Gifted Thabo Sonjica ready to follow hero Donaire after biggest win
Thabo Sonjica after the world’s elite in 2013
By Michael J Jones
Super-bantamweight prospect Thabo Sonjica is looking for a massive 2013 following his crushing stoppage defeat of former world champion Simphiwe Nongqayi. The 23-year-old southpaw dropped his 40-year-old opponent twice before finishing matters in the third round. Despite his advanced age, Nongqayi was a dangerous opponent for the (now) 16-2 (12) former SA title challenger. Fellow South African Nongqayi had held the IBF title and shared two bouts with Jorge Arce.
The slightly built SA fighter hits very hard for his build and most of his stoppages have occurred within the first four rounds. His only defeats were to the far more seasoned Macbute Sinyabi for the SA title but Sonjica is improving with every fight and providing he can keep busy this year could become a factor in a talent rich division.
I caught up with Thabo to talk about his victory over Nongqayi and his plans for the coming year-
LF) Just under two weeks ago you shocked former IBF champion Simphiwe Nongqayi in just three rounds; tell me about your best win to date?
TS) Even I was shocked Mr Jones, in fact, the whole crowd was shocked except my followers. We came there to that ring as an underdog and that showed me that I have to pull my socks up then do what we planned on in the gym. I had to forget to take him like the other opponents that I fought before, in that way, I reduced the pressure that I usually get from the people.
LF) Were you surprised to get such a big fight after only fighting once in a year due to management problems?
TS) I was a little surprised because not everyone will be lucky enough to fight (big-name) guys like Nongqayi but I told you before that my promoter (Mzi Mnguni) doesn't sleep until he finds his boxers opponents. He did what he is good at because we were looking for an IBO shot but the champion (undefeated Russian Alexander Bakhtin) refused to give me a chance. Why I don't know.
LF) You told me a little while ago you were having difficulties staying active and were looking to maybe move to the UK or America to continue your career. What is the situation now regarding your management; are you still looking to compete overseas are you settled in SA now?
TS) We fought Nongqayi simply because we want to campaign internationally because we believe that we are done at home since no one in the division wants to face Thabo Sonjica. Even the champion (old foe Sinyabi) didn't want to fight me so why not take the international route because it’s clear to everyone that I don't have competition here? So yes, I'm still looking forward to compete against overseas opponents.
LF) You only fought twice in 2012 is it important for you to keep busier in 2013?
TS) Yes I fought twice and the reason for that is already stated above. Now that we knocked Nongqayi out me, my trainer and lovely promoter Mzi Mnguni will sit down and discuss the way forward to keep us going where we want to be so that we become the best super-bantamweight who is active just like Nonito Donaire.
LF) How do you view the super-bantamweight division both in SA and in the world? There are some huge names out there in your weight class like Abner Mares, Nonito Donaire and Scott Quigg.
TS) This is the best division that have the best competition both here in SA and even to the whole world because we have former IBF champions in Jeffrey Mathebula, Takalani Ndlovu and the former IBO and WBC bantamweight challenger Simpiwe Vetyeka who is my friend but now they are all campaigning on the international stage as well.
LF) Who impressed you the most in the boxing world in 2012?
TS) Donaire because he is new to the super-bantamweight division but he has made a huge success winning WBO,WBF and WBC titles then defended his WBO all under twelve months and that is very rare.
LF) Your brother Ayabonga is a hugely successful amateur; are there any plans for him to turn pro like you?
TS) Yes he would like to turn pro but he said not here in SA.
LF) Ideally how would you like this year to play out in your boxing career?
TS) Ideally I would like to accomplish the plan of becoming the world champion so we will be working on that with my promoter Mzi Mnguni.
LF) Thank you Thabo and all the best for 2013.
TS) Any time.
Goldenboy signs up Anthony Ogogo
Anthony Ogogo, the British middleweight who secured a bronze medal at this year's London 2012 Olympics, is the latest signing for Goldenboy Promotions.
The Stateside outfit look to begin promoting shows within the UK during 2013 and the 23-year old former model is their first high-profile signing.
"We are proud to have him on our team and this is just the first step in our growing commitment to British boxing." said GBP's Richard Schaeffer.
"I have no doubt that Anthony has the skills in the ring and the personality outside of it to make him a global boxing star,"
"We are proud to have him on our team and this is just the first step in our growing commitment to British boxing."
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Andre Ward has shoulder woes: Pavlik fight OFF
The domino effect of Andre Ward's injury might have far reaching effects on the 168lb division.
Ward, who postponed the Kelly Pavlik fight once already, has failed to recover from a shoulder injury sustained in training - and now has taken the decision to go under the knife in an effort to resolve the problem.
Now the Pavlik fight is dead in the water, leaving the former middleweight star scratching around for a new opponent. Sources claim Lucian Bute, a fight Pavlik knocked back last year, may be the one that his manager Cameron Dunkin may pursue in light of Ward's withdrawal.
"I don't know what we're gonna do, but we're going to move forward and get Kelly a fight and get him back in the ring." Dunkin told ESPN.
"I sent him a text to let him know what was up because I couldn't get in touch with him."
Meanwhile Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler, who look set to face each other in another war for the fans, might see their prize of a Ward rematch also affected by the American's surgery.
Eddie Hearn, who promotes Carl Froch, has been pretty vocal in stating that if 'The Cobra' overcomes the Dane, then a second fight with Ward will be the the focus of their minds.
But if the surgery does not bear fruit in the short term, then it could be that the winner of Froch vs Kessler may have to pursue other avenues later in the year.
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A New Year’s wish list: five mega-fights that HAVE to be made in 2013
By Michael J Jones
With 2012 over with in the boxing world Livefight brings you five potential super-fights for the new year-
Abner Mares vs Nonito Donaire
The two California-based super-bantamweights have virtually cleared out the entire division in 2012. Both moved up from bantamweight to claim WBC (Mares), WBO and IBF titles. Only Cuban star Guillermo Rigondeaux owns a world title other than the aforementioned duo.
Filipino multi-weight champion Donaire went a dazzling 4-0 in 2012 heavily improving his pound-for-pound ranking in the process. After scoring a clear-looking split decision against Wilfredo Vazquez Jr to collect the vacant WBO super-bantamweight title, “The Filipino Flash” followed up to claim the IBF belt with a one-sided pounding of champion Jeffrey Mathebula in July.
The gifted puncher then mowed down in-form former WBC champion Toshiaki Nishioka in nine before crushing Mexican former champion Jorge Arce in just three rounds. Now sitting pretty as a double champion and 31-1 (20), the sky appears the limit for Nonito.
WBC champion Abner Mares appears the only man aside from Rigondeaux who seems able to test Donaire at 122lbs. The California-based Mexican collected the vacant WBC title off experienced Eric Morel before easing past division danger-man Anselmo Moreno in his only bouts of 2012. Both went the full route as Abner continued the good form which saw him score fine victories in the division below against the cream of the bantamweight class.
At 27-years-old and 25-0-1 (13), Mares is in his prime and has the big-fight experience and trainer (in Ignacio Beristein) to pull off a big shock if Donaire enters the intriguing fight in anywhere near below-par form.
Early pick: It’s getting increasingly hard to bet against Donaire, the pick is for him to overcome a game Mares by decision in a classic encounter.
Sergio Martinez vs Gennady Golovkin
In this writer’s opinion this is the best middleweight match-up in the world right now. Scheduled to defend his cherished world titles against British underdog Martin Murray in April, Martinez is enjoying something of an Indian summer at 37-years-old and seems better than ever.
Argentina’s Martinez wore down Matthew Macklin in March, overcoming a slow start to grind the resistance out of a game challenger in eleven rounds. Six months later, the champion took on WBC counter-part Julio Cesar Chavez Jr in an eagerly anticipated encounter to decide the true champion. Chavez Jr had won and defended the WBC title when Martinez was moved to ‘WBC Diamond’ champion.
The fight was a disappointment for eleven rounds as “Maravilla” dominated the younger man to rack up a points lead he would never relinquish. However, the experienced southpaw nearly blew the victory after a disastrous last round in which he was floored heavily and pounded all around the ring by the desperate Mexican.
With the victory, the Argentine fighter moved to 50-2-2 (28) and is hungry for big fights before his inevitable retirement.
German-based Kazakh Gennady Golovkin is no spring chicken either at 30-years-old and seems Sergio’s logical successor. The reigning WBA champion was an outstanding amateur and has sent shock waves through the division with a succession of violent knockouts.
Unbeaten at 24-0 (21), Golovkin only boxed twice in 2012, breaking down Makoto Fuchiyami and Grzegorz Proksa in three and five rounds respectively. He is currently on an eleven-bout knockout run and takes on tough Gabriel Rosado at Madison Square Garden on January 19th.
Providing there are no shocks and both men come through their respective defences, a summer showdown could happen in arguably the biggest middleweight bout since Bernard Hopkins stopped Felix Trinidad some eleven years ago.
Early pick: tough call but Martinez has forgotten more than Golovkin knows as a pro and the tentative pick is for the older man to eek out a close decision.
Brandon Rios vs Danny Garcia
Two undefeated young fighters who are in form and at the top of the light-welterweight tree; who could possibly ask for more than a Rios-Garcia mouth-waterer?
After leaving the lightweight division due to weight-making difficulties, “Bam-bam” Rios took on a tough debut in the higher division in fellow unbeaten Mike Alvarado in October and came through a pulsating toe-to-toe war with a seventh round stoppage.
The all action pressure fighter is a welcome addition to the 140lb class and is set for big fights in 2013. The Oxnard native is 26-years-old and 31-0-1 (23). Trained by Roberto Garcia, the bad-boy of boxing will be hard to beat at his new weight.
Philly’s WBC and WBA super light-welterweight champion Danny Garcia has been the surprise package of 2012. Winning the vacant WBC belt vs Mexican great Erik Morales in March, the new champion took on a dangerous first defence against Britain’s Amir Khan but duly rose to the challenge to wipe out the pre-fight favourite in just four rounds. That devastating win was followed up three months later with a resounding stoppage of Morales in a rematch.
That win took the 24-year-old to 25-0 (16) and he surely must be one of the most improved fighters in the sport. The champion is scheduled to take on another experienced former champion in Zab Judah in Brooklyn on February 9th and starts the heavy favourite.
A match between the two evenly-matched stars would be an event from the first press conference to the final bell; be sure there would be heated moments between the two camps who both have a history for prefight psychology. Both like to mix it up, throw quick combinations and are coming off stunning knockout wins.
Early pick: expect another humdinger between two great young pros. The pick is Garcia by tight decision but it’s not a confident one.
Adrian Broner vs Juan Manuel Marquez
Fresh off a shocking sixth-round knockout of arch rival Manny Pacquiao, Mexican legend Marquez is still primed for a few more big fights before he leaves the sport. At 39-years-old, Marquez has been a pro for nearly twenty years and has fought a who's-who of pound-for-pound contenders over the last ten years. Aside from sharing four bouts with “Pac-man”, Marquez has also shared a ring with Floyd Mayweather Jr, Joel Casamoyer, Marco Antonio Barrera, Juan Diaz and Michael Katsidis in a 62 bout career.
After dropping a hugely controversial decision in his third contest with Pacquiao, Marquez again faced his great adversary once more in December and after three closely contested distance fights; this time the ending was clean and clinical. After both rivals suffered flash knockdowns and the fight in the balance, Marquez countered a lunging jab with a thumping straight right at the end of the sixth and it was goodnight for Pacquiao. It was the first knockout defeat for Manny since his flyweight days of the late 90’s.
The stunning victory moved Juan Manuel to an outstanding 55-6-1 (40) and he is more than deserving of some final big-money bouts.
Twenty-three-year old Broner is a perfect 25-0 (21) and has barely been tested of late. With three straight KO’s in 2012, the Mayweatheresque' Ohio fighter is poised to take part in some super fights in 2013. After a spell as WBO super-featherweight champion, Broner moved up to 135lbs to rip the WBC belt away from decent champion Antonio DeMarco in November.
A confident, flashy and defensively sound stylist, Broner will be hard to beat at lightweight. Adrian will be hungry to beat a big name to cement his growing reputation as one of the best fighters in the world and they don’t come much bigger then Marquez.
Broner is next out in February in a WBC defence against a TBA.
Early pick: a classic cross-roads match but one feels Broner could be something special and the prediction is the younger man (by 16 years) wins a tough competitive contest by clear decision.
David Price vs Tyson Fury
Already the most talked about potential match in the heavyweight division, a clash in the UK between the tall, undefeated punchers will be a spectacular event.
Fury, 20-0 (14), won a lop-sided decision over American Kevin Johnson in December. The bout was a WBC eliminator and the gypsy slugger must surely be close to a title shot at either champion Vitali Klitschko or the vacant belt should the Ukrainian retire as expected.
The 24-year-old has always expressed a desire to fight Price but, as yet, the fight has never come close to being made. An offer by Price’s promoter Frank Maloney was recently treated with contemptuous ridicule by the Fury camp.
Price has wiped out all in his path this year winning all four bouts by stoppage inside four rounds. Domestic veterans like Audley Harrison, Matt Skelton and John McDermott may not have sent shivers down any spines but it is the manner in which the big Liverpudlian has dealt with his opposition which has impressed. A well-schooled boxer with knockout power in either hand, Price has barely broken sweat in his pro career so far in going 15-0 (13). His last ten opponents have failed to hear the final bell as many are touting the British and Commonwealth champion to be Liverpool’s first ever world heavyweight champion.
The build-up between the two has been almost constant for the last two years. While most favoured Price in the early going, many are starting to warm to Fury who appears to be improving with every contest.
It’s a sure-fire heavyweight explosion that simply has to happen sooner rather than later. Both men appear confident in what should prove to be a good clash of styles.
Early pick: the playing field has levelled considerably but I still feel the tidier, more disciplined Price will prevail inside eight rounds.
Now it’s up to all of the respective managers and promoters to make these fights happen!!
Livefight teams up with Vyomax
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VIDEO Denis Bakhtov beats Danny Williams
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VIDEO Danny Garcia's father talks his upbringing
WBC and WBA light welter champion Danny Garcia's upbringing is discussed by his father to Ellie Seckbach.
Hopkins picks Cloud; Cleverly gets Krasniqi
Bernard Hopkins will be fight IBF Light Heavyweight champion Tavoris Cloud at the Barclay Centre in March it has been revealed.
Meanwhile Nathan Cleverly will defend his WBO light-heavyweight title against Robin Krasniqi on 16th March following a successful purse bid by his promoter Frank Warren.
The WBO almost stripped Clev of his title, because Krasniqi was due to fight him last year but the Welshman withdrew with a virus.
No venue in the UK has been announced yet, but Cleverly has declared he would be prepared to defend his title in Germany if he had too.
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