Blossoming Malawian female boxer Ellen ‘Tigress’ Simwaka scaled lofty heights at the weekend, becoming the new World Boxing Federation (WBF) women’s international bantamweight champion after beating South African Simangele “Smash” Hadebe in Johannesburg.
Simwaka’s feat, coming barely two weeks after her compatriot Anisha Bashir’s Commonwealth (British Empire) lightweight title triumph in England, underlines the strides local female boxers are making in the sport.
According to www.womenofboxing.com, after losing a decision to Hadebe last September, and drawing in the rematch only five weeks ago, the 22-year-old South Africa-based boxer finally came out on top in their third encounter.
At the Turfontein Race Course, with the vacant title on the line, the two boxers made it a nip-and-tuck battle in the first six rounds until Simwaka turned on the heat in the seventh in which she ‘floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee’, forcing the referee to stop it and declare her the winner.
But, fighting on her opponents home-turf, Simwaka impressively took matters out of the judges hands in round seven, scoring a technical knockout to win her first professional championship less than two years after making her debut.
In an interview from Johannesburg yesterday, an excited Simwaka said: “I lost in controversial circumstances in the first fight and this time, I did not give her a moment’s respite.
“It was really tough, but I prepared well and worked on capitalising on her weaknesses. I made sure I hit the target all the time. The victory is a big inspiration for me and I am happy to have made the breakthrough that I have been longing for, but this is only the start.”
She also said Bashir’s recent victory was a big motivation in the countdown to her bout.
Malawi Professional Boxing Control Board (MPBCB) publicist Frank Chibisa said they are excited with female boxers’ exploits on the international stage.
“As a nation, we should be excited because this is the first time that we have won two international belts within a month. We need to encourage and offer these girls support so that they can challenge for world title bouts,” he said.
With the victory, Simwaka improved her record to seven wins (five KOs), three losses and two draws and makes a strong case for herself as a challenger for another South African, WBF World Champion Bukiwe Nonina.
Simangele Hadebe drops to four wins (two KOs), two losses and two draws.