OPINION: Time to throw in the towel on boxers who are past it

The national title is being devalued and fast. That is the conclusion one can draw not because of a series of articles by our sister newspaper, Sunday Times about the alleged rigging of ratings but the two boxers, who will contest for the SA lightweight belt at Turffontein Racecourse in Johannesburg this evening.

The two boxers are veterans Mzonke Fana, who is still listed as champion and an equally washed-up Thompson Mokwana.

Fana is 43 years old and has long gone past his sell-by-date having lost his last three bouts but he still holds the highest honour in national boxing.

Mokwana’s capability is questionable also, having lost all but one of his last five bouts since he surrendered the very same title to Xolisani Ndongeni three years go.

Since then Mokwana only beat hyped Russian, Roman Zhailauov, by split decision in a fight he was extremely lucky to win.

While an argument can be made that his other losses were to credible opposition as he got stopped by Richard Commey before the Ghanaian went on to challenge for the IBF world title, and also to former WBA champion Paulus Moses of Namibia, Mokwana is on the decline of his career, which now boasts 11 defeats and a draw with just 21 wins.

He is a cagey veteran, who should be used to test the rising stars like Zhailauov but for him to be approved to challenge for the national title is a bit of a disservice to boxing.

Fana is also not a spring chicken in boxing terms anymore, with one of his last three losses sparking concerns about his health.

This when he lost a unanimous decision to Emmanuel Togoe of Ghana in a vacant IBO crown, which had been vacated by Ndongeni.

After the fight, Fana convulsed and later collapsed in the ring and was rushed to hospital where he later recovered.

He had already hinted about retiring but surprisingly he accepted another fight against unbeaten German Howik Bebraham, who beat
him on points to take his losses to 12 with 38 wins.

Both boxers are no longer fit to contest for a national title and approving them underlines the depth into which contests for national boxing title has plunged.

Understandably, it would have been a bit tricky to strip Fana of the title based on his latest run but as Boxing SA has argued before the title belongs to it and boxers are simply the representatives.

BSA chief executive Tsholofelo Lejaka promised to monitor Fana’s career after the scare in Ghana and this was expected to mean that he would be required to prove that he is medically fit to continue to fight.

Perhaps he did and the fight against Mokwana will be exciting.

But it still leaves a bad taste in the history of national title contests.

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