Slovenian Jan Zaveck shocked the crowd in Johannesburg and surprised a lot of the boxing world today with a dominant third round TKO victory over Isaac Hlatshwayo, taking Hlatshwayo's IBF welterweight title. It was Hlatshwayo's first defense of the belt.
When asked at what point he felt he took control of the fight, Zaveck responded in a most movie villain way: "With my first punch."
Zaveck (28-1, 16 KO) knocked down Hlatshwayo once in the second round and twice in the third, when referee Kenny Chevalier called a stop to the contest.
Hlatshwayo (29-2-1, 10 KO) won the title in August against Delvin Rodriguez, a close decision victory in Connecticut, the rematch of a fight in South Africa that went to a draw, and which most felt Rodriguez won, including local press. Zaveck came into the fight having won two in a row after a split decision loss to Rafal Jackiewicz in November 2008.
Since Jackiewicz just beat Rodriguez in an eliminator, this would seem to set up a Zaveck-Jackiewicz rematch. The IBF is apparently totally content to let their welterweight title be contested among the division's clear second tier, which has its good and bad points. None of these guys are bad fighters by any means, but none of them quite stack up to the Mayweather, Pacquiao, Mosley, Cotto, Clottey, Berto class either.
This was Hlatshwayo's first loss since 2006, when Kendall Holt beat him badly. For Zaveck, it's easily his career best victory.