Johannesburg – It looks like the last chance saloon for Jeffrey Mathebula and Vusi Malinga as far as world boxing titles are concerned.
This was the view expressed on Sunday by top South African trainer Nick Durandt, who has handled both South African fighters, at different times, following the defeats suffered by Mathebula and Malinga in IBF super bantamweight and bantamweight title fights in Europe on Saturday night.
Mathebula was stopped in the ninth round by a tough-as-teak Martinez at the Pabellon Esperanza in Elche while England's Stuart Hall outpointed Malinga in his bid to gain the IBF bantamweight title he has been chasing for the best part of four years.
“Both are now 34 and have probably seen their best days in the ring,” Durandt said.
“But what truly amazed me was to see Mathebula and Malinga going into such crucial fights in their careers without a leading South African trainer in their corner, to guide them through trying conditions in foreign countries.
“I don't know who has been advising them, but you just don't allow this kind of thing to happen for such high-level contests. It's like a soccer team going into a cup final without a coach on the bench.”
Although Hall fought the last four rounds with his vision severely impaired, as a result of severe cuts round his left eye, his earlier domination, during which Malinga was floored in the third round, resulted in the rugged English fighter gaining a 116-111, 117-110 and 117-110 winning points verdict from the three judges.
Mathebula put up a courageous, but back-to-the-wall performance against the superior punching power of Martinez, but ultimately wilted in the face of a continual onslaught.
Asked if he would consider reuniting with Mathebula following the defeat against Martinez, an emphatic Durandt replied: “No way. One thing I demand of my fighters is loyalty. Anyone who walks out on me is dead meat as far as I am concerned.” – Sapa