Johannesburg – Super bantamweight champion Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire is rated one of the leading pound-for-pound boxers in the world.
However, promoter Branco Milenkovic, who handles Jeffrey Mathebula's affairs, believes the South African IBF champion will not be a “no-hoper” in the unification title bout against Donaire at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California on Saturday night.
“If we thought Mathebula had no chance,” said Milenkovic, “we would not have taken the fight. Jeffrey is a master at upsetting the odds and causing surprises and he could do so again.”
A victory for Mathebula, who is nicknamed “The Mongoose”, would make him the first South African to hold two of the major boxing association's titles in years - and one of the few unified champions in world boxing today.
At the same time it is all or nothing for “The Mongoose”, with Donaire out to enhance his reputation by capturing the IBF title as well.
Milenkovic, however, said Mathebula was not named “The Mongoose” for nothing - and he would emulate the furry animal with an uncanny ability to remain immune to the venom of snakes and which is renowned for fighting and killing cobras.
“Donaire may have been poison for the fighters who have crossed his path,” said the BSP promoter, “but it will be a different story when he faces The Mongoose.”
In a previous unification bout in America three years ago, Mathebula proved he is not over-awed by the big occasions when he was beaten on a split points decision by Celestino Cabellero and was considered by the locals to have been somewhat unlucky not to have gained the decision.
Mathebula said he planned to use his height and reach to good advantage in the fight which, according to reports, had Donaire's manager, Cameron Dunkin, proclaiming “we are taking nothing for granted.”
Donaire said he has never trained harder for a fight because “Mathebula is an unknown quantity and “I don't know what to expect.”