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.