JOHANNESBURG – Given his perpetual excellence, it may be easy to merely overlook Simphiwe Khonco, who defends his IBO minimum weight belt at Emperors Palace next weekend.
The man they call “Chain Reaction” seldom garners headlines, but he is one of South Africa’s best fighters. Rated sixth by Ring magazine and third by the WBA, the IBO champion is closer than ever to a unification contest.
This, of course, is provided he gets past Lilo Dante of the Philippines, a rugged battler who has never been stopped in his seven years as a pro.
“He’s a gold nugget,” says promoter Rodney Berman. “The champion (Knockout CP Freshmart) has been mandated to fight the top contender, after which Khonco will move up. A shot against the champion is thus imminent, I believe, bringing closer a real chance for unification.”
In his last fight six months ago, Khonco produced a masterclass as he dismantled the challenge of proud veteran Nkosinathi Joyi.
In a sense, it was the passing of the baton as Joyi had reigned supreme internationally for several years.
Meanwhile, the champion is on song as he winds down his preparation. Trainer Colin Nathan is satisfied with his form, conceding that Dante has a great chin and is likely to be difficult to beat.
“He’s a tough guy. I expect 12 rounds of good, hard boxing, but Khonco will box his nose off. He’ll be too good, too refined.”
Khonco, to be sure, is a boxer in the classical sense. Those with a yen for the finer arts are bound to enjoy what they see.