By Ron Jackson
In an entertaining fight South Africa’s Takanlani Ndlovu had to come back from a first round knockdown to score a unanimous twelve round points decision over Kiko Martinez of Spain in an IBF junior featherweight title eliminator at the Wembley Indoor Arena in Johannesburg on Friday night. Ndlovu has now earned the right to challenge IBF and WBA junior featherweight champion Celestino Caballero of Panama.
Ndlovu who holds the WBF featherweight belt was knocked down with a looping left hook in the opening round to take a count from referee Sparkle Lee. However he kept his cool and boxed his way out of trouble. Judge Manuel Oliver Palomo (Spain) scored it 117-111 and judge Isaac Tshabalala (SA) had it 116-112 whilst judge Deon Duarte (SA) was off the mark with a score of 115-113.
Ndlovu 55.34 kg used his height and reach advantage to pile up the points with some stinging jabs to the head and shots to the body.
From round nine the altitude possibly caught up with Martinez 55.14 kg as he began to slow down and in the eleventh round the Spaniard came close to being stopped as Ndlovu
battered him against the ropes.
It was a bloodied and weary Martinez who returned his corner at the end of the round.
However, it was rather disturbing to see that Ndlovu took his foot of the gas peddle in round twelve and began showboating.
He would be well advised to quit these antics in the ring, as if he well remembers that showboating cost him the decision against Vuyani Bungu in February 2004
Ndlovu improved his record to 30-5; 18 and Martinez dropped to 20-3; 15.
On the undercard Vusi Malinga 53.50 kg was too experienced and strong for Fadhili Majia 53.14 kg of Tanzania as he scored a third round knockout to win the vacant WBO Africa bantamweight title.
Malinga who was coming off a first round stoppage loss to Hozumi Hasegawa when challenging for the WBC bantamweight belt in March this year was very tight through the first round.
However, he got into his rhythm in the second round as he began to score with right and lefts to the head and body from his southpaw stance.
In the third he continued to punish the smaller Majia before dropping him to the canvas with a right-left combination to the body where he was counted out by referee Tony Nyangiwe at 2 minute 28 seconds into the round.
Malinga improves his record to 18-3-1; 11 and Majia drops to 7-1; 3.
In the show opener Warren Joubert 59.74 kg maintained his unbeaten record as he boxed his way to a hard-earned six round points decision over the nuggety Sifiso Msibi 58.66 kg in a junior lightweight contest.
In a super middleweight bout Michael Schultz 75.98 kg making a return to the ring after an absence of more than eleven years scored an easy second round knockout over Oupa Mahlangu 76. 20 kg.
After a concerted body attack Schultz dropped Mahlangu for the full count at 47 seconds into the second round.
The show was presented by Branco Milenkovic of Branco Sports Productions.