A decision by Phila Mpontshane’s management not to tell him of the hospitalisation of his promoter Mzi Mnguni has proven to be a master stroke.
This after Mpontshane scored an impressive 11th-round knockout over Lucky Monyebane to retain his SA junior-lightweight title at the Portuguese Hall in Johannesburg at the weekend.
Mpontshane, whose first name means “get well”, went to the fight determined to win it for the ailing Mnguni who is recuperating from a heart attack.
The Mdantsane boxer remains the only one from Mnguni’s Eyethu Boxing Club to hold a national title – a stark contrast when the club was renown for producing not only national champions, but also world beaters, including Vuyani Bungu, Welcome Ncita, Zolani Petelo, Mbulelo Botile and Hawk Makepula, to name but a few.
Mpontshane ended the club’s drought when he dethroned Aphiwe Mboyiya in December last year.
And while the boxer was preparing for his maiden title defence against Monyebane, Mnguni took time to pay him numerous visits in training to make sure he was leaving nothing to chance.
This despite the fact that he is wheelchair-bound.
While Mpontshane was travelling to Johannesburg for the fight, Mnguni’s health deteriorated and he was admitted to hospital.
However, the boxer’s management team did not tell him that Mnguni had relapsed.
“I had no idea that bra was readmitted to hospital,” Mpontshane said when asked by the Daily Dispatch.
“Perhaps management hid it from me thinking it could have an adverse effect on me during the fight.”
Mpontshane said he was glad that he successfully retained the title as a loss could have had a negative effect on Mnguni’s health.
“I knew that I was carrying his hopes during the fight but I had no idea that his condition deteriorated.”
Mpontshane was fighting in Johannesburg for the first time and the stoppage win in his opponent’s backyard underlines his talent and determination to go far in boxing.
He described Monyebane as a tough challenger who wanted to win the title at all costs.
“I could see that he badly wanted the title and if I had not prepared for him well, he would have shocked me.”
Mpontshane was in control of the fight all the way and showed no signs of being affected by altitude which often deals a low blow to coastal boxers.
Mpontshane left two days before the fight and his performance – especially stopping his opponent in the late rounds – underlined his fitness.
The win was his 12th, suffering only an odd loss at the hands of his best friend and stablemate Xolani Mcotheli.
Monyebane, who came to the fight with a bold predictions and the big reputation of being trained by boxing legend Harold Volbrecht, suffered his second loss in seven fights.
After his latest win, Mpontsane is gunning for a world-title challenge and with top Johannesburg promoter Rodney Berman now looking after his career at the behest of Mnguni, he will likely get a shot at this weekend’s winner of the fight between Russian Shavkat Rakhimov and Emanuel Lopez of Mexico who will battle for the vacant IBO crown.