Mathebula moves down for eliminator

Bongani Magasela

Bongani Magasela

Jeffrey "The Mongoose" Mathebula, who holds the World Boxing Council (WBC) international featherweight belt, will drop a division to fight Mexican Julio Zarate in an International Boxing Federation (IBF) junior featherweight title eliminator on August 29.

The venue has not been announced as the promotional rights for this fight are to be decided by purse bids at the IBF's convention in Germany on Saturday (May 31).

But Mathebula's promoter, Branco Milenkovic, is confident of concluding a deal with Zarate's promoters before the purse bid.

"I am negotiating with them and everything is promising," he said last week.

He said he wants to bring the fight here and stage it as a double header with another IBF title eliminator between Malcolm "The Stone" Klassen and Manuel "Mantecas" Medina.

The winner between Klassen and Medina will become the mandatory challenger to fight IBF champion Cassius "Hitman" Baloyi.

Milenkovic says Mathebula has been itching for a crack at a world title but the promoter has been unable to get his charge a shot at the featherweight title.

"An opportunity opened in the junior featherweight division and since he does not have a problem fighting at that weight division, we decided to take it," explained Milenkovic.

Mathebula, 28, a former Olympian from Limpopo who turned professional in 2001 after the Olympics in Sydney, Australia in 2000, boasts an impressive fight record of 21 wins (12 KOs), two draws and a single defeat which was meted out by Thomas "Merciless" Mashaba in 2003 for the SA junior featherweight belt.

Mathebula has since chalked up nine straight wins. He will fight Zarate, 32, an experienced Mexican, who boasts 26 wins (16 KOs), a draw and four losses.