WBC contender eyes boxing history

Gabisile Tshabalala is ready to go to war with WBC bantamweight champion Catherine Phiri in Zambia. Picture: Leon Sadiki
Gabisile Tshabalala is ready to go to war with WBC bantamweight champion Catherine Phiri in Zambia. Picture: Leon Sadiki

Gabisile “Simply the Best” Tshabalala is looking to dethrone Zambian Catherine Phiri and become South Africa’s first female boxer to win a World Boxing Council (WBC) title.

Tshabalala will challenge Phiri for the WBC female bantamweight championship at Government Complex in the Zambian capital of Lusaka on Saturday night.

She will also attempt to emulate Thulani “Sugarboy” Malinga and Dingaan “The Rose” Thobela in holding a WBC title.

Malinga beat Englishman Nigel Benn via split decision in Newcastle, England, to win the super middleweight crown in 1996, while Thobela claimed the belt of the same division by knocking out Glenn Catley, also from England, in the 12th round at Carnival City, Gauteng,
in 2000.

The WBC is regarded as the most prestigious of all sanctioning bodies.

Watch the 25-year-old train at Soweto’s Orlando Swimming Pool and you’ll be convinced that she is in excellent shape.

She caught male sparring partner Zolile Miya with stinging shots and looks ready for a war with Phiri in front of the Zambian’s fans.

A confident Tshabalala – with trainer Elias Mpende guiding her every move – takes a break and says she is gearing up to be crowned the new WBC champion.

“I’m extremely fit and can’t wait to get into the ring against Phiri. I’ve seen a few of her fights and she looks great, but I’m going to knock her out and bring the title to South Africa, where it belongs,” says Tshabalala.

Simply the Best earned her nickname because of the manner in which she meticulously slips body punches and catch her foes off-guard.

She says she will use the first few rounds to size up Phiri, before going all out for a knockout in the last four stanzas of the fight.

“I will be fighting in front of a partisan crowd in Zambia. I must be prepared to register a knockout win,” she says.

Tshabalala has a professional record of nine wins, one loss and one draw.

Phiri, who fights out of Lusaka, has won 11 times, with only a single defeat in her 12 professional bouts. The Zambian took the belt from Mexican Yazmin Rivas via technical decision in Mexico in January.

As Tshabalala packs her bags after her gruelling workout and prepares to head home to Evaton, a township north of Sebokeng in the Emfuleni region of Gauteng, she said that a win would give her the financial resources to reward her family.

“I share a shack in Evaton with my grandparents and four siblings. I intend to use the money I earn from this fight to build a spacious home for us,” she says.


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