Zolisa Batyi and Abdulaziz Kunert battle to draw in South Africa
Zolisa Batyi retained his South African featherweight title on a majority draw over 12 rounds at the Bellville CPUT in Cape Town on Friday night.
It was an intensely fought contest that was hard to score, and a draw was perhaps the fairest result. Kunert, having his second attempt at the strap, had better distance control and landed punches in bunches, but Batyi was the aggressor for most of the rounds and landed the harder shots.
Batyi got off to a fast start and immediately put Kunert under pressure, coming forward behind his southpaw jab and banging in hooks to the body. He had the Cape Town-based challenger looking uncomfortable for the first two rounds.
Kunert gathered himself and started the third round well, landing a sharp straight right from the outside. Batyi responded with a solid right uppercut when he forced his way inside, but Kunert got the distance again, potshotting him with the right. In the fourth, the pair decided to plant their feet and exchange punches on the inside. Batyi seemed to get the better of the slugging match.
Kunert took the hint and did much better for the next four rounds. He had a good fifth, sticking out his jab, bringing a right uppercut into play and hooking his right around the guard of Batyi, who appeared to slow down slightly. In the sixth, Kunert continued to land short combinations to the head and body of Batyi, who often missed wildly as Kunert stepped away from his punches.
Batyi was at it again in the seventh, sending the sweat flying with his lead right hook, but Kunert responded with a right to the chin. Batyi bulled his way in, banging away at the body only for Kunert to respond by shoeshining with short punches, doubling up on both his left and right.
Batyi momentarily hung back in the eighth, trying to draw Kunert in. His opponent wouldn’t fall for it and touched him to the body with his straight right. Moments later, the judges once again had the choice between a quick combination from Kunert and a thudding right hook from Batyi.
Batyi had a good ninth round, landing a hard right hook-straight left combination, followed by another straight left later in the round.
He came out fast in the tenth as well, forcing Kunert to the ropes, although he couldn’t land anything. He did, however, trap Kunert on the ropes again when he drove him to the other side of the ring. This time, he landed a blistering combination to the body punctuated by a right uppercut upstairs. Kunert came back with a double right uppercut of his own, but Batyi’s punches seemed to have more effect.
Kunert was determined, though, and found an extra gear in the eleventh, firing combination after combination while smothering the attacks of Batyi on his arms and gloves. Batyi landed a right hook, but Kunert got out of the way of his follow-up attack and simply outworked him.
Both seemed spent in the final round, unable to land the money shot. In the end, it was Batyi who landed the most telling blow as the clock wound down, forcing Kunert to hold after landing a hard right hook.
Both fighters had vocal support in the crowd, and predictably both corners thought that their man had done enough.
One scorecard had it 115-114 for Kunert, overruled by two scores of 114-114. It was hard to argue.
Zolisa Batyi moves his record to 7-2-1 with five knockouts while Abdulaziz Kunert is now 11-2-1 with two knockouts.
The fight had the crowd on their feet and a rematch seems like a good idea. You had to feel for both fighters, who fought so hard to settle so little.
In the main supporting bout, junior featherweight Mzuvukile Magwaca scored his thirteenth career knockout, making short work of an overmatched Nasiphe Mdlangaza.
A right to the head had Mdlangaza reeling, and a straight right to the body moments later had him sagging to his knees, where he was counted out at the 1:32 mark of the first round. Magwaca moves to 22-1-3 and picks up the Western Cape title, while Mdlangaza drops to 7-10.
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