Nhlanhla “24” Ngamntwini is one of those boxers who were anointed as future champions in their professional debuts.
In his first fight in the paid ranks Ngamntwini captured the attention of the boxing fraternity when he tore into Msindisi Mathibe knocking him out in the very first round.
The Duncan Village youngster was seen as an heir apparent to Nkosinathi “Mabhere” Joyi in the mini-flyweight division.
“What do you think of this boy,” his then manager Mzi Mnguni asked this scribe.
While this scribe fumbled for an answer, it was obvious Mnguni wanted just a confirmation of his own views on the potential of the youngster.
After all Mnguni had played a role in the development of Joyi before he became the top boxer in the division in the world.
“I think this boy possesses the athleticism of Roy Jones Jnr in his prime,” I said, trying to be diplomatic by not saying Ngamntwini lacked boxing fundamentals.
But like Jones Jnr he was able to get away with that technical flaw as his athleticism helped him to beat opponents in impressive style.
For instance, Ngamntwini was able to get off with his punches without setting them up with feints of jabs.
But when he was met with a seasoned campaigner in Simpiwe Konkco this shortcoming was ruthlessly exposed when Konkco iced him with a picture-perfect left hook to hand him his first defeat.
The loss cooled down predictions of a future champion allowing his technical team to refine his boxing makeup.
Five years later and now fighting as a flyweight, Ngamntwini finally gets a chance to fulfil that championship pedigree when he challenges Thembelani Nxoshe for the SA flyweight crown at Orient Theatre this evening.
The boy has matured and having returned from a brief stint in Johannesburg to his childhood trainer Ben Mtyaliselo he believes that his time is now.
“Now I know what I want and the trials and tribulations I have encountered will help me in this fight,” he said.
Ngamntwini says the fact that the opportunity comes when he has turned 24 years is a good omen for his “24” moniker.
“I am 24 years old and my nickname is “24” so you can see that this moment is for me.” he said.
Ngamntwini displayed a chiselled body at the premedical of the fight to underline his readiness to ascend the throne.
In fact his body frame appeared bigger than a flyweight boxer and being blessed with power may swing matters to his favour.
But in Nxoshe he will face an opponent who knows how to win in the ring either by hook or by crook.
Nxoshe does not mind using all sorts of tricks, some bordering on fouls, to outwit his opponents.
In his last bout this past July against Xolisile Voyi, Nxoshe took him to deep waters through a combination of roughhouse tactics and drowned him there.
Any referee assigned to officiate Nxoshe’s bout knows of a hard time he/she will experience.
But Ngamntwini, whose loss to Konkco remains his lone blemish in 14 bouts, has seen and done it all.
“We are not worried about Nxoshe’s dirty antics,” said Mtyaliselo.
“We will go in there and do what we are supposed to do.”
Should Ngamntwini win he will become the second national champion from the underrated Mtyaliselo tutelage having recently guided Yanga Sigqibo to an impressive dethronement of Lindile Tshemese for the SA junior-bantamweight crown.
l Meanwhile, the SA junior-welterweight title defence by Xolani Mcotheli of East London against Michael Mokoena at Carousel in Hamanskraal this evening has been called off. — Boxing Mecca