baloyi ditches berman

Bongani Magasela

Bongani Magasela

In shocking news, motor-mouth promoter Branco Milenkovic announced that IBF junior lightweight champion Cassius "Hitman" Baloyi has joined the ever-expanding Branco Sports Production stable.

Vows were exchanged yesterday at the Boxing SA offices in Nasrec.

"Yes, I witnessed it," confirmed Loyiso Mtya of Boxing SA.

Baloyi has been rival promoter Rodney Berman' trump card for 14 years.

He made his professional debut under Golden Gloves in 1994. He won the WBU super bantamweight title in 1996, WBU featherweight title in 1999, IBO super featherweight title in 2002, and IBF and IBO super featherweight belts in 2006 under the same umbrella.

Baloyi lost both the IBF and IBO belts in 2006. He regained the IBO belt under Berman in 2007.

Baloyi recaptured the IBF belt under BSP in April. It was a historic victory that made this humble-mannered pugilist from Giyani the only fighter to win six world titles in three different weight categories.

"Nobody influenced me but Berman's actions," he said. "I spoke to him last week regarding negotiations with Branco since Friday last week was the deadline that they were given by the IBF to negotiate my defence against Malcolm Klassen.

"He promised to get back to me on Saturday but he never did. I then realised he was not serious. So I made a move. I did not want my defence to go to a purse bid because I knew he would not bid.

"Even when I fought and won the title from Mzonke Fana, Rodney did not bid.

"I'm happy with my deal. People will now be able to see me in action now that I will be fighting under SABC. They know my name but they cannot put a face to it since I have been fighting all my life under SuperSport."

Milenkovic said being joined by the pride of South African boxing shows that he was doing something right.

The purse bid was scheduled for next Tuesday in New Jersey. Milenkovic will automatically cancel it after signing Baloyi.

He let the cat out the bag when he said that fight, the first ever world championship between stable-mates, will take place in March.

He now controls the IBF junior lightweight division with Baloyi at the helm, Klassen at number two as well as Fana at number four.

Baloyi is the latest Berman fighter to team up with BSP in the past two years.

The others include Klassen, Silence Mabuza, Peter Mashamaite, Jeffrey Mathebula and Phumzile Mtyhila.

Baloyi's mentor, the esteemed Nick Durandt, revealed that Baloyi would earn his highest purse from Milenkovic.

"Discussions took place, Cassius was given options and he made his decision," Durandt said.

"Berman told me to do what I want with Cassius. I was surprised because he announced that Cassius and Isaac Hlatswayo are the only boxers from my stable who will work with him," said Durandt, referring to their recent cat fight that had divided them.

"I don't think Branco is talking nonsense when he talks about Baloyi fighting for the unification. This man talks and delivers."