klassen in belt battle

Bongani Magasela

Pay your debt and get your belt. This is the message Manny Fernandez had for Malcolm Klassen, who is demanding the replica of the IBF junior lightweight belt.

Klassen earned it after defeating Gary St Clair for the actual IBF junior lightweight strap on November 4, 2006.

Klassen received that replica on August 21, 2007, courtesy of promoter Branco Milenkovic. At that time Klassen had already lost the title to Mzonke Fana .

Klassen said he gave the replica to Fernandez, who was his trainer.

Now Klassen, who is under trainer Nick Durandt, cannot get his belt because Fernandez claims the fighter owes him money.

"It [the belt] is with my friend who sponsored Klassen," Fernandez said. "I gave it to him as a surety after he demanded his R6000, the sponsorship money, which I deposited into Klassen's bank account.

"That was two weeks before he left me. That guy demanded it back, so I gave him Klassen's belt. Why did he take it [the money] when he knew that he was going to leave? Anyway, Malcolm must pay up and get his belt," added Fernandez.

But Klassen says Fernandez just wants attention.

"I don't owe him nothing. I owed Golden Gloves R10 000 and I paid it back as R55 000. That was because these guys are lawyers and the whole thing had involved a court order. Manny was not part of that deal.

"He started spreading rumours that I owe him after I had left him for Nick Durandt. I want my belt, that's all," insisted Klassen who will challenge Cassius Baloyi for the same IBF belt next month.

Baloyi dethroned Fana last April.