South African boxing’s purple patch continued on Sunday as Simpiwe Konkco made a successful third defence of his IBO mini-flyweight championship against determined Toto Landero of the Philippines.
Fighting in his Mthatha hometown, Konkco delivered an emphatic performance to earn a unanimous points win – 117-112, 116-112, 116-112.
The entertaining, all-action bout was fought at a furious pace from the first round with Konkco’s calm, measured style pitched against Landero’s wild, unorthodox attack.
The nature of Landero’s approach meant that he enjoyed some success, not least when he launched right hands over the top, but he neglected the jab and fought only in spurts. The champion, in turn, worked from behind a disciplined left jab and did good work on the inside as he sought to slow the Filipino down.
The pair traded toe to toe through the middle rounds with neither able to really hurt the other, preferring to put in work that would impress the judges. Ultimately, it was Konkco’s greater accuracy and work in the early rounds that allowed him to take his foot off the pedal in the later rounds.
Konkco wasn’t troubled as Landero earned some success with the right hand, his own attack proving sufficient against a man who deserves credit for getting stuck in and never giving up.
With the boisterous crowd roaring him on in song in the 11th round, Konkco kept things tidy, fighting at distance and not giving Landero any meaningful look-in.
It was enough for him, but not for trainer Colin Nathan, who barked at him, “Let your hands go! Let your hands go!”
He needn’t have worried. Konkco’s output was fine and when the 12 rounds were over, there were few doubts that one of SA’s most unheralded fighters had done the business, again.