Things are looking up for SA boxing
This is a proclamation from Boxing SA (BSA) chief executive Tsholofelo Lejaka to those who say boxing in this country is dead. Lejaka, who assumed the post in May 2016, says that, despite the irregular live broadcasting of what was once a thriving sport in the country, the number of world champions tell a good story about the sport of gladiators.
“We currently have 11 world champions when you combine both male and female boxers,” said Lejaka, who this week visited Moruti “Babyface” Mthalane at the Hot Box Gym in Johannesburg.
Trained by the polished Colin Nathan, Mthalane is preparing for an International Boxing Federation (IBF) flyweight world title fight next Sunday, where he will challenge Pakistani Muhammad Wassen for the vacant title.
The fight is the main supporting bout for the World Boxing Association welterweight title scrap between Argentine champion Lucas Martin Matthysse and the popular Manny Pacquiao.
Matthysse has held this title since January. He previously held the World Boxing Council interim super lightweight title between 2012 and 2013. He has an impressive record of 39 wins (36 by knockout) and only four losses.
Mthalane is the reigning IBF flyweight champion and is in good company with other South Africans, including Kevin Lerena, Zolani Tete and Simphiwe Khonco, who each hold world titles.
The three have each defended their diadems twice.
“If Moruti wins his upcoming fight, we will stand on 12 world titles. That’s not bad at all, and it’s been a while since South Africa had so many world champions at the same time,” Lejaka said.
“Khonco will be putting his International Boxing Organisation [IBO] mini flyweight crown in line against Toto Landero in Mthatha on July 22.
“Another up for boxing was when Tete spectacularly defended his World Boxing Organisation bantamweight title, in the process rewriting history by recording the fastest world title knockout when he dropped Siboniso Gonya in 11 seconds.”
Lejaka said that, among the local reigning world champions, Gideon Buthelezi had successfully defended his IBO super flyweight title an impressive four times since winning it in December 2015. Two-time BSA female boxer of the year Bukiwe Nonina has already defended her world title twice.
“As they say, numbers don’t lie! When Moruti finally emerges triumphant on Sunday in Kuala Lumpur, we will continue to assert our presence in the high echelons of world boxing rankings. Most importantly, this will be the fourth belt in the deep sea of four major world bodies. It will also be a second IBF title belt that will be in this country.”
We certainly hope Lejaka’s predictions come true.
BEST WISHES Boxing SA chief executive Tsholofelo Lejaka (left) visited Moruti Mthalane at the Hot Box Gym to wish him luck in his upcoming fight