Akani Phuzi gears for a showdown with Lerena

Akani "Prime" Phuzi jabs Congolese Youssof Mwanza in a 12-rounder, to win the WBA Pan African cruiserweight belt on Sunday.
Akani "Prime" Phuzi jabs Congolese Youssof Mwanza in a 12-rounder, to win the WBA Pan African cruiserweight belt on Sunday.
Image: Nick Lourens

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A wise man once warned that it is being silly to think you can look at the past to predict the future. That advice found a place in the heart of one of SA’s successful boxing trainers, Alan Toweel jnr. He has warned that his charge, WBA Pan African cruiserweight boxing champion Akani “Prime” Phuzi's  previous successes against Chris “The Wolf” Thompson will not determine the outcome of their third meeting that will be staged by Rodney Berman’s Golden Gloves at Emperors Palace on October 10.

Their 10-round fight will be for the vacant SA cruiserweight title that was relinquished by Thabiso “The Rock” Mchunu due to his future prospects. This WBC silver champion is rated No 1 by the WBC for the belt that is held by SA-based Congolese Ilunga “Junior” Makabu.

The third meeting between Phuzi and Thompson will form part of the Golden Gloves Cruiserweight Super Four – a two-legged series that also features Lebo Mashitoa and Keith Gomes. But the tournament is subject to BSA’s approval once it gets the go-ahead from sport, arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa allowing action back in the ring behind closed doors. There has been no action since the national lockdown started in March.

Phuzi beat Thompson twice in their previous fights – first on points over six rounds in 2017 and a second- round knockout for the provincial title in 2018. Phuzi is rated No 1, a spot above Thompson, for the national title. Mashitoa and Gomes are rated third and fourth, respectively.

“What happened in our two fights does not exist in our minds; we must beat Chris to proceed to the finals. That will be our preparation for meeting IBO champ Kevin Lerena in 18 months,” said Toweel. “Even though we’ve beaten Chris twice already, we are working twice as hard and the reason being that we want to get him out of the system. This is serious stuff. We have a mission, which is to fight Kevin.”

“I believe that Akani is the best cruiserweight fighter in the country, but we’ve got to prove it,” said Toweel. “He’s young, humble, respects the game, has a high work ethic and, most importantly, he takes his career very serious. Akani wants to make his mark as one SA’s best cruiserweight boxers in the near future.”

The winner between Phuzi and Thompson will meet the victor of the second meeting between Mashitoa and Gomes. Mashitoa defeated Gomes in September last year.

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