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Bad night for SA boxers

2013-05-17 09:57
Malcolm Klassen (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - South Africa's Malcolm Klassen lost on points to IBO junior lightweight champion Will Tomlinson in Melbourne on Thursday.

The Australian beat Klassen 118-109 on two cards and 117-110 to retain his title, but the South African and his handlers were upset about the scoring.

"It was the hardest fight of my career," said the unbeaten Tomlinson who suffered two deep cuts round his left eye.

"But I did most of the attacking and you have to go out and take the belt away from the champion to win a title, which is not what Klassen did."

It was not a good night for the South Africans. Sipho Taliwe lost his WBC international junior lightweight title to Matt Garlett, another Australian. The scores were 115-111 on two cards and 116-110 on the third.

Taliwe made a surprisingly sluggish start and after four rounds the scores were 39-36 on two cards and 40-35. At the end of the eighth round Garlett led 76-74, 77-73 and 78-72.

Klassen, a former IBF champion, and his manager, Colin Nathan, were up in arms. Klassen went down in the first round after losing his footing from what seemed a relatively innocuous punch.

In the end, the fight was evenly contested, with Tomlinson the aggressor and Klassen relying on his footwork and sporadic punching.

The early knockdown and the fact that one of the cuts over Tomlinson's eye was ruled as the result of a headbutt were decisive factors in the outcome.

Klassen's showboating in the face of Tomlinson's relentless, if often stymied, attack did him more harm with the judges.

After the Australian dynamo had built up a healthy points lead in the early rounds, Klassen took control in the middle rounds with his snappy punching and speedy footwork.

After the eighth round it seemed the fight might be stopped because Tomlinson's vision was affected by the cuts. A ringside doctor took a look at the damage twice before allowing the fight to continue.

The ringside commentators seemed to agree with those who thought the fighter from Toekomsrus had done enough to win and take over the title.

But judges Gary Dean from Australia and American Robert Hoyle scored it an incredible 118-109 for the champion. New Zealander Steve Scott was the one who handed in a 117-110 scorecard.

Klassen left the ring immediately without waiting to be interviewed.

The challenger got off to a bad start when American referee Pete Podgorski ruled a knockdown in the first round after Klassen’s legs had got tangled up with his opponent’s and he landed on the canvas.

It was clearly not a clean knockdown but it gave the champion a 10-8 round.

It was a punch that opened a cut over the champion’s left eye in the third round but Podgorski, who was having a bad night, ruled it to be the result of a head-butt.

The cut bled throughout the fight and another vicious right in the eighth opened a second gash near the first one.

Tomlinson, after the two inspections by the doctor, fought through a mask of blood for the remainder of the fight.

It was toe-to-toe and helter-skelter throughout. And although the champion was, in the main, the aggressor and threw his punches in bunches, the cleaner and more eye-catching punches came from Klassen whose footwork repeatedly made the champion miss.

Klassen faded towards the end but seemed to be well in front at the end. The announcement of the scores left him, his corner and the TV commentators gasping in disbelief.

Taliwe turned in a lethargic and lack-lustre performance against the novice Australian. The South African looked a shadow of the fighter who had beaten former IBF champion Mzonke Fana last September.

The fight got off to a bad start for the champion from Aliwal North when a cracking left hook put him on his back for an eight count late in the fourth round.

Taliwe was clearly hurt and he was staggered again in the fifth. He also had a point deducted by New Zealand referee Bruce McTavish for illegal use of the head.

Garlett out-thought and out-fought his more experienced opponent and deservedly got the decision even though the difference between the scores seemed a little too wide. 

Read more on:    malcolm klassen  |  boxing

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