Johannesburg — The IBF middleweight title fight may be the main bout at ESPN Africa Boxing 23 at Suncoast Casino Thursday night, but the KwaZulu-Natal junior featherweight title bout between Mduduzi Mzimela and Sanele Maduna is shaping up to also be a crowd favourite.
The fight – scheduled for 10 rounds – is for the right to hold aloft the vacant provincial belt, and both KZN locals will no doubt enjoy some fine support when they step into the ring in Durban as the undercard.
Mzimela hails from eSikhawanini near Richards Bay and is 5-0 with three knockouts since turning professional in 2019, while his opponent Maduna is a Ladysmith local with a 4-1-2 record.
Each will have realised that winning the title could vindicate their career paths, and set them toward bigger ambitions in the future.
“I was a soccer player, but I decided to leave the sport because I didn’t see a path to success,” said Mzimela earlier this week.
“I was introduced to boxing when I was young and I wanted to make a name for myself. I saw a boxing as career path to success … I was always fighting at school and after I started boxing in the gym, I never fought in the street again.”
Maduma, meanwhile, has a long relationship with boxing, having been exposed to professional boxers from a young age.
“I knew from an early age that I’d be a professional fighter because I was surrounded by professional boxers growing up” Maduma explained.
“My big brother was also a boxer so that’s what drew me to the sport. I fell in love with it the first day I went to see him fight.
“There’s also a boxing legend I grew up watching, (Thulani) ‘Sugar Boy’ Malinga, who is from the same township and the same boxing stable … and he’s been in a lot of places, he’s been a world champion several times, so I’ve been taking advice from him as amateurs, as kids.”
Maduna is determined to claim the KZN provincial title because it will pave the way for him to compete against a national champion.
“My focus is winning this fight because it will open doors for me, as the guy I’m fighting is rated number two in the country and beating him will earn me a chance to challenge a current South African champion,” Maduna said.
“It means a lot to be given this opportunity and I’ll be fighting where I grew up. Opportunities like this come once in the lifetime, this will be my career-defining fight.”
ESPN Africa Boxing 23 – Fight Card
Main event: IBF International Junior Middleweight Title, 12 Rounds: Emmany Kalombo (16-1-0) v Shiva Thakran (16-3-1)
Co-main: Junior Welterweight, 10 Rounds: Xolisani Ndongeni (30-2-0) v Apinun Khongsong (20-2-0)
Featherweight, 10 Rounds: Ludumo Lamati (20-0-1) v Mark Anthony Geraldo (38-11-3)
Super Middleweight, 8 Rounds: Andile Mntungwa (6-5-1) v Tristan Truter (10-3-0)
Female Lightweight, 8 Rounds: Anisha Basheel (10-8-0) v Chiedza Homakoma (6-3-2)
Middleweight, 8 Rounds: Donjuan Van Heerden (4-1-0) v Giresse Wingui (2-1-0)
Vacant KwaZulu-Natal Junior Featherweight Title, 10 Rounds: Sanele Maduna (4-1-2) v Mduduzi Mzimela (5-0-0)