I don’t see the fight going beyond eight rounds – Mtolo

Early haymaker deemed only way for Bopape to stop Mhlongo

SA junior middleweight champion Nkululeko Mhlongo digs an uppercut to Brandon Thysse's body.
SA junior middleweight champion Nkululeko Mhlongo digs an uppercut to Brandon Thysse's body.
Image: Nick Lourens

Vusi Mtolo says the only way for John Bopape to present Nkululeko Mhlongo with a "surprise gift" in their fight tomorrow – as he promised early in the week – is to land a good shot early in their boxing match that will headline the Starline Boxing Promotions card in Durban.

“I know what to expect from John; I have been requested to assist them previously. He can cause danger but early in a fight and that is why I am saying that if he can land a good shot early then he can present Nkululeko with the gift he promised. Otherwise John will get a hiding,” Mtolo said. 

Mtolo said he was criticised when he welcomed Mhlongo with open arms after being knocked out in the fifth round by Emmany Kalombo in 2018. He said sceptics wrote off Mhlongo, who was then SA junior-middleweight champion, as a has been after that loss.

Mtolo helped Mhlongo to win two of his next fights, and to capture the middleweight belt.

There is a rapport between the pair. Mtolo speaks highly of Mhlongo’s commitment and work ethic.

“He is like Moruti Mthalane, Ryno Liebenberg, Lerato Dlamini, Roarke Knapp and Lusanda Komanisi. You don’t have to keep reminding those guys about training; they are gym worms,” said Mtolo, who is responsible for the careers of Knapp and Komanisi. Mthalane, Liebenberg and Dlamini are trained by Colin Nathan, who is assisted by Mtolo.

“I don’t see the fight going beyond eight rounds,” he warned.

Alan Toweel jnr, whose boxer Jeff Magagane will oppose Sthembiso Maduna in a battle for the vacant ABU SADC belt in the main supporting bout to the Mhlongo-Bopape clash, will also have to be at his best tomorrow.

Toweel and Magagane are based in Johannesburg while Maduna is from Ladysmith but is trained in Durban by Xolani Malinga. Maduna will enjoy home advantage.

Magagane has proved to be a bad traveller at times, losing his bouts in Botswana, East London and Namibia. In total he has lost four of his 16 fights while Maduna has lost once away in Springs, against eight wins.

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