CELEBRITY Steve Hofmeyr was at ringside to watch Moruti Mthalane win the vacant IBF flyweight crown in Johannesburg on Friday night. But the boxer he really came to see – alleged hitman Mikey Schultz – was knocked out in one round.
Fighting for a peripheral continental title, Schultz went into this bout at the Wembley indoor arena against Zimbabwe’s Tineyi Maridzo looking to win his first ever belt as a professional boxer and stretch his unbeaten record.
But after just more than a minute Maridzo threw a right cross and Schultz ducked into it, catching the blow on the side of his head.
The shot switched his lights off instantly; he toppled onto the floor and didn’t move again until the referee was more than midway through the count.
Schultz, who is believed to be involved in the killing of mining magnate Brett Kebble, tried hard to stand up, but when he lifted his hands off the canvas he lost his balance and careened into the ropes. The fight lasted just 87 seconds.
Schultz’s wife, a few seats away from Hofmeyr, burst into tears and was comforted by friends and family.
The action didn’t end there, however. Walking back to his dressing room Schultz was loudly booed by a black fan who, as a result, was set upon by a Schultz supporter. Another white onlooker was heard to swear at the black fan and shouting at him to “go back to Soweto”.
Security guards and police ended the scuffle fairly quickly, although only after the Schultz fan had thrown several punches, most of which seemed to miss.
The night belonged to Mthalane who easily outboxed Mexican Julio Cesar Miranda to become South Africa’s third reigning IBF titleholder, alongside junior-bantamweight Simphiwe Nonqayi and welterweight Isaac Hlatshwayo, who defends against Germany-based Jan Zavac at the same venue on December 11.
The last time this nation boasted three or more “bona fide” world champions you’d have to go back to the mid-1990s when Vuyani Bungu (junior-featherweight), Mbulelo Botile (bantamweight) and Phillip Holiday (lightweight) ruled supreme.
For a brief stint in 1996 Sugarboy Malinga joined them as WBC super-middleweight king, while Baby Jake Matlala held the WBO junior-flyweight belt.
Matlala was the first SA fighter to bid for IBF flyweight crown, back in 1991, but he was stopped by Dave McAuley. Mzukisi Sikali tried in 2005 but quit against Vic Darchinyan.
Mthalane challenged Nonito Donaire for the same belt last year, but lost on a cut. On Friday night he made no mistake as he jabbed Miranda into oblivion.
The Mexican was simply unable to avoid his left-hand lead; he may as well have had a sign printed on his face saying: “Hit here!”
Mthalane threw leather at Miranda’s head all night, and appeared to rock him frequently throughout the 12 rounds, although one sensed that the Mexican was playing possum in the hope of enticing the South African to drop his guard.
He struggled to get past Mthalane’s tight defence, although in the eighth round he landed a right hand that forced his opponent to hold.
Mthalane landed some peach right hands of his own too, but he could have won this fight with his left alone.
Two judges scored it for Mthalane 118-111 and the third 117-111. Mthalane improved his record to 24-2, while Miranda dropped to 30-5-1.
On the undercard, SA bantamweight champion Klaas Mboyane outmuscled Cleutus Mbhele for 12 rounds while Zolani Tete blew Tanzanian Anthony Matthias out in one round.
Jeffrey Mathebula stopped Rashid Ally, also of Tanzania, in the fourth round.
The only successful foreign boxer on the bill was Maridzo, who was so chuffed with his victory over Schultz that you might have thought he’d won the world title by knocking out Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao with one punch.
His record now reads eight wins and four losses; Schultz dropped to 16-1-2.
Mikey Schultz will challenge for a peripheral title next Friday night when he returns to the Wembley indoor arena in Johannesburg to take on Tineyi Maridzo of Zimbabwe.
The pair fight for the vacant WBO African interim super-middleweight championship.
Schultz, allegedly involved in the killing of mining magnate Brett Kebble, has a huge following of fans who are expected to come close to filling out the venue.
Unbeaten in 16 fights with 14 wins and two draws, Schultz decided to make a comeback earlier this year hoping to get a title shot.
Cassius Baloyi produced the finest performance of his boxing career as he outpointed Roberto Arrieta of Argentina to win this IBF junior-lightweight title eliminator in Johannesburg on Friday night.
Baloyi dominated to win a lopsided decision, with all three judges scoring it 120-107.
The South African, a six-time world champion (including the marginal titles he’s won), showed more purpose and better movement than he ever has before – and he’s turning 35 next week!
Baloyi attributed his improved showing to his new trainer, Manny Fernandes. The boxer left Nick Durandt after his last bout, when he was stopped for the only time of his career by Malcolm Klassen.
I doubt whether Klassen will want to share the same ring with this new version of Baloyi.
On the same bill, Mikey Schultz knocked out Samuel Mathebula with a peach of a right uppercut in the third round.
Admittedly, the shorter Mathebula looked like he had made the super-middleweight division by spending a month in a donut factory.
Cassius “Hitman” Baloyi returns to the ring in Johannesburg on Friday night – and he’ll share the bill with an alleged, real-life hitman known as Mikey Schultz.