He may only been 19 years old but Sivenathi Nontshinga is ready for the big league.
His handlers including his father Thembani Gopheni, who also trains him, have issued a challenge to any boxer in the junior-flyweight including reigning champion Bongani Silila.
And judging by the last bouts of both Silila and the teen, the passing of the torch is highly likely.
Silila struggled mightily against poorly conditioned Luyanda Nkwankwa before forcing a stoppage win in 10 rounds when Nkwankwa got tired of fighting.
On the other hand, Nontshinga was his brilliant self when he destroyed Nwabisile Cholani of Cape Town in five rounds.
This was when he fully displayed his impeccable skills.
Fighting only his fourth professional bout, Nontshinga displayed a matured boxing makeup incorporated by a cunning counter-punching ability to score his fourth stoppage in as many fights.
Popularly known as V12 after the region’s multiple world champion Simpiwe Vetyeka, Nontshinga, who wants to be known as the “Special One”, cruised into control as he made Cholani miss and pay severely.
Now his handlers would not mind for him to be pitted against Nkwankwa to position him for an assault on a fading Silila.
“Nkwankwa would be a good test because beating him would lead us straight to Silila,” said Gopheni.
If comparisons are needed one would argue that Nontshinga already holds an upper hand having stopped Cholani when Nkwankwa needed the scheduled rounds to beat him
The teen seemed to be ready for Silila now with his athleticism and youth putting him in good stead to deal with any roughhouse tricks Silila may come up with.
If anything, the fight against Nkwankwa proved that Silila’s days as a champion are numbered.
He may even lose his title in his very next fight making the decision to position Nontshinga for a shot the more urgent.
While Nontshinga is already showing advanced development for a boxer of his age, Gopheni does not want to blindly throw in the little dynamite against anyone.
“He is still young so we need to maximise his potential by matching him properly. I know he believes he can beat up every junior-flyweight in the land and he is probably right but as his handlers that is where we’re coming in to protect him.”
Mixing good looks and charisma, Nontshinga is just one of the few boxers who possess crossover appeal even to casual boxing fans.
Already female fans are swooning over him as he is consolidating a fan base which is rare for boxers of his age.
There is no doubt he will be the next superstar in the region only if he keeps winning.
And such accomplishment will not be his alone but that of his Chicken Farm community situated at the entrance to Mdantsane township.
But according to Gopheni that is another trait of stardom for the boxer as he displays maturing both inside and out of the ring. “I do not have to worry if I am not in the gym because I know Nontshinga will carry out training duties of other boxers. He is such a responsible young man.”
It is a pity there are scarcity of TV networks and not a big pool of promoters who can take the boxer to the next level. Otherwise if he was in US he would already be a star in the mould of Diego De la Hoya who is already making waves despite not yet winning a world title.