White Buffalo knocked out as victory seemed assured
South African veteran heavyweight boxer Francois Botha was defeated by Michael Grant of the United States in the World Boxing Federation (WBF) title fight held at the Montecasino in Fourways, north of Johannesburg.
The 43-year-old Botha, popularly known as The White Buffalo, launched continual charges in the 12th round. He was comfortably ahead on points and appeared to be heading for a monumental victory in the battle of the ageing heavyweights.
The American fought back with an element of uneasiness. He seemed to realise that defeat was staring him in the face and launched a belated assault on the tiring Botha.
With only 37 seconds remaining in the 12th round, the 39-year-old Grant floored the former South African title-holder of bygone years after hitting him with a string of punches. Botha did not have the energy to rise to his feet and return to the game, despite the frenzied cheers from the stunned crowd.
The local boxing kingpin also appeared to have struck his head on the ring’s pole while falling down and suffered a serious injury, which made him remain motionless in his corner.
The night’s engrossing programme that included five WBF title bouts was marred by a decision that shamed South African boxing when Mdantsane-based Lubabalo Msothu was awarded a split-decision victory over classy Filipino Dennis Tubieron for the bantamweight title.
This despite him being outclassed for much of the bout.
The decision was greeted with disbelief and an outburst of booing from the 2 500 crowd that extended for the best part of five minutes.
Adding to the injustice was the fact that it unfairly tarnished the Phillipine fighters unbeaten record.
More pleasing was the professional performance of Malcolm Klassen, who demonstrated he had lost little of his deft touches and finesse after a lengthy lay-off while out-pointing Mexican Daniel Lomeli for the WBF’s junior lightweight title after an intriguing, uncompromising 12 rounds.
While Ali Funeka’s narrow, split decision victory over Zolani Marali for the junior welterweight title was also greeted with an outburst of derisive booing, both South Africans performed with credit in a high-class contest.
The remaining title fight was a travesty as The Congo’s Ilunga Makabu toyed and punished Brazilian Pedro Ortas unmercifully for 11 rounds before gaining a runaway tko victory for the WBF’s cruiserweight crown.