ESPN Africa Boxing 17 was set to be a stacked event with fan-favourite Sibusiso Zingange’s first defence of his SA Junior. Lightweight Championship against new challenger Lunga Sitemela. Although some fights were cancelled, ESPN Africa Boxing 17 still delivered. The co-main event saw Malawi’s Ellen Simwaka capture the vacant IBF Africa Bantamweight Championship following a unanimous decision victory over Sharedine Fortuin. That penultimate fight got the crowd riled up as they prepared for the SA Junior Lightweight Championship to be the next title on the line.
The main event was scheduled to go 12-rounds, but the fight ultimately did not get there. The reigning and defending champion, Sibusiso Zingange, walked in oozing confidence and with a majority of the crowd backing him as the favourite to win. Both Zingange and Sitemela managed to keep coming back as they continued to put on an entertaining display.
After nine rounds of back and forth action between the two, the fight came to an abrupt stop as it was discovered that the champion’s shoulder had become dislocated. This led to Zingange failing to answer the referee’s call to meet for the tenth round. Consequently, Sitemela was crowned the new SA Junior Lightweight Champion, much to the disappointment of many in the audience.
Zingange had put on a dominant display and won the SA Junior Lightweight Championship at the fourteenth instalment of the ESPN Africa Boxing series and this fight, at ESPN Africa Boxing 17, served as his first defence.
Zingange gave an exclusive update on what happened after the event.
Following a failed attempt to pop the shoulder back in place by the medics backstage (after the fight), Zingange was transported to a nearby hospital where a closed reduction procedure was carried out on the now-former champion’s dislocated shoulder.
Zingange also gave his thoughts on the way the fight was going prior to the injury:
“The fight was good. The pace was okay and, as the rounds went up, I could see that [Sitemela] was tiring up – perhaps because of the altitude. I could see his eyes when I caught him with the punches. A very tough opponent indeed but it was a nice fight until I got injured in Round 9, that’s when everything changed.”
Zingange gave insight to his thoughts and emotions the moment the injury occurred:
“My shoulder dislocated, I wanted to carry on if my shoulder would go back right then but it couldn’t so I had to forfeit. I wanted to cry and I didn’t know what to do but it was just one of those days, I guess. I had to lose my belt due to this injury.”
Entertaining the idea of an immediate rematch, Zingange had this to say:
“It is what it is. It’s boxing. I’ll bounce back for the rematch. To the new champion, Lunga Sitemela, good fight and I hope you keep that belt safe because I’m going to come back stronger now and I’m going to take my belt back. I’m coming back stronger to take what’s mine. I’ll be back.”
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Combat sports writer and thought-sharer. Major interest in pushing African combat to the rest of the world.