Snamiso Ntuli will be carrying the hopes of an estimated 300,000 people from eMnambithi in Ladysmith when he challenges for the South African middleweight boxing title at Dlamini Multi-Purpose Hall in Soweto on Sunday afternoon.
That town – home to multiple Grammy award winners Ladysmith Black Mambazo – has not produced a South African boxing champions since 1996.
That was when Thulani “Sugar Boy” Malinga won the super middleweight title after defeating Soon Botes on March 4 at the Carousel Casino in Hammanskraal, where Malinga from Steadville stopped Botes in the seventh round.
Ntuli will challenge John “Section 29” Bopape. The hard-hitter from Alexandra township, east of Johannesburg, won that title from Nkululeko “Bull Dog” Mhlongo from Eshowe with an 11th round knockout in Bloemfontein on April 29.
That was Mhlongo’s first defence. Bopape will also be making his first defence. The fight will headline a tournament staged by TLB Boxing Promotions. Its owner, Joyce Kungwane, will use the tournament to honour late former multiple weight world champion Lehlohonolo “Hands of Stone” Ledwaba, who passed away in July last year.
Ntuli goes into the fight with pressure to avenge the sixth round stoppage loss to Bopape in their first fight in Mtubatuba, which was staged by Ludonga Boxing Promotions in Mtubatuba in 2018.
Ntuli made his professional debut under Magudulela’s son Zwi Magudulela before leaving him for Xolani Malinga. The lanky 26-year-old fighter who is now trained by Shaun McMinnie is rated No 1, which makes him the mandatory challenger. He is coming off two wins in a trot.
In the main supporting contest, Tiisetso Modisadife and Zolile Miya will do battle over 10 rounds for the vacant Gauteng flyweight title.
There will be five more bouts including an exhibition fight between retired former world champions Jan “Kid Gavillan” Bergman and Harry “The Terminator” Simon.
The action will begin at 2pm.