Johannesburg - Fresh from winning the African Boxing Union cruiserweight title, Thabiso “The Rock” Mchunu has set himself the target of emulating homeboy Thulani “Sugarboy” Malinga by wining the World Boxing Council title.
Mchunu has vowed to accomplish this before he hangs up his gloves in four years’ time.
The strong fighter from Cato Ridge in KwaZulu-Natal put up an impressive showing by beating Johnny Muller via a unanimous points decision in an exciting clash to win the vacant cruiserweight title at Emperors Palace last Saturday.
Lifted the same crown
Sugarboy, born in Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal, caused a stir by dethroning Englishman Nigel Benn via a split points decision at Telewest Arena in Newcastle, UK, to lift the WBC super middleweight crown in 1996.
This made him South Africa’s first fighter to capture the crown of the prestigious sanctioning body.
He was subsequently followed by Dingaan “The Rose” Thobela, who lifted the same crown after knocking out Englishman Glenn Catley in the 12th round at Carnival City four years later.
The Rock enthralled his fans last Saturday by using an educated left jab and powerful hooks to take the stuffing out of the overrated Muller for the better part of the contest.
“I’m pleased to win the ABU title because I believe this will pave the way for me to be ranked by the WBC and, ultimately, challenge for the cruiserweight crown,” said Mchunu.
“It will be great to be the second boxer from KwaZulu-Natal after my idol Sugarboy to win a WBC title before I call it a day".
The WBC diadem is currently held by Marco Huck, and Mchunu entertains hopes of seeing himself exchanging blows against the Latvian in the near future.
Having beaten Muller, The Rock, who has compiled a record of 18 wins – 11 by knockout – and three defeats from 21 professional fights, sees himself firmly entrenched as the ABU kingpin.
Big world title
Mchunu, who was trained by his father while still campaigning in the amateur ranks, is currently guided by Shaun Smith in Johannesburg.
Mchunu won the ABU belt for the first time in 2012 by outpointing Danie Venter at Emperors Palace. However, he was stripped of the crown in 2013 for being inactive.
Mchunu’s father, a warrant officer at Camperdown Police Station in Cato Ridge, hailed his son for his talent.
“He’s always had a great left jab and it’s made him good inside the ring. What I like about him is his deep love for boxing.
"There is no doubt that he will win a big world title in future,” said Mchunu senior.
He said his son reminded him of erstwhile world welterweight king Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker, who was one of the best southpaws in the division during his fighting days.
Smith said plans were in the pipeline for The Rock to engage in the WBC international championship match soon.
“[Promoter] Rodney Berman is busy arranging something for him because he needs to be kept busy,” said Smith.