By Ron Jackson
Three South Africans Philip Ndou, Ali Funeka and Thomas Mashaba will be involved in career defining fights overseas in February and March. First up is Phillip Ndou, 31, who returns to the ring after an absence of nearly five years when he faces Rachid Drilzane 15-6; 1 from France in San Quentin, France on February 14 in a scheduled ten round welterweight contest. Ndou who lost his last two fights to Floyd Mayweather in 2003 and to Isaac Hlatshwayo in 2004 will have a lot of ring rust to knock off, but he should not have to many problems with the light punching 30-year-old Drilzane who has only one inside the distance win on his record and that was on his pro debut in April 2003.
In his most recent fight in November last year the Frenchman was outpointed by Ismael El Massoudi when challenging for the French light welterweight title.
This fight will be on the undercard of the IBF featherweight title bout between Mexican Cristobal Cruz 37-11-1; 23 and Frenchman Cyril Thomas 33-2-4; 10.
Also on February 14 Ali Funeka 30-1-2; 25 faces the biggest test of his career when he challenges Nate Campbell 32-5-1; 25 for IBF and WBO lightweight belts in Sunrise, Florida.
Campbell who will be 37 on March 3 is an experienced campaigner and has been in with some the best fighters in lightweight division. He caused a major upset in March last year when he beat the previously unbeaten Juan Diaz to win the IBF, WBA and WBO lightweight belts.
He recently relinquished the WBA belt as he was unable to meet the mandatory challenger.
The odds are in favour of the more experienced champion but the 30-year-old Funeka, provided he does not freeze on his first fight outside South Africa is always in with a punchers chance.
The 35-year-old Thomas Mashaba 20-2-4; 13 has a chance to get his career back on track when he faces Mexico’s Fernando Beltran Jr. 31-3-1; 18 for the IBO featherweight belt on March 20 at a venue still to be announced in the US.
Beltran, 27, won the vacant IBO belt in August last year when he outpointed South Africa’s Takalani Ndlovu.
Mashaba a former IBO junior feather and featherweight champion has only had two fights since December 2006, a win over Eric Aiken in November 2007 and a loss to Cristobel Cruz in March 2008.
Beltran is an experienced campaigner and the odds will be stacked against Mashaba.
Former WBF, South African and WBC International welterweight champion Bongani Mwelase 13-0; 12 is scheduled to fight on the undercard.
Rodney Berman of Golden Gloves Promotions has released the full bill for his tournament to be held at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park on March 21.
In the main event Zolani Marali will meet Thailand’s Fahsai Sakkreenin over 12 rounds for the vacant IBO junior lightweight belt.
In the opening bout of the evening former Olympian Jackson Chauke will fight Peter Phelane over four rounds and Octavius Mbira meets Sibusiso Khumalo in the junior lightweight division.
Heavyweight Jake Els will face Zimbabwe’s Thamsanqa Dube for the WBA Pan African heavyweight title over 12 rounds and Hekkie Budler hopes to win his first international title when he meets fellow South African Charrit Mukondeleli over 12 rounds for the vacant IBO Pan African junior flyweight title.
Jarred Lovett faces his first imported opponent when comes up against Thailand’s Anont Donpradith in a scheduled eight rounder and American Olympian Demetrius Andrade has his third professional fight when fights Brian Hlophe of South Africa in welterweight six rounder.
Meanwhile Boxing SA has announced that their annual awards will be held at Carnival City, Brakpan on February 20.
Jabulani Malinga Johnny du Plooy, Lennox Mpulampula and Nick Durandt have been nominated for trainer of the year.
Amandla Promotions who staged the Baby Champs finals are on one of the nominations for most promising promoter of the year.
Branco Milenkovic and Jacob Matlala of Branco Sports Productions have been nominated for the promoter of the year award. It has also been mentioned that Milenkovic could receive a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Other nominations in this category are Pat Molefe of Rainbow Promotions, Koko Godlo’s KK Production and Blacky Seoe’s Robs Promotions.