Taliwe psyched to go 12

THE epic battle between Marvin Hagler and Sugar Ray Leonard, which took place at Caesar's Palace in the US on April 6 1987, could be relived when Sipho Taliwe fights Godfrey Nzimande on Sunday.

Hagler was a heavy favourite against Leonard, who was returning to the ring after a three-year retirement. Leonard was awarded a controversial split decision. Some felt that Hagler deserved the decision because he was the aggressor and landed harder punches. Others felt Leonard not only outpointed Hagler, but exposed him and made him look like a guy chasing a bus.

Hagler was a brawler, a man who could club you to death if you merely stood there and let him hit you. But if you moved, he was lost. The fight is still hotly debated to this day.

On Sunday Taliwe, who fights just like Hagler, will put his national junior lightweight belt on the line against Nzimande, a boxer-puncher like Leonard.

Taliwe, who goes by the monicker "Tsunami", is trained by Benny Pailman, Peter Faver and Cliff Martins at Westside Boxing Academy in Westbury.

"The Punisher", as Nzimande is affectionately known, is trained by Nick Durandt at his Bree Street gym in downtown Johannesburg. Pailman, Faver and Martins have one over Durandt, who is assisted by Kenneth Mabunda. Taliwe stopped Durandt's other charge, Warren "The Warrior" Joubert, in four rounds on April 23.

Taliwe says: "I am sure of victory. I worked hard to win this title. I am going to work harder to defend it. Nzimande must prepare himself for the fight of his life. I intend to box for 12 rounds but that will depend on his durability. He is tough and I respect him."

Nzimande says he cannot wait for Sunday: "It's been a year-and-a-half since I lost this title to Jasper Seroka, who was defeated by Sipho. I will teach Sipho a boxing lesson. I don't want to knock him out but to beat him smart. He is not a clever boxer but he has power."

Promoter Pat Molefe's Rainbow Promotions will present the fight at Nasrec Arena near Soweto.