Mandela boxing returns to the East London International Convention Centre – a venue where it was first launched three years ago – when Xaba Promotions and Events organise the fourth edition tonight.
It has been a long road for the ambitious project which remains the only one to honour the former struggle icon who had passion for boxing.
The event now forms the crucial part of the SA boxing calendar and tonight it will carve yet another niche when boxers from different parts of the world use it as a battleground.
“When we conceived this project three years ago we never imagined it would develop into this magnitude,” said XPE boss Ayanda Matiti.
“But it has now developed into an international event and the fact that it remains as the only one which honours Madiba through sport is more than we could have bargained for.”
Once again the bill will be topped by a world title clash when Gideon Buthelezi of Gauteng returns to risk his IBO junior-bantamweight belt against Filipino Ryan Ponteras.
Buthelezi has bad memories of the venue as it was where he was denied a victory against the then champion Lwandile Sityatha when they battled it out for the very same title.
Buthelezi appeared to have outboxed Sityatha but was somehow declared the loser.
He was to redeem himself though when he finally managed to win it when he beat Makazole Tete for the vacant crown.
XPE newbie Ludumo Lamati will also feature in the event taking on Colombian Luis Melendez for the IBF intercontinental crown while prospects Uyanda Nogogo and Sikho will get an opportunity to showcase their talent in front of the big audience.
Fight-starved Mvuzukile Magwaca will make his debut under XPE battling for the IBF Intercontinental bantamweight title.
Already Magwaca has cracked the IBF ratings through XPE’s influence and will take on Nicaraguan Yesner Talavera who hails from a country renowned for producing fine boxers including the all conquering Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, who remains a pound for pound star in some experts’ opinions.
The biggest interest will be the Battle of Mthatha when Siphamandla Baleni and Bangile Nyangani lock horns for the SA mini-flyweight title as well as the honour of being the boxing son of the city of Mthatha.
Despite the vast discrepancy in their fight records with Nyangani having only fought four times compared to Baleni’s 13 bouts, the clash promises to produce fireworks.
lTickets are already selling at Computickets R180 while tables are going for R2000. — Boxing Mecca