By Ron Jackson
Seven-fight novice Aphiwe Mboyiya won the SA featherweight title by beating Sydney Maluleke in East London on Sunday. Mboyiya came back from two knockdowns in the seventh round to win the fight at a packed Orient Theatre on points. Judge Simphiwe Mbini scored it 115-112 and judges Andile Matika and Allen Matakane had it 117-113 and 116-113.
Mboyiya, who weighed 56.90 kg, had fought only 23 rounds in six professional fights going into the title challenge. However, the 20-year-old outboxed the more experienced Maluleke (also 56.90 kg) during the first five rounds, scoring with the southpaw left to the head.
The 29-year-old champion battled to come to terms with the unorthodox stance of his opponent but picked up the pace in the sixth round. Early in the seventh he dropped the challenger with a right to the body. Mboyiya beat the count of referee Lulama Mtya but soon afterwards took another count when he was caught with a right to the jaw. He was still on rubbery legs in the eighth round but came back into the fight just before the bell.
From the ninth to the eleventh rounds the bout was a ding-dong affair, both throwing a lot of punches and holding at times. The gutsy Mboyiya was completely exhausted going into the final round and just hung on to the final bell. Maluleke, whose left eye was badly swollen at the end, scored well in the seventh round but had given away too many of the earlier rounds. It cost him his title.
Mboyiya improved his record to 7-0 with four knockouts. Maluleke’s dropped to 12-4; 7.
Sonjica stops Nongqayi
In the main supporting bout, Thabo Sonica knocked out 40-year-old Simphiwe Nongqayi (55.10 kg) in the third round of a featherweight clash. Nongqayi is a former World Boxing Foundation and IBF junior bantamweight champion. He was up against a southpaw who came in to the ten-rounder at 57.15 kg.
After a quiet opening round, a left to the jaw sent Nongqayi down on the seat of his colourful pants in the second round. He survived but 1 minute 24 seconds into third round the veteran was knocked down with a right uppercut and counted out by referee Simphiwe Mbini. Sonjica improved his record to 16-2, with 12 knockouts and Nongqayi dropped to a 17-3-1; 6.
The tournament was presented by Mzi Mnguni of Eyethu Promotions