nongqayi stands at golden gates

EYES ON THE PRIZE: Former WBF champion Simphiwe 'Golden Master' Nongqayi will fight Jorge Arce for the vacant IBF junior bantamweight title tonight. Pic. Tsheko Kabasia. 14/09/2009. © Sowetan.
EYES ON THE PRIZE: Former WBF champion Simphiwe 'Golden Master' Nongqayi will fight Jorge Arce for the vacant IBF junior bantamweight title tonight. Pic. Tsheko Kabasia. 14/09/2009. © Sowetan.

SIMPHIWE Nongqayi's claim to greatness will be tested tonight when he challenges legendary Mexican ring gladiator Jorge "Travieso" Arce.

This fight for the vacant IBF junior bantamweight title takes place at Cancun in Mexico and is expected to test the real character in Nongqayi, who is a step away from fame and fortune.

The "Golden Master" and his trainer Nick Durandt left for Mexico last Tuesday and were both arrested while in transit in Germany. They were due to take connecting flights to Brazil but German authorities bundled them into jail when they could not produce visas.

They spent seven hours behind bars but were later released after verification that they were in transit. Nongqayi spent four days between Germany, Brazil and Mexico and the delay took a lot out of him mentally and physically. These trials and tribulations could either spur him on to greatness or destroy him.

Arce is a former three-time world champion with 40 knockouts from 52 wins, against five defeats and a draw. But Nongqayi is likely to show scant respect for his reputation.

Promoter Branco Milenkovic said Nongqayi, an undefeated former WBF champion with six knockouts in 15 wins, told him the disruption will not affect his performance.

"This is Nongqayi's hardest fight in his career, but he is very positive and confident of victory. Arce is no longer the same fighter who stopped Hawk Makepula three years ago.

"I feel that Simphiwe has equal chances of winning this title," Milenkovic said.

He is delighted that IBF president Miriam Muhammad heeded his request for one of the judges to be South African.

She appointed Wally Snowball. The other judges are Robert Gonzales (US) and Alfredo Polance (Mexico).

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