Ndon­geni fails to im­press de­spite all the ‘Tho­bela’ hype

CityPress - - Sport - PULE MOKHINE pmokhine@city­press.co.za

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

PHOTO: LEON SADIKI

CLOSE Xolisani Ndon­geni (left) blocks a right hook from Mzonke Fana dur­ing their clash at Em­per­ors Palace last Satur­day

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