The main bout of ESPN Africa Boxing's debut Fight Night on Thursday produced a nail-biting affair, with Botswana's Steven 'Small' Bagwasi winning via split decision (96-94, 94-96, 96-95) against South Africa's Koos 'The Great Last Warrior' Sibiya in a 10-round Junior Lightweight contest.
The event at the EFC Training institute in Sandton, Johannesburg saw six bouts that delivered 33 rounds of action and two knockouts, one of which came just 17 seconds into the opening fight of the night.
The headline fight lived up to the pre-event hype with both boxers leaving it all in the ring. The bout started at a frantic pace with neither boxer giving an inch as they stood toe-to-toe and traded blows. Bagwasi got the better of the early exchanges, using his speed and left-right combinations to keep South Africa's Sibiya at bay.
The Botswana fighter slowed down a bit in the middle rounds which allowed the older Sibiya to find his footing, as he started landing some big left-hooks to the head and body.
Bagwasi, though, picked up the pace again in the latter rounds, moving around the ring freely as he landed the shots that would ultimately win him the fight.
The victory is Bagwasi's seventh of his career and takes his fight record to 7W-1L-0D while the South African slumps to 23W-17L-5D.
But it was the first bout of the night that got the viral video treatment, with Donjuan 'Iron Dragon' van Heerden delivering a devasting knockout of Khodani Nephalane 17 seconds into round one of their Middleweight contest.
It was Nephalane's first fight as a professional and it showed. The man from Limpopo broke the golden rule of boxing by dropping his hands only moments into the bout. This allowed Van Heerden to land a left-hook bomb that sent him to the canvas. Nephalane was out before he hit the deck and had no chance of answering the 10-count.
Van Heerden's fight record now stands at 2W-1L-0D while Nephalane starts his professional career with a loss.
The second bout of the night saw Katlego 'Black Kat' Khanyisa register a unanimous decision victory (39-37, 40-37, 39-37) over Clement 'Doctor' Pilusa in a four-round Lightweight contest.
Khanyisa was the aggressor from the onset and set a frantic pace, one Pilusa struggled to keep up with. The Black Kat showed good form, throwing numerous punches as he worked well from behind his jab.
Pilusa looked content to counter but did so with very little success. Instead, the fight was highlighted by Khanyisa's impressive combinations and high work rate which saw him pick up his second win in as many fights.
The Black Kat's record now stands at 2W-0L-0D while Pilusa registers the second loss of his career with his record at 0W-2L-1D.
The third bout of the evening produced a spectacular female Jnr Featherweight contest when Ellen 'Tigress' Simwaka beat Gabisilie 'Simply The Best' Tshabalala via a fourth round TKO.
The Malawian dictated terms from the opening bell as she chased Tshabalala around the ring. The South African looked scared as Simwaka landed blow-after-blow after blow.
The Tigress' showed superior boxing skills with her powerful straight right-hand causing all sorts of problems for Tshabalala, before the referee put an end to her misery midway through the fourth round.
The win is Simwaka's ninth of her career and sees her fight record standing at 9W-5L-2D while Tshabalala falls to 10W-6L-1D.
Bout four produced arguably the fight of the night with Sphamandla Manqatha beating Gerard Titus via unanimous decision (58-56, 57-56, 59-58) over six rounds in a Junior Lightweight contest.
Manqatha started the better of the two fighters and controlled the center of the ring in the early stages, using his jab and some impressive body shots to keep his opponent on the back foot.
The third round is where Titus came alive and landed some big blows, but Manqatha weathered the storm and showed some good counter-boxing skills.
The latter rounds saw Manqatha take the fight away from his challenger. He was the busier of the two boxers, throwing lots of combinations which saw him outscore his former sparring partner.
The win is the third of Manqatha's career with his fight record at 3W-0L-1D while Titus' sits at 3W-2L-0D.
It was a comprehensive showing from Botswana's Kutlwano 'El Chino' Ogaketse in the fifth bout, with a unanimous decision win (77-76, 78-74, 78-74) over South Africa's Prince Ndlovu in their Lightweight contest.
For the most part Ogaketse dominated all eight rounds. He took the center of the ring and pressed the action from the opening bell. Ndlovu simply couldn't match his work rate and looked a little out of his depth despite his experience.
Ogaketse showed great technique, sitting behind a stinging jab and a thunderous straight right as he threw countless combinations. The Botswana fighter just got stronger as the bout went on and picked his opponent apart at will to record the sixth victory of his career (6W-2L-1D). The loss for Ndlovu sees his record at 12W-11L-4D.
Main Card results:
- Donjuan van Heerden wins by first round KO (18 seconds) over Khodani Nephalane
- Katlego Khanyisa wins by Unanimous Decision over Clement Pilusa (39-37, 40-37, 39-37)
- Ellen Simwaka wins by fourth round TKO (1min, 14 seconds) over Gabisilie Tshabalala
- Sphamandla Manqatha wins by Unanimous Decision over Gerard Titus (58-56, 57-56, 59-58)
- Kutlwano Ogaketse wins by Unanimous Decision over Prince Ndlovu (77-76, 78-74, 78-74)
- Steven Bagwasi wins by Split Decision over Koos Sibiya (96-94, 94-96, 96-95)