Hard-hitting International Boxing Organisation (IBO) welterweight champion Thulani “Tulz” Mbenge wants to make it big in the US and possibly earn his biggest paycheck.
But first he needs to fly to Hamburg, Germany, for a fight that could make or break his career.
At 15 fights, with no loss and 12 knockouts, the Eastern Cape-born Tulz will have to exchange blows with the equally talented Sebastian Formella (20 fights, no loss and 10 knockouts) on July 6.
A win is all Mbenge is looking forward to and he’s not intimidated by fighting Formella in his opponent’s own back yard.
He is looking to defend his title for the third time – having successfully defended it against Mexico’s Miguel Vázquez last year at Emperors Palace.
“I have a big family in Germany. I will be bringing singers and rappers, and people are coming to be entertained and they will get exactly that,” said Mbenge.
“The show will be the same as when I fight here at home,” he added.
Mbenge will be fighting his first professional gig outside Mzansi’s borders.
As his trip draws closer, Tulz could not have asked for better support and training.
He had stablemates former IBO and World Boxing Federation champion Xolisani “Nomeva” Ndongeni, as well as African Boxing Union cruiserweight and South African cruiserweight champion Thabiso “The Rock” Mchunu, by his side at a media day at Moove Motion Fitness Club in Sunninghill, northern Johannesburg, on Friday.
He speaks a bit of German, but said he was not going to Germany to make small talk with Formella.
Mbenge is confident that his opponent will not withstand his power and will bow out in the sixth round. Part of his preparations have included watching the German’s form and fighting style on YouTube.
Tulz has enjoyed the support of local boxing fans, who have flooded him with advice and encouragement whenever he is in action at home.
Mbenge, who is turning 28 a week after the fight, looked relaxed in the ring while hitting the pads with trainer Sean Smith.
Smith speaks highly of his charge and he thinks Tulz, whose success against Formella would elevate him internationally, will be a big threat to boxers who have dominated the welterweight division.
The same sentiment is shared by Golden Gloves boss Rodney Berman. The promoter has already planned a slot in September with America’s boxing TV show Showtime Championship Boxing for Mbenge to make his debut in the US.
“This is a plan to make Thulani a superstar in America,” said Berman, who added that the date had not yet been finalised.
The promoter expressed his frustrations with the state of boxing in South Africa, specifically regarding the limited broadcast slots.
“As a result, boxers are sometimes forced to fight whoever they are given and whenever the opportunity is available locally,” said Berman.
Many tournaments are staged without any television coverage.
Only SuperSport televises some of the local boxing tournaments staged by Golden Gloves.