Brightest star in boxing set for SA

2014-01-11 00:00

A BOXING genius is coming to South Africa; one of the most scientific fighters the world has seen.

When Floyd Mayweather arrives in Johannesburg next week, thousands of South Africans will hope to catch a glimpse of the best boxer, pound for pound, in recent times.

It will be a privilege to be anywhere near the man who has won eight “world” titles in five divisions and has been the lineal champion in three. He now holds the WBC welterweight and light-middleweight belts and is also the WBA “super” light-middleweight champion.

Mayweather — nicknamed Pretty Boy and Money — has been making more money than just about any other sports star and he is set to earn millions of dollars more before he retires.

Not averse to the tag of “the greatest boxer of all time,” the multiple “world” champion will attend the SA Sports Awards function on January 18.

He is also scheduled to attend development clinics in Bloemfontein, East London, Cape Town and at the Dube Boxing Club in Soweto.

The Dube club, now part of the revamped Dube Recreation Centre, has a wonderful history.

Theo Mthembu, a former boxer, trainer and boxing writer who guided Baby Jake Matlala to four “world” titles, arrived in Dube Village in Soweto in 1955 and set up a boxing club in a classroom at the Orlando West Primary School.

Two years later he moved the club to the corner of Mahalefele and Sandile streets, where it is still today. Another highly regarded trainer, Steve Masike, also spent more than 40 years teaching youngsters at the club.

There have been reports that, coinciding with Mayweather’s visit, the club will be renamed the Baby Jake Matlala Boxing Academy.

As much as one respects and admires the recently deceased Matlata, one can only hope that the names Dube, Mthembu and Masike will not be erased.

But back to Floyd Mayweather jnr. His achievements since his early days as an amateur have been phenomenal. He was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on February 24, 1977 and comes from a family of boxers.

His father, Floyd snr, was a top welterweight contender and his uncles Jeff and Roger Mayweather were professional boxers. Roger won two “world” titles.

Floyd jnr compiled an amateur record of 84-6 and won American Golden Gloves championships in 1993, 1994 and 1996.

He won bronze at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta after losing on a highly controversial decision in the semi-finals to Serafim Todorov of Bulgaria.

Mayweather turned professional on October 11, 1996 and has not been beaten since in 45 fights, of which he won 26 inside the distance and 19 on points.

Almost all experts rate him as the best boxer, pound for pound, in the world and no one seems likely to challenge him soon. He topped the Sports Illustrated and Forbes lists as the highest paid sportsman in 2012 and 2013.

His place in the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota has been booked for a while.

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