IT WILL be a sad day for local boxing if the country's oldest world champion, Simphiwe "Golden Master" Nongqayi, loses the IBF junior bantamweight title to Frenchman Malik Bouziane in Massy, Paris, on Friday.
But his promoter Branco Milenkovic, who will jointly organise the fight with Europe Box Promotions, said the IBF belt, the third currently held by a South African, will come back home. This will be Nongqayi's first defence.
"I have no doubt in my mind that Nongqayi will be successful in his defence," said Milenkovic yesterday, making it clear Nongqayi was supposed to make a mandatory defence against Mexican Alberto Rosasa.
"I am happy to announce that the IBF accepted my request that Nongqayi must first do a voluntary defence. I would not have done so if I had doubts."
Nongqayi's trainer, esteemed globe-trotter Nick Durandt, said Nongqayi is 37 years old.
This colourful senior citizen from Border in Eastern Cape raised the bar by first winning the title eliminator in Mexico and followed up by wresting the actual belt in that country too.
Nongqayi treated the Arce brothers, Francisco and Jorge, so badly that Mexicans identified him as enemy No 1. His comprehensive victory over the legendary Arce, a former three-time world champion, was part of the celebration of Mexican Independence Day, which is September 15.
Nick Durandt said his charge was more than ready to continue do what he knows best.
"We've watched quite a bit of footage of the Frenchman. He is very upright, with the European amateur style. I think we are safe with him as a challenger, that is why we are going to France," said Durandt, who also guides the career of IBF flyweight holder Moruti Mthalane.
Attempts yesterday to get a comment from Nongqayi drew a blank. His mobile phone was off. Nongqayi, Durandt, assistant trainer Kenneth Mabunda, Milenkovic and local judge Neville Hotz will jet off to France tonight.