The Mercury

White Buffalo in talks with Holyfield

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FRANCOIS “The White Buffalo” Botha is set for a collision course with four-time heavyweigh­t champ Evander Holyfield after he beat young pretender Flo Simba in a nontitle fight at Emperors Palace in Joburg yesterday.

The 42-year-old Botha floored Simba in the sixth round and in the process reignited his flailing boxing career.

This fight also confirmed that the wily veteran still had a lot of big fights in him after critics labelled him a has-been.

Botha said offers had already streamed in for more internatio­nal bouts.

“I am busy with negotiatio­ns with the WBF for a rematch with Evander Holyfield somewhere in Africa, a fight in Brazil, the Bahamas and Japan,” he said after the bout.

Botha lost to Holyfield just over a year ago in the eighth round in a fringe WBF fight.

In yesterday’s clash it was his 56-match experience in the ring that outwitted the 21-yearold Simba.

The first three rounds of the match were evenly contested, but as it drew to the end Botha seemed to run out of steam.

Botha, however, said he still had a lot in reserve.

“What people didn’t know was that as my fights progress I get better,” he said.

“I told my trainer that as soon as I could read Simba and see where he was making his mistakes, I would take him down.”

Botha kept on looking for the one heavy bomb that would send his opponent to the floor.

By the fifth round, neither fighter showed any composure as they exchanged heavy blows at will.

It was only in the sixth round that Botha got a breakthrou­gh and his shots connected where it mattered.

Late in the sixth round, his storming blows sent Simba into the ropes and forced referee Thabo Spampool to stop the fight.

In victory, Botha scored his 29th knockout, while Simba suffered the first loss of his profession­al career.

Botha said Simba’s camp underestim­ated him and tried to undermine him by broadcasti­ng his loss to Lennox Lewis on the big screens at centre court.

“The Lewis fight was one of my worst,” he insisted.

“Against Mike Tyson I had over 200 rounds behind my name, while I didn’t even have 20 before the Lewis bout.

“The difference between those two matches was massive and by showing the Lewis fight they tried to unsettle me.”

He said Simba had not exchanged blows with proper opposition before this fight.

“Any boxer can look like a million dollars against a boxing bag, but it is different when you put someone in front of him,” he said.

“I believe the boxers Simba fought against before this fight were boxing bags.”

Botha, however, conceded that the heavyweigh­t prospect was a good fighter with a good left and right hook.

“I knew he wouldn’t be able to hook me with the left and kept on moving towards his right-hand side.”

“His mistake was to move into me as I replied with righthand blows.”

The White Buffalo said he had given Simba advice and encouragem­ent after the fight.

“I told him to believe that he is the best in the world and to use this fight as part of a learning curve,” he said. “I see a world champion in him and he needs to believe in himself and keep on training hard.”

Simba’s manager, Brian Mitchell, said as much as the loss was a setback to the boxer, it wasn’t the end of the world.

“Botha’s experience showed against Simba’s inexperien­ce, but he looked the part for five rounds,” said Mitchell. – Sapa

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