Buthelezi ready to win WBC belt
Gideon Buthelezi (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Despite the problems he faced finding suitable sparring partners in preparation for the fight, IBO junior-flyweight champion Gideon Buthelezi is confident he will become the first South African in 11 years to win a WBC world title.
Buthelezi will challenge Adrian Hernandez for the WBC junior-flyweight belt in Monterrey, Mexico, on September 24.
"His training has been good, and he's worked very hard, but it's been difficult to prepare for this fight," Buthelezi's trainer, Elias Tshabalala, said on Tuesday.
"For a world title fight, you've got to put in the extra effort, but finding sparring partners for him has been difficult.
"The guys his weight can't last two minutes in the ring with him, so he knocked them all out and we ran out of partners.
"We then had to find welterweights, and heavier guys, for him to train with."
Tshabalala, however, said the problems they faced in the build-up would work in Buthelezi's favour when he stepped into the ring with Hernandez.
The Mexican, according to Tshabalala, had a similar style to South African Hekkie Budler, who lost the IBO title to Buthelezi at Emperors Palace in January.
"We've watched some video clips of him, and he's a 'come forward' fighter," Tshabalala said.
"He's powerful, but he's not very quick, so he fights a lot like Hekkie Budler.
"Sparring against the bigger guys was a big help in the end because Gideon needed to learn how to avoid big punches and deal with the power that Hernandez will bring to the ring."
Dingaan Thobela was the last South African to hold a WBC title, having secured the super-middlewight belt in September 2000.
The only other SA fighter to triumph in a WBC title fight was Thulani "Sugarboy" Malinga who twice held the super-middleweight title in the late 1990s.
With an opportunity to put South Africa back on the WBC map, and add a third world title to his budding collection - he is also a former IBO strawweight champion - Buthelezi said he was ready for the challenge.
"Hernandez thinks he's in for an easy fight, but I would beg to differ," said the 25-year-old southpaw.
"This is a great chance for me and he's in for a tough fight.
"I've put the effort in, I've worked hard, and I'm confident I will bring the title home."
If Buthelezi was mentally prepared when he stepped in the ring, Tshabalala warned that Hernandez, who defends his title for the first time, would find himself in a world of trouble.
"If Gideon's mind is there on the day of the fight, Hernandez won't touch him," he said.
"It was a big mistake for him to choose Gideon for his title defence.
"Gideon has speed, movement and power. He has everything."