stakes raised

Bongani Magasela

Bongani Magasela

If IBF junior lightweight champ Cassius "Hitman" Baloyi loses to Malcolm "The Stone" Klassen on Saturday he will miss out on the opportunity of a unification super fight with WBC holder, Armando Humberto Soto.

The Mexican has a date with Benoit Gaudet on May 2 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Nick Durandt announced exclusively to Sowetanyesterday that the Baloyi-Soto unification bout is a done deal, which means that Soto and company do not see the Canadian as a stumbling block.

"Baloyi must just win on Saturday," said Durandt. "I discussed the unification with Soto's manager, Fernando Beltran when I was in Mexico with Simphiwe Nongqayi in February. They are ready to make it."

The general feeling among local fight fans is that Baloyi and Klassen will not give their all because they are stablemates. But that was before Durandt's announcement.

"This is war. Malcolm wants the title badly and Cassius is not ready to let go now. Fights fans must brace themselves for an epic battle," said Durandt.

Durandt will master Baloyi's corner in his second defence of the title.

Baloyi described Klassen as a busy fighter who makes lots of mistakes.

"He says he won his last three fights on knockout but who has he been fighting?" asked Baloyi who declared himself in great shape mentally and physically.

Baloyi from Giyani is the only local fighter to win six world titles in different weight categories.

Klassen the former IBF junior lightweight champion from Toekomsrus, on the West Rand, was not available for comment. His trainer Gert Strydom said their preparations have gone very well.

"He will be firing from all cylinders. Nothing will stop The Stone from rolling down in Mafikeng," he warned.

This unprecedented world title fight between stable-mates here will be presented jointly by Branco Sports Production, the North West government and SABC Sport at the University of North West in Mafikeng. Tickets are on sale at Computicket outlets and Shoprite Checkers stores countrywide.

The pre-fight medical will take place at the SABC headquarters in Auckland Park today at 9.30am. The fight will be broadcast live at 9.30pm on Blow by Blow.