Saturday, March 25, 2023  |


Ludumo Lamati scores stoppage win over Richie Mepranum in South Africa

Photo by Droeks Malan

There is a piece of metal fascia missing from the roof of the Orient Theatre in East London, South Africa. A funny looking plant grows out above the entrance and the building probably hasn’t had a good paint job since the late eighties. When you enter the venue you are confronted with rows of seats leading to an open space where the ring sits with a stage behind it, as one would expect from a venue with “Theatre” in its description. All of this is covered with a corrugated iron roof providing the finising touches to this iconic building situated on the beach front in East London.

In short, this is a grainy, hard core venue for boxing. For decades anyone who was anybody from the Eastern Cape region has fought here. Big names like Welcome Ncita, Vuyani Bungu, Mbulelo Botile and Zolani Tete have all plied their trade here. The list is too long too mention.

On a balmy Sunday afternoon it was time to showcase the next generation of South African talent in a stacked weekend featuring back-to-back cards in the coastal city.

Headlining was hot junior featherweight prospect, Ludumo “9mm” Lamati who hoped to make a statement against three time world title challenger from the Phillipines, Richie Mepranum.

Mepranum has failed at the top, but he has been in there and hung tough against the likes of Juan Francisco Estrada, Carlos Cuadras and a smattering of recognizable names.

After a feeling out phase, the bigger Lamati decided to forego his height and reach advantages to mix it on the inside with Mepranum, no doubt looking to make a statement. The Filipino veteran, although at the journeyman stage of his career, took some hard looping rights and body shots from Lamati but kept himself in the fight by landing the odd left from his southpaw stance and flurrying with bursts of short hooks and uppercuts to the body everytime Lamati looked to be on the verge of overwhelming him.

Ludumo looked close to getting his gritty opponent out of there on several occasions, sometimes pot shotting him with rights, sometimes by simply electing to chuck his height and reach advantages out of the window and trade, landing the harder shots, but Mepranum was shifty, knew when to hit, when to hold and when to land the odd southpaw jab to keep himself in the fight. He seemed resigned to his fate as a spoiler, often shrugging and smiling to the ringside crowd.

In the sixth, Lamati landed a nice one-two, followed by an uppercut-left hook combo that made the sweat fly. Just when you got the feeling that a stoppage might be imminent Mepranum would flurry with short shots to the body to get out of trouble.

Lamati tried bullying Mepranum to the ropes, getting a stern warning for blows below the belt in the eighth, perhaps a tell tale sign of onsetting frustration. He sometimes tried to box from a distance in spots and then went back to exchanging but just couldn’t get Mepranum out of there.

In the tenth he changed it up, banging in combinations to the body and head while stepping around his opponent. Mepranum fired back the odd shots to keep his boat floating but he was clearly being outfought.

At the start of the eleventh, his corner waved it over and the smiling Filipino didn’t seem to mind much. He was there to survive and that seemed to be enough for him.

Lamati goes to 16-0-1 (10 knockouts) while Mepranum drops to 34-8-1 (9 KOs) in a fight that showed some crinkles in Lamati’s make up but, hey, that is why boxing needs guys like Richie Mepranum and this fight could serve as a useful learning curve for Lamati.

Sive Ntshinga stops Siyabonga Siyo

In the co-main event, undefeated junior flyweight prospect, Sive Nontshinga took a big step up, taking on the more experienced Siyabonga Siyo, whose only losses were competitive decisions against former Ring champion Hekkie Budler and strawweight contender Simpiwe Konkco.

Nontshinga, who quickly showed that he had the edge in hand and foot speed, had to answer some gut checks that the unintimidated Siyo provided. Nontshinga sharp shooted with an up jab and some shots around Siyo’s guard but Siyo simply shrugged it off and pressed forward, landing some hard shots to the body as well as the odd straight right.

Nontshinga got busier in the fourth, peppering Siyo with jabs and punching well on fly while Siyo kept at it with hard shots fo the body.

Photo by Droeks Malan

The fifth got even better with Nontshinga giving Siyo more angles and landing the fast, eye catching blows, mixing in left hooks and straight rights, while Siyo kept landing to the body in what was terrific round.

Nontshinga trippled on his jab in the next stanza and landed a right downstairs and another to the head which forced Siyo to hold. Nontshinga fainted a jab and nailed Siyo with a left hook. He rained in two more flurries with Siyo backed to the ropes. Siyo landed just enough return fire to stay in the fight.

From then it was obvious that Nontshinga was feeling it, inviting Siyo in, even winding up the odd bolo punch, Sugar Ray Leonard style. Nontshinga staggered Siyo in the eighth, but Siyo used his body sway to get off the hook.

The writing was on the wall in the ninth, when Nontshinga nailed Siyo with a right forcing him to hold. He shook himself free and rained in a torrent of blows with his opponent on the ropes. With nothing coming back, the referee was forced to stop the contest at the 1:48 mark.

“The Special One” passed a stern test and I will be watching his career with great interest.

Nontshinga moves to 8-0 with as many stoppages, while Siyo drops to 12-3 (4 KOs).

As compelling as that fight was, the South African strawweight title fight between champion Xolisa Magusha and challenger Siyakholwa Khuse stole the show.

In an absolute war between two southpaws, it was a batlle of wills and contrasting styles.

Khuse started fast boxing in and out, flurrying with fast combinations. He landed a nice straight left in the second and ended the round with a snappy combination.

That lit a fire under Magusha, who lost two very competitive decisions to former IBF strawweight titleholder Deejay Kriel. He responded with hard jabs and thudding straight lefts, some to the head and others to the body, which backed Khuse to the ropes. When it looked like he was about to put the upstart back in his place, Khuse came roaring back with blistering combinations comprised of hooks and uppercuts in a fantastic third round.

That set the tone for the fight which ebbed and flowed back and forth. Khuse looked to be breathing hard in stages.  Magusha nailed him with a straight left, knocking him into the ropes in the fourth and nailed him again with an identical shot as the ropes bounced him back.

Photo by Droeks Malan

Khuse showed incredible resilience knocking Magusha’s mouthpiece out in the sixth and sending the spray flying. He seemed to hurt the champion but Magusha showed his experience, getting through the rough spots.

Khuse mounted a rally as some of the ring lights momentarily failed,0 casting a almost surreal spectre over the war for local bragging rights.

In the end, Magusha was slightly more composed and consistent in his attacks, consisting of jabs and straight lefts to the head and body with some inside work when he needed to get the beliggerent challenger of his chest.

The judges got it right when Xolisa Magusha retained his belt by scores of 115-114, 115-113 and 116-112.

Magusha moves to 12-4-1 while Khuse goes to 2-1-1. The challenger, who bit off a big piece early in his career and almost chewed it, can certainly come again.

Lightweight, Michael “Mike Pronto” Mokoena, stopped Phumelele Sobahle in an often scrappy affair.

Mokoena seemed to stun Sobahle with a left hook in the second and when Sobahle went down after  clinch in the third, claiming injury, it seemed that he was looking for a way out. He was convinced to fight on and he gave it a go, trying to slug it out but returned to his corner with a bloody nose for his trouble.

When Mokoena landed a series of blows in the fifth, Sobahle sanked to his knees and was counted out.

The popular Mokoena goes to 15-3 while Sobahle drops to 8-2.

In walkout bouts (except that here the crowd don’t actually walk out), featherweight, Asanda Gingqi knocked out Mvuzo Kotobe with a left hook to the body in the first round, bantamweight Lindile Tshemese won a six round majority decision over Phila Gola and junior middleweight, Shervontaigh Koopman (his surname is incorrectly listed on Boxrec as “Visagie”) scoded a second round stoppage over Lungelo Dube.

The card was presented by Rumble Africa Promotions of Teris Ntutu and Nomfesane Nyathela.