Phila Mpontshane has vowed to retain his SA title in honour of his ailing promoter Mzi Mnguni.
This when the lone champion in Mnguni’s Eyethu Boxing Club defends his SA junior-lightweight belt against North West-born Lucky Mbonyane at Portuguese Hall in Johannesburg on Sunday.
Mnguni is wheelchair-bound after suffering a heart attack and his boxing involvement has been greatly limited.
And Mpontshane whose name translates to ‘get well’ believes that his win will have a positive effect on the ailing boxing legend.
“Bra Mzi has been visiting me in training to see how I am doing so I cannot afford to lose this title,” he said.
“I am his hope and as you know my name means ‘get well’ this is my way of saying get well bra Mzi.”
Mpontshane is not perturbed by having to go to Gauteng for his first defence of a title he lifted from Aphiwe Mboyiya last December despite being a champion due to the inability of Mnguni to promote him due to his poor condition.
The fight will be part of Trilogy Boxing Festival organised by newly formed Unleashed Promotions in association with Mpontshane’s new promoter Golden Gloves Promotion (GGP).
However to Mpontshane that is no big deal even though he will be fighting in Gauteng for the first time as professional having last fought there as an amateur.
Coastal boxers have struggled to acclimatise in the high altitude of Gauteng leading to many of them losing the bouts not because of the ability of their opponents.
“I have often heard of the high altitude of Gauteng but we have a way of countering it,” said Mpontshane.
His plan is to leave for Gauteng tomorrow afternoon for the final weigh-in on Saturday.
“They say if you leave a day before the fight the altitude does not affect you but if you stay there for a week then you are likely to encounter problems.”
Indeed several East London boxers such as Giovanni Bushby and Siyabonga Siyo nearly succumbed to the altitude.
In fact Siyo nearly withdrew from his IBO mini-flyweight title clash against Simpiwe Konkco when he caught flu after leaving windows of his hotel room open.
Although Siyo soldiered on, there was no doubt that the sickness affected him during the fight.
Bushby also suffered when he took a swim in Gauteng shortly before his fight against Dowayne Combrink.
But Mpontshane has allayed fears of such setback affecting him.
After all he wants to impress his new promoter GGP who signed him at the behest of Mnguni.
Mpontshane knows that GGP boss Rodney Berman is a hard man to please especially when dealing with Eastern Cape boxers. His friend Xolisani “Nomeva” Ndongeni is testament to that having being frozen out for long spells before being released.