BSA clears the way for Ali to fight
Veteran boxer gets green light to take on Nogogo
After a bitter standoff that included attempts to stop his fight abroad, veteran boxer Ali Funeka and Boxing SA have smoked the peace pipe.
As a result, Funeka’s highly- anticipated clash against Mdantsane upstart, Uyanda Nogogo, scheduled for March 3 at East London’s Orient Theatre, will be allowed to continue if the promoter of the fight meets all the compliance demands.
The 40-year-old Mdantsane veteran, who has challenged for a world title three times, takes on Nogogo, who is 20 years his junior, in a fight described as the passing of the baton.
However, the fight announcement promoter Xaba Promotions took the boxing fraternity by surprise, which is down to Funeka’s documented battles with BSA for often sneaking out of the country to fight abroad without approval.
Funeka has been taking bouts in Russia against unbeaten prospects as he winds down his career. However, due to his advanced age, BSA insisted that he submit medical clearances including his MRI scan results which the boxer refused to do.
In one instance, BSA even tried to block Funeka’s fight in Russia by informing Russian promoters that the veteran had not been cleared – to no avail.
On his return, BSA summoned Funeka to a hearing where he reportedly admitted to be in the wrong.
BSA chief executive Tsholofelo Lejaka confirmed that Funeka pleaded guilty in the hearing.
“Ali Funeka asked for forgiveness and pleaded guilty on all the charges,” he said.
Funeka also complied with all medical requirements demanded by BSA, prompting the regulatory body to give him the green light to fight.
Funeka was scheduled to fight in Canada in December but Lejaka said the fight was called off when the boxer could not get a visa in time.
“We did not block him from going to Canada because by then he had already appeared at the hearing.”
There are calls for Funeka to retire from boxing after losing his last five bouts – with his last win being in 2016.
But Lejaka said BSA could not suspend the boxer’s licence after he had passed medicals.
“While Funeka has lost his last bouts, we need to examine how he lost them. In all his losses, he was never in danger of being knocked out or being on the end of receiving punishment.”
Indeed, Funeka has held his own during his defeats – his defeat to Sam Vargas in Canada being described as debatable, with one of the judges scoring the fight a draw.
In Nogogo he comes face-to-face with a seven-fight novice whom some detractors consider as still “too green” to face an experienced fighter like Funeka.
Funeka has previously refused to fight Nogogo, arguing that the 20-year-old was still very inexperienced to face him in the ring.
Asked why he changed his mind and accepted the fight, Funeka said: “I do not want to talk about this fight please. There are several issues here and I would rather not talk about anything.”
The fight has split the boxing fraternity, with some picking Nogogo to prevail while others feel the former amateur star is still too inexperienced to face the 52-fight veteran...