By Ron Jackson
Patrick Malinga returns to action for the first time since winning the South African lightweight title in August last year when he meets Romeo Jako from the Philippines. The Branco Sports Productions tournament is being staged at the Nasrec Indoor Arena in Johannesburg on Friday night. This begins an impressive run of big fights presented by promoter Branco Milenkovic.
The 31-year-old Malinga 22-6-2; 19 who won the SA title in a gruelling match against Amon Baloyi is far more experienced than the 20-year-old Jako who has a reported record of 9-2; 4 and has fought mostly at junior lightweight. Jako from Dikos del Sur in the Philippines whose birth name is Jakosalem lost to William Kickett on points in February last year and then scored wins over Elme Colve, William Jorge and Glen Masicampo. He has never been beyond ten rounds.
Malinga made his pro debut in April 1997 when he fought to a draw with Johan Jacobs. He then won nine in a row before suffering his first loss in August 1999 when he was stopped in the eighth round by Khayalethu Booi in Secunda. Four of his other losses have all been inside the distance against Mzonke Fana, Matthew Zulu, Alex Arthur and Isaac Hlatshwayo. The only other loss on his record was on points against Benedict Dlamini in July 2005. Since then he has racked up seven wins with six inside the distance and if he carries the form of his winning fight against Baloyi into the ring on Friday against Jako the fans could be in for another short night.
Promoter Branco Milenkovic has a busy schedule ahead of him in the next few months with his boxers involved in international fights and eliminators around the globe.
On Saturday February 14 South African junior middleweight champion Vincent Vuma 26-3; 25 challenges Hamlet Petrosyn, 33, of Armenia in Salle des Fetes in Switzerland for the IBF Intercontinental junior middleweight title.
The taller Petrosyn is an experienced campaigner and the 32-year-old South African could be in for a hard nights work.
On February 27 at the Nasrec Indoor Arena, Johannesburg the South African mini flyweight champion Tshepo Lefele 14-4; 8 makes the first defence of his title when faces Sakhumzi Mqadaru who has a reported record of 6-4-3; 4.
Simphiwo Nongqayai 15-0; 6 the 38-year-old World Boxing Federation junior bantamweight belt holder meets the 27-year-old Mexican Francisco Arce 28-4-2; 19 in an IBF super flyweight title eliminator.
On March 6 Branco returns to the Nasrec Indoor Arena in Johannesburg when South African junior lightweight champion Jasper Seroka 19-1; 8 makes the first defence of his title when he meets Warren Joubert who has a reported record of 13-01; 8.
Milenkovic then travels to Kobe in Japan on March 12 when Vusi Malinga 18-2-1; 11 challenges Hozumi Hasegawa 25-2; 9 for the WBC bantamweight belt.
Milenkovic who is possibly one of the busiest promoters in the world also has the following fights lined up with the dates and venues still to be announced; Cassius Baloyi vs. Malcolm Klassen for the IBF junior lightweight belt; Silence Mabuza vs. Yohnnhy Perez (IBF bantamweight title eliminator); Isaac Hlatshwayo vs. Joshua Clottey (IBF welterweight title eliminator) and Jeffrey Mathebula vs. Celestino Cabellero (IBF and WBA junior featherweight belts).