'A punch has no name'

Thulani Mbenge falls short with a right against Diego Cruz in a recent match. Mbenge's career will now be co-managed by US promoter Lou DiBella, says Rodney Berman.
Thulani Mbenge falls short with a right against Diego Cruz in a recent match. Mbenge's career will now be co-managed by US promoter Lou DiBella, says Rodney Berman.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

Boxing trainer Sean Smith says Thulani "Tulz" Mbenge will not underestimate unknown quantity Kuvesa Katembo in their ABU title fight on March 28.

The two will lock horns at the Riviera Resort in Vereeniging and Smith says the fact that the Congolese is unranked is immaterial.

Smith warned yesterday that a punch has no name or reputation, and pointed to how the career of Phillip "Time Bomb" Ndou was shockingly ended by little-known Ntuthuko Memela in 2016.

Smith trains the 28-year-old Mbenge, who has not seen competitive action since April when he lost the IBO welterweight title to Sebastian Formella in Germany.

It was his first defeat after 15 straight wins. The former SA, ABU and WBC International champion will make a comeback against the 26-year-old Congolese, who is trained in SA by John Tshabalala.

"Don't underestimate no-one because being unranked does not mean you are incapable of achieving something. A punch is a punch; it has no name or reputation," warned Smith.

"It happened to Phillip 'Time Bomb' Ndou - getting knocked out by Ntuthuko Memela ending his career in 2016. Thulani will go in there prepared for war."

Katembo, whose career is managed by homeboy Patrick Bonyeme, has fought twice in SA - defeating Vladyslav Baranov from the Ukraine and France Ramabolu to better his record to 13 wins, against two losses and a draw.

Smith said Mbenge needed a dynamic win. "Let him do the work, expose the guy and move on," he said. "That boxer's manager [Bonyeme] is talking big but we will see who's who in the jungle when the bell rings."

Former multiple world champion Hekkie Budler will welcome Alphoe Dagayloan from the Philippines in a non- title fight, while Gabisile Tshabalala and Sindisiwe Ncube will meet in a female bout on the night.

These bouts and others will form the bill that will be organised jointly by TLB Promotions and the Gauteng department of sport, recreation, arts and culture to commemorate Human Rights Month.

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