baloyi tipped to wrest title

Bongani Magasela

Bongani Magasela

Associates Rodney Berman and Art Pellulo are confident their charge, Cassius "Hitman" Baloyi, will reclaim the IBF junior lightweight belt from Mzonke Fana on April 12.

This eagerly awaited fight will be staged by Branco Sports Productions at the University Sports Complex in Mafikeng, North West.

It became a reality last November just after Baloyi's points win over Australian Gary St Clair in a 12-rounder that was an elimination bout for the IBF's number one spot.

Fana, who won the title from Malcolm Klassen last April, will bid for the second defence.

In his first defence last August, the "Rose of Khayelitsha" looked a million dollar fighter in his ninth-round stoppage of Argentinian Javier Osvaldo Alvarez.

That fantastic fight, which had the estimated 2500 people crammed inside the 1500-capacity James Motlatsi Hall in Klerksdorp on their toes, was staged by Branco Milenkovic.

For the record, Milenkovic was last week presented with a plaque by the WBC for being the busiest WBC-registered local promoter.

His rivals Berman and Pellulo are so confident of Baloyi's win that they have already started planning his defence, which Berman said would be against Manuel Medina at Emperors Palace.

Baloyi stopped the Mexican in 11 rounds in May 2005 to win the then vacant IBF belt which the former lost four months later to St Clair, who was subsequently dethroned by Klassen.

"Art is coming over with the purpose of handing Baloyi several contractual options," Berman said yesterday from Australia, where his other fighter, Isaac Hlatswayo, puts his IBO welterweight belt on the line against Robert Medley on Friday.

Berman described Fana as a good boxer who is always extremely fit. That is a big plus for trainer Zola Koti.

"But that doesn't put him in the same class as Cassius," said the Golden Gloves boss, whose fight publicist Terry Pettifer has tipped Baloyi to win.

"Baloyi's pedigree in world title fights reflects 19 victories and two defeats," said Pettifer.

The two gladiators have the same number of defeats, which is three.

Fana, 34, has 27 wins (10 KOs) while Baloyi, 33, the ex-WBU junior featherweight, featherweight, IBO and IBF junior lightweight holder, has 34 wins that include 18 by knockouts.