Malinga ready for Hasegawa

SHEER GUTS: Vus'Umuzi "Marvelous" Malinga's hunger for glory pushed him to win a World Boxing Council title after getting appalling treatment in Thailand. © Sowetan.

Bongani Magasela

Bongani Magasela

That the right to challenge for a world title means that the actual fight is still to come could be the reason behind the ice-cold welcome for Vus'Umuzi "Marvelous" Malinga last Friday morning.

This left-handed fighter, who currently holds the World Boxing Council (WBC) bantamweight belt, jetted into OR Tambo International Airport from a mission accomplished in Thailand where he achieved the right to challenge Hozumi Hasegawa for the WBC belt.

Malinga, 26, from Katlehong in Ekurhuleni, unfolded an easy fourth-round technical knockout over Thailand's one-time world boxing hero Veeraphol Nakhonluang at the Bodindecha School in Bangkok last Thursday.

Now Malinga, who was ushered to war by his trainer and father Jabulani Malinga and assistant trainer Thulani Buthelezi, has qualified to fight Hasegawa.

Malinga improved his knockout ratio to 11 from 18 wins, two defeats and a draw, while Nakhonluang suffered his fourth defeat (three TKOs) against 61 wins (45 KOs), three losses.

Malinga's fight with Hasegawa, who blasted Cristian Faccio in two rounds in Japan on the same day as Malinga's fight, should take place in the next nine months.

Indeed that is a hurdle to jump before Malinga can be acclaimed, but still he deserved better treatment.

The boxing fraternity, especially Boxing SA, should have made an effort to welcome Malinga, who was met only by family and a handful of close friends.

Malinga rose above distractions after experiencing hardship which included appalling accommodation at a truckers-inn-cum hotel that was a beehive for what seemed to be prostitutes.

Mind games are part of this sport but the Thai promoter went to extremes.

Hunger for glory and determination to live up to his Nguni nickname which means "revive the clan" motivated Malinga to produce a stunning win.