African ring

Con­ti­nen­tal box­ing has au­then­tic ti­tles wor­thy of global recog­ni­tion

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

African Box­ing Union (ABU) pres­i­dent Houcine Houichi has com­mended South African box­ers for dom­i­nat­ing the con­ti­nen­tal scene as more cham­pi­ons emerge from the coun­try.

South Africa cur­rently boasts 11 ti­tle hold­ers – three as the ABU’s main cham­pi­ons and eight as south­ern re­gional kings.

The lat­est to swell the num­bers is Thabiso Mchunu, who won the cruis­er­weight ti­tle, beat­ing Johnny Muller by a unan­i­mous points de­ci­sion at Em­per­ors Palace last Satur­day.

Nige­ria and Morocco have one con­ti­nen­tal cham­pion apiece, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est ABU rat­ings.

But it is in the south­ern re­gion, whose pres­i­dent is Peter Ngatane, where there is a pro­lif­er­a­tion of ti­tle hold­ers from Mzansi.

Houichi told City Press this week that he was pleased with the man­ner in which the ABU was pro­gress­ing in South Africa.

“We de­cided in 2015 to start four re­gional ti­tles,” said Houichi.

“The south­ern re­gion un­der the lead­er­ship of Dr Ngatane is do­ing very well. It has pro­moted a lot of these ti­tles with great suc­cess – as we saw last Satur­day at Em­per­ors Palace with the ABU su­per mid­dleweight ti­tle be­tween Lee Dyer ver­sus Al­fonzo Tis­sen.”

The 56-year-old Tu­nisian, who is now based in Spain, said he was con­fi­dent that more South African box­ers would win ABU belts in fu­ture and, ul­ti­mately, chal­lenge for World Box­ing Coun­cil (WBC) belts.

Houichi is also the vi­cepres­i­dent of the WBC.

“South Africa is very im­por­tant for ABU and WBC ac­tiv­i­ties; as are Ghana, Burk­ina Faso, Morocco and Benin.

“South Africa is now lead­ing in host­ing ABU tour­na­ments be­cause of re­li­able pro­mot­ers such as Golden Gloves, who have the ex­pe­ri­ence in this field, how­ever, some new pro­mot­ers are also com­ing in to pro­mote our ABU and WBC ti­tles as well,” he said.

As the man sec­ond from the top at the WBC, Houichi said he did not see South Africa hav­ing any prob­lems with host­ing big WBC ti­tle fights in fu­ture.

The last time the as­so­ci­a­tion hosted a championship here was in 2001 at Car­ni­val City, Brak­pan, when Hasim Rah­man caused a ma­jor up­set by knock­ing out the fan­cied Len­nox Lewis in the fifth round to be crowned undisputed heavy­weight cham­pion of the world.

So far, only the WBC’s in­ter­na­tional ti­tle con­tests have been staged in South Africa.

Ngatane, who was elected in 1995 to serve on the ABU lead­er­ship, said the con­ti­nen­tal organisation’s ti­tles were au­then­tic.

“The as­so­ci­a­tion was for­mu­lated in Africa, and is gov­erned and man­aged in Africa by Africans. Fight­ing for its championship belts is there­fore im­por­tant,” said Ngatane.

SA, Ghana, Burk­ina Faso, Morocco and Benin are im­por­tant for WBC ac­tiv­i­ties

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