careers at stake

Bongani Magasela

Bongani Magasela

Three top local fighters, Vincent Vuma, Phillip Ndou and Ali Funeka will be involved in career-defining fights away from home this weekend.

Vuma will challenge Hamlet Petrosyan at Salle des Fetes Carouge in Switzerland for the IBF International junior middleweight belt on Saturday night.

"The Rock" is fresh from a points defeat against Ryan Rhodes at O2 Arena Millennium Dome in Greenwich, London, in November.

Defeat will confirm that Vuma is only good enough for the local ring. He holds the national belt.

At the Palais des Sports, Saint Quentin, in France, "Time Bomb" Ndou will make a comeback after four years against Rachid Drilzane.

It will be interesting to see if Ndou, who fought in the junior lightweights before his retirement four years ago due to a cyst on his brain, can still be one of the brightest lights in local boxing.

But more focus will be at Bank Atlantic Centre in Florida, in the US, where "Rush Hour" Funeka will challenge Nate "Galaxxy Warrior" Campbell for the IBF and WBO lightweight belts.

Dubbed "St Valentine's Day Massacre", this super fight will be presented by Don King Promotions in conjunction with One Punch Productions.

Funeka, 27, won the rights to challenge the American in July last year after blowing Campbell's countryman, Zahir Raheem away in four rounds.

That fight was staged by Branco Milenkovic. He tips Funeka to knock Campbell out in three rounds.

Some boxing personalities told Sowetan yesterday that there is a great chance that Funeka, who is from Mdantsane, will humiliate the talkative and arrogant American in front of his fans, with a stoppage.

Bongani Mwelase said Funeka will mow Campbell down like grass.

"Ali is the tallest lightweight. He is even taller than some of the welterweights, and he packs the meanest punch," he said.

IBF lightweight belt holder, Cassius Baloyi said Funeka was such a disciplined fighter inside the ring that there is nothing to worry about.

Stan Sono, whose excellent administrative skills has earned him the Order of iKamanga, expects Funeka to grab the opportunity with both hands.

However, the highly-respected Sono wondered if Funeka was ready mentally for this contest.

"Most of our boxers do not fail because they cannot do it but because they are not thoroughly mentally prepared for such platforms," Sono said.

Esteemed mentor Nick Durandt, who will usher Vuma to battle, wished Ndou well while keeping his fingers crossed for Funeka to make himself and South Africa proud.