Man of iron Nkosi re­tains Pan African ti­tle

The Sunday Independent - - SPORT - IQBAL KHAN

EVEN though Ayanda Nkosi, pic­tured, took a bit of pun­ish­ment in the early rounds, the South African had more than enough fire-power to­wards the end of the fight to de­fend his 12-round WBA Pan African light­weight ti­tle against Botswana’s Steven Bag­wasi in the Fox Sports Africa Box­ing tour­na­ment at Sibaya Casino & En­ter­tain­ment King­dom on Fri­day night.

It was his se­cond ti­tle de­fence – the first was against Cos­mas Cheka of Tan­za­nia, whom he beat on a knock­out very early in the 12-round bout which also took place at Sibaya.

The 25-year-old Nkosi, ju­bi­lant af­ter se­cur­ing a unan­i­mous de­ci­sion, said af­ter­wards: “It was a tough one but I’m happy I came through. He was a tough fighter. He threw ev­ery­thing at me as I had ex­pected es­pe­cially in the early rounds. But then I slowly started wear­ing him down, get­ting my punches through his de­fence.

“I could see he be­gan tir­ing af­ter the sev­enth round and that’s when I in­creased my ag­gres­sion and went look­ing for a knock­out.”

Nkosi found a telling punch in the 12th round – a right to the head that saw the Botswanan hit the can­vas for an eight-count. But the spunky light­weight, who hadn’t gone be­yond eight rounds in his pro­fes­sional ca­reer be­fore, weath­ered the storm to see out 12 rounds.

“I gave my all,” Bag­wasi said. “I’m not dis­ap­pointed to have lost. It was a huge learn­ing curve for me. Ayanda is such a good boxer. He’s strong and he fought a tac­ti­cal fight. I was up with him toe-to-toe from the be­gin­ning but then started run­ning out of steam from the ninth round on­wards. I’ll be back – that’s for sure.”

For Bag­wasi it was his first loss in six fights while Nkosi took his record to 11 fights and one loss.

Mean­while, Akani Phuzi, the tough WBA Pan African cruis­er­weight cham­pion, re­tained his ti­tle with a work­man­like points win over Nige­ria’s Afinni Abio­dun over 12 rounds.

The big-hit­ting Phuzi hunted his op­po­nent around the ring, throw­ing his big right hand but was un­able to send the Nige­rian to the can­vas. Abio­dun took some pun­ish­ment dur­ing the en­counter and never flinched while Phuzi hit his body with some telling blows. “I’m glad Akani went through 12 rounds,” man­ager-trainer, Alan Toweel said. “For him it was a huge learn­ing curve – he needs to go the dis­tance in­stead of win­ning by a knock­out all the time.”

A big dis­ap­point­ment was the poor show­ing by Namib­ian An­thony Jar­mann, the WBA su­per-wel­ter­weight cham­pion who lost on a TKO in the sev­enth round to South Africa’s John Bopane in a non-ti­tle fight.

The night ended with SA’s lat­est heavy­weight ‘find’ Wil­helm Nebe knock­ing out Malawi’s Gil­son Je­put­ers af­ter just 24 sec­onds.

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