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.”

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.”

Looking back at the weekend: Dlamini is top performer

So many in the main stream media are talking about what an amazing sporting weekend we have just had. They are talking about tennis, cricket, Formula 1 racing and netball.

While South Africa’s netball team were brilliant over the weekend and deserve all the credit that they have received, South Africans should also know that a certain Lerato Dlamini stepped into the world stage as an underdog and dominated Filipino Dave Penalosa to claim the WBC Silver Featherweight title on Friday.

In front of a huge crowd in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Dlamini dropped his fancied and previously unbeaten opponent twice to convincingly move in to the top 10 in the WBC rankings as he searches for a world title.

In front of Saudi Arabian royalty and some sport’s biggest names such as Lennox Lewis and Paulie Malignaggi, the man from Welkom put on a spectacular performance to beat the nephew of former world champion Gerry Penalosa.

In my opinion this was the performance of the weekend in the squared circle anywhere in the world.

Question is where does the 25-year-old go from here? I’ll say far, very far in the sport.

He’s now ranked in the top 10 by the WBC and will surely have more big fights in the future. Maybe more match ups in the 62 000 seater King Abdullah Sports City Stadium?

Before the fight Dlamini had said that he would use the opportunity to help get bigger fights.

This we look forward to, in the meantime it’s “Lights Out”.