Berman feels red-hot Mbenge now ready to take US by storm

A file picture of Thulani Mbenge, right
A file picture of Thulani Mbenge, right
Image: File

Bright lights of US are beckoning for the newly-crowned IBO world welterweight champion Thulani Mbenge.

This was revealed by his promoter Rodney Berman of Golden Gloves Promotions (GGP) shortly after the Mdantsane-born star produced possibly his best performance in knocking out highly decorated Argentinean Diego Chaves at Emperors Palace at the weekend.

Topping the GGP bill, Mbenge was in a mean mood as he hardly put a foot wrong from the first round en route to a seventh-round knockout.

Spotting a new hairdo after cutting his trademark dreadlocks with which he has been known for since his amateur days, Mbenge fought with new vigour and purpose making the fight easier than anticipated.

As he walked back to the anti-room after the fight, Mbenge even joked to Daily Dispatch, saying: “I am the opposite of Samson from the bible in that my power has returned since I cut my hair.”

The manner in which the 26-year-old who left home to join Sean Smith in Johannesburg destroyed an experienced opponent like Chaves left Berman enthusing about future prospects.

But he cautioned against throwing him into the deep end in the talent rich welterweight division.

“We will bring Mbenge back before the end of the year but I will not rush to anything in terms of the kind of opponent I will match him against,” he said.

“But it is important that we introduce him to the Americans so my next move will now be to taking him to US.”

Taking him to US has its own complications though especially if he attracts the attention of major television networks such as Showtime and HBO.

Berman admitted that he was not immediately looking to blindly enter into a deal with the giant television networks.

“The plan is to first market him properly and make him a well-known commodity before jumping into deals with the television networks.”

Indeed television networks determine the type of opponent needed to be matched in order to boost their ratings.

While Mbenge displayed a matured boxing makeup despite fighting only for the 14th time without a loss, Berman feels the hard puncher should be developed into a well-rounded boxer.

“This is where proper management of a boxer comes in. You do not blindly rush because of spectacular win but carefully selects his opponents.”

He however admitted that he expected Chaves to take Mbenge to the full distance when he was first offered him as an opponent.

“I did expect Mbenge to stop him because Chaves came with world-class credentials. Remember he fought to a draw against Tim Bradley who beat Manny Pacquiao so this guy was the goods.”

Berman agrees that the Mdantsane lad is destined for fame and fortune.