mashaba angry

Bongani Magasela

Bongani Magasela

Promoter Rodney Berman says Christobal Cruz has waved a red rag in front of a bull by predicting a short-route win against Thomas "Merciless" Mashaba in the United States on March 7.

"Trainer Eugene [Khanyile] told me that Cruz's bold prediction angered Mashaba so much theday he heard of it that he refused to leave the gym," said Berman.

"Mashaba told Khanyile that he would not leave the gym until he sweated blood. That is how angry he is.

"Mashaba is in a dangerous frame of mind and I feel pity for Cruz."

Mashaba will make the fifth defence of the IBO featherweight belt against the rugged 30-year-old Mexican, who boasts a scary knockout ratio of 23 from 35 wins, 11 losses and a draw.

Berman and his American associate Art Pellula will co-present this tournament under the umbrella of Golden Gloves and Banner Promotions at the Foxworld casino in Connecticut.

It will be televised live by ESPN, one of the big three cable networks in the US.

Mashaba and Khanyile jetted out on Tuesday night. Berman will join them next Wednesday.

The 27-year-old Mashaba is a mean fighter who wears his opponents down with body punches.

Twelve of his 20 victims, including two former IBO and IBF champions Zolani Marali and American Eric Aiken, failed to see the last round.

"His international stocks have soared since his blistering knockout victory over former two-time IBF world champion Eric Aiken at Emperors Palace late last year.

"We are more than confident of his ability and, like I said last week, Mashaba and Silence Mabuza will unify the world championships," said Berman as his parting shot.

This will be Mashaba's second trip abroad.

His first in 2003 was not a fruitful one. Mashaba suffered a controversial points loss to Sod Looknongyangtoy for the WBO Asian Pacific junior featherweight title in Bangkok.

That was his only loss.

But he came back more determined and won two IBO world titles, the junior featherweight and featherweight belts.

He later vacated the junior featherweight title.