Johannesburg - Simphiwe 'Chain Reaction' Khonco and Bukiwe 'Anaconda' Nonina are hot favourites to be voted the country’s top boxers in their respective categories during the Boxing SA Awards on Friday.
The awards will be held at Durban’s Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre.
The ceremony will honour boxers, trainers and other stakeholders who did exceptionally well in various aspects of the sport last year (see box). Voting has been done by the public, with nominations conducted by a panel of an adjudication committee. The awards are making a return after a seven-year absence.
Khonco is in contention for the Male Boxer of the Year honour, which he contests with Xolisani Nomeva Ndongeni and Zolani 'Last Born' Tete.
Chain Reaction put up a sterling showing before he beat Siyabonga Siyo on points to be crowned International Boxing Organisation (IBO) minimum weight kingpin at Emperors Palace in June. Fighting as if possessed, the Mthatha, Eastern Cape-based pugilist put up a splendid showing in his title defence by outpointing Nkosinathi Mabhere Joyi at the Orient Theatre in November.
Khonco deserves to win the award, considering his great year in the ring compared with 2015 that saw him suffer an ignominious points defeat at the hands of stablemate Hekkie 'Hexecutioner' Budler for the IBO and World Boxing Association minimum weight championship at Emperors.
Ndongeni had only one fight locally last year which was against Tanzanian Emilio Norfat, whom he stopped in the first round at Orient Theatre in April. Last Born was not seen in action at home last year as he fought in the UK. This makes Khonco a firm favourite to walk away with the award of best pugilist.
For Nonina, the SA female bantamweight queen, it will be smooth sailing to get the nod as the best female fighter. She has defended her championship belt five times. Last year, Anaconda staked her crown successfully against Matshidiso Mokebe who she beat on points at the Durban International Convention Centre in March. In October, she outpointed Smangele Hadebe at King Hintsa College in Dutywa.
Nonina competes for the honours with Leighandre Baby Lee Jegels, who holds the national super flyweight belt, and Sharadene 'Shinzo' Fortuin, the IBO bantamweight queen. Jegels has had only seven bouts in her professional career while Shinzo has fought eight times. Both do not match Nonina who has compiled a ring record of 14 bouts.
The clash between Azinga Golden Boy Fuzile and Macbute “Macman” Sinyabi is likely to be voted Male Fight of the Year.
Fuzile out-thought and out-gunned the experienced Sinyabi to win the national featherweight title on a unanimous 12-round points decision before a packed Orient Theatre in East London in October.
The Knockout of the Year is likely to come from the SA cruiserweight bout between Kevin Lerena and Johnny Muller that took place at Emperors Palace last April.
Lerena avenged his only career defeat by stopping Muller in the 10th round.
SA Female Boxer of the Year
Bukiwe Anaconda Nonina: SA female bantamweight champion; Leighandre Baby Lee Jegels: SA female super flyweight champion; Sharadene Shinzo Fortuin: IBO female bantamweight champion
Male Boxer of the Year
Simphiwe Chain Reaction Khonco: IBO minimumweight champion; Xolisani Nomeva Ndongeni: IBO lighweight champion; Zolani Last Born Tete: IBF international bantamweight and WBO Africa super flyweight champion
Female Fight of the Year
Noni She Bee Stingin Tenge vs Szylvia Szabados; Gabisile Simply the Best Tshabalala vs Unathi
Showtime Myekeni; Fortuin vs Simone da Silva
Male Fight of the Year
Khonco vs Hekkie Hexecutioner Budler; Azinga Golden Boy Fuzile vs Macbute Macman Sinyabi; Johnny The Hurricane Muller vs Kevin The KO Kid Lerena
Female Prospect of the Year
Nthabiseng Didi; Wolmarans Hedda; Melissa Muller
Male Prospect of the Year
Brandon Thysse; Fuzile; Thulani Mbenge
Knockout of the Year
Lerato Dlamini vs Babalo Ncakeni; Zolani Tete vs Paul Butler; Lerena vs Muller
Trainer of the Year
Mzamo Njekanye; Colin Nathan; Keith Rass
Manager of the Year
Mlandeli Tengimfene; Luyanda Sovasi; Bernie Pailman
Matchmaker of the Year
Luyanda Kana; Reuben Rasodi
Female Ring Official of the Year
Siya Vabaza; Phumeza Sinakile; Sylvia Mokaila
Male Ring Official of the Year
Deon Duarte; Thabo Spampool; Darryl Ribbink
Promoter of the Year
Xaba Promotions; Showtime Promotions; Real Steel Promotions.