The night of Friday April the 20 is set to be remembered for eternity by the passionate, action-starved Cape Town boxing enthusiasts.
The tournament at the popular Oliver Tambo Hall in Khayelitsha , to be headlined by the long-awaited, often antagonistic all-South African IBF junior lightweight world title fight between Malcolm Klaasen and Mzonke Fana, is set to be a cracker.
True, as always, to their pledge to the fans, who support boxing through thick and thin, multi award-winning co-promoters Branco Milenkovic and Baby Jake Matlala of Branco Sports Productions (BSP) have promised to dish up a fistic feast.
The two boxing powerhouses have put their heads together to create a tournament with a scheduled 64 rounds of action on the card (eight fights), including three Western Cape provincial titles and a showcase of nothing less but five of the country’s top “Baby Champs”.
In most countries, and even in our own backyard at times, a boxing spectacle of this caliber would seem out of reach to the average “Joe Public”, but Milenkovic and Matlala underlined their reputation as “The Peoples Promoters” by pegging the admission prices back to just R50-00.
“Why Khayelitsha for a world title fight of such magnitude ? ” is a question that most boxing pundits are asking.
Milenkovic, as always, answers sporadically: “ We are not going back there to make money, but to produce an unforgettable evening of boxing which features an IBF world title fight for the first time in the Western Cape.”
“We are very well aware of the tough economic climate in Khayelitsha and the last thing we want to do is burn large holes in boxing fans’ pockets to see their icon Mzonke Fana fight for a world title a stone throw away from his own home,” added Milenkovic.
As the fight date draws nearer, many boxing pundits and the media are beginning to lean towards the mandatory challenger Fana, fondly dubbed “The Rose of Khayelitsha”, to walk away with the title.
Although both boxers sport very similar ring records, careful scrutiny of Fana’s career (25 wins, 3 losses) will show that he has a better pedigree and has had far more exposure to the big championship occasions than that of the champion Klaasen (19 wins, 3 losses, 2 draws).
In his 28 professional contests, Fana has been involved in 16 championship fights (9 SA title fights, 5 WBC International bouts, a WBC world title eliminator and a WBC world championship fight).
Klaasen, by contrast, has contested five championship fights (4 SA title fights and a world title fight), but proved that a track record counts for little when he upset St Claire, to become the IBF champion.
The fight between the two South African junior lightweights is not only a battle for IBF championship honours. It’s also another episode in the ongoing power struggle between Fana and Klaasen’s promotional backers as well as the country’s two most powerful broadcasting networks.
When one looks at the blanket admission price of just R50-00, then there is no doubt that the “House Full” signs will go up at the landmark Oliver Tambo Hall on the outskirts of South Africa’s “Mother City” on April 20.
Meanwhile, last weekend’s overwhelming success for BSP-linked boxers, has opened up many doors for the consortium to pursue in the coming months. Two of BSP’s charges, Zukisani Kwayiba and Ali Funeka, retained their respective WBC International titles in East London.
Kwayiba was particularly impressive, stopping former national champion Sithembile Kibiti in one round at the Orient Theatre last Friday night, while Funeka retained his WBC International lightweight title with a points victory over the previously unbeaten Yakubu Amidu (13-0- 13 ko’s) of Ghana.
The cherry on top came at the famous Olympia Hall in Munich, Germany on Saturday, where BSP’s national welterweight champion Lucky Lewele won the WBC International title via an 8th round TKO against the highly regarded WBC # 5 contender Alpaslan Aguzum in front of a capacity 14,000 crowd.