Gola must put halt to erratic form
Trainer takes Makazole through his paces with utter focus ahead of bout
So much was expected from Phila Gola when he gate-crashed the professional ranks and ran an eight-fight winning streak.
The southpaw was already being touted as the future champion, and being blessed with solid technique it was not hard for the plaudits to come streaming in.
Then he was upset by a relativeLY unknown boxer from Cape Town in a junior-featherweight duel. This was when Sinethemba Bam dropped him several times en route to a dominant points decision.
There were excuses that Gola took the fight at short notice and underestimated Bam.
But a loss to Bonakele Bhikitsha in his following fight signalled the beginning of the downward slide.
Bam was to repeat the feat, although the rematch was extremely close and could have gone either way.
In fact Boxing Mecca scored the fight a draw, and that was giving Bam a benefit of close rounds. A routine win over Siphiwo Ntsangani did little to convince detractors that he was still destined for stardom.
After such trials and tribulations, Gola did an introspection on his career and realised that perhaps a change of club would not be such a bad idea.
He left Eyethu Boxing Club to join All Winners, which is renowned for its no-nonsense approach.
For the first time Gola discovered that he had been fighting in a wrong division due to lack of proper conditioning.
“Gola has gone down to the bantamweight, and that is where he will campaign,” said All Winners Boxing Club manager Mla Tengimfene.
“In fact we never even put him into a weight reducing programme. We simply took him through the steps like any other boxer and after each training session his weight automatically went down.”
Now Gola is preparing for his bantamweight debut on Sunday when he will take on Mawande Mbusi at Orient Theatre. Like all Last Born Promotions boxers going to compete in the tournament, he is not lacking in physical preparedness.
“Gola is super-fit and he even said so himself saying he did not know that his weight could come down like this. I think people will see an invigorated boxer and you must not forget that this boy has a solid technique, he only lacked physical fitness,” said Tengimfene.
Indeed Gola is one of the left-handers blessed with incredible reflexes like the prime multi- divisional world champion Pernell Whitaker.
Fighting in the bantamweight is serving as double motivation for Gola, as the club’s top fighter Zolani Tete holds a world title in the division.
This makes it easy for Gola to benefit from top sparring sessions with the world champion, an opportunity that does not come often.
It helps that Tete is also a fitness fanatic, whose Spartan work ethic is rubbing off to other boxers in the club.
There is also Zolani’s brother, Makazole, who campaigns in the bantamweight, presenting Gola with many options.
But he will have to show it all against Mbusi...