By Ron Jackson
In a fascinating battle of veterans Cassius Baloyi and Mzonke Fana meet in a clash for the vacant IBF junior lightweight belt at Carnival City near Brakpan next Wednesday night. Promoter Branco Milenkovic of Branco Sports Productions has put together in South Africa one of the best bills in recent years, when boxing returns to the Carnival City Casino after an absence of five years, which will feature seven outstanding South African fighters and a former Japanese world champion.
Also featured on the card will be Moruti Mthalane vs Zolani Tete for the IBF flyweight belt, Jeffrey Mathebula vs Takalani Ndlovu in an IBF junior featherweight title eliminator and Tshepo Lefele against Katsunari Takayama from Japan in an IBF mini-flyweight title eliminator.
The line-up brings together boxers from Limpopo, where Baloyi and Mathebula were born, the Eastern Cape (Fana and Tete), Kwazulu-Natal (Mthalane), Gauteng (Ndlovu) and Free State (Lefele), as well as the visitor from Osaka, Japan. The 35-year-old Baloyi will be hoping to win an unprecedented seventh belt and Fana, 37, is confident that he can become the IBF junior lightweight champion for the second time. In their first match on April 12, 2008 Baloyi 37-4-1; 19 regained the IBF junior lightweight belt that he had lost to Gairy St Clair in July 2006. Fana allowed Baloyi to take an early lead in the fight and even though he caught up in the later rounds he went on to lose a majority decision with scores of 117-111, 116-112 and 114-114. Baloyi subsequently lost the IBF belt to Malcolm Klassen who lost Roberto Guerrero, who has now relinquished the belt. Despite their ages both fighters are in excellent condition and if Fana has learnt from their first contest he has the skills to upset Baloyi. The officials for the fight are: referee; Deon Dwarte (Cape Town) and judges Neville Hotz (Johannesburg), Alfred Buqwana (Soweto) and Isaac Tshabalala (Cape Town).
In another all South African clash 27-year-old Moruti Mthalane makes the first defence of his IBF flyweight belt that he won in November last year when he outpointed Julio Cesar Miranda of Mexico in a clash for the vacant belt, when he meets the mandatory challenger Zolani Tete, 22. Mthalane 25-2; 16 has fought at a much higher level than the southpaw Tete 13-0; 11 who held the low rent World Boxing Federation belt at one time. In an IBF final eliminator on February 26 this year Tete was unimpressive in scoring a 12 round points decision over the very ordinary Filipino, Richard Garcia. Tete will have to lift his game against the more polished Mthalane and goes into the fight as the underdog. The officials are, referee: Toni Tiberi (Luxemburg), judges, Simon Xamlashe (Boksburg) Wally Snowball (Alberton) and Jaap van Niewenhuizen (Germiston).
Former South African and WBU featherweight and IBO junior featherweight champion Takalani Ndlovu (30-6; 18) takes on Jeffrey Mathebula (23-2-2; 13) in an IBF junior featherweight title eliminator. The taller Mathebula a former WBC International featherweight champion will have his hands full against the more experienced Ndlovu. Officials: referee: Toni Tiberi (Luxemburg); Judge’s: Simon Xamlashe (Boksburg), Wally Snowball (Alberton), Jaap van Niewenhuizen (Germiston). In the fourth top-liner on the bill South African minimumweight champion Tshepo Lefele 16-4; 10 faces the biggest test of his career when he meets the former WBC minimumweight champion Katsunari Takayama 23-4; 9 of Japan in an IBF mini-flyweight title eliminator.
In his most recent fight in July last year Takayama lost on points to possibly the best minmumweight fighter in the world, Roman Gonzalez (25-0; 21) when challenging for the WBA minimumweight belt. The winner of this fight will earn the right to challenge South Africa’s IBF minimumweight champion Nkosinathi Joyi. Officials: referee; Deon Dwarte (Cape Town), Judge’s: Toni Tiberi (Luxemburg), Alfred Buqwana (Soweto), Isaac Tshabalala (Cape Town).