Nkululeko Mhlongo now ready to punch above his weight

Nkululeko Mhlongo throws a punch at Emanny Kalombo during their WBF Intercontinental junior middleweight fight at Edenvale Community Centre. / Veli Nhlapo
Nkululeko Mhlongo throws a punch at Emanny Kalombo during their WBF Intercontinental junior middleweight fight at Edenvale Community Centre. / Veli Nhlapo

Veteran boxer and current SA junior middleweight champion Nkululeko "Bull Dog"
Mhlongo says young fighters - who prefer to challenge for regional titles rather than the national belt - must be educated on the importance of being their country's champions.

Indeed, it was an honour many years back to win the Old Buck belt. In fact, it became a ruling that every local boxer would first have to be a national champion before they could think of trying their luck at world titles.

But the prestige of being a South African champion has somehow lost its esteem
because boxing authorities - especially after the birth of the SA Boxing Act of 2001 -
allowed sanctioning bodies to dictate terms in regard to the nomination of boxers to contest for their "B" grade belts.

Old-school boxers fully understood what it really meant to be an SA champion. Even television played a pivotal role in making sure that national title fights were given priority and it was for that coverage that boxers of yesteryear were known.

Boxing SA (BSA) seems to have lost the fight with broadcasters and the SA title has become secondary to regional belts.

But 37-year-old Mhlongo - who has already claimed ownership of the championship belt after making the required number of five defences - said education begins with boxers.

This stylish fighter, who is yet to get his belt from BSA, added: "There is nothing that makes me to be a proud South African boxer more than holding the SA title. I think education is very important to young fighters that they get told what it really means to be your country's champion."

Mhlongo, who can throw every punch in the book with only his left hand, said he was now gunning for the super middleweight belt held by Rowan Campbell.

"I am actually going to sit down with my promoter Lebo Mahoko regarding moving the weight division because making the limit for the junior middleweight division drains me such that it leaves me dry with no power," he said. "I think I will be comfortable at super middleweight.

"I still have four years in me," said the man who was knocked out in five rounds by Emmany Kalombo from Congo for the WBF Intercontinental title in Benoni in March. Mhlongo has 16 wins from 23 fights.

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