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Baloyi's fans want home bout

By Bongani Magasela | Dec 03, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

"BRING Cassius 'Hitman' Baloyi home and we will fill the hall to the rafters.

"BRING Cassius 'Hitman' Baloyi home and we will fill the hall to the rafters.

"We can fill any stadium in the province if the Limpopo icon fights at home, in front of his home fans."

This is the cry from the boxing fans of Limpopo, Baloyi's province.

They are eager to see their idol fighting in his home town before the legendary fighter hangs up his gloves.

The six-time world champion has been one of the country's biggest drawcards for more than five years but not once has he fought at home.

The cry could be heard from KwaThema, Soweto, Sebokeng and even in Kagiso. Boxing has been removed completely from this area by the powers that be.

Lest we forget, even some of our great white fighters, like Brian Mitchell and Harold Volbrecht, as well as the late Brian Baronet, were big features in black townships during the halcyon days of boxing.

Fights are now the preserve of upmarket venues in casinos. Baloyi won the WBU super bantamweight, WBU featherweight, IBO super featherweight (twice) and the IBF super featherweight (twice) in casinos.

Baloyi, 35, is in line to fight for the same IBF super featherweight belt after winning the title eliminator against Roberto Arrieta at Wembley Arena in Johannesburg. Baloyi's followers in Limpopo drive hundreds of kilometres to his fights in Gauteng.

Their question is: what will be required from the promoters to stage some of the fights involving Limpopo-born boxers in the province?

"I'm angry with the way we have been treated by boxing promoters, who are depriving us of seeing our own boxers at home," said Richard Nkuna, a boxing fanatic from Giyani.

To add insult to injury, Baloyi's fights were televised by SuperSport, which many people from the far-flung villages of Limpopo don't have access to it.

This impacted negatively on Baloyi. He is also not recognised on the streets of Johannesburg, which has become his second home.

His promoter Branco Milenkovic and the SABC must afford Baloyi the golden opportunity to fight at home when he challenges the winner of the bout between IBF champion Roberto "The Ghost" Guerrero and Mzonke "Rose of Khayelitsha" Fana next year.

The same can be said of Isaac "Angel" Hlatshwayo, another prizefighter from Limpopo. The former SA and IBO lightweight and IBO welterweight titlist and current IBF champion is yearning to fight at home.

He fought once in Limpopo on October 11 2003 when he defended the national belt against Benedict Dlamini. Hlatshwayo will defend the IBF welterweight belt on December 11 against Jan Zaveck, and he, too, fights under Milenkovic, who works with the national broadcaster.

SABC has an office in Limpopo. Its broadcast trucks travel to the Eastern Cape when there are fights there, but not to Limpopo, which is nearer.

Baloyi and Hlatshwayo's homeboy hero, Joseph "Smokin' Joe" Makaringe, who was the SA welterweight king for four years, retired without a single fight at home in Giyani. He fought once in Polokwane against Tshepo Mashego at Pintoburg Clubhouse, which is about 150km from Giyani.

Is taking Baloyi and Hlatshwayo home too much to ask of Branco Milenkovic and the national broadcaster?


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