boxing coup

Bongani Magasela

Bongani Magasela

Associates Branco Milenkovic and Mzimase Mnguni have won a big fight, securing the rights to stage the IBF eliminator between their charge, Ali Funeka and American Zahir Raheem.

The winner will challenge IBF champion Nate Campbell.

Milenkovic, the boss of Branco Sports Production (BSP), and Mnguni, boss of Eyethu Boxing Promotions (EBP), landed the fight last Thursday with their $150000 (R1,2 million) purse bid.

But they seem to be struggling to find a venue.

Milenkovic and Mnguni intend to give Funeka a psychological edge by staging the fight in front of his home fans in Eastern Cape.

But that is not guaranteed because they need a financial injection. And time is fast running out. The fight must happen before the end of July.

According to IBF purse bid rules any fight whose rights were won through that process must take place within 90 days from the date of that bid.

The Eastern Cape government should come to Milenkovic and Mnguni's aid and prevent doing what the Western Cape government did by not showing interest in the IBF lightweight fight between that province's hero, Mzonke Fana and Cassius Baloyi.

That boxing match, which was staged by Milenkovic, ended up taking place in Mafikeng with the help of the North West province. Baloyi won it on a majority points decision.

Milenkovic had intended staging the title eliminator at OR Tambo Hall, which is a stone's throw away from Fana's house in Khayelitsha.

"Our bid was extremely high, in fact even much higher than that of Fana and Baloyi. The reason is because I promised Funeka that I will do everything to win and stage it in his backyard," said Milenkovic.

Mnguni said SuperSport, which played a pivotal role in his career as a boxing manager and promoter, as well as in the careers of his fighters including Funeka, had agreed to broadcast the fight live.

Funeka, 29, from Mdantsane, who is nicknamed "Rush Hour", is rated fifth while "Z-Man", as Raheem, 31, from Philadelphia is known, occupies the third spot.

He upset the bookies on September 10 2005 by defeating highly rated Erik Morales for the WBC International lightweight title.

Morales is the former WBC super bantamweight, IBF featherweight, WBC and IBA junior lightweight titlist. The Mexican beat Manny Pacquiao for both the WBC International and IBA junior lightweight belts on March 19 2005.

For the record, Isaac Hlatswayo outpointed Raheem on April 7 2006.