By Ron Jackson
Dejan Zaveck from Slovenia stopped champion Isaac Hlatshwayo in the third round to win the IBF welterweight belt in sensational style at the Wembley Indoor Arena in Johannesburg on Friday night. Hlatshwayo (66.24 kg) who was making his first defence was stunned with a short left-right combination by the stocky Zaveck (66.46 kg) early in the first round and never really got back into the fight.
The South African looked dry and with no sweat on his body at the first bell as the relaxed challenger took command and landed at will with big overhand rights through his guard
Early in the second round Hlatshwayo was caught with a big right to the side of the head that dropped him to his knees against the ropes where he took a count.
In the third round he went down again in the neutral corner from left and right hook combination and when he found himself on the canvas for a second time referee Kenny Chevalier from the US waved the fight off at 2 minutes 55 seconds into the round.
In what was one of the poorest performances by a South African in a world title fight in recent years Hlatshwayo looked over trained and only threw a few tentative jabs and was never in the fight from the first round.
To the consternation of his cornermen and most of his supporters, Hlatshwayo appeared to be in awe of the challenger; almost afraid to take the fight to Zaveck.
The way he went about defending his belt had the shocked spectators wondering whether he may have been ill when he entered the ring.
The 33-year-old Zaveck, improved his record to 28-1, with one no-contest and 16 knockouts.
Hlatshwayo, 32; dropped to 29-2, with one no-contest and ten knockouts. His only previous loss was to Kendall Holt in November 2006.
The judges were Albert Bennet (USA), Alfred Buqwana (SA) and Deon Dwarte (SA).
On the undercard in a flyweight bout former Olympian Jackson Chauke (50.52 kg) was most impressive in scoring a second round knockout over Sandile Mxabaniso (50.50 kg).
In a junior lightweight bout Warren Joubert (58.74 kg) knocked out Patrick Masango (58.90 kg) at 46 seconds into the second round.
Junior featherweight Oscar Chauke (55.24 kg) hardly raised a sweat in knocking out Tendai Sanyarukova (55.64 kg) from Zimbabwe at 47 seconds into the first round.
Nthuthuko Memela ( 63.26 kg) son of Fraser Memela who held the SA heavyweight title in the 1970’s had to come back from an early knockdown before he won on a fourth round technical knockout over Masande Kakaza (64.62 kg). They were fighting in the junior welterweight division.
The spectators were short changed in a night of knockouts with only 27 minutes and 37 seconds of action from five fights that were scheduled for 38 rounds.
The undercard fight between Philip Ndou and Ali Phiri was cancelled when Phiri was declared unfit to box.
The show was presented by Branco Milenkovic of Branco Sports Productions.