Boxer pays debt to Branco

FORMER two-time IBF junior lightweight titleholder Malcolm "The Stone" Klassen is a free agent after he was released by famed promoter Branco Milenkovic.

Klassen, who is known for pissing off trainers, managers and promoters with his brashness, confirmed yesterday that he has parted company with Milenkovic.

"Branco has released me from my contract and I'm free to join any promoter of my choice," Klassen said. "I have paid him his R15000 and I'm waiting for Branco to send me a letter confirming that we have parted ways."

The duo have been working together since 2006. Milenkovic helped Klassen to regain the IBF strap that he lost to Mzonke Fana in Cape Town on April 20 2007.

The first time Klassen won that belt was when he emphatically defeated defending champion Gary St Clair at Emperors Palace on November 4 2006. That fight, which was voted Boxing SA's 2007 fight of the year, was staged by Rodney Berman.

Klassen cut ties with Berman and trainer Manny Fernandez after his defeat by Fana to team up with Milenkovic, pictured, and trainer Nick Durandt.

Klassen won two warm-up fights before Milenkovic pitted him against Manuel Medina for the IBF title eliminator. He beat Medina in two rounds at the Carousel Casino on August 29 2008.

The champion at that time was Cassius Baloyi, who dethroned Fana. Milenkovic, who promotes Baloyi, matched him up with Klassen and the challenger stopped Baloyi in seven rounds in Mafikeng on April 18 2009. Durandt manned Baloyi's corner, while Klassen had Gert Strydom and Benny Pailman in his corner.

Under Durandt, Klassen lost the title to Robert Guerrero in the US on August 22 2009.

Klassen rejoined Fernandez and intended leaving Milenkovic and rejoining Berman but Milenkovic blocked that move by demanding that Klassen first settle his debt.

Klassen, who was to fight Vinvin Rufino for the vacant WBC International belt, was thus replaced by Sipho Taliwe, who defeated the Filipino on December 6 last year.

"I will still do business with Branco but I won't sign a contact with any promoter," Klassen said.

Milenkovic confirmed the departure of Klassen from his stable.