Fana regains IBF junior lightweight title

Mzonke Fana won the vacant IBF junior lightweight title with a

unanimous decision over fellow South African Cassius ‘Hitman’

Baloyi at the Carnival City casino in Brakpan, near Johannesburg,

on Wednesday.

Fana, 36, regained the title he lost to Baloyi on points in

April 2008 with a dominant display over 12 rounds at the Big Top

arena.

The junior lightweight belt had been vacated by Mexico’s Robert

Guerrero when he couldn’t defend his title against Fana in

February.

On Wednesday, Fana overpowered an off-form Baloyi over the

distance and was the clear winner. The judges scored the fight

119-109, 118-110 and 119-110 in favor of the Cape Town-based Fana,

known as ‘The Rose of Khayelitsha’.

He improved his record to 34 fights, 30 wins and four losses,

with 12 knockouts.

Fana rendered Baloyi’s height and reach advantage irrelevant as

he constantly backed his 35-year-old opponent onto the ropes,

scoring with sharp hooks and stinging uppercuts.

Baloyi’s right eye was already closing up in the second

round.

Baloyi did land two strong punches in the fourth, a left jab and

a straight right, but he couldn’t stop the onslaught from the

tireless Fana, who worked Baloyi’s head and body from close

range.

Three uppercuts in quick succession shook Baloyi in the seventh.

Baloyi, who appeared the much older boxer, was clinging on by the

eighth.

And by the 11th Baloyi, the only South African fighter to win

six world titles, was a shadow of his former self as Fana continued

to launch punishing attacks. The sluggish Baloyi offered only

occasional left jabs in reply.

He had no answer to the relentless pace and aggression of Fana –

ranked the number one junior lightweight by the IBF. Baloyi was

ranked number two ahead of the fight.

The loss may send Baloyi, one of South Africa’s most successful

boxers, into retirement, as he slips to 37 wins, five losses and

one draw.

He won his first world title back in 1995 and has now fought in

23 world title bouts – more than any other South African

fighter.

It may have been one title fight too many.

”I couldn’t see out of my right eye. I was just surviving from

the second round,” Baloyi said. I just didn’t have any power

today. I don’t know what happened.

”I will have to go home and take it from there.”

Also at Carnival City, Moruti ‘Baby Face’ Mthalane retained his

IBF flyweight title with a fifth round TKO of challenger Zolani

‘Last Born’ Tete in another all-South African bout on the ‘African

Glory’ card.

After a cagey start, Mthalane sent Tete stumbling into the ropes

with a big right hand in the second round.

The champion then took control of the fight when he knocked his

opponent down early in the fifth.

Tete made the count, but Mthalane immediately launched another

attack with swinging left and right hooks that sent the

inexperienced challenger slumping to his knees.

Tete rose again, but the referee finally stepped in to stop the

fight as Tete struggled to defend himself from a hail of punches in

the corner from the champion.