Today, 21 years ago, Baby Jake Matlala wins WBO world title

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Baby Jake Matlala. Photo: static.independent.co.uk

South African Junior Flyweight, Jacob ‘Baby Jake Matlala’ won the World Boxing Organisation (WBO) world champion title on 18 November 1995.

Matlala was up against Paul Weir in Glasgow for the WBO Junior Flyweight title in this bout.

He defeated Weir on a technical decision in five rounds and he went on to successfully defend and retain the title against Weir in Liverpool the following year.

Matlala began his professional boxing career in 1980.

His first crack at a world title, the IBF flyweight title, in September 1991 was against Dave McCauley in which he suffered a 10th round knockout.

Matlala was the shortest professional boxer in the world with a height of 1.47 m. It never hindered his performance however.

He is also the only South African boxer to hold four World Champion titles. He retired in 2002. He won his farewell fight against British boxer Mickey Cantwell, where former President Nelson Mandela and actor Will Smith were among the spectators.

He past away on 7 December 2013, at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital.

Source: South African History Online

Compiled by Moeketsi Mogotsi/Courant News