Simpiwe Konkco ready for WBC title challenge
If Simpiwe Konkco surprises world strawweight champion Chayaphon Moonsri in Thailand on Friday afternoon‚ he’ll be only the third South African to lift a prestigious WBC crown.
And if victorious he would be the least experienced of the trio — by quite some distance.
Konkco has a modest record of 19 wins and five losses compared to Moonsri’s flawless 53-0‚ but it’s also less than the records of his two WBC-holding countrymen‚ Sugar Boy Malinga and Dingaan Thobela.
Of the four main sanctioning bodies‚ which also include the WBA‚ IBF and WBO‚ SA has enjoyed the least success with the WBC.
Malinga won the WBC super-middleweight title twice in the last millennium and Thobela lifted the same belt once in 2000.
Malinga’s record was 40-9 when he stepped into the ring to stun English superstar Nigel Benn in Newcastle in 1996‚ and it was 41-10 when he took on Robin Reid in London in 1997.
Thobela had 39 victories‚ seven defeats and two draws when he challenged Englishman Glenn Catley at Carnival City in 2000.
That fight was only the second time a South African boxer had fought for a WBC belt on home soil.
The other occasion was in 1973 when Pierre Fourie took on American light-heavyweight legend Bob Foster‚ holder of the WBC and WBA titles‚ at the time the only two organisations around.
But Konkco does have something in common with one of SA’s two champions — at 33 he is the same age Thobela was when he ascended the WBC throne.
In total 17 SA boxers have challenged for WBC belts‚ but 15 have failed‚ starting with welterweight Willie Ludick against Curtis Cokes‚ also a unified champion‚ in 1968.
Konkco certainly isn’t SA’s most inexperienced WBC challenger either.
In fact‚ nine had fewer than Konkco’s 24 fights:
Mzonke Fana‚ with a 22-2 record‚ had the same number. Giovanni Pretorius was 22-0-1‚ Monelisi Myekeni was 21-2‚ Vusi Malinga 18-2-1‚ Evans Mbamba 17-0‚ Simphiwe Vetyeka 16-0‚ Andre Thysse 14-2‚ Gideon Buthelezi 12-2‚ Mzukisi Marali 11-2‚ and Morgan Ndumo 10-2-1.
Ndumo is the only one to have fought for the same title Konkco is bidding for‚ but he was stopped in the sixth round by then strawweight kingpin Ricardo Lopez‚ who was unbeaten in 43 fights at the time in 1996.
SA’s failed WBC challengers with more experience are Ludick (28-2)‚ Phillip Ndou (31-1)‚ Frans Botha (40-2-1)‚ Corrie Sanders (39-2) and Fourie (43-1-1 and 44-2-1).
Thobela is actually the most experienced of SA’s failed challengers‚ having a record of 40-8-2 when he lost by stoppage against Canadian Eric Lucas in 2001.
In total‚ 17 South Africans have engaged in 23 WBC title fights.
The three victories were all challenges; neither Malinga nor Thobela successfully defended a WBC belt. So does Konkco have a chance?
His camp is confident. “Feeling great‚ we’re ready‚” trainer-manager Colin Nathan said from Thailand after Thursday’s weigh-in.
Both challenger and champion made the 47.63kg limit.