Boxing Snippets

All bite on the night as Tulz sweeps to victory

Thulani Mbenge on his way to winning the IBO welterweight title at Emperors Palace on Saturday. Pic: N-SQUARED

Thulani “Tulz” Mbenge overcame both a bite and a desperate challenger as he won the IBO welterweight championship in style against Diego Chaves at Emperors Palace on Saturday night.

Two cracking right hands in the seventh round finished off the Argentine challenger, who had been both feisty and filthy in his attempt to keep the sensational South African from winning.

In the third, he bit into Mbenge’s side so blatantly that Mbenge’s ringside supporters bellowed in complaint and collectively gave the South American the finger. Mbenge himself raged, earning Chaves a fierce talking to from referee Deon Dwarte at the conclusion of the round.

That was about the only aggression Chaves showed as he spent all night running up blind alleyways against the fast-handed Mbenge, who doubled down on his punches and threw with authority.

Mbenge mixed in short lefts and chopping right hands from the start. Chaves mounted a crude challenge, but he was beaten on the counter every time and couldn’t close the distance to give him a chance of slowing the brutal Mbenge charge.

It was easily the most accomplished performance of Mbenge’s career as he put together a sumptuous display that showed the range of his talents.

“This kid’s going places,” said a delighted Rodney Berman, the promoter, in the aftermath.

When he is in the mood, Thabiso Mchunu can be an outstanding fighter.

On Saturday, he was in the mood.

Faced with the bull-like Richard Bolotnik, Mchunu teed off on him from the start, bringing down the boom in the sixth round with a devastating right hand. As violent as the punch was, it was only half as good as the crushing left uppercut that felled the Latvian moments before.

As a statement, it was as emphatic as it gets. Bolotnik might not be in the upper reaches of the cruiserweight division, but he’s strong and capable and always hangs around.

It’s all over as Thabiso Mchunu knocks out Richard Bolotnik. Pic: N-SQUARED

On Saturday, he had no chance, notwithstanding his tight defence early on. Mchunu got his punches off sweetly and he avoided the sort of trading that might have got him into trouble earlier in his career. The southpaw found his range early and seemed to enjoy himself as he unpicked Bolotnik’s game.

The most obvious sign that his strategy was working came in the fourth when he hurt Bolotnik to the body. Mchunu has never been a puncher, but the sheer volume of his attack began to tell and when he caught up with Bolotnik two rounds later, his finish was savage and clinical.

Earlier, Rowan Campbell outworked Malkhaz Sujashvili and finally overwhelmed him in the eighth to win via TKO.

It was an excellent test for Campbell, bedecked in a tartan kilt, who absorbed some early pressure and then came on strong late to take the fight away from the Georgian. Sujashvili had begun promisingly, spearing out his jab and putting together fast punches.

Rowan Campbell on his way to a late-round stoppage win. Pic: N-SQUARED

With his high guard and tight defence, this posed no significant problem for Campbell, who found his groove by the fourth and began to outwork Sujashvili. The Georgian’s counter-punching was effective, but his jab had all but disappeared in the final three rounds as Campbell walked him down.

When the end came, it was surprising. Campbell was on the attack, but as he backed off Sujashvili put his arm up in surrender. Bravery, as he discovered, can only get you so far.

Middleweight contender Wade Groth won as he pleased against Andile Mntungwa, but two of the three judges saw it differently, calling it 58-57 in Groth’s favour and the other having it even at 57-57. Sanity prevailed with the third, however, who correctly scored it 59-55.

Frankly, so dominant was Groth that Mntungwa’s corner would have been justified throwing in the towel. He was frequently caught with clean shots that rocked him, chiefly in the first, second and fifth rounds, but he proved resilient and somehow lasted the distance.

Wade Groth digs in a chopping right cross against Andile Mntungwa. Pic: N-SQUARED

Groth cracked him hard in the first, the only real surprise that he didn’t look to finish him. But Groth’s trainer was after quality rounds and they focused on outworking Mntungwa.

The unbeaten former MMA fighter tattooed Mntungwa all night, with the KZN man earning kudos for his ability to withstand punishment.

Groth will bank the rounds and draw on the experience when next he fights, presumably for the interim SA title.

⃝    In the show opener, Jay Jay Sonjica was all class and power as he overwhelmed Tumelo Matsane in the first of a junior-featherweight contest. The time was 1:50.

Jay Jay Sonjica, right, working on finishing off Tumelo Matsane. Pic: N-SQUARED

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