Funeka set for IBF bloodbath

Bongani Magasela

Bongani Magasela

Bones are sure to crack and blood will certainly be spilled when Nate Campbell defends the International Boxing Federation (IBF) lightweight belt against Ali Funeka on February 14.

These two gladiators whose collision is set to take place in Chicago, are evenly matched.

They both have tremendous punching power, with 25 knockouts each.

"The Galaxy Warrior", as Campbell, the 36-year-old champion from Tampa in Florida is known, has 32 wins, only two more than the 27-year-old Mdantsane fighter who is affectionately known as "Rush Hour".

Campbell has been knocked out two times in his five defeats while Funeka's only loss was on points. Funeka has been knocked down once in his career and that was in 2000 against Mzwanele Sam.

But Funeka got up from the canvass twice in the first round to win on points over six rounds.

Funeka tasted defeat two years ago against Mzonke Fana for the South African title.

Since then this lanky fighter, who has been grossly underrated, has chalked up 16 straight wins while Campbell has also not lost a fight since being outpointed by Isaac Hlatswayo for the IBO belt on April 7 2006, winning all four.

He won the IBF, WBA and WBO belts in his last fight in March last year from Juan Diaz.

Campbell' s defence against Funeka has been on the cards since July last year. That was after Funeka had won the mandatory challenger status with a fourth round destruction of Zahir Raheem.

Campbell has since vacated the WBA strap.

His explanation to Fightnews early this week was: "There's no way I can fulfill my mandatory obligation to the WBA.

"So rather than pay sanction fees on it for the next few fights, knowing full well I wont be able to defend it without giving up my WBO belt, which I won't do, I decided to just go ahead and vacate the WBA title now.

"Not that I'm looking past my February 14th IBF mandatory [clash] with Ali Funeka, because I'm not.

"Funeka deserves, and unfortunately for him, he will get my full and undivided attention."

Funeka's manager Mzimase Mnguni said trainers Vuyani and Dudu Bungu and Mveleli Luzipho have left no stone unturned in preparing Funeka for this super fight.