Gym squabble results in bout
An altercation in the Mayweather gymnasium between Xolisani “Nomeva” Ndongeni and Devin Haney a while back planted the seeds for their last weekend bout in the US.
Ndongeni lost the fight via a unanimous decision but put up a gusty display against the unbeaten US prospect tipped to follow on the footstep of Floyd Mayweather.
The fight for the WBO Intercontinental and WBC International lightweight titles was conceived in the Mayweather gymnasium in Las Vegas in 2017.
According to Ndongeni, he was engaged in a sparring session when Haney arrived and started to pass remarks on how he would easily beat him.
Ndongeni was training at the gymnasium after he had been shipped there to revive his career which had been blighted by inactivity.
“I was busy sparring when he arrived and started to pass remarks about how he would beat me,” Ndongeni said on his return from US.
The handlers of the two fighters later arranged for them to spar but Ndongeni refused after being put off by Haney’s initial remarks.
“After what he said I knew that down the line the fight between us would happen so I did not want to spar with him after what he said,” Ndongeni recalled.
And when he was approached to face Haney he did not blink as he knew that the fight was a realisation of what he already knew would happen.
“When Sean [Smith, his trainer] told me that there was this fight I didn't hesitate to take it. I trained very hard and deep down I felt that I could beat this boy.”
Haney started well dropping Ndongeni in the second round but the KwaBhaca born Duncan Village bred boxer hung on and refused to wilt under the 20-year-old’s pressure.
Ndongeni had fanned the fires at the weigh-in when he his head touched Haney’s, sparking the US star to violently push him away.
Asked if he he did it deliberately to rattle Haney, Ndongeni said: “I wanted to show them that I was not scared.
“There is this mentality in US when you come from Africa that you are inferior and that you should submit to their way of doing things. I think putting my head onto his took Haney by surprise and he did not know how to react hence he pushed me.”
A supremely confident individual, Ndongeni does not shy away from taunting his opponents ahead of the fights and has done so successfully over the years while maintaining his smile. The bravado made Haney work extra hard as he tried desperately to knock Ndongeni out.
Ndongeni received rave reviews for his performance against the future world champion with Showtime executive reportedly interested to bring him back to US for a fight.
The loss was his first in 26 bouts and at 28 he is in the prime of his career which was blighted by inactivity...