An opportunity to fight for the coveted IBO belt should compel Godfrey Nzimande to produce an upset tonight against the highly ranked Zolani Marali.
Nzimande, who has the potential to be among the best in the world of fisticuffs, challenges Marali for the WBF belt at Emperors Palace.
The soft-spoken, intelligent boxer from Limpopo, whose every move will be masterminded by veteran mentor Harold Volbrecht, is one of the many boxers whose career paths have been affected by a lack of recognition from pundits.
His impressive CV of 19 wins (11 KOs) and one defeat has gone unnoticed. Even winning the national title against the highly ranked Mpumelelo Mbedle, when not given the slightest of chances, seems not to have convinced experts. Nzimande has been to top gyms like those of Nick Durandt, Manny Fernandez and Norman Hlabane but did not find what he was looking for.
It was the ageing Hlabane who guided him to victory over Mbedle but it appears joining Volbrecht promises a brighter future.
Promoter Rodney Berman, whose seven-bout bill tonight will be bankrolled by Gree Air Conditioners, has promised that the winner will fight for the IBO belt. Marali held the IBO junior featherweight belt but lost it in 2004 to Thomas Mshaba. During that time, Nzimande was still fighting four and six rounders.
"The time has come for me to follow in the footsteps of homeboys Cassius Baloyi and Isaac Hlatswayo who are world champions. This is one opportunity I cannot let slip through my hands," he said yesterday after tipping the scales at 58,78kg at the weigh-in.
"I have been [training] hard in the gym for almost three months and if I am not ready now, I never will be."
But the left-handed champion from Mdantsane warned sternly that Nzimande would get a severe hiding.
"I will climb on him from the outset," said Marali, 30, who is trained by Durandt.
Marali (18-12-1), registered 58,60kg. The limit is 58,97kg. He will bid for the first defence of the belt he won last November.