It was billed as four go to war and Azinga Fuzile duly brought along his bazooka left hand to steal the show at Emperors Palace on Saturday night.
No-one quite knew how the SA featherweight champion would fare against experienced Tshifhiwa Munyai, but minutes into the first round it was glaringly obvious as he began throwing punches with bad intentions. When it was over, in the third round, the Eastern Cape schoolboy had sent Munyai to the canvas four times, his relentless left hand rocking Munyai, who had no answer to the furious barrage.
Fuzile’s performance drew gasps from the audience, swept up by the exciting, explosive nature of the contest. Fighting with a swagger, Fuzile walked his man down, dismissing his attack with the confidence of a boxer who has no fear.
He dropped the bomb twice in the second round, Munyai shaking his head in shock and disbelief at the petulance of the youngster. But there was more to come in the third as Munyai was twice sent sprawling. Aware that he had no chance, he waved his arm in surrender while on the canvas, confirming the stunning arrival of Fuzile, who will doubtless start as favourite for the Super Four final, to be staged in March.
ROOKIE SHOCKS ‘V12’
If the Fuzile-Munyai bout was a battle without mercy, the other semi-final between former world champion Simpiwe Vetyeka and IBF Youth champion Lerato Dlamini was a tactical battle of wills.
Few gave Dlamini much chance against the vastly more experienced veteran, but youth was served as the man from the Free State produced a brave, bustling performance against a man who had clearly lost his edge. Vetyeka’s inactivity showed as he was repeatedly beaten to the punch and struggled to assert himself. In his prime he was a devilishly hard man to beat, but Dlamini showed him little respect as he advanced on him and unloaded at will.
Dlamini settled into an easy rhythm while Vetyeka was constantly trying to adapt, searching for a way to deter the ambitious youngster.
The writing was on the wall early on, especially when the WBC scores were announced after the fourth round – Dlamini was leading on two of the cards.
The pattern continued in the latter half of the fight as Dlamini continued to work hard. Vetyeka battled manfully, but there was little snap in his punches and the scores after eight rounds, which had Dlamini up on two cards and the fighters even on the other, lent an air of predictability to proceedings.
There were few highlights, but ultimately Dlamini’s better work rate served him well and he was announced the winner by majority decision (97-93, 95-94, 95-95).
KRIEL CRACKS ON
DeeJay Kriel kept busy with a comfortable majority points win against a game Thembelani Okolo on the undercard (79-73, 77-75, 76-76).
Okolo brought a great attack to the contest, banging away at Kriel’s midriff throughout, but Kriel’s straight right was a thing of beauty that kept him in charge.
For all Okolo’s offence, he let himself down by dropping his hands and allowing Kriel to nail him at will. Kriel was never better than when he was up on his toes, peppering his opponent with a pesky jab and supplementing it with the right hand over the top.
Okolo had his moments, but Kriel was too polished and confirmed his status as one of SA’s best young fighters.
THE LION SUBDUES THE PANTHER
Ryno Liebenberg vowed to hang up his gloves if he lost to Patrick Mukala.
The crowd-pleasing boxer will thus be around for a little while longer after emerging the winner in an absorbing 10-rounder that reflected well on both fighters.
Liebenberg showed his smarts against a determined youngster, while Mukala produced confident bursts, but ultimately paid for his inexperience. The DRC boxer showed clever angles and had a handy uppercut, but his defence let him down as Liebenberg nailed him at will.
Mukala was very effective with short shots inside, but was unable to hurt Liebenberg, who was used to hanging tough with bigger bangers at light-heavyweight.
Mukala wasn’t daunted by the challenge and for big chunks of the bout fought on even terms, not least in the third when his small army of fans chanted “Bomaye”, the dark slogan famously heard at the “Rumble in the Jungle”.
Both were happy to stand and trade, much to the delight of the audience, but Liebenberg always just had the edge. Many of the rounds produced exciting slugfests, the best of them in the 10th when the pair somehow summoned the strength to end matters with a wild salvo packed with action and heavy shots.
Cards were 96-94, 98-92, 97-93.