Older fighters die hard

Mzonke Fana being caught by Terry Flanagan’s right hook. Picture: Julian Herbert / Getty Images
Mzonke Fana being caught by Terry Flanagan’s right hook. Picture: Julian Herbert / Getty Images

It’s time for Mzonke “The Rose of Khayelitsha” Fana to retire from boxing.

This follows the embarrassing unanimous points defeat he suffered at the hands of Welshman Terry Flanagan for the World Boxing Organisation (WBO) lightweight title at the Ice Arena in Cardiff last Saturday.

His loss has proved that it is time for the South African to quit boxing, and it shows that age is no longer on his side.

Fana (42) – a grandfather – is the country’s oldest active fighter.

Fana went to Wales to try to wrestle the WBO crown from Flanagan, but was reduced to a punching bag.

He was slow and hardly connected decent punches throughout the fight to unsettle his more aggressive foe.

But the Rose, a veteran of 38 wins and 10 defeats from his 48 fights since turning professional in 1994, is adamant that he does not see himself hanging up his gloves any time soon, saying he still has a “lot more to offer” boxing.

“There is no need for me to quit now as I still enjoy being a boxer. Flanagan outclassed me as he fought from a southpaw stance that unsettled me,” said Fana.

Fana, who is the South African and WBO Africa champion, said he would bow out after losing his crowns.

Fana is one of the country’s golden oldies who still throw punches competitively despite having reached their sell-by dates.

According to medical experts, 35 is the average age by which a boxer has to retire. But there are a number of local and overseas pugilists who are still clinging to the square jungle, despite being washed up.

At home, Ali “Rush Hour” Funeka (38) is the second oldest combatant in the paid ranks.

The Eastern Cape boxer, who reigns supreme as WBO African welterweight champion, has fought 46 times and has collected 38 wins with five defeats and three stalemates to his name. He turned professional in 1995.

Rush Hour absorbed too much punishment at the hands of challenger Tsiko Mulovhedzi, who relieved him of the International Boxing Organisation’s welterweight crown in East London in July last year.

The ignominious loss ignited a debate about whether it was time Rush Hour bowed out of the sport. But he has steadfastly refused to call it a day.

Another local veteran who is past his prime is Oscar “Golden Boy” Chauke. The 35-year-old World Boxing Federation (WBF) international featherweight titlist has compiled a CV of 35 wins, 11 defeats and three draws from 49 fights. Chauke’s losses tell you that it’s about time he kiss the sport goodbye.

Malcolm Klassen, who turns 35 in December, has seen it all in the ring, having previously held the International Boxing Federation and South African featherweight diadems. He currently holds the insignificant WBF intercontinental super featherweight title.

Klassen, who boasts 40 professional bouts – 32 victories, six defeats and two draws – previously exchanged blows with some of the finest local boxers who have since retired. They include Takalani “Panther” Ndlovu, Jeffrey Mathebula and Cassius “Hitman” Baloyi.

But Klassen believes he needn’t hang up his gloves just yet.

“I’m still in great shape. I believe age is nothing but a number,” he said.

But these fighters should do the honourable and reasonable thing and retire.

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