and referee Deon Dwarte on advice of the doctor stopped the fight 1 minute 59 seconds into the round. In terms of the IBF rules, as the fight had not gone four rounds, it was declared a no-contest. However, from where I was sitting at ringside the cut did not appear that bad and Takayama (47.60kg) was in no danger of suffering any damage to his eyes. It appeared as if he wanted an excuse to bale out. The referee is one who makes the final decision and does not have to accept the advice of the doctor and in this instance the referee possibly should have let the fight continue. Minutes after Takayama stepped out of the ring the cut was not even bleeding.
Joyi (47.54kg) was in outstanding form and dominated the fight before the accidental head butt and the Japanese challenger was on the way to a hiding. Takayama showed blistering speed around the ring but his height and reach disadvantage was always going to be a deciding factor.
The southpaw champion buckled Takayama’s knees in the first round when he landed a straight left to the head, followed by a two-fisted attack. Takayama tried in vain to get close to the South African in the second round but showed no sign of the kind of power that could bring him a sucker-punch win.
The clash of heads, ruled an accidental head-butt, denied Joyi a good win and some valuable ring time and takes his record to 21-0, with 15 knockouts and one no-contest.
Takayama, saw his record go to 24-4, with 10 stoppages and one no-contest, did nothing to show that he deserved a re-match.
The 27-year-old Joyi showed again that he is possibly pound-for-pound the best fighter in South Africa. He won the belt in March last year when he outpointed previously unbeaten Mexican Raul Garcia in East London.
For the record the judges were Don Trella (USA), Beat Hausammann (Switzerland) and Isaac Tshabalala (SA).
BALOYI LOSES ON POINTS
In the co-feature Cassius Baloyi (58.62kg) was out-boxed over 12 rounds by a younger and speedier Argenis Mendez (58.96kg) from the Dominican Republic in an IBF junior lightweight title eliminator. The scores of the judges were Don Trella (USA) 117-110, Beat Hausammann (Switzerland) 117-111 and Deon Dwarte (SA) 117-110.
The scorecards appeared a little wide as Baloyi came back in the middle rounds to score with some good two-handed attacks. Baloyi went down from a big right hand to the side of the head in the first round but showed tremendous courage as he got up and fought his way back into the fight. The 36-year-old Baloyi saw his record drop to 37-6-1 and the 27-year-old Mendez improved his record to 18-1; 9.
Mendez, who fights out of Brooklyn in New York, will now meet the champion, Mzonke Fana of South Africa in an interesting match-up.
* * *
In what must be a top contender for South African Fight of the Year, Chris van Heerden 15-1-1; 10 retained his South African welterweight title for the third time when he scored a 12 round split decision over gutsy challenger Boitshepo Mandawe 8-2; 6. The scores were 118-112 and 116-112 for Van Heerden and 115-114 for Mandawe.
Former SA featherweight and WBU junior lightweight champion Phillip Ndou 34-4; 32 outpointed Welcome Ntshingila 16-13-3; 5 over eight rounds in an entertaining contest. They fought at junior middleweight. The scores were 77-75, 78-75 and 79-73.
In an untidy and wild swinging junior heavyweight clash former SA light heavyweight champion Daniel Bruwer 23-2-1; 19 stopped former WBU middleweight champion Ruben Groenewald 23-9-3 (10) at 2 minutes and 54 seconds of the eighth round.
Branco Milenkovic, the Branco Sports Productions promoter, presented the tournament.