Ndongeni fails to impress despite all the ‘Thobela’ hype
Xolisani Ndongeni will not become a lightweight boxing champion in the mould of the legendary Dingaan Thobela if his performance against veteran Mzonke Fana last Saturday was anything to go by.
The highly rated Mount Frere-born Ndongeni huffed and puffed along before beating veteran Fana by split-points decision in their World Boxing Association PanAfrican title match at Emperors Palace, Kempton Park.
Two judges scored the fight 115-113 to Ndongeni, while another made it a 114 draw.
Ndongeni, who joined the Golden Gloves stable in March, had been touted as the country’s best top lightweight since Thobela.
The latter previously held the World Boxing Organisation and World Boxing Association crowns in that weight class before he campaigned in heavier divisions.
But the 26-year-old Ndongeni’s lackadaisical showing against the 41-year-old Fana certainly did not impress – instead proving he was not yet in Thobela’s league.
Ndongeni appeared confused by Fana’s jabs, which frequently unsettled him and prevented him from charging in.
Ndongeni’s wild swings predictably missed their mark, while Fana’s accurate jabs often found theirs.
It was indeed a disappointing display from Ndongeni, who had previously held a national title.
There was no doubt that he must improve his work rate, defence and ring craft if he is to reach the class of “The Rose of Soweto” Thobela.
Nonetheless, Ndongeni’s promoter, Rodney Berman, remained confident his charge would make it to the top.
“We are toying with the idea of a rematch with Fana. Ndongeni is a talented fighter with a bright future.
“There’s no doubt he’ll be South Africa’s next best lightweight,” Berman said.
The South African lightweight category has not had a standout boxer for many years.
Ndongeni’s recent win has stretched his
CLOSE Xolisani Ndongeni (left) blocks a right hook from Mzonke Fana during their clash at Emperors Palace last Saturday