By Ron Jackson
Yohnny Perez of Colombia came from behind to score a dramatic twelfth round stoppage win over South African Silence Mabuza in their IBF bantamweight title eliminator at the Springs Indoor Arena on Friday night. Mabuza (53.06kg) was less than two minutes away from victory when Perez (53.40kg) caught him with a stunning right to the jaw followed up by a stiff jab that dropped the South African to the canvas. He managed to beat the count but was on wobbly legs as a another barrage of punches sent him staggering across the ring as American referee Kenny Chevallier stepped in to wave the fight off at 1 minute 6 seconds into the twelfth round.
The stoppage appeared a little premature but Mabuza’s legs were gone and he would probably not have seen out the round anyway.
Going into the final round Mabuza possibly had a two point advantage after being the aggressor for long periods in the fight as he scored to the body working at close quarters.
However, the taller Perez turned out to be a brilliant counter-puncher who landed most of the telling punches during one of the best fights seen in South Africa in recent years.
With the altitude and the home crowd on his side, Mabuza tried to turn on the pressure but through his leaky defence he took too many punches as he went after the Colombian.
Pacing became a crucial aspect in later rounds and it was Perez who showed more ring craft. He also did most of the damage as the South African’s face began to puff up even though he was more economical with his punches. However, the ending was rather unexpected and dramatic.
Perez, who now qualifies to challenge for the IBF bantamweight belt improved his record to 19-0, with 14 knockouts. Mabuza dropped to 22-3; 18. The judges were Franco Ciminale (Italy), Alfred Buqwana ((SA) and Wally Snowball (SA).
The undercard was rather poor as out of a scheduled 66 minutes of boxing in four fights that all ended in side the distance the fans only got 17 minutes and 13 seconds of action. Junior middleweight: Michael van Heerden beat David Mngcombolo, tko 2; Junior welterweight: Ntuthuko Memela beat Mxolisi Mkhatshwa, ko 1; Junior lightweight: Warren Joubert beat Norman Tshisakhawe, tko 3; Bantamweight: Thami Mbonani beat Anele Goci, ko 1.