Hard­core’s left hand rules the world of box­ing

CityPress - - Sport - PULE MOKHINE pmokhine@city­press.co.za

Gideon “Hard­core” Buthelezi’s breath­tak­ing ring ex­ploits have earned him the sta­tus of be­ing South Africa’s first south­paw to con­quer the su­per fly­weight di­vi­sion on the global stage.

South­paw is the nor­mal stance for a left­handed boxer.

South Africa’s su­per fly­weight class has been dom­i­nated by or­tho­dox (righthanded) box­ers, most of whom have now re­tired.

Hard­core suc­cess­fully re­tained his In­ter­na­tional Box­ing Or­gan­i­sa­tion (IBO) belt with an em­phatic unan­i­mous points de­ci­sion vic­tory over Mex­i­can chal­lenger Angel Aviles at Kemp­ton Park In­door Cen­tre a fort­night ago. Judges Pa­trick Mukondiwa, Ace Makaluza and Roger Barnor scored the bout 119-109, 118-100 and 115-113, re­spec­tively, in Buthelezi’s favour.

In 2015, the 30-year-old won the then va­cant su­per fly­weight ti­tle by beat­ing Maka­zole Tete on a unan­i­mous points de­ci­sion at the Ori­ent Theatre in East Lon­don.

He suc­cess­fully de­fended against Ar­gen­tine Diego Luis Pichardo Liri­ano, beat­ing him with a unan­i­mous points de­ci­sion at Ngoako Ra­matl­hodi Sports Com­plex in Seshego, Lim­popo, in April last year.

The lightweights have pre­vi­ously seen the dom­i­nance of lo­cal or­tho­dox fight­ers call­ing the shots by win­ning na­tional and in­ter­na­tional ti­tles. But Hard­core, who has also held the IBO light fly­weight and World Box­ing Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WBO) Africa min­i­mum weight di­adems, has given the sport of pugilism a new lease of life by be­ing the coun­try’s only lefty to hold a world cham­pi­onship belt in the light­weight cat­e­gory. Themba Joyi, who has since quit the sport, was also a south­paw who held a ti­tle belt. How­ever, Joyi’s was a na­tional ti­tle belt – mak­ing Buthelezi a king­pin by virtue of his be­ing an in­ter­na­tional stage beater. The likes of Ja­cob “Baby Jake” Mat­lala and Ma­si­bulele “Hawk” Makepula were great light­weight di­vi­sion men who held world crowns. Hard­core seems to have added class to the ring with his ex­cit­ing style, which is sim­i­lar to that of Naseem Hamed – the for­mer In­ter­na­tional Box­ing Fed­er­a­tion and WBO feath­er­weight ti­tle holder who was renowned for his sleek move­ment around the ring, thus con­fus­ing op­po­nents be­fore con­nect­ing with a great hook. “Be­ing the coun­try’s only south­paw world cham­pion in a weight di­vi­sion dom­i­nated by right-handed box­ers makes me feel great,” said the Boipa­tong-based boxer. “I en­joy en­ter­tain­ing fans by mov­ing around the ring and catch­ing op­po­nents un­awares with big shots.” Hard­core is hop­ing to meet with his pro­moter, Ayanda Matiti, soon to dis­cuss a plan for his next ti­tle de­fence.

: TEBOGO LETSIE

HARD­CORE Gideon Buthelezi has put SA on world map

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