By Mark Etheridge
in Brazzaville, Congo
Sibusiso Bandla landed the first blows of Team South Africa’s boxing campaign here at the African Games on Tuesday.
The little Eastern Cape athlete was fighting in the light-flyweight division (49kg) and came up against Ghana’s Sulemann Teteh in the first of the afternoon programme’s fights.
And when it all ended three rounds later, it was the red gloves of Bandla that were raised in victory centre-ring.
Judges saw a unanimous 3-0 points decision go 22-year-old Bandla’s way and the boxing code’s bid for medals is up and running.
The first round saw a cautious Bandla staying away from his stockier opponent but making sure his long range shots were to good effect.
As the fight went on he came more into his own and by the final round there was even time for some show-boating as he made the Ghanaian miss repeatedly.
‘It was our plan to mainly counter punch the first round,’ said manager/coach Johan Prinsloo, who was also with Team SA at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Scotland.
‘The second round we decided to stay on the counter but throw in a few 1-2 combinations. That worked well so we stuck to that for the third round as well.
‘I’m happy with the way he fought and it’s a good start.’
As for Bandla, he said: ‘That’s my style: hit and run, hit and run from the outside and it worked well today. He was strong in the upper body but he never hurt me.’ This said as the Mdantsane, East Cape athlete had ice applied to his head.
Bandla is coached in Mdantsane by Vuyolomzi Mtekwana and his boxing hero is, surprise, surprise… Floyd Mayweather.
Next up for Bandla will be a DRC opponent who fought the fight before Bandla. ‘He’s not bad, but way too upright, which means he hasn’t got much upper body movement and he’ll be an easier target, was Prinsloo’s assessment of his charge’s next fight.
‘He must just watch his head. He was warned five times in the last round by the referee, and she was very lenient. That could easily have cost us a round if another ref had been in control.’