Maluleka enters last chance saloon

Sydney Maluleka (right) connects during the super featherweight bout against Ashley Dlamini at Emperors Palace. His fight against Lerato Dlamini on April 8 could decide his career. /Veli Nhlapo
Sydney Maluleka (right) connects during the super featherweight bout against Ashley Dlamini at Emperors Palace. His fight against Lerato Dlamini on April 8 could decide his career. /Veli Nhlapo

Succumb or succeed. That unbending warning was issued yesterday by no-nonsense Gauteng boxing trainer Bernie Pailman to his charge Sydney "Skeleton" Maluleka, who has been thrown a lifeline.

Promoter Rodney Berman has matched Maluleka with Lerato "Lights Out" Dlamini for the vacant WBC international featherweight title. The bout between the veteran of 25 fights and 11-fight novice Dlamini will take place at Emperors Palace on April 8.

Maluleka, who has been around since 2004, has held the SA and IBF Continental Africa belts. Were it not for his wayward life, the talented boxer from Giyani would have achieved a lot more.

Losing to six-fight novice Azinga "Golden Boy" Fuzile in October was a clear indicator that Maluleka had reached a cul-de-sac. This view is shared by Pailman.

"This is the big one for Sydney and it could well be his last. Yes, he has won the SA and IBF continental Africa titles before but this is a do or die. Sydney must be like a vulture going for a rat. That is how hungry he must be otherwise he must just call it quits if he cannot beat Dlamini."

Maluleka, 35, who has 17 wins against eight losses, replaced Rofhiwa "War Child" Maemu in this bout against a fighter 10 years his junior.

The boxing match promises fireworks, with bosom friends Pailman and Colin Nathan in opposite corners.

Dlamini, from Free State, packs a mean punch which has left six of his 10 victims gasping for air.

"Yes, I have joined Sean. I have no promoter but I am looking forward to working with any promoter who will give me action," said the former IBO lightweight champ.

Smith's camp is home to SA welterweight champion Thulani Mbenge, SA and ABU cruiserweight holder Thabiso Mchunu, SA lightweight champ Thompson Mokwana, Ayabonga Sonjica, Mziwoxolo Ndwayana, Sibusiso Zingange and Jared Silverman.

"I am excited to have these guys. They motivate each other," Smith said.

"You can expect to see Ndongeni in action around April because you cannot welcome a boxer and throw him in a fight immediately. We are getting used to each other."

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