Thulani Mbenge ready for IBO defence

IBO welterweight boxing champ Thulani Mbenge and his trainer Sean Smith on their arrival in Germany. Mbenge defends his IBO belt against Sebastian Formella on Saturday night. /Sean Everett
IBO welterweight boxing champ Thulani Mbenge and his trainer Sean Smith on their arrival in Germany. Mbenge defends his IBO belt against Sebastian Formella on Saturday night. /Sean Everett

Rodney Berman's mission to guide the career of Thulani Mbenge the same way he did with many of his boxers, including Corrie Sanders, begins on Saturday when Mbenge makes his debut in Hamburg, Germany.

It was in that country's largest city of Hanover where Sanders - who had been the WBU heavyweight champion - produced one of the many upsets that will always linger in the minds of boxing aficionados by stopping highly respected WBO champion Wladmir Klitschko in the second round, ending his reign in 2003.

Sanders became the first African heavyweight boxer to hold the WBO strap.

Berman's charge Mbenge has already caught the attention of both the WBC and IBF Ratings Committees, which have placed him 10th and 15th respectively in the welterweight division.

He defends his IBO belt against Germany's Sebastian Formella, who is rated No17 by the IBO. He is yet to get recognition from other sanctioning bodies.

To make sure Mbenge does not suffer the home decision to Formella should their fight go the scheduled 12 rounds, the IBO Championship Committee appointed neutral officials, and obviously that was due to Berman's request.

They are Leszek Jankwiak from Poland (referee), while judges are Jerome Lades from France, American Rocky Young and Matteo Montella from Italy.

Mbenge and Formella are undefeated. The local boxer has knocked 12 of his 15 victims, while Formella has 10 knockouts in 20 wins.

Speaking from Hamburg yesterday, his trainer Sean Smith said: "We are ready to disrupt Germany with an explosive performance. Errol Ceylan from EC Boxing Promotions are hosting us and they are very hospitable.

"Thulani trained today and he's looking fantastic. I look forward to his performance and putting the welterweight division on notice."

Mbenge said: "Yes, this is my first trip outside home as a professional boxer and I am happy to get the opportunity to make myself known around the world. I am looking forward to the fight and, as Sean said, I am bringing an explosive performance."

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