SYDWELL Mokhoro was one of the lucky ones.

The ambitions of this boxer crashed in his second paid bout a decade ago when he was pummelled into hospital with bleeding on the brain.

These injuries are often deadly — locally, the sport has mourned the deaths of many such vanquished warriors, Samora Msophi (2008), Brian Baronet (1988) and Jacob Morake (1985) to name but three.

As I write, female fighter Phindile Mwelase is in hospital, reportedly on life support, after being knocked out on Friday night. 

But Mokhoro survived his injury. He pulled through and, not too long afterwards, landed a job at an insurance company.

Fighting on the undercard of world champion Cassius Baloyi, Mokhoro was stopped in the third round of a scheduled four-rounder.

His opponent, Kenneth Mhlongo, was making his professional debut, and when he caught Mokhoro in the third round, he jumped in to finish him off, throwing punch after punch after punch.

Mhlongo did his job; the referee didn’t.

This fight should have been stopped earlier — there is nothing to be gained from allowing rookies to take excessive punishment.

Mokhoro collapsed in his dressing room soon afterwards and was taken to hospital.

It turned out that his preparation had been a disaster.

He was offered the fight at late notice, and needed to shed too much weight — but he and his manager accepted it nonetheless.

Mokhoro said after the fight he was visited only once by his manager — when he came to collect his share of his R1,500 purse.

Mokhoro had been licensed in 2000, but got his first fight only in December 2003. Fights were rare and he didn’t want to wait another three years for his second bout.

As a result, Mokhoro was drained by the time he got to the weigh-in.

This is not an uncommon scenario in local boxing and, sadly, it’s exacerbated by boxers refusing to stay in shape between bouts.

But it’s what happened in the wake of this near-tragedy that really got my blood boiling.

Mokhoro said after the fight he was visited only once by his manager — when he came to collect his share of his R1,500 purse.

And this is where Boxing SA (BSA) could come down hard on licencees.

Mwelase slipped out of consciousness in the ring last Friday night, and has been in a coma since.

Her trainer, Stanley Ndlovu, was unable to immediately contact the next of kin.

Mwelase’s 20-year-old sister says she had to phone him early on Saturday morning to find out why her sister had not arrived home yet.

That is unacceptable. A trainer-cum-manager should know about their boxers, especially considering he earns at least 25% of their purses, in some cases more.

Ndlovu, whose son Takalani is a former world champion, is a veteran in this game.

Boxing SA should also examine how Mwelase was sanctioned to fight over eight rounds when she had failed to win a single one of her four previous professional fights.

With 10-rounders being the maximum distance for female boxers, who actually thought Mwelase was ready for eight rounds?

Fighters are supposed to graduate from four-rounders to six-rounders, to eight-rounders and so on.

And it’s not as if Mwelase even had an amateur pedigree to talk of, having had fewer than 20 fights, according to one of her previous trainers.

By all accounts, Mwelase had been boxing well in the fight before being knocked out in the sixth round.

But if Boxing SA had kept her as a four-round fighter, she might still have been in good health, with her dreams alive.

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