By Ron Jackson
Promoter Branco Milenkovic of Branco Sports Productions has lined up a number of world title eliminators and challenges for world titles for South African boxers in 2009. Branco fighters include Siphiwo Nongqayi, Ali Funeka, Vusi Malinga, Cassius Baloyi, Malcolm Klassen, Silence Mabuza, Moruti Mthalane, Jeffrey Mathebula, Evans Mbamba and Simphiwe Vetyeka among others.
The current WBF junior bantamweight champion Siphiwo Nongqayi meets Mexican Francisco Arce in an IBF junior bantamweight title eliminator in Mexico City on February 28.
The winner of the this bout will qualify to meet the winner of the WBA, IBF and WBC title fight between champion Vic Darchinyan and Jorge Arce who fight on February 7 in Anaheim, California.
On February 14 in Chicago Ali Funeka will be involved in the biggest challenge of his life when meets IBF and WBO lightweight champion Nate Campbell.
This challenge came about through Milenkovic who was joint promoter and negotiated the IBF lightweight title eliminator on July 5 last year when Funeka scored a sensational fourth round stoppage win over Zahir Raheem. .
However, shortly afterwards Funeka dumped Milenkovic.
On March 12 former South African bantamweight champion and WBC International bantamweight champion Vusi Malinga challenges WBC bantamweight champion Hozumi Hasegawa of Japan in Japan.
Malinga qualified to challenge Hasegawa when in a major upset he stopped the highly rated Thailander Veeraphol Sahaprom in his home country in June last year.
Following on from this Milenkovic will stage one of the most eagerly awaited fights in recent years when in April at a venue still to be announced IBF junior lightweight champion Cassius Baloyi defends his belt against stable-mate and former IBF champion Malcolm Klassen.
IBO bantamweight champion Silence Mabuza will be in action shortly at a date to still be announced when he faces unbeaten Colombian Yonnhy Perez 18-0; 13 in an IBF bantamweight title eliminator.
The winner of the Mabuza – Perez bout will be in line to challenge Ghana’s Joseph Agbeko for the IBF belt.
Moruti Mthalane who lost to IBF flyweight champion Filipino Nonito Donaire on a cut eye stoppage in November last year will possibly fight for the vacant IBF flyweight belt, as it is anticipated that the champion Donaire will move up to the junior bantamweight division to challenge WBO champion Fernando Montiel of Mexico in March.
Other fighters from the Branco stable who will be challenging for world belts are Jeffrey Mathebula who meets IBF and WBA junior featherweight champion Celestine Caballero from Mexico shortly and mandatory WBC super flyweight mandatory challenger Evans Mbamba.
Another Branco fighter who must come in contention for a world title challenge is South African bantamweight champion Simphiwe Vetyeka who is currently ranked at number two in the most recent WBC rankings.
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Meanwhile it has been announced that the Boxing SA National Awards and Convention will be held in held in Bloemfontein in the first or second week of February. Nominations for the various award categories to be voted for by the media are to be released shortly.