François Botha was seconds away from the World Boxing Federation (WBF) heavyweight title when Michael Grant knocked him out on Saturday night.
The South African was ahead on points when a huge right by the American sent him crashing to the canvas in the final round of their fight at Monte Casino near Johannesburg.
The official time of the knockout was two minutes 23 seconds into the twelfth round. In a rather poor fight, with much pushing and wrestling throughout, Botha (115,24 kg) built up a points lead against the slow and ponderous Grant (113,94kg).
In the first six rounds there was little action and no clear leader. The South African shaded rounds eight and nine and had a big eleventh when he staggered Grant.
It looked as if the American was going to go down, but he made it to the bell by holding and mauling against the tiring Botha. In the final round Botha made the mistake of mixing it with Grant who had been trying to land with his big right hand throughout the fight.
When he at last landed an overhand right to the jaw it sent the onrushing Botha crashing to the canvas where referee Ingo Garrabas from Germany counted him out.
Botha was down for some time and had to receive medical attention. Botha, nicknamed the “White Buffalo”, had come into the WBF title fight at his lightest weight for at least 20 years. Grant (39) improved his record to 48-4, with 36 knocouts. The 43-year-old Botha dropped to 48-6-3, with one no-contest and 28 knockouts.