war of attrition

Bongani Magasela

Bongani Magasela

Foxwood, Connecticut - Thomas "Merciless" Mashaba, the reigning IBO featherweight king, is preparing for another war - this time on foreign soil.

He will bid for a fourth title defence against Mexican Christobal Cruz at the Fox Theatre in Foxwood tomorrow morning.

The fight will be Mashaba's second outside the country and will be presented jointly by Rodney Berman of Golden Gloves, Art Pellulo of Banner Promotions and Foxwood casino.

It will be televised live on ESPN around 5am SA time.

"I saw this guy's taped fights. His style of coming forward all the time will suit me just fine. He is rough but I have a plan for him. I can simply say it is going to be war. It won't be about boxing skills but a plain war of attrition," warned Mashaba.

He hopes to impress the American fight public and in the process get a second call, probably to fight at the MGM Grand plaza in Las Vegas.

That is where old time greats fought.

"It is my wish to fight there even if it means appearing in an undercard fight," he said.

That venue is to boxers what the Trench Town Rock in Jamaica is to reggae artists.

Legends such as Burning Spear, Jimmy Cliff, Bob Marley and Peter Tosh appeared in front of thousands of hard-core rastafarians there.

All fighters aspire to fight at the MGM Grand.

Mashaba, who finalised his preparations at the Rivera Brothers' gym in Lynn, Boston, on Tuesday before moving over to Connecticut on Wednesday, has psyched himself for war.

That approach has moulded the tough Gold Fields employee, who is sponsored by the company, into the revered fighter he is today.

Most of his fights have been wars. This trainee electrician and a former locomotive driver, has always triumphed.

"Whatever he does, I will do twice as much better," he said.

He did just that against American Eric Aiken at Emperors Palace in November. Mashaba hit the deck in round five but got up and poleaxed the former IBF champion in the ninth round.

"People must expect a 'hit and I hit back' kind of a fight. I doubt that it will go the full 12 rounds," he warned in his parting shot.