Fight to rope in fans

2011-03-12 19:51

Branco “Baby” Milenkovic is optimistic that his “quality” ­International Boxing Federation (IBF) double-header will draw a good crowd.

The promoter is confident even though his show faces competition in another major fight on the same night, March 26.

Milenkovic, who held a press conference in Rosebank, Johannesburg four days ago, is staging dual IBF title fights at Nasrec.

In the main bout, local ­Moruti “Baby Face” Mthalane defends the flyweight crown against Filipino Johnriel Casimero.

In the main supporting bout, Mthalane’s compatriot, ­Takalani “The Panther” Ndlovu, challenges Canadian Steve Molitor for the junior featherweight crown.

While Milenkovic is experiencing goose-bumps at Nasrec, rival promoter Rodney Berman will be staging two ­International Boxing Organisation (IBO) title fights and an international one at Emperors Palace.

Thomas Oosthuizen faces Mexican Ruben Acosta for the IBO super middleweight crown.

In the main undercard, ­Tshifhiwa Munyai tackles ­Danilo Pena, also from the Philippines, for the IBO super bantamweight title.

Unbeaten Flo Simba meets the equally undefeated Ariel Marchado for the international IBO youth heavyweight title.

Milenkovic and associates were challenged by the media for staging his tournament on the same night as Berman’s.

In response, the promoter strangely focused on just one fight, between local Simba and ­Brazilian Marchado.

A nonchalant Milenkovic laughingly said: “Brazilians are not acclaimed for boxing but soccer, and this explains why I have never heard of a great Brazilian boxer only footballers.

“I am certainly not losing any sleep over the other show.”

But the promoter pointed out that the Nasrec tournament, unlike the one at Emperors Palace, was for the “township people and taking place in the township, so expect a large crowd”.

His sentiments were echoed by Ndlovu: “I am a Soweto fighter, the fight is taking place in Soweto, and the same title was initially held by Lehlohonolo Ledwaba of Soweto.”

Incidentally, Ledwaba attended the press conference “in support of his potential successor, Ndlovu”.

Molitor’s challenger said: “Branco has gone to extremes by securing this fight for me and I will go to the extreme for him in the ring.”

Ndlovu faces Molitor for the third time, having lost twice to the same foe for the same title.

“I fought the man in his backyard twice and it is not easy to beat a man at home, so I am thrilled that this time I am enjoying the home advantage,” said Ndlovu.

His trainer Manny Fernandes said: “We have learned from Kaizer Mabuza’s defeat by Zab Judah (eight days ago) that the fight is not won until the last bell.”

Mabuza lost on a seventh round stoppage in the IBF junior welterweight title battle in the US.

“There is no way the foreigner can beat me. He will go back home empty-handed,” said Mthalane.

His trainer, Nick “Mthakathi” Durandt, playing his usual psychological game, said: “I have been baptised ‘Mthakathi’ (wizard), so watch wizard-influenced Mthalane in the ring.”

Perhaps to put more pressure on the Nasrec and Emperors Palace shows, Bafana Bafana take on Egypt at Ellis Park on the same night for the Afcon qualifier.

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