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.”

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.

The boxers are the stars — Colin Nathan

Lerato Dlamini and Colin Nathan.

Colin Nathan has seen his fighters pulling off one great victory after another as his gym has been on an incredible run in recent years. The latest win being, off course, Lerato Dlamini outclassing Dave Penalosa in Saudi Arabia.

You would think the trainer/manager Nathan would want to take credit for these achievements but that is not the case. He believes it is the fighters who make him look good.

“Without the fighter we don’t have the sport, we don’t have jobs, we don’t have careers. It’s because of them,” he says.

The trainer known as “Nomakanjani” spoke to 10 Count about the state of affairs at his Hot Box Gym, No Doubt Management and MTK Africa.

“The gym and the team are still on a high because of Lerato’s outstanding upset victory against all odds. A lot of people in this country wrote him off for this fight. I thought he boxed out of his skin and produced a world class performance and kept the South African flag smiling,” says Nathan.

The manager also talked about former two-weight world champion Hekkie Budler who is back in training after losing his WBA title to Hiroto Kyoguchi, last December.

“We’ve got a championship that we are working on for him,” said Nathan.

Nomakanjani also talked about Ryno Liebenberg who was recently a victim of a controversial decision in Germany. His fight against Nick Hannig was declared a draw despite many people being of the opinion that he had won the bout.

“I thought he won the fight eight rounds to four. I was trying to be as objective and unbiased as possible. Getting a draw in Germany is pretty much as good as getting a win, so I’m very proud of him,” said Nathan.

“People are asking what’s next? We obviously working on a rematch towards the end of the year for that fight. Ryno proved that he’s still got a lot of fights in him still at this stage of his career.”

Which other fighters will be in action soon?

“I’ve got Hedda Wolmarans fighting for the SA junior welterweight title (against Nomandithini Ndyambo) on the fourth of August. I’ve go Shervontaigh Koopman fighting next week on the undercard of Ludumo Lamati-ichie Mepranum for Rumble Africa Promotions. We’ve got (Simpiwe) Konkco-Wanheng Menayothin that I’m busy putting together right now. Also finalizing Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov and Azinga Fuzile. So we very busy,” said Nathan.

The manager told 10 Count that there is still “a lot of work being done behind the scenes” regarding Konkco’s WBC strawweight title challenge and Fuzile’s junior lightweight IBF title eliminator.

Despite many people not believing that South African boxers can go all the way to the top of the sport, Nathan is determined to keep pushing his charges to greatness. He believes recent results have proven that local fighters have what it takes.

“It proves that we’ve got the talent to go abroad and (fighters) carve their names in stone. We have the ability, we have the talent and we just need the opportunities,” he says.

“We proving that now, we’ve got the opportunities now and we getting the results.”

Konkco gets shot at WBC

Simpiwe “Chain Reaction” Konkco will have his shot at the world title. The WBC has ordered for Konkco’s camp and strawweight title holder Wanheng Menayothin to start negotiations for a championship fight.

“We are very excited about this. It’s been a long time since a South African fought for the WBC title, I think it’s been eight years and we are looking forward to this opportunity,” said Chain Reaction’s trainer/manager Colin Nathan.

Menayothin (53-0) recently beat Tatsuya Fukuhara in defense of his famous green belt.

“It’s going to be a tough fight but it’s just great for South African boxing that we getting these legitimate world title shots. We’ve won some of them and I plan on Konkco doing the impossible thing and that’s beat Menayothin,” said Nathan.

The champion has never fought outside of Thailand and is unlikely to want to travel to face the South African.

“Look I don’t think it’s an ideal situation, given the situation in Thailand. It’s very difficult to win in Thailand but naturally I’m going to request neutral officials, I’m going to be training Konkco in a sauna suit for this camp for him to get used to the heat and fighting outdoors. This is a very important fight for him and I’m very excited about it,” said the trainer.

Negotiations should start within the next 24 hours and if the camps cannot reach an agreement then it will go to purse bids.

Konkco has been the WBC’s number one contender for over a year and his manager is pleased they finally have the fight.

The next few months will be busy for Nathan with Lerato Dlamini taking on Dave Panelosa for the WBC Silver featherweight belt in Saudi Arabia and Azinga Fuzile due to face Kenichi Ogawa in an IBF Junior Lightweight eliminator. There is also talk of flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane facing Charlie Edwards later this year while another champion who Nathan co-manages, DeeJay Kriel, is likely to defend his IBF minimumweight title later this year.

“We busy, this is something that I’ve always craved for my fighters – legitimacy and it starts by fighting for the big championships and that’s what we doing,” said the manager who is also the head of MTK Africa.

Koasicha’s experience is not a problem – Fuzile

Azinga Fuzile. Photo by Nick Lourens

At age 22 Azinga Fuzile has already made a career of dominating more experienced and seasoned fighters. So it comes as no surprise that he is feeling confident ahead of his fight against Romulo Koasicha. The two square off in Port Elizabeth for Fuzile’s IBF Inter-Continental Super Featherweight Title on April 7.

“I’ve seen this guy, he fought (Vasiliy) Lomachenko and he’s got experience and he’s been in boxing for a long time. But I’ve fought guys who have experience before him and I beat all of them and even this guy I’m going to beat him. I’m ready,” said Fuzile.

The much-loved star knows that a win is of the utmost importance.

“I don’t want to say ‘I’m going to knock him out’. But if I get a chance to knock him out I will knock him out. At the end of the day I’m going to win the fight,” he said.

The fighter known as “The Golden Boy” is currently ranked sixth by the IBF and with fourth ranked Jono Caroll having recently lost to champion Tevin Farmer and the top two spots vacant, that title shot cannot be too far away.

So where does Fuzile see himself in the big picture?

“I think there’s only one person that can stop Azinga and that’s Azinga himself. I’m the best among the best. I like the competition and I want to see myself holding that world title,” says the Golden Boy.

Off course he is not overlooking Koasicha, but he does feel that there will be more pressure on the Mexican.

“First of all he doesn’t know me. He just saw my name in the ratings and thinks Azinga is number six and he must take that rating. He thinks he must ‘beat that South African guy’. I think he is undermining me and all my opponents do that. For me I think that’s an advantage. He’s going to be under pressure. I’m not under pressure. Even though I’m the champion, in his mind he’s under pressure. He can see that rating. He doesn’t know Azinga and Azinga has never fought champions like Lomachenko,” says a confident Fuzile.

Fuzile’s last five opponents did not hear the bell for the last round and his fans will be hoping he keeps up the good form as he marches towards the world title.




Fuzile’s camp responds to Farmer’s comments

Azinga Fuzile. Photo by Nick Lourens

IBF Junior Lightweight champion Tevin Farmer was recently in South Africa and was asked on video what he thought of Azinga Fuzile. Farmer said he would “smoke him like a cigarette”. The video has since gone around on social media and Fuzile’s trainer/manager Colin Nathan has taken note of the champion’s comments.

“My comment to him (Farmer) is that he’ll come to South Africa for a holiday but we not coming to America for a holiday. We going to come and get what’s ours and that IBF title is ours. We now number six in the latest IBF ratings and very excited about it. Number one and two are vacant. We are going to get that call for the eliminator. Tevin Farmer, that championship is ours. He knows it’s ours, that’s coming,” said Nathan.

Fuzile’s handlers would like to see the 22-year-old fighting for the world title later this year and with the southpaw moving through the IBF rankings Farmer looks to be the target.

So who will Fuzile face next as he they build him up for the world title challenge?

“I like him to keep busy. There’s several options at the moment. Bearing in mind that he’s the IBF Inter-Continental Champion, we might work around that. If we get a call for the eliminator, which I reckon could happen in the next six months, then we’ll do that. What’s nice about the IBF is that when you are mandatory (challenger) nothing else matters you’ll get the shot,” said the trainer.

“Farmer can say that he’ll smoke Azinga like a cigarette, I don’t think fighters should be smoking maybe he’s been smoking his socks. But we all know that’s never going to happen. He doesn’t hit hard enough and for a defensive guy I think he gets hit quite a bit. I think he’ll be chasing other opportunities, big fights, might move up to lightweigh (Vasyl) Lomachenko is there or Tank (Gervonta Davis) is a fight that’s talked about. Whatever happens we’ll be ready for but irrespective the IBF championship is coming to South Africa.”

Fuzile looks to finish Class early

Azinga Fuzile. Photo by Nick Lourens

The experience that Ibrahim Class (22-4) has is of no concern to Azinga “Golden Boy” Fuzile. The two square off on Sunday at the Orient Theatre, East London, for the vacant IBF Intercontinental Super Featherweight title.

“I don’t have time, this is my fourth fight this year so I’m going to make it shorter,” laughed Fuzile.

“It will end by first or second round knockout. I don’t think it will go the distance. I’ve watched his fight against Koos Sibiya and I don’t think we are on the same level.”

Although he only has 12 professional fights, Fuzile has made a name for himself by beating top fighters with more experience than him. The likes of Macbute Sinyabi, Tshifiwa Munyai and Malcolm Klassen have been victims of the slick boxer from East London.

Fuzile is ranked ninth by the IBF and has his eyes set on a world title challenge sometime in 2019. This means a slip up would be unacceptable.

“I have to win this fight. So I can have a chance to challenge for the world title,” he says.

In his last fight the Golden Boy took on former world champion Klassen and put on a performance which he regards as his highlight of the year. He stopped Klassen in the fourth round.

“I think it was a step up for me. People thought that Malcolm Klassen could beat me because he has more experience than me and is a world champion but I surprised people like I usually do,” said the 22-year-old Fuzile.

So what are the plans for 2019?

“My goal is to fight for a world title next year,” he says.

He also made a promise to the fans ahead of Sunday’s fight, which tops the Rumble Africa Promotions bill.

“I will do what I always do. Winning is norm so I will win again.”