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Cassius Baloyi-Mr. Shy Guy


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One of the most decorated and acclaimed boxers from South Africa, Cassius Baloyi was a two-time IBF super featherweight champion, plus he won a number of smaller titles at super bantamweight, featherweight and super featherweight, such as the IBO title most significantly. Baloyi was a good technician who also had pop, especially at 122 and 126, and was tough and durable. Being very tall for the divisions he fought in, he used his long reach and jab to neutralize his opponents, until he eventually put them away or won on points. He was only stopped once, in the twilight of his career, and went unbeaten for a long time, the first seven years as a pro. 

Ponani Cassius Baloyi was born 5 November 1974 in Malamulele, Limpopo province of SA. He stands 5'10/178 cm and thus was always exceptionally tall in every weight class he fought-especially below 135. He also has a long reach of 75 inches/191 cm. Baloyi relocated to Johannesburg to start his boxing career. As amateur, he won the 1992 AIBA World Rating tournament in Germany, before turning pro in 1994, trained by legendary Brian Mitchell. His first fight was even fought at 117 pounds (bantamweight), but then he started fighting as a featherweight. Early on, he mostly won on points, before his power started to improve and he started scoring knockouts. After going 14-0, he was matched against Frankie Toledo, another technician, for the World Boxing Union super bantam title, 15 November 1996 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Baloyi was impressive and won by the scores of 118-110, 117-111 and 115-113 to win his first belt. He defended that title three times, most notably against Laszlo Bognar by TKO 7, before vacating it to fight for the feather version. He beat Sergio Rafael Liendo on points in April 1998 to win that belt, in San Jose, California. He would defend this belt seven times, among others impressively knocking out Hector Lizarraga in 1 round-Lizarraga had previously won the IBF belt from Baloyi's countryman Welcome Ncita. 

After also beating Steve Robinson of Wales by MD12 away in Ebww Vale, he vacated this belt as well to challenge for the super feather version against Phillip Ndou. The fight was in Brakpan, SA, on 3 November 2001 and Baloyi was 26-0 coming in against 24-1 Ndou, but surprisingly, he dropped a clear UD to his countryman Ndou, who would later fight Floyd Mayweather at 135. On 17 April next year, "Mr. Shy Guy", as Baloyi was affectionately known, rebounded by stopping the noted puncher Tiger Ari by TKO 6 to win the IBO super feather title. In his first defense, he took on Mbulelo Botile, who was infamously known for being the guy to put Paul Ingle into a coma and end his career. Botile was also the IBF champion at both 126 and 118 previously, but Baloyi stopped him by TKO 11 and effectively ended his career, as Botile had one more fight and got stopped there as well. In November 2004, he took on Lehlo(honolo) Ledwaba, a splendid fighter who was dethroned by Manny Pacquiao earlier as another IBF champion at 118. After 12 rounds, Baloyi took home an unpopular decision, but in the rematch in April next year, he again won, this time by closer scores. 

On 31 August that same year, he tried to win the IBO lightweight title against Isaac Hlatshwayo, but was down in round 2 and lost clearly on all scorecards. After another debacle, he realized he was better suited to fight at 130 and didn't attempt to fight for another lightweight title for a long time. He then got an offer to fight the multiple former champion at 130, Manuel Medina, with the vacant IBF title at stake, as well as his own IBO title. The fight commenced on 31 May 2006 at Northern Quest Casino in Airway Heights, Washington state and Baloyi was well ahead on all cards when he put Medina down three times in round 11 and win by TKO-thus finally becoming a true world champion, of a recognized organization. However, only 2 months later on 29 July, he lost his both titles to Gairy St. Clair, after getting badly cut over the left eye in round 8 and bleeding from it for the rest of the fight, which made it more difficult for him of course. The scores were 116-112, 115-114 and 115-113. Next year on 3 February, he reclaimed his IBO belt which had been vacated by St. Clair, by easily stopping Nazareno Gaston Ruiz by TKO 3. He then fought Medina again on 5 July, in an IBF eliminator, but the fight ended a technical draw because Medina got badly cut by an accidental clash of heads in round 4. 

He then fought St. Clair again in another IBF-eliminator and this time won by the scores of 120-108 and 116-112 twice, in Kempton Park, Gauteng. On 12 April 2008, he finally got to fight for the IBF title again and beat Mzonke Fana, another compatriot, by MD to reclaim it. This time, he got to hold it a little longer and made one successful defense by stopping Javier Osvaldo Alvarez by TKO 3 after dropping him three times. Alvarez had earlier pulled off a shock upset by stopping Michael Gomez. Later that year, Baloyi was named "Boxer of the Year" at the South African boxing awards ceremony. Almost exactly a year after reclaiming the title, Baloyi lost it to Malcolm Klassen, 18 April 2009. It was a hotly contested fight, but the younger Klassen eventually got the better of 34-yearold Baloyi and stopped him by TKO 7. He was reportedly upset with his trainer after that fight. He tried to win the IBF title again by fighting Mzonke Fana on 1 September 2010, but lost by wide scores. 

He would fight Argenis Mendez after that in YET ANOTHER IBF eliminator, but was dropped once and lost by another clear UD. He would finally retire in late 2012, after losing the rematch to Klassen by UD 8, 14 October 2012. He was now 38 when he retired and could look back at a fruitful career-however, regrettably, the biggest fights came late for him and he became a world champion at almost 32-which is kinda late. His record is 37 wins, scoring 19 ko's, 8 losses and 1 draw. He has only been stopped by Malcolm Klassen. Cassius Baloyi is the only African fighter to win six world titles, despite most of them being minor or not universally recognized. It is only a shame that he wasn't able to get bigger fights earlier, because once he did get them, he proved himself capable to compete at highest level. His two first losses obviously came about because he had just moved up to a new weight class and instead of fighting a couple easier fights first, he challenged for a title immediately. Still, Cassius Baloyi's resume speaks for itself. 



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