Top boxing promoter Branco Milenkovic has urged South Africans to rally behind Mzonke Fana when he defends the IBF junior lightweight title against Javie Alvarez on Friday night.
This multiple award winning promoter from Serbia explains that Fana's title, which will be up for grabs at the Banquet Hall in Klerksdorp, is the only legitimate world title that is held by a local fighter.
A handful of local boxers like Cassius Baloyi, Thomas Mashaba, Isaac Hlatswayo, Silence Mabuza, Nkosinathi Joyi, Muvhuso Nedzanani, Sphiwe Nongqayi and Mlungisi Dlamini hold lesser recognised IBO and WBF titles.
Even the WBO is superior to them. The top three sanctioning bodies are the WBA, WBC and the IBF.
When Lennox Lewis came here to fight Hasim Rahman in 2001 the international media referred to Lewis as the WBC and IBF heavyweight champion, leaving out the IBO belt which was given to him anyway by its president, Ed Levine.
In the same way Baloyi, Mabuza and Takalani Ndlovu got recognition to fight for IBF belts by defeating top-name international challengers.
Milenkovic said it was no longer a Fana fight on Friday but a South African battle.
Defeat will diminish the little remaining respect South Africa has in the international boxing world.
Milenkovic has confidence that the "Rose of Khayelitsha" will bloom once more, though he did not rule out an upset.
"Alvarez said it's his last opportunity to win a legitimate title and he will quit if he loses. He is a desperate fighter and Fana was in the same situation when he challenged Malcolm Klassen for this title and he won it.
"I have warned Fana and his trainers, Zola Koti and Nick Durandt, not to undermine [underestimate] Alvarez at all," said Milenkovic.