Kupula gets up from canvas to beat Mokwana

Raymond Kupula and Thompson Mokwana.

Raymond Kupula got off the canvas to dominate Thompson Mokwana in a six round junior welterweight fight at Turffontein Racecourse, on Sunday.

Kupula’s first fight since 2018 started off with problems when a Mokwana right hand sent him to the floor. The fighter from the Democratic Republic of Congo seemed to be in trouble but he managed to recover.

After that first round he took control as he landed the cleaner punches and won comfortably.

The judges, however, had the fight a lot closer than it appeared to most of the crowd. Kupula won by a split decision with Nevill Hotz and Simon Mokadi scoring it 57-56 in his favour and Thabo Spampool having it at 58-55 for Mokwana.

The co-main event saw Joshua Studdard making a comeback after last fighting in 2017. He beat Saul Hlungwane by a split decision.

Despite the win, Studdard’s performance showed that he had not been in the ring for a long time as he was stretched and at times looked tired during the six round bantamweight contest.

Hlungwane piled on the pressure as a lot of Studdard’s punches did not seem to bother him. He was throwing a lot of punches while Studdard seemed to be fighting in spurts.

Two judges had Studdard winning 58-55 while one had it 57-56 for Hlungwane.

Other results from the tournament are as follows:

  • Lufuno Mutshayi drew with Nosiacwase Dube in a junior featherweight fight.
  • Shone van Schalkwyk beat Sando Jackson by a second round technical knockout in their lightweight bout.
  • Abel Ndaba beat Masanda Mavumengwana by a fourth round technical knockout in their bantamweight fight.
  • Lybon Ntshani drew Kalele Kadumbu in their welterweight fight.

*The fight between Matshidiso Mokebisi and Muleba Raider did not happen as the latter fell ill on Sunday morning.

There will be four world champions in the gym in 2020 — Lerato Dlamini

Lerato Dlamini

Lerato Dlamini believes that the gym he trains at, Hotbox, will have four major title winners by the end of the year.

“Hekkie (Budler) is going to be a WBC champ and I am as well,” said Dlamini.

The WBC Silver Featherweight title holder believes him, Budler, Moruti Mthalane and Azinga Fuzile will all have major belts around their waists.

Before Dlamini can fight for the big one, however, he has to get past Nathaniel Kakololo on March 8 at the Orient Theatre, East London.

“I should look like an elite fighter (against Kakololo),” he said.

Confidence is running high with Dlamini as he is coming from a convincing win over Dave Penalosa in 2019, where many experts felt he was the underdog going into the fight.

“I drew a lot of confidence you know. I perform better when I’m the underdog. But now I don’t have to lower my performance next week. I’m going to raise the bar. I’m really confident going into this fight,” said the fighter nicknamed “Lights Out”.

The importance of the matchup cannot be underestimated as Dlamini knows that he is edging closer to a world title shot. He currently ranked fourth by the WBC and with talk that world champion Gary Russell is planning to move up to 130 pounds, Dlamini could find himself in a position to fight in an eliminator in the near future.

He is not getting ahead of himself though.

“I can’t overlook Nathaniel. I need to get through him and then I will look forward to the future. This is a must-win fight for me,” he said.

“This fight is very big for me, bigger than the Penalosa fight. So I’m going to look impressive. I’m focused, I’m disciplined and I’m ready.”

So what are Dlamini’s predictions for this fight?

“Judging by how I’ve been training and sparring I’m going to knock him out,” he says.

“I don’t know which round, I can’t predict which round but he’s very tough. Maybe in the later rounds I’ll stop him.”

Lights Out feels he has had the good preparations for this bout.

“I’ve been putting in rounds with (Ludumo) Lamati, Anthony Grobelaar, David Rajuille, Lusanda Komanisi, recently (Tshifiwa) Munyai and (Ronald) Malindi. So I’ve had very good sparring partners. Different styles of boxing. So I’m feeling good going into this fight. Camp has been amazing.”

Must-win for veterans

Raymond Kupula and Gert Strydom.

When a fighter start wondering if they should keep boxing or call it a day then the signs are there that he/she is close to the end of their career.

What happens when two fighters who are to face each other are talking about hanging up the gloves?

This is the situation when veterans Thompson Mokwana and Raymond Kupula square off on March 1 at Turffontein.

Kupula comes into the fight after being away from the ring for two years and he had to think long and hard if he wants to get back to the sport.

“Raymond took a year break from the sport to regroup and to give it some thought what he wants to do in future and he decided to come back,” his trainer Gert Strydom said at a press conference recently.

“Both these boys are at a level where they need wins in the next fight can elevate them to the next level and bigger opportunities will come from this.”

Mokwana is coming off a three fight losing streak where he was stopped by Simpiwe Vetyeka, Michael Mokoena and Ayanda Nkosi.

Mokwana believes fighting at lightweight proved to be costly for him as he struggled with weight when he held the South African title.

“I’ve been struggling with weight for a couple of years but remember when you champion you become arrogant and you don’t want to lose the title even when you are struggling with weight. You just want to fight because of money,” Mokwana told the media.

It is clear that the winner of the fight will probably have a few more bouts left but what happens to the loser?

With both men well into their 30s it is difficult to see how the boxer who doesn’t have his arm raised in this headline fight of the BRD card can continue with his career. This could be a case of win or call it a day.

The card will also see the return Joshua Studdard who last fought in 2017 as he has been nursing an injury. He will take on Saul Bokwane.

“These two years have been a humbling experience,” said Studdard.

He will be looking to getting back to the days when he was one of the most talked about prospects in South Africa.

 

Junior Makabu fully focused — Damien Durandt

Damien Durandt (left) and Ilunga Makabu. Photo by Nick Lourens.

Ilunga “Junior” Makabu’s trainer Damien Durandt does not think issues with promoter Don King were a problem for his fighter’s preparations for the bout against Michal Cieslak for the vacant WBC World Cruiserweight Title.

The fight was scheduled for January 25 but Makabu’s international promoter King had an issue with it as he was not involved in the organizing of the fight. This led to the promoter’s legal team sending a letter stating that they would not allow for the bout to take place.

The issue has now been resolved and Makabu will face Cieslak in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, on Friday (January 31).

“The Don King issue was not a distraction for Junior whatsoever. Our main focus was what was ahead and that’s Michal Cieslak. We put our focus into that. We didn’t allow it to disturb us,” Durandt told 10 Count.

“We let Junior’s manager Tarik Saadi handle that with Don King with his team and everything was rectified and sorted. I told Junior his biggest focus needs to be on the fight and what’s ahead of us and what we need to work on.”

This is the second time Makabu attempts to win the WBC strap after losing to Tony Bellew in 2016.

“Yes this is Junior’s second opportunity at the WBC World title. Some fighters don’t even get the opportunity to even fight for it once so he understands how lucky he is. But he has also put in the hard work to get to where he is,” said Durandt.

“Everyone forgets that Junior travelled twice to Russia and knocked out (Dmitry) Kudryashov in his home country. Came back and beat (Aleksei) Papin in his home country. So Junior is well-deserving of the place where he is at now to fight for the WBC World Title. He said to me he will never let it slip a second time and he shouldn’t have let it slip the first time. So he will do anything and everything to make sure that he is world champion. He will put it all in the ring to make sure that he is crowned the WBC World Champion. It’s a dream of his, it’s always been a dream of his since the very early days of his career. He wants to achieve this. For me I don’t think anything will stop him from achieving this.”

With the fight being in the DRC, Makabu is expected to have considerable home crowd support on fight night.

“Yes it’s an advantage for Junior to fight in Kinshasa but I think you’ve seen over all the years Junior has travelled for his fights. It has never fazed him. It could be in Russia, it could be in Germany, France or wherever the fight may be Junior performs. So yes it is an advantage. I think he wants to make his people feel proud. It’s the first world title in 45 years to be staged in Kinshasa and he’s one of their own,” the trainer said.

Altamura believes SA will produce more champions

Mike Altamura and Colin Nathan.

MTK Global International Consultant Mike Altamura believes that there are a number of South African fighters who can become international superstars in years to come. The boxing manager spent a week in the country and was in East London over the weekend for the Azinga Fuzile-Shavkat Rakhimov fight.

“There was (Khanyile) Bulana, the other night, who overcame an acid test. A lot of people wrote him off completely in that fight (against Phila Mpontshana). So he’s moved now to 12-0. I think he’s got a good future, we just have to be smart with the kind of fights that will move him forward and keep developing his skill set,” said he said.

Altamura also mentioned Luyanda Ntwanambe whose fight against Fikile Mlonyeni excited many fans.

“I think he’s very, very talented. Very raw, he has is fighting spirit and he had a good test the other night because he was under heavy assault in rounds seven and eight where the other guy (Mlonyeni) was game and tested him to the body and he came back from that. He’s still a young kid, I believe 8-0-1 but I think he’s got a good future,” he said.

The Australian, who has been managing fighters for 19 years, also spoke about Lerato Dlamini who is ranked seventh by the WBC.

“Boxing is so record driven in this generation that people see that he lost on debut but they don’t see that he lost on debut, they just see a loss and write him off a little bit. But I think he can give a lot of the top featherweights in the world a hell of a tough time. He might not be on a lot of people’s radars. I know here he is because he beat Simphiwe Vetyeka and a lot of notable fighters in South Africa. Obviously there is the win over Dave Penalosa,” he said.

The fighters he talked about are signed with MTK Africa, which is headed by Colin Nathan with Altamura working closely with him.

So what are the plans for the fighters?

Regarding Dlamini he said: “The key is to just build his ranking. Hopefully within the next 12 to 18 months close in on a world title eliminator for him and deliver him the opportunity. I believe he’s got the skills to be at that level so I think we just have be proactive in setting the plans in motion, keep him busy and see where it takes us. He’s got a very good local promoter as well (Rumble Africa) so that makes it easier from a management perspective.”

“Hekkie Budler we just looking where to place him. Maybe place him somewhere in November and then just another assault on a world title. He’s still at that level, he’s a hell of fighter. This might be the last run of his career so let’s make it a great one.”

What about the legendary Moruti Mthalane?

“He’s like fine win,” he says. “It’s an incredible story. One of my closest friends outside of boxing is Hussein Hussein and Moruti beat him in a world title eliminator 12 years ago. Never in my wildest dreams did I think Moruti would be a force 12 years later and never would I have thought that this last world title run I’d have the opportunity to work with a South African boxing legend like that. Such a pleasant, nice and humble man. You know he’s a fighter we positioned for the IBF World Title. Then the subsequent opportunity we landed in Macau and also the mandatory defense in Japan. Every time he comes to me and he’s like ‘you know Mike thank you so much for everything you’ve done for me and my family and for all the other South African boxers’. I’m like you got it the wrong way ‘thank you for letting me be part of your journey and even if you in the last few years of your career, thank you for letting me be part of your story and legacy’. Looks like we’ve got a big fight announcement for him which is in its final stages of negotiating.”

Mthalane might have just a few fights left in his magnificent career but MTK’s involvement in Africa might just help us see more African fighters given the opportunity to fight for major titles.

Controversy in title eliminator

Azinga Fuzile (right) and Shavkat Rakhimov. Photo by: Nick Lourens.

The controversy around the fight between Azinga Fuzile and Shavkat Rakhimov has left many fight fans scratching their heads.

A video of Rakhimov’s corner using what looks like smelling salts between the seventh and eighth round of their IBF junior lightweight eliminator in East London has been doing the rounds.

This has led to Fuzile’s camp lodging a complaint with both Boxing South Africa (BSA) and the International Boxing Federation (IBF).

“The rules are very clear that the IBF will be overlooked in terms of the commission here locally. They will follow suit of the local commission which is Boxing South Africa. The Act is very clear, from 2001, Rule 32.6 and 32.7 is ‘there will be no use of any stimulant or stimulants be it ammonia or smelling salts administered at any point during a fight to the fighter’ and it was clear that it was a stimulant that administered out of the nostrils of Mr Rakhimov,” said Fuzile’s trainer/manager Colin Nathan.

Things seem to have become more bizarre since Sunday’s fight as some sort of contraband was allegedly found in the Tajikistani fighter’s hotel room after he checked out.

Contraband allegedly found in Shavkat Rakhimov’s hotel room.

Although it is unclear what substances were found in the hotel as they are labelled in Russian the whole fight has been tainted.

Fuzile seemed to be dominating the bout and was well ahead on the judges’ scorecards when Rakhimov dropped him twice in the eighth round to force a stoppage.

Nathan clearly wants the boxing authorities to get to the bottom of it all.

“The rules are clear. I don’t want to hear any excuses that they didn’t know. It’s your responsibility, whichever country you are fighting in, to know the rules. Take responsibility for what you do and how you act in the corner. I do. When I go overseas I ask for the local commission’s rules. You’ve got to apply them and you’ve got to abide by them. So if you not going to abide by them then you are disrespecting South African boxing and you tarnishing the image of the sport in my country,” said the trainer.

The next couple of weeks could be interesting as the public wait to see what decisions both BSA and IBF will make.

Truter eager for title defense

Tristan Truter. Photo by Nick Lourens.

Tristan Truter may be fresh off a knockout victory over Xolisa Nonkonyane but he is promising to be even better in his next fight. He takes on Faraday Mukandila in the first defence of his ABU (SADC) junior middleweight title on August 31 at the Turffontein Racecourse.

“Expect a quicker, faster Tristan,” he says.

“I’m a more experienced fighter now.”

The 20-year-old has been growing steadily as he looks to one day become a force in the sport.

He expects to beat Mundila.

“I don’t know much about him but I’ve seen him fight a few times. He’s not someone who can beat me. But I shouldn’t underestimate anybody. I’m looking forward to fighting him,” said Truter.

The youngster clearly trusts his power.

“If I hit him flush on the chin he’s going to fall ad he’s going to fall hard but that’s not my goal. I want 10 rounds. So I really want to get that experience behind my belt,” he said.

Off course Truter won his last fight by a first round knockout.

The lanky fighter is also happy to have his younger brother, Cayden, as one of his training partners.

“It’s a cool experience having him with me,” he says.

“Nice to have him to train with. We spar together. Nice quick sparring, quick hands.”

Off course 18-year-old Cayden is not the big brother’s only sparring partner. He also works with seasoned professionals like Thomas Oosthuizen and Johnny Muller at Harold Volbrecht’s Hammer Gym.

“Their will to carry on and they always find a way to improve during sparring. Learning from them is a great honour and experience,” says Tristan.

Wolmarans claims first title

Hedda Wolmarans. Photo by Nick Lourens.

Hedda Wolmarans won her first title as a professional fighter when Nomandithini Ndyambo would not come out for the second round of their bout for the South African junior welterweight title. This was after Wolmarans landed a vicious left hand to the body in the first round on Sunday at Presleys, in Boksburg.

“I really didn’t expect it to be that quick,” said the new champion.

“I can’t even say that I expected a knockout. I was ready for 10 rounds.”

The joy in her face showed when her hand was raised.

“I can’t explain it. I was so happy because this is my first title ever. The amount of hard work that has gone into this has been crazy. It was the hardest camp I’ve ever had so I got a little emotional,” she said.

Wolmarans’ trainer/manager Colin Nathan was a proud mentor. Nathan has looked after the national champion’s career since she turned professional in 2015. He reminisced about the time she decided to join his Hot Box stable.

“We made a promise several years ago that I would train her if she would become my first female champion,” he said.

“This is a proud moment for me as she is my first women’s champion and it’s Women’s Month so it’s her time and I’m proud of her.”

Wolmarans won the fight that headlined the Black Magic Team Promotions’ bill labelled “Women Power”.

The main supporting bout on the day saw a surprise when Ashton Davies lost by a majority decision to Bheki Mahlangu in a lightweight bout.

Mogale Molefe stunned Siyabonga Mpangele by winning by a third round technical knockout.

A questionable judges’ decision was witnessed after the match between Bonita van Jaarsveld and Raider Mulemba. Despite van Jaarsveld having seemingly dominated the fight the judges somehow called the lightweight fight a draw.

Sabelo Nkosi looked good when he beat George Kandelo by a unanimous decision in their mini flyweight bout.

Vuyani Sakuyeka also won by a unanimous decision when he beat Athenkosi Mbekeni in their bantamweight fight.

The day started with a draw between middleweights Chris Gouws and Ntsako Miyambo.

Looking to make hard work pay off

Hedda Wolmarans. Photo by Nick Lourens.

With female boxers not getting regular action in South Africa, it is easy to see how some could lose hope. That, however, is not the case with Hedda Wolmarans.

The fighter nicknamed “Shredder” spends a lot of time in the gym, even in times when there is no talk of a fight.

“There is always something to improve on,” she says.

“I will never be a perfect boxer. I will always feel like I’m lacking in some element of fitness or strength or skill. There is always a hole somewhere and once you patch up a hole a new one rocks up.”

She will be looking to put on a quality performance when she takes on Nomandithini Ndyambo for the vacant South African junior welterweight title at Presleys, Boksburg, on August 4.

“She’s a hard worker, good work rate. Tall and a boxer,” Wolmarans said about Ndyambo.

“Expect a 10 round hard fight with high work rate.”

This fight comes more than a year since The Shredder last fought, when she beat Kholosa Ndobayini on points. She was supposed to fight in December but that bout got cancelled the day before the weigh in.

“That was very frustrating. I had done everything. I had done the whole camp, the weight cut. I was in my kitchen deciding how much water I should drink and then Colin (Nathan) phoned me telling me it’s off,” she said.

“You give a lot of yourself in a camp, in terms of what you sacrifice. Like seeing family, seeing friends, spending time with people that you love. It requires a commitment. There’s a lot of things you can’t do.”

She does, however, look at the positives that came from that camp.

“I was sparring against Moruti Mthalane and Hekkie Budler. They were my main sparring partners so I took a lot from the camp. So it made me better.”

Wolmarans feels that the experience of sparring with world class fighters such as Mthalane and Budler was good for her.

“They keep you honest hey. They don’t play. They don’t let me get away with murder. But they also don’t completely annihilate me and break me. But they expose my weaknesses and point them out to me. Which is great. They make sure that I’m always trying to catch up. They don’t make the gap too big. It’s constant learning.”

This camp has seen her spar with Budler again and Anthony Grobelaar.

The Wolmarans-Ndobayini fight will headline a BMT Promotions card.

‘I’m too good for Ndombassy’ — Kalombo

Emmany Kalombo and Damien Durandt. Photo by Nick Lourens.

There have been many calls for a fight between big punching Emmany Kalombo and Cristiano Ndombassy and now the pair will final square off. The two junior middleweights take each other on at the International Convention Centre in East London, on Saturday.

“I just think he’s a normal boxer for me,” says the undefeated Kalombo, who has won all 11 of his professional fights by knockout.

“But I give him a little bit of respect because he has fought guys who have more experience. The guys who have beaten him have more experience that’s why I give him a bit of respect.”

When asked if fight fans should expect him to stop Ndombassy, Kalombo calmly responds by saying “obvious man”.

“We expect the same thing (stoppage),” he says.

“I’ll bring my tricks and then we’ll expect the same thing.”

Kalombo says that after this fight he would like to test himself against top international fighters.

“I want those fights. I want those fights to happen then I can show the world what I can do. Because sometimes we training and then we can’t use what we’ve been working on in training in the fight. Few minutes, few seconds and the fight is finished,” he says.

The two fighters have common opponents in France Ramabolu and Nkululeko Mhlongo who have both beaten Ndombassy but lost to Kalombo. The man from the Democratic Republic of Congo, however, does not read too much into that.

“Anyone can go down. It’s boxing so anyone can take a punch and go down,” says the man trained by Damien Durandt.

“It’s just that I’m too good for him. Boxing is also about information and I’ve got more information than him and I’m ready in my mind and my body is ready. “

Kalombo also gave 10 Count a prediction of how long he expects the fight to last.

“I never go over five rounds. The fight can end anytime. What I can say is that people mustn’t be busy watching their phones because the fight can be finished in one second. Before round five the fight will be finished,” he said.