By Mesuli Zifo
They may have a combined age of 81 years with a combined fight record of 108 fights but Francois Botha has promised an explosion when he faces American Michael Grant at Monte Casino in Johannesburg, South Africa on November 19.
Botha, 43, and the 39-year-old Grant have been there, done that but came short at winning the piece of the world championship even though the “White Buffalo” can lay a claim that he was once pronounced as the IBF heavyweight champion after beating Germany Axel Schulz in 1995.
The result was later rescinded when Botha tested positive rendering the fight outcome to be changed to a no contest.
Challenges to Lennox Lewis and Vladimir Klitschko proved futile even though Botha managed to claim the less recognised WBF crown along the way, which he surrendered to Evander Holyfield via a eighth round stoppage in April last year.
With Holyfield having opted to go for the more credible and possibly more lucrative challenge against WBA regular champion Alexander Povetkin in December rather than accommodate a Botha rematch, the veteran South African has decided to take on Grant for the vacant WBF crown at the behest of SA-based WBF president Howard Goldberg.
And Botha will be promoting the fight under the banner of his ShowPony Promotion, which may have given him some sort of leverage in the boardroom negotiations.
Still basking on glory of his stunning six round stoppage defeat of the then unbeaten compatriot Flo Simba in June, Botha feels he is on course to climbing the heavyweight ladder which, apart from Lewis and Klitschko, also once took him to mega bouts against the likes of Mike Tyson.
“I still see myself playing a big role in the world heavyweight scene because besides the Klitschkos there is no one who stands out,” Botha said at the press conference announcing the fight on Thursday.
Then he launched on his trademark trash talk, promising to “cut down” the towering Grant to size and then “avenge my defeat to Holyfield.”
Grant, who surprisingly still possesses a descent fight record of only four defeats against 47 wins with impressive 35 stoppages, has never really fulfilled his potential which actually centred on his big frame build than his performance in the ring.
Then an unbeaten prospect blessed with incredible wingspan, he was seen as the possible man to dethrone the equally tall Lewis in 2000 but instead put such a meek challenge that the one-sided farce was over in two rounds when the Brit easily knocked him out.
Grant has tried to pick up the pieces but his efforts mounted to nothing worth writing about.
He had a perfect opportunity to swing back to world heavyweight contention last August but instead allowed the smaller Tomasz Adamek to outmuscle him to a points defeat.
His clash against Botha might provide thrills and spills but it will still remain a pushing and shoving contest of fighters considered spent forces even in this depleted world heavyweight scene.
Two time world lightweight title challenger Ali Funeka will end his 20 months hiatus when he takes on former stalemate Zolani Marali in a junior welterweight clash.
Malcolm Klassen, another two time IBF junior lightweight champion will be making a long awaited return since his defeat by Robert Guererro.