Team South Africa’s boxing campaign at the Commonwealth Games took an early blow on Friday after Siyabulela Mphongoshi lost. Mphongoshi was the first of just two boxers in the team to fight when he took on Sri Lanka’s Thiwanke Ranasinghe.
The venue was the impressive Oxenford Studios. The location hosted the filming of the blockbuster film Thor: Ragnarok two years ago.
So it was a particularly apt setting for some pugilistic action. However, it’s unlikely that the legendary Thor would have reason to be worried – both the South African and Sri Lankan were guilty of some wild hits and misses in this light flyweight (46-49kg) bout.
Referee Frank Fiacco of Canada had his hands full separating the two and Mphongoshi was warned frequently to keep his head up.
He started confidently enough but was on the back foot early in the second round when he got yet another warning and a point deducted.
It was a case of playing catch-up from that point on and he went on to lose 4-0.
But manager/coach Hans Britz was philosophical in his appraisal of the Port Elizabeth-based fighter.
“We have to be realistic – we can’t all win medals,” he said.
“This guy has got heart and he’s got talent. He’s a real little fighter, a pitbull. He hits really hard but his problem is that he is just too short and is constantly coming up against taller, more rangy opponents.
“In my books, he won the first round but that point deducted caused him to play catch up.
“I’m going to the Eastern Cape in the next month so [I] will catch up with his coach and advisers and we’ll discuss things further. He’s going to have to work on his movement to make up for his lack of height.”
Next up for South Africa will be Sinethemba Blom.
He fights on Sunday where his opponent will be Guyana’s Colin Lewis in the 64kg division.
“Sinethemba’s 29 years old and a very scientific boxer,” says Britz of Blom, formerly from the Eastern Cape but now boxing out of the Western Cape.