South African legend Ledwaba passes away from Covid-19

Former IBF super-bantamweight champion Lehlohonolo Ledwaba has passed away from Covid-19 in his native South Africa, aged 49. Ledwaba was en route to hospital before succumbing to the virus on Friday.

An outstanding stylist, Ledwaba is best known for losing to the blurring fists of late-sub Manny Pacquiao (LTKO6) in the Filipino’s stunning American debut in Las Vegas in June 2001.

Before that loss, ‘Hands of Stone’ was regarded as a highly-respected champion at 122lbs and had emerged as a viable foe for high-profile featherweight king Naseem Hamed. Two of Ledwaba’s IBF title defences were in the UK as that fight seemed a possibility.

Despite outpointing South African rival Vuyani Bungu in his next fight, Ledwaba (36-6-1, 23 KOs) was never quite the same after the Pacquiao reverse, losing four of his final seven bouts.

In a memorable career, he won belts at bantam, super-bantam, feather and super-feather, but its Ledwaba’s IBF title run at 122lbs that garnered the most respect, where he reeled off five successful defences after defeating Texan John Michael Johnson to win the crown in Hammanskraal, South Africa, in May 1999.

Former opponent Pacquiao was among those to pay tribute. “So sad to hear the passing of Lehlo Ledwaba! He was a true champion in and out of the ring and left behind an amazing legacy. RIP champ!” tweeted the eight-division champion.

Everyone at Boxing Social would like to pass on their condolences to Lehlohonolo’s family and friends.

Main image: Ledwaba halts Ernesto Grey in eight at the Whitchurch Sports Centre in Bristol in April 2000. Photo: Alamy/Reuters/Alex Morton, Action Images.