Lehlo Ledwaba, one of South Africa’s greatest fighters and the former IBF super-bantamweight champion, passed away yesterday, this at the young age of just 49. Fans and fellow fighters have been paying tribute to the man known as “Hands of Stone” since the sad news broke.
Ledwaba fought in four weight divisions and he faced a number of big names during his career, defeating some of them. Born in Soweto in July of 1971, Ledwaba went pro in 1990 and he made fast progress. Most of his fights took place at home, although Ledwaba did fight in Scotland, in California, in England, in Denmark and in Las Vegas. It was in July of 2001 in Vegas when Ledwaba had perhaps his most famous fight, this a stoppage loss to a young and unstoppable Manny Pacquiao.
Ledwaba was not stopped very often (just three times) but Pac Man managed to score a sixth round TKO over him. This loss saw Ledwaba lose his IBF super-bantamweight title, with him having previously retained it five times. Ledwaba beat John Michael Johnson to win the vacant IBF title, this via unanimous decision in May of 1999.
After the loss to the 22 year old Pacquiao, Ledwaba moved up to featherweight and he defeated Vuyani Bungu via decision. Ledwaba than beat Choi Tseveenpurev, before was lost twice to Cassius Baloyi, Ledwaba losing both fights on points. Ledwaba retired in November of 2006 after being stopped by Maxwell Awuku up at super-featherweight, this loss coming via ninth round corner retirement. Ledwaba’s final ring record reads an impressive 36-6-1 with 23 KO’s.
A genuinely tough warrior with fine skills, Ledwaba was always willing to fight the very, very best. Always in terrific physical condition, Ledwaba, quite tall for a 122 pounder at 5’6,” often overwhelmed opponents with his sheer strength and determination. Fight fans who saw Ledwaba in action will no doubt remember him fondly. While in South Africa, Ledwaba was nothing short of a hero.
Our condolences go out to Ledwaba’s family and friends at this sad time.