World class boxing will return to East London after a lull that sparked concerns that the sport was suffering a slow death.
While the number of tournaments in the boxing-mad region has subsided alarmingly, there are still big promoters who are determined to keep the boxing fires burning.
And the two promoters Xaba Promotions and Events (XPE) and Rumble Africa Promotions are at it again – in the weekend at the end of the month, organising gigantic shows laced with potentially exciting bouts.
XPE will lead the fray on July 28 when it stages the annual Nelson Mandela birthday boxing celebrations at East London Convention Centre.
The event which has already attracted SABC-TV will be headlined by Gideon Buthelezi who defends his IBO junior bantamweight crown against Filipino Ryan Rey.
Buthelezi is fresh from recording the second defence of his crown and XPE boss Ayanda Matiti is manoeuvring Buthelezi to a big fight for one of the major world boxing bodies.
“For now we want to enhance hi international credentials by keeping him active at the international space,” Matiti said.
The event also sees the return of newly-crowned SA junior featherweight king, Ludumo Lamati, who will be engaged in his first international bout against Colombian Luis Melendez.
Lamati will be vying for his second title against Melendez as the IBF Intercontinental belt will be on the line. A decorated amateur star, Lamati’s professional progress has taken a major lift since joining XPE, which has helped him win the national title by dethroning Bongani Mahlangu.
Another forgotten son of boxing, Mzuvukile Magwaca, will make his debut under XPE when he engages in a vacant IBF intercontinental bantamweight clash against Nicaraguan Yesner Talavera.
As is the norm with all XPE promoted events, there will be a local derby comprising Mthatha boxers, when Siphamandla Baleni defends his SA mini-flyweight belt against novice Bangile Nyangani.
“These two boys may have vast difference in fights but they know each other well to make this bout even,” Matiti said.
Two days later, the action shifts to the Orient Theatre where Rumble Africa will provide a battleground aptly coined “Rumble in the Jungle”, when boxing sensation Azinga Fuzile fights Rofhiwa Maemu, in defence of his SA featherweight belt.
Thembelani Nxoshe will finally step into the ring against Xolisile Voyi while Toto Helebe defends his SA bantamweight crown against Cebo Ngema.
While a Fuzile fight cannot be upstaged, the clash for the bantamweight crown will be particularly interesting as the activity for this belt has been dormant for a while.
The title has not been fought for in three years and, coincidentally, the last time it was contested, it produced a controversial fight between Helebe and Ngema. Helebe escaped with a debatable decision and has been fighting in the junior featherweight division ever since, so it will be interesting to see if he will be able to squeeze his body weight down to the bantamweights. — Boxing Mecca