Mbenge's out to take tiger by tail
People have always been divided on Thulani Mbenge’s prospects of being a future world champion.
Some feel the hard-punching Mdantsane-born is heavily reliant on his right hand which has floored 10 of his 13 victims, a tendency which has left his other facets of his boxing to suffer.
Mbenge is particularly blamed for not improving under the tutelage of Sean Smith who is not known as a technician capable of adding something on Mbenge’s boxing makeup.
Others are impressed by the 26-year-old’s body of work which has netted him the SA, ABU and WBC international welterweight titles in less than 15 bouts.
All those questions will be answered tomorrow night when Mbenge takes on the biggest opponent to date Diego Chaves in his pursuit for yet another title.
The fight will either relegate Mbenge to the also-rans or elevate him to the world title contender status while helping him to own a portion of the world title as the IBO crown will be at stake.
Besides the title at stake, Chaves comes with a wealth of experience that should not be scoffed at and should Mbenge prevail he will be a serious contender for the big league.
Chaves will come with a respectable ledger of just three losses in 30 bouts which is stuffed by who’s who in the welterweight division.
The 32-year-old Argentinean may not be the same whirlwind that fought to a thrilling draw with Timothy Bradley, a world welterweight champion who beat Manny Pacquaio among his victims, but adding Chaves’s scalp will look good in his fight record.
“These are the kinds of opponents I want to test myself [against],” said Mbenge.
“It does not help to keep beating up nondescript opponents because that does not advance my career. Experienced boxers like Chaves are what will help me gauge myself.”
After a good amateur run which included winning a bronze medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Mbenge has taken to the professional ranks like a duck in water blasting all 10 of his opponents to stoppage defeats.
Packing a mean punch from the long arms, Mbenge quickly earned the admiration of promoter Rodney Berman who signed him under his Golden Gloves Promotion (GGP).
He did not disappoint as he continued with his reign of terror in adding the SA and ABU crowns to his collection with demolition jobs of Sean Ness and Eric Kapia Mukadi of DRC.
The knockouts only stopped in his last three opponents as the level of opposition increased.
But he says his power is still there, only he is learning to incorporate other facets to his fight game.
“I am no longer the same boxer who fought one way and be frustrated when the opponent does not fall,” he says.
Despite the temporal drying out of stoppages, Mbenge has been to dominate his foes to convincing wins.
A similar outcome against Chaves tomorrow will turn him into a world-class exponent.