East London, Eastern Cape, South Africa: In a fight everybody expected him to lose, International Boxing Organization (IBO) Junior Flyweight champion Rey Loreto relied a big heart and a strong faith in God, to score a stunning first round knockout victory over local boxing hero Nkosinathi Joyi at the Mdantsane Gymnasium on Sunday.
The defeat of Joyi was so brutal that it silenced the erstwhile noisy hometown crowd who chanted a Zulu war song to buoy the fighting spirit of the former Olympian and two-time world champion who was also knocked out by Loreto in their first meeting in Monte Carlo February 12 last year.
Loreto, 23, came out hot as referee Tony Nyangiwe, a South African, signaled the start of the fight.
At about one minute and 30 seconds into the fight, Loreto caught Joyi with a crunching right hook followed by a left uppercut which dropped the South Africa for a mandatory count of 8.
It was obvious though that Joyi was badly hurt and as Nyangiwe motioned the two fighters to resume the action, Loreto stepped forward, measured the distance between him and the South African fighter and unleashed a combination to the head.
As Joyi slumped almost motionless in the neutral corner, Nyangiwe did not even bother to count and waved off the fight.
An unbelieving Loreto, who was later joined by his trainer Joven Jorda, cried and shouted “Thank you Lord” after the fight was stopped.
Loreto later admitted that he actually cried even before he climbed the ring for the first defense of the title he won in a shock knockout of Joyi last year.
“I was sorry for myself because I did not have enough preparation for the fight but I prayed to God to give me strength and help me retain my title for the sake of my young son,” Loreto said.
The rematch against Joyi was originally scheduled December last year but was postponed February 28.
It had to be postponed to March 22 after Loreto underwent an appendectomy on February 6 after complaining of abdominal pain.
With the incision in his lower midsection still visible and still feeling pain inside his abdomen which prevented him from sparring and doing sit ups, Loreto gave himself only up to six rounds at the most inside the ring with Joyi.
“I know he was prepared and since I did not have enough training I thought I would not be able to last six rounds with Joyi, especially if he hit me in the midsection,” Loreto said.
Jorda said he and Loreto’s manager, Brico Santig, actually advised the champion against taking the fight even before he could fully recover from the surgery.
“Pero ayaw papigil. Gusto nya talaga matapos ang maliit na bahay na ipinatayo nya sa Barangay Tamayong (Davao City),” Jorda said.
Even his promotional company, Sonshine Sports Management, was not aware that Loreto was not in the best of shape when he agreed to take the March 22 fight.
With his second victory against Joyi, Loreto proved that his first win in Monte Carlo was not a fluke.
In another bout featuring another Filipino fighter, Gen. Santos City’s Jetly Purisima dropped a 10-round fight by decision to a very tall local boy Sinathemba Magibisela.
Loreto and his team will fly home to the Philippines March 23 and will arrive in Manila March 24.