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Boxing Rankings: The highest-rated South African boxers

South African boxing has a rich history of producing champions across weight classes, and there are a number of fighters holding gold and pressing for title shots even today.

Here we look at South African boxers who are ranked in the top ten in their division by any of the four major sanctioning bodies (WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO) and the IBO.

The highest-rated South African Boxers: Cruiserweights

Kevin Lerena (25-1)

Top ten Rankings

WBA: 2

WBC: 5

IBF: 3

IBO: Champion

Lerena, who has held the IBO cruiserweight title since 2017, is ranked in the top ten by the WBA, WBC and IBF.

His only career defeat to date came against compatriot Johnny Muller in 2014, but Lerena would avenge that loss two years later and claim the vacant Pan African cruiserweight title.

In 2018 he tested positive for a banned substance by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association. He was later cleared of any wrongdoing by the IBO.

Thabiso Mchunu (22-5)

Top ten Rankings

WBC: 1

WBO: 9

IBO: 2

The southpaw from Ximba in KwaZulu-Natal has been at the top-end of the cruiserweight division for some time.

He challenged Oleksandr Usyk for the WBO cruiserweight title in 2016 but suffered a ninth-round KO.

Mchunu has won his last three fights including a bout against Russia’s Denis Lebedev last December.

The highest-rated South African Boxers: Featherweight

Lerato Dlamini (14-1)

Top ten rankings

WBC: 3

Dlamini is on a 14-fight winning streak after losing in his professional debut, and it seems to be only a matter of time before he is afforded a shot at a major title.

He has only fought outside of South Africa once, beating Pinoy fighter Dave Penalosa by unanimous decision in Saudi Arabia last year.

Dlamini is the top-rated South African featherweight, according to Boxrec.com.

The highest-rated South African Boxers: Super bantamweight

Lodumo Lamati (16-0-1)

Top ten rankings

WBC: 5

IBF: 8

Unbeaten super bantamweight boxer Lamati has just one blemish on his record, and that is the drawn bout against compatriots Cebo Ngema in 2015.

Despite his impressive record Lamati still has some progress to make to put himself in contention for a major strap.

His best chance of a title shot would appear to be in the WBC’s super bantam division. That title is currently vacant, but there are some big names ahead of him in the pecking order.

The highest-rated South African Boxers: Bantamweight

Zolani Tete (28-4)

Top ten rankings

WBC: 7

WBO: 4

Tete’s role models are South African former world champions Vuyani Bungu and Welcome Ncita, and he emulated his heroes when he beat Arthur Villanueva in 2017 to win the WBO interim title. He would latr be elevated to champion and defended the belt three times.

The 32-year-old dropped the title when he was stopped by John Riel Casimero in the third round in November 2019.

Tete made his professional debut as a flyweight in May 2006. He won his first eight fights by stoppage. In his eighth bout, he won the WBF flyweight title, which he defended twice. Tete earned a shot at a major world title for the first time, beating Richard Garcia in a title eliminator by unanimous decision.

The highest-rated South African Boxers: Super flyweight

Yanga Sigqibo (14-1-1)

Top ten rankings

WBC: 8

IBF: 9

WBO: 4

IBO: 5

Sigqibo established himself in South Africa’s super flyweight division while recently he has taken on foreign foes to steadily progress up the rankings of the major sanctioning bodies.

Just before boxing went into lockdown Sigqibo scored a statement win against more experienced Filipino opponent, Cris Paulino. He knocked out Paulino at the 59-second mark of the seventh round.

Sigqibo will no doubt seek further high-profile fights to raise his standing and earn his first major title shot.

Gideon Buthelezi (22-5)

Top ten rankings

WBC: 9

IBO: Champion

IBO super-flyweight champion Buthelezi doesn’t seem to believe that his best days are behind and he has won his last eight fights to hold onto his title since 2015.

He previously held the IBO minimumweight and light-flyweight titles between 2010 and 2011.

Buthelezi is the longest-reigning current South African world champion and one of just four men from our country in possession of a major strap.

The highest-rated South African Boxers: Flyweight

Moruti Mthalane (39-2)

Top ten rankings

IBF: Champion

Mthalane is a two-time IBF flyweight champion, having held the title since 2018 and previously from 2009 to 2014. He is also a former IBO flyweight champion, having held the title from 2014 to 2017.

In November 2009 Mthalane beat Mexican boxer Julio César Miranda to win the vacant IBF Flyweight title.

His last professional defeat came way back in 2008 but he remains outside of the top ten in the WBA, WBC, WBO and IBO rankings.

Jackson Chauke (19-1-1)

Top ten rankings

WBC: 7

As an amateur, Chauke won silver medals at the 2006 Commonwealth Games and 2007 All-Africa Games, both in the flyweight division.

At 35-years-old his chances of winning a major world title aren’t great but strangers things have happened in boxing.

He has held the WBC International flyweight title since 2019. 

The highest-rated South African Boxers: Light flyweight

Nkosinathi Joyi (29-5-1-1)

Top ten rankings

Light flyweight

WBA: 5

Mini flyweight

WBC: 3

IBF: 10

IBO: Champion

Joyi is the former IBF Minimumweight world champion and is also the two-time and current IBO Minimumweight champion.

His only fight outside of South Africa came when he took on Mexico’s Mario Rodriguez at the Gimnasio Municipal Luis Estrada Medina in Guasave.

He is the only South African boxer ranked in the top ten in two different weight divisions.

Hekkie Budler (32-4)

Top ten rankings

WBC: 2

Budler is a two-weight world champion, having held the unified WBA (Super), IBF, and The Ring light-flyweight titles in 2018, and the IBO and WBA minimumweight titles between 2011 and 2016.

The Hexecutioner won the vacant IBO minimumweight title with a unanimous decision win over Michael Landero. 

Budler then won the vacant WBA minimumweight title with a first-round knockout win over Karluis Diaz. He held the titles until March 2016 when he was defeated by Byron Rojas via unanimous decision.

Deejay Kriel (17-1-1)

Top ten rankings

IBF: 3

WBO: 6

IBO: 6

Kriel stopped undefeated Mexican, Carlos Licona, in the 12th round, to claim the IBF minimumweight belt at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, USA, on 16 February 2019. He would never defend that title though.

Unhappy with the purse offered to fight mandatory challenger Samuel Salva from the Philippines and has since opted to move up a division.

He has found professional fights hard to come by and there are fears that the 25-year-old’s career has stalled.

Sivenathi Nontshinga (9-0)

Top ten rankings

IBF: 7

Undefeated Nontshinga has held the IBF International light flyweight title since 2019 and is also a former African light flyweight champion.

At just 21-years-old he is one of the brightest prospects in South African boxing and there is every suggestion that he could be in the frame for title glory in the next few years.

He beat his own boxing idol Siyabonga Siyo in the first defence of his IBF International light flyweight title.

The highest-rated South African Boxers: Mini flyweight

Simphiwe Khonco (19-6)

WBC: 4

IBO: 2

Khonco held the IBO mini-flyweight title from 2016 to 2019 and challenged for the WBA mini-flyweight title in 2015 and the WBC mini-flyweight title in 2019.

Chain Reaction failed in his bid to unify the WBA and WBC titles in a fight against undefeated Wanaheng Menayothin in October 2019.

Bangile Nyangani (10-1-1)

Top ten rankings

WBA: 8

Nyangani has not tasted defeat since he surrendered the South African Minimum Title to Siphamandla Baleni in 2017.

His most recent fight came against Tanzania’s Selemani Bangaiza whome he stopped in the second round to win the vacant World Boxing Association Pan African Minimum Title.

Siphamandla Baleni (16-3-2)

Top ten rankings

WBO: 5

Two defeats to Xolisa Magusha blight the record of Baleni who currently holds the World Boxing Organisation Africa Minimum Title.

He is yet to fight in 2020 having last stepped into the ring when he faced Tanzania’s Muhsin Kizota. He won that fight on split decision.

Baleni may benefit from the shear number of South African contenders in boxing’s lightest division in the near future provided he can string some wins together.

*Rankings as of 15 September 2020

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