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Sivenathi Nontshinga Revenges KO Loss Against Adrian Curiel With Stoppage Victory, Mauricio Lara Draws

Sivenathi Nontshinga Revenges KO Loss Against Adrian Curiel With Stoppage Victory featured image
Adrian Curiel (L) and Sivenathi Nontshinga (R) during their IBF World Light Flyweight Title fight at the Guelaguetza Auditorium in Oaxaca, Mexico. (Photo by Melina Pizano/Matchroom)

South African Sivenathi Nontshinga became a two-time world champion after recapturing his IBF junior flyweight title in a hard-won bout against Mexican Adrian Curiel who had been responsible for handing Nontshinga his first career loss during their last match on November 4th last year. The two 108-pounders headlined a Matchroom card in Oaxaca, Mexico, on February 16th, and both fighters put on a impressive display of grit and determination as Nontshinga revenged his stunning knockout loss to Curiel.

Sivenathi Nontshinga’s (13-1. 10 KO’s) prior loss to Adrian Curiel (24-5-1, 5 KO’s) saw him lose his IBF junior flyweight title to the Mexican fighter in a stunning turn of events. While tipped as a favorite during the bout, Nontshinga had seemingly been winning on the cards before he was abruptly knocked out in the second round of his bout against Curiel.

With Nontshinga opting to activate his rematch clause not long after his first loss, the two stepped into the ring on February 16th in the opposite position as last year; with Curiel set to defend his IBF title for the first time since winning it. Fighting in Curiel’s home country of Mexico, Nontshinga faced adversity from all sides; not dissimilar to the position Curiel found himself in during their last fight.

As both fighters were already decently acquainted with each other, despite the short duration of their first match which lasted for only two rounds, the 108 lbsers seemed well-prepared for a longer match this time around as both their defense and conditioning reflected theirs was a match that would be determined by more than just power or the stroke of luck.

Nontshinga had clearly taken cues from his last match as he dove into a high guard while gearing himself up for a fight that would be up close. Though primarily a fighter that boxes from the outside, the South African fighter appeared to have adjusted to fight up close; an area that Curiel was accustomed to due to his tendency to pressure opponents.

For many of the rounds, the two were involved in a stalemate of sorts with both Curiel and Nontshinga proving no less effective but Curiel seemingly edging out due to his familiarity fighting in that manner. Most of the rounds involved short punches and quite a lot of holding and clinching as the two fighters remained within the pocket with a high guard up.

While Nontshinga tried to make space to fight on the backfoot several times, he simultaneously seemed worried of being caught off-guard by Curiel’s right hand like during the last fight and struggled as he sought not to become overpowered. Curiel gravitated to throwing more punches in volume than usual due to his advantage and his position as champion; a strategy that appeared to work in his favor as he appeared to be winning as the latter half of the 12-round bout arrived.

However, Sivenathi Nontshinga, who had been known as a heavy puncher in the 108-pound division, came back in the latter stage of the fight as Adrian Curiel seemingly started getting fatigued, allowing Nontshinga to gain some much-needed momentum as his punches landed heavier and more consistently. The Mexican champion eventually was overwhelmed in the last seconds of the ninth round―despite having pushed Nontshinga into the ropes for much of the round, and was caught off-guard as Nontshinga caught him with a left hook from the orthodox stance during a brief lapse of time.

Curiel appeared close to being dropped as Nontshinga continued with combinations that left the Mexican on shaky legs as the bell to the round closed. Starting the tenth round, Nontshinga at first failed to capitalize on the vulnerabilities Curiel had shown as he drifted to fighting at a distance now that Curiel seemed intent on widening the space rather than closing in.

However, Adrian Curiel’s lack of activity seemed to alert Sivenathi Nontshinga to the more favorable position he was in, and he gradually started pressuring Curiel more effectively to the point he again launched an onslaught of combinations that forced Curiel to hold on in desperation. Curiel sought to come back following the first minute, seemingly feigning he was hurt by being more active, but Nontshinga needed only one counter blow as the second minute closed to spur him into an attacking frenzy once more.

For the next half minute, Sivenathi Nontshinga stepped up his aggressiveness to continously let forth barrages of punches until finally the referee was forced to step in, allowing Nontshinga to win the match by stoppage in stupendous fashion and reclaim the title he had lost to the gritty Adrian Curiel.

Nontshinga’s tenth-round technical knockout victory over Adrian Curiel may yet spur a trilogy bout between the two with both fighters having finished the other to attain a record of 1-1. A third match would be a natural way to see the 108-pounders draw a conclusion to their matches, and ultimately determine the best amongst the two.

The Matchroom-promoted fight card also featured the return of Mexican former WBA featherweight champion Mauricio Lara (26-3-2, 19 KO’s) following his May 27th loss to Leigh Wood (28-3, 17 KO’s) which resulted in the WBA title returning into Wood’s hands through a unanimous decision. Deciding to now venture towards super featherweight/junior lightweight for this fight, Lara faced fellow Mexican Daniel Lugo (27-2-1, 18 KO’s) in a match that went the full ten rounds; however, the two stalemated to a majority decision draw with scores of 96-95 [in Lugo’s favor] and 95-95 twice.

Due to the close nature of the match and the results, a rematch between the two Mexicans is not unlikely as Lara will seek to establish himself at a weight he last fought in three years ago, while Lugo can take confidence from his last result and look to establish his own name in the division by seeking to defeat the former world champion in a potential rematch.