9SAI boxers: the ring is our battlefield

Samuel Tyson Esau, left, puts in a stiff jab to the body of his opponent, Anele Ntsodo. The pair fought to a draw after four rounds.

Khayelitsha’s 9 SAI Battalion Boxing Gym fighters had a decent showing at last week’s David Faas Promotions’ professional development tournament at Langa Indoor Sport Complex.

Samuel “Tyson”Esau drew his fight against Anele Ntsodo, also from Khayelitsha in an impressive back-and-forth display.

Meanwhile, teammate Lukhanyo Kaptein was too good for Port Elizabeth’s Masixole Mabutshana, winning by technical knockout (TKO) 1 minute and 20 seconds into the second round of their lightweight encounter.

Fighting in the second bout of the day, the short and stocky Esau was accompanied by an excited group of supporters, singing revolutionary songs and chanting “Tyson! Tyson!” and, determined not to disappoint his vocal supporters, he got into the ring and went to business right away.

The slightly taller Ntsodo didn’t retreat either, using his long jab to keep Tyson away and moving well to avoid the big overhand shots his opponent launched at him with.

Tyson, however, proved to be street-smart and more industrious in the way he went about his boxing. He soon found a way underneath his opponent’s jabs, landing serious punches in the process.

At this point, his fans were jumping up and down the ringside, urging him to finish his opponent off. But, to his credit, Ntsodo defended well, killing time in order to see the first round through.

At the risk of getting tired prematurely, Esau continued with his energetic approach but Ntsodo, who proved to be a smart boxer in his own right, slowly clawed his way back into the fight.

In fact, he had a solid third round taking the fight forward as Esau slowed down. In the end, there was very little that separated the two boxers and the judges correctly called it a draw.

One of Esau’s trainers, Lindaman Xeji said they didn’t expect the draw as they prepared thoroughly ahead of the fight. He was, however, quick to note that, considering what went down in the ring, it was a fair result.

“Samuel looked good in the early stages of the fight but Ntsodo was able to fight his way back.

“We have seen our mistakes, which means we will go back to the gym and fix them,” he said.

The visibly tired Esau said his opponent’s height made things difficult for him to penetrate as he had to find ways under his jab.

“The plan was to stop him in round two but Masixole proved to be a smart boxer. It was a good experience and I have learnt a lot from the fight,” he said.

“Even though I am satisfied with the result, I still think things didn’t go according to plan. My performance was not where it should be but, having said that, I will work even harder and I can assure you that there is still more to come,” he said.

Fighting in the lightweight division, another 9 SAI boxer, Lukhanyo Kaptein, was more clinical in his six-rounder against Port Elizabeth’s Masixole Mabutshana.

The fleet-footed Kaptein gave his opponent some serious problems from the first round and it was soon clear that the PE fighter wouldn’t go the distance. He didn’t, as Kaptein won on TKO after 1 minute and 20 seconds in the second round.

However, Kaptein pointed out, after the fight, that things were not as easy in the ring as they may have seemed from the sidelines. This, he said was because his opponent proved to be an aggressive fighter, with a dangerous right hand.

“The first round was particularly hectic as I struggled to find my rhythm.

“But, as soon, as I got going, things started to fall into place and my opponent struggled to counter that,” he said.