Johannesburg - Hot welterweight prospect Thulani “Tulz Evolution” Mbenge has tipped World Boxing Organisation bantamweight champion Zolani “Last Born” Tete to scoop the male boxer of the year gong at the upcoming Boxing South Africa (BSA) Awards.
The 25-year-old Mbenge has been nominated in the same category as Tete, Kevin “Two Guns” Lerena and young sensation Azinga “Golden Boy” Fuzile.
BSA announced the nominees’ names in East London on Wednesday.
The award ceremony will be at the Boardwalker Casino in Nelson Mandela Bay on February 2.
The South African welterweight king said his money was on Tete, who is currently the only local fighter holding a credible world crown.
The lanky warrior said the Mdantsane-born southpaw deserved the accolade as he did exceptionally well in flying the South African flag in the international arena in 2017.
“Without taking anything away from other nominees, myself included, all of us in that category did well last year, but I think Tete stands head and shoulders above everyone else. He deserves this award,” said Mbenge.
This is Mbenge’s second nomination since turning professional. He was one of the 2016 nominees for the prospect of the year award with Brandon Thysse. They lost to Fuzile.
The pugilist returns to the ring on March 3 in an international 10-round nontitle bout against Mexican Diego “Demoledor” Cruz at Emperors Palace.
This will be the undercard to the Lerena and Dmytro Kucher International Boxing Organisation cruiserweight title, which is held by the former.
Mbenge said he expected a tough battle against Cruz.
“Mexican fighters are usually a hard nut to crack, very strong and always come forward, but his style does not give me sleepless nights,” he said.
This would be a second international assignment for the unbeaten prospect. He outpointed Jayar Inson from the Philippines in his debut.
The Eastern Cape 2014 sportsman of year has chalked up 12 victories from the same number of outings, while his opponent’s ring credentials read 18 wins, five losses and two draws.
Meanwhile, BSA provincial manager Archie Nyingwa has urged all boxing licensees to register for the 2018 boxing year before the end of next month.
His proclamation is directed at boxers, trainers, managers, promoters and ring officials – which include judges, referees, medical practitioners, time keepers and ring announcers.
He said he was concerned that there had been little movement since the registration process started in November.