Welterweight Thulani Mbenge, tipped for big things during his career in South Africa, got another win over the weekend in his native country.
Eric Armit provides the full report from the goings-on at Kempton Park.
Super Bantam: Ludumo Lamati (18-0-1) W PTS 12 Jose Estrada Garcia (12-2-1).
Welter: Thulani Mbenge (18-1) W TKO 3 Jabulani Makhense (11-1).
Super Welter: Brandon Thysse (14-2-1) W TKO 10 Tomi Silvennoinen (9-4).
Super Welter: Roarke Knapp (12-1-1) W RTD 2 Benoit Makangila (12-1-2)
Cruiser: Johnny Muller (23-9-2) W PTS 10 Akani Phuzi (11-2).
Lamati vs. Estrada
Lamati wins the vacant IBO title with a majority decision over Mexican Garcia in a fight that would have graced any title. Lamati had to be at his best to withstand the pressure from Garcia.
Boxing when he could Lamati had the edge in skill, but the pulsating pressure from Garcia too often found Lamati forced to stand and trade punches.
The South African had scored well when he could create some space and established a good lead after nine rounds, but Garcia had more left, and he rocked Lamati and opened a cut under his right eye in the tenth. Lamati was under pressure again in the eleventh, and a cut was opened over South Africa’s right eye.
Despite the cuts, Lamati showed a warrior’s spirit, somehow finding the strength to fight hard to the last bell to emerge a deserved winner-but only just. Scores 116-112 and 115-113 for Lamati and 114-114. Wins over experienced opposition such as Luis Melendez, 27-2 Alexis Kabore, and Filipino Richie Mepranum have lifted Lamati to No 7 with the WBC, and now he has a title.
Garcia was 10-0-1 in his last 11 fights, including a victory over 17-1-1 Luis Lebron last year.
Mbenge vs. Makhense
This was the most anticipated fight on the show, but it turned out to be a one-sided triumph for Mbenge. From the first bell, Mbenge used a strong jab to put Makhense on the back foot. A clash of heads saw Mbenge cut on the inside of his mouth, but he maintained the pressure and dominated the action in the second.
Mbenge connected with a series of left hooks to the head in the third, which had Makhense reeling, and then some hard rights saw Makhense stumbling and pitching forward as the referee stepped in and stopped the fight. Former IBO champion Mbenge shows he is still very much a force with his fourteenth win by KO/TKO.
His only defeat was a very close point loss against unbeaten Sebastian Formella, and with this win, he has now collected both the ABU and the WBA Pan African titles since that 2019 defeat. Makhense had beaten some good domestic opposition but could not match Mbenge for power.
Thysse vs. Silvennoinen
Thysse scores a late stoppage of Finn Silvennoinen. Thysse was a quicker and better boxer than the limited Silvennoinen in a fight that never really caught alight. With Silvennoinen deducted a point for holding in the ninth, Thysse looked on his way to a comfortable points win until he dropped Silvennoinen with an uppercut early in the tenth.
Silvennoinen beat the count but was put down again by a right to the body and counted out. The fourth consecutive win for Thysse, who is No1 in the South African ratings. A third defeat in a row for Silvennoinen
Knapp vs. Makangila
Local boxer Knapp makes it ten quick wins as he defeats previously undefeated Makangila. No knockdowns, but Knapp handed out a solid beating with Makangila not answering the bell for the third round. Knapp’s loss was a seventh-round stoppage by Thysse in November 2019.
Congolese fighter Makangila was having his second fight in South Africa and is 0-1-1 there now.
Muller vs. Phuzi
Muller gets split decision over Phuzi. The more experienced Muller had won the WBA Pan African title with a unanimous points victory over Phuzi in December and outworked Phuzi this time in a lackluster affair to hold on to the belt. Scores 97-93 twice for Muller and a strange 96-94 for Phuzi.
Muller has been a pro for twelve years and, in his glory days, scored wins over Kevin Lerena and Mateusz Masternak. Phuzi has scored wins over Namibians Wilberforce Shihepo and Vikapita Meroro.