SA fighters get another shot
Vusi Malinga (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Three South African fighters who have held IBF titles at one time or another are being afforded the opportunity of regaining the honour.
Promoter Branco Milenkovic said on Thursday that Vusi Malinga, Jeffrey Mathebula and Takalani Ndlovu would all feature on Branco Sports Promotion's African Glory 3 bill at Carnival City on March 23.
Malinga, a two-time former champion, would meet Filipino Diarh Gabutan in an eliminator for the IBF bantamweight title and Mathebula and Ndlovu would square up in an eliminator for the IBF junior-featherweight crown.
"The three South African contenders all lost their last fights with honour and are still highly rated by the IBF, who have recognised their right to reclaim their titles," Milenkovic said.
"Mathebula and Ndlovu in the same ring is one of the most exciting rivalries in South African boxing after each won closely-contested victories in their two previous encounters, and this will be something of a decider for them."
Ndlovu was given the verdict in a hotly-contested and controversial title eliminator against Mathebula before going on to shock the international fraternity by outclassing long-time Canadian champion Steve Molitor to claim the belt in one of the boxing upsets of the year.
The boot was on the other foot when Ndlovu gave his close rival a shot at the title and this time finished as the loser.
Mathebula lost the IBF title in a championship unification bout with the formidable Nonito Donaire, rated among the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world by the influential Ring Magazine, courageously seeing out the 12 rounds with a broken jaw.
"The IBF have recognised Mathebula's brave display by now classifying him as a title contender, in spite of the fact that he was kept out of boxing for more than six months because of his broken jaw," Milenkovic said.
He added that the 33 year-old Malinga was being rewarded in a similar manner by the IBF for his impressive performance while losing his title fight to Leo Santa Cruz in Los Angeles.
Milenkovic said the remainder of the African Glory 3 bill would be announced within the next week, and he promised a tournament that would match the exciting levels of the previous African Glory events when boxing was last featured at Carnival City more than a year ago.