ACCOMPLISHED boxing teacher Manny Fernandez seems to have lost his marbles ahead of Saturday night's IBO Africa lightweight championship, which pits his charge, Jason Bedeman, against Bongani Dlamini.
This could spell disaster for "Badman" Bedeman, who defends his title against "Sweet Pie" Dlamini in the four-title tournament to be staged by Golden Gloves Promotion at Emperors Palace in Ekurhuleni.
Promoter Rodney Berman has dubbed it "Blockbuster".
Fernandez is always cool, calm and collected and his attitude has won him the respect of the entire boxing fraternity. It has also helped him attract several top fighters, like Cassius "Shy Guy" Baloyi, to his establishment.
As is usual before a fight, boxers, fans, trainers, managers and promoters will pick their winner. That is their opinion and they have picked the charismatic Dlamini from Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga as the victor.
His skills are honed in Gauteng by accomplished young trainer Elias Tshabalala. Those who saw Bedeman go down twice in the first round from a jab, before flattening Bilal Mohammad in the second round to win the WBA Pan African title in February, and those who witnessed Dlamini erupting like a volcano to bury Takalani Dandale in three rounds in April, said Bedeman would not not see the last round. That made Fernandez lose his cool.
The encyclopaedic Terry Pettifer, Golden Gloves' spokesperson, quoted Fernandez as saying: "Anyone who bets against 'Badman' needs his head examined. Jason is undefeated and yet so many crackpots are saying how Dlamini will flatten him. Has everyone lost their perspective or is the World Cup interfering with a solid understanding of what's been happening in the roped square?"
Clearly Fernandez has lost the first round, the psychological battle, and this could be costly for his 21-year-old champion, who is yet to taste defeat after 13 fights.
Tshabalala warned that Dlamini, 23, said Fernandez's confidence in his fighter was laudable.
"But I have to say it's totally misguided. 'Badman' will have to change his name to 'Sadman' after Bongani is through with him."
Dlamini has six wins in seven fights.
l Thomas Kimmons from the US will be the referee for the IBO junior flyweight championship between holder Hekkie Budler and Juanito Rubillar in the main bout of the tournament.