Cruel Ju­nior fi­nally gets his ti­tle shot

IBO wel­ter­weight champ will fight Socci for the IBF cham­pi­onship belt next month Tale of the tape

CityPress - - Sport - PULE MOKHINE pmokhine@city­

Tsiko “Cruel Ju­nior” Mulovhedzi is re­lieved that his bout against Ger­man Dario “Ital­ian Trou­ble” Socci will fi­nally be staged at Man­gaung Indoor Sports Cen­tre in Bloem­fontein on April 7.

This comes after the bout, to be staged by Xaba Pro­mo­tions, in which the va­cant In­ter­na­tional Box­ing Fed­er­a­tion (IBF) in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal wel­ter­weight cham­pi­onship belt will be at stake, was post­poned.

The fight­ers were orig­i­nally sched­uled to slug it out at the same venue on Satur­day night.

“I have been train­ing hard to pre­pare for the fight that was to take place on Satur­day. There was un­cer­tainty about whether it would take place,” said Mulovhedzi.

“I can take it easy now that the fi­nal date has been agreed upon. We will ex­change blows once and for all to see who de­serves to be crowned the IBF in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal king­pin.”

Cruel Ju­nior (30) holds the In­ter­na­tional Box­ing Or­gan­i­sa­tion (IBO) cham­pi­onship belt, which he said he would prob­a­bly have to for­feit so that he could fight Socci.

Mulovhedzi has not de­fended his IBO crown for al­most 11 months since suc­cess­fully do­ing so against Mex­i­can Je­sus Gur­rola with a unan­i­mous points de­ci­sion at the Ngoako Ra­matl­hodi Sports Com­plex in Seshego, Lim­popo, in April.

The IBO rules stip­u­late that a cham­pion must de­fend his belt within nine months of win­ning it.

Mulovhedzi stopped Ali Funeka in the sixth round to win the ti­tle at the In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­tre in East Lon­don in 2015.

“I would like to ded­i­cate my next fight to the mem­ory of my late dad, Rat­shilumela Mulovhedzi, who passed away in Novem­ber at the age of 104. He was my source of in­spi­ra­tion,” said Cruel Ju­nior.

The boss of Xaba Pro­mo­tions, Ayanda Matiti, said the date of the bill had been changed to “al­low the process of fund­ing of the tour­na­ment to be in or­der”.

A look at the re­cent CVs of the two pugilists who will face each other sug­gests a thrilling match-up (see graphic).

“We are con­fi­dent this fight will be a humdinger given the pedi­gree of both box­ers. It’s a pity that we’ve had to move the tour­na­ment to a new date,” Matiti said.

Socci (28) is sched­uled to ar­rive in South Africa on April 8 to start pre­par­ing for the clash.

Once and for all, we will slug it out to de­cide who de­serves the crown TSIKO MULOVHEDZI

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