Ndlovu gets second try

Bongani Magasela

Bongani Magasela

Dethroned IBO junior featherweight champion Talakani "The Panther" Ndlovu has been given a second chance to claw his way back to stardom.

Ndlovu, who reigned supreme for four years before forfeiting the title last July after his ninth-round stoppage defeat by IBF champion Steve Molitor, will challenge Christobal "Lacandon" Cruz for the IBO featherweight belt in America in June.

The belt had been held by Thomas "Merciless" Mashaba, who lost it last month in his fifth defence to Cruz at the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut in the US.

The unheralded Cruz, 30, who was born in Chiapas, a rough city in Mexico, spoiled the party for the locomotive train driver at a gold mine in Carletonville.

Mashaba lost on a split points decision. The fight was promoted by Rodney Berman and his American associate, Art Pellulo of Banner Promotions.

After that defeat Berman announced a rematch which he said would take place at Emperors Palace in September, but obviously this has changed.

Berman would not go into details about the change in plan but said he and Pellulo had finalised the deal for Ndlovu.

"This is a great opportunity for Takalani to fight his way back to the top again," he said of the Soweto fighter who ruled the local ring for two years as national featherweight champion.

Ndlovu registered five defences before vacating that belt after winning the IBO strap in 2005. He defended it three times against Fabio Daniel Oliva (KO 2), Giovanni Andrade (KO 2) and Ricardo Castillo (points).

His defence against Castillo on December 1 2006 was also an IBF title eliminator. Ndlovu was at sea against the "Canadian Kid", who almost destroyed him at the Casino Rama in Ontario, Canada.

Ndlovu, who suffered his first short-route defeat in four defeats against 28 wins (18 KOs), left his long-time trainer and father Stanley Ndlovu and joined Nick Durandt, who guided him to a fourth-round stoppage of Filipino Raymond Sermona at Emperors Palace on February 2.