Kaizer Mabuza virtually carries South Africa’s hopes on his tiny shoulders.
Mabuza needs to partly restore the country’s credibility when he faces distinguished and four-time world champion American Zab Judah.
They meet for the International Boxing Federation (IBF) junior welterweight crown in New Jersey, USA on March 5.
Mabuza’s seeming near-impossible-to-accomplish assignment and a positive outcome will in part restore the pride of the country.
Why? South Africa, a one-time awesome titan, has lost its power lately.
There are only three conceivable world champions in the country, currently. Misfortune!
They are junior lightweight Mzonke Fana, flyweight Moruti Mthalane and mini flyweight Nkosinathi Joyi, who was scheduled to defend his crown against Japanese Katsunari Takayama at Carnival City last night.
The thought that there are only three champions suggests the country’s destitution, and Mabuza’s victory will make the number more respectable.
He could not have picked on a formidable foe to redeem the pride of a country that has shrunk into a midget.
Judah, who has faced the best in the world is the same man who destroyed our erstwhile knockout artist Jan “Kid Gavilan” Bergman.
Judah is a veteran of 48 battles, 40 wins, six defeats and two draws. The relatively unknown Mabuza has 23 battles, 14 wins, six losses and three draws.
He needs victory to help increase the quantity of South Africa’s noteworthy world champions.
The other so-called world champions in South Africa belong to bodies that have unquestionably made a mockery of world title championships.
Jose Sulaiman, president of the World Boxing Council (WBC) justifiably said “these boxers should be called champions without using the word world.”
Champions whose names will remain etched in history are only those holding crowns from world governing bodies – WBC, World Boxing Association (WBA) IBF and World Boxing Organisation (WBO).
Why is South Africa, a pretender, rather contender, positioned so low on the world totem pole? The root of the problem has been explained in a convoluted manner and at worst in a confused tone by the experts. In the past it was not always doom and gloom, South Africa captured attention when Gerrie Coetzee won the WBA heavyweight crown, beating American Michael Dokes on a 10th round knockout in a division regarded as the ultimate.
And super middleweight Thulani “Sugarboy” Malinga was the first local to win a crown from a body perceived as the most prestigious, WBC.
The late Vic Toweel, arguably South Africa’s best fighter, pound for pound, is the only local boxer to have held a universal crown.
Mbulelo Botile was regarded as the best bantamweight in the world, pound for pound by Ring Magazine, which is popularly known as the Bible of Boxing.
Will Mabuza be a man for the crisis?
It is not an impossibility.