Johannesburg – The former International Boxing Federation junior featherweight champion Takalani “The Panther” Ndlovu has moved up two divisions to the junior lightweight ranks and his camp is expecting him to enjoy similar success.
According to his trainer Gert Strydom, who had been working with the boxer for three years, Ndlovu's move to the heavier division was long overdue.
“For him, moving to the upper division won’t be a problem and he can match any boxer in that division,” Strydom said.
“I wanted to move him up earlier but the promoter Branco Milenkovic was against the idea as the boxer was highly rated in the junior featherweight division.
“Even when Takalani was still with Manny Fernandez, they tried to move up division and the promoter refused.”
However, Ndlovu's contract with the Serbian promoter expired last month.
The Sowetan-born boxer will exchange blows with another former IBF lightweight champion, Mzonke Fana, for the vacant WBA Pan African junior lightweight title in East London on September 21.
Ndlovu, who once held the South African junior featherweight title, had lost his last three outings – twice against his countryman and a former IBF junior featherweight champion, Jeffrey Mathebula, and once against Mexican Alejandro Lopez.
Fana had lost his previous two contests. The 39-year-old Western Cape fighter failed to capture the WBA international lightweight title against Paulos Moses in Windhoek, and was also unsuccessful in his bid for the WBC super-featherweight belt against Eastern Cape’s Sipho Taliwe.
“It will be an interesting show with the two talented boxers going head-to-head,” Strydom said.
“If this fight had happened two or three years ago, I would've given it to Fana but looking at his recent fights, he does not stand a chance.
“Not taking anything from him – Fana is a good fighter and he is talented – but Ndlovu will be at his best as a junior lightweight.”
Strydom said the junior featherweight division took a lot away from Ndlovu as he had had to work extremely hard to shed the extra kilograms. – Sapa