gloves are off

Bongani Magasela

Bongani Magasela

The gloves are off between two renowned local boxing promoters, Rodney Berman of Golden Gloves Promotions (GGP) and Branco Milenkovic of Branco Sports Productions (BSP).

Their rivalry has become personal and this is unhealthy for the noble art of boxing.

Sowetan last Wednesday carried a story which quoted Berman saying he and his American associate, Art Pellulo of Banner Promotions (BSP), were so confident that their charge, Cassius Baloyi will beat IBF junior lightweight defending champion Mzonke Fana on Saturday that they have already started planning his (Baloyi) first defence.

Any promoter would have said this.

Berman said Baloyi, the former WBU junior featherweight, featherweight, IBF and IBO junior lightweight belt holder, who challenges Fana at University Sports Complex in Mafikeng, North West, will make his first defence against Mexican Manuel Medina at Emperors Palace.

The eagerly awaited local shootout between Fana and Baloyi will be staged by BSP. Berman said Pellulo, who arrives here tomorrow, will give Baloyi several contractual options.

All this has angered Milenkovic.

"It is strange now that Berman is trying to get a free ride on this fight when he never had any decency to back-up Baloyi and lodge the purse bid on January 20."

Milenkovic won that bid.

About Berman's claim that Baloyi will stop Fana, Milenkovic, said:

"People still remember how good Berman is in predicting fights. He said Malcolm Klassen will stop Fana within two rounds in April last year.

"If I was him I would be silent regardless the outcome of the Fana and Baloyi scrap, especially for the sole reason that Berman stopped a local top official from taking part in this IBF championship.

"The IBF has appointed foreign officials because of Berman's allegations of corruption and bribery regarding the outcome of the Fana-Klassen fight."

Berman said he was not interested in Milenkovic's cheap politics.

"His comments do not justify any answer. We have a fighter in the name of Cassius Baloyi who will challenge for the IBF belt, so I have the right to say what I like. We believe that he will win and we do not want to waste time. Art is here to plan Baloyi' s future."

Supervisor on Saturday will be Lindsey Tucker (US), referee Luis Papon (Puerto Rico), judges Alex Levin (US), Mickey Vann (England) and Ingo Barrabas (Germany).