'No respect for Mashaba in SA'

Bongani Magasela

Bongani Magasela

Esteemed boxing mentor Eugene Khanyile is an unhappy man.

He is at pains to figure out the reason behind the negative attitude of the local media towards Thomas "Merciless" Mashaba.

Khanyile, who has moulded this Driefontein gold mine locomotive train driver, into a platinum fighter, says the local media just refuse to recognise his warrior despite his successes.

"Mashaba is so grossly underrated that everytime he has a fight the media will tip the opponent to win," bemoaned Khanyile yesterday.

To rub salt in the wound, Mashaba has never won a single award despite having held two IBO belts at one stage in his productive career.

This former undefeated South African junior featherweight champion dethroned Zolani Marali of his IBO junior featherweight title in May 2004 and did the same to Vuyani Bungu for the featherweight belt 13 months later.

Mashaba was nominated for the Boxer of 2006 award but lost the race to Malcolm Klassen.

Surprisingly, Khanyile scooped the Trainer of the Year award. But his win was tempered by his boxer's failure to get recognition.

The soft-spoken combatant defied all odds once more on Monday night when he poleaxed highly rated American former IBF champion Eric Aiken in seven rounds.

That was one of Mashaba's many epic performances. He chalked up his fourth title defence and improved his knockout ratio to 12 from 20 wins, four draws and a loss. He is yet to lose a fight in a local ring.

"We have been promised another defence in February. Watch our media, they will tip the yet-to-be-announced opponent to win," said Khanyile.