'Matlala gone, but not forgotten'

Boxing legend Brian Mitchell says the boxing world will never forget Baby Jake Matlala

Three times world boxing champion Baby Jake Matlala. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Boxing legend Brian Mitchell says the late Baby Jake Matlala will never be forgotten in the world of boxing.

The boxer passed away on Saturday after complications linked to pneumonia, adding to the emotional week for South Africans, first losing Nelson Mandela and then one of the country's most loved fighters.

Mitchell was speaking during the special memorial service held at Nasrec Arena in Johannesburg this morning.

Mitchell, a close friend of Matlala, says there is one particular fight that defined Baby Jake's entire career.

"Michael Carbajal was the defining fight for Baby Jake. Carbajal came into the fight with 49 wins under his belt, and was later inducted into the international boxing Hall of Fame.

"Baby Jake stopped him in nine rounds in Las Vegas. That was an amazing achievement."

Current boxer Phillip Ndou says Matlala was an inspiration to all boxers in South Africa.

"He was the first boxer to win the International Boxing Association title. Bra Jakes really made us proud as South Africans. Today we are celebrating his life, and he will always be remembered."

Matlala will be laid to rest on Friday in Randburg.