Johannesburg - Mzonke Fana says he was baffled to hear on the radio that he had been stripped of his World Boxing Federation (WBF) international lightweight title.
The 43-year-old, known as The Rose of Khayelitsha, won the then vacant crown by beating Said Zungu by a unanimous points decision at Graceland Casino, Secunda, in August last year.
The Western Cape-born boxer has not put his championship belt on the line since then and claims he could not secure any challengers.
Fana lost to Tunisian Hedi Slimani by a unanimous points decision for the vacant African Boxing Union title in Belgium in November last year.
Then, in December, he stopped Xolani Mcotheli in the eighth round to be crowned interim World Boxing Organisation (WBO) Africa titlist at the Orient Theatre in East London.
In March, he beat Vusumzi Bokolo in seven rounds for the South African championship, also at the Orient Theatre.
“I was surprised to learn from the radio that my title had been taken away without my knowledge, and has been declared vacant,” said Fana.
“The WBF should have at least had the decency to inform me of its decision to take my belt and hear my [side of the] story as to why I’ve been inactive. But it just made the decision. This is disappointing because [failure] to secure opponents was not my fault.”
But Fana, who lost to Welshman Terry Flanagan by a unanimous points decision for the WBO diadem at the Ice Arena Wales in Cardiff, Wales, in July, said he would now focus on his African and national crowns.
Meanwhile, memories of world boxing title fights of old that were fought locally will be revived on Sunday afternoon when Simphiwe “Chain Reaction” Khonco and Nkosinathi “Mabhere” Joyi meet at the Orient Theatre.
At stake during the tournament, which is organised by SuperSport and Golden Gloves, will be Khonco’s International Boxing Organisation (IBO) straw weight crown. The crunch fight will pit the two Eastern Cape pugilists against each another in a global championship fight contest.
This encounter will remind boxing lovers of the halcyon days when some of South Africa’s top gladiators traded punches in global championship fights that were staged here (see box).
Sunday's slugfest, in particular, is likely to re-enact the memorable WBO light-flyweight scrap between Jacob “Baby Jake” Matlala and Masibulele “Hawk” Makepula that was contested at Carnival City in Brakpan in 2000.
It is well-documented that Matlala lost his crown by a unanimous decision. The 30-year-old Khonco, who hails from Mthatha, won the then vacant crown by beating Siyabonga Siyo by a unanimous decision at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park in June.
He comes into the ring with a record of 16 wins and five defeats in 21 fights. Mabhere, who is three years the champion’s senior, is an experienced customer with 26 victories and four losses in 30 fights. He is from Mdantsane in East London.
“As the champion, I have to dish out a good fight by winning and keeping my title intact. This clash means a lot to me. I will beat Mabhere and satisfy my fans,” Khonco said.
Mabhere said a new champion would be crowned on Sunday afternoon: “Look, I’m more experienced than Khonco, having had more fights than him. I will be fighting in front of my home fans and should take him out in the first six rounds.”
Joyi previously held the International Boxing Federation and IBO belts.
The tournament is dedicated to ailing East London mentor Mzimasi Mnguni. The 67-year-old trainer and promoter produced many world winners in the province.
The main supporting bout on the five-bout card will be the African Boxing Union middleweight match between Lee Dyer and Giovanni Bushby. Another clash will be the Eastern Cape featherweight encounter between Lwandile Zinto and Aphiwe Masangwana.
WBF president Howard Goldberg said they stripped Mzonke of his title because he had been inactive for 15 months