by Ronnie Nathanielsz
Former IBF super bantamweight champion Jeffrey Mathebula, who lost in his title in a gutsy twelve round unanimous decision to “Fighter of the Year” Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire, returns to the ring to face the fighter from whom he won the title, fellow South African Takalani Ndlovu at the Carnival City “Big Top Arena” on March 23.
The blockbuster card put together by award-winning promoter Branco Milenkovic will be headlined by the Mathebula-Ndlovu clash following two previous dramatic fights with differing outcomes starting with Ndlovu’s controversial split decision victory in an IBF title eliminator way back in September 2010.
Following his victory, Ndlovu (33-8, 18 Kos ) went on to sensationally lift the IBF crown from Canadian Steve Molitor in March 2011.
After a maiden title defense against Mexican Giovanni Caro in October 2011, he gave Mathebula a rematch in March last year and this time the “Mongoose” prevailed via another split decision to take the crown.
Mathebula’s victory earned him a lucrative HBO-televised WBO/IBF unification title clash against pound for pound star Nonito Donaire against whom he surrendered the crown in a gusty display on points in July last year.
It was clear that by his spirited performance against Donaire, Mathebula’s international stock rose significantly especially as Donaire has since knocked out all his following opponents after the Mathebula fight, including Japan’s WBC super champion Toshiaki Nishioka and Mexican legend Jorge Arce.
The 35 year old Ndlovu is in the twilight of his career and was reportedly “unlucky” in his IBF title eliminator against American-based Mexican Alejandro Lopez last August but he got the nod from the IBF to engage in another title eliminator.
Milenkovic who has a penchant of staging IBF classic clashes such as the Fana vs. Baloyi, Fana vs. Klassen, Klassen vs. Baloyi, Joyi vs. Garcia and Joyi vs. Takayama - said Mathebula-Ndlovu III will deliver the intensity of their previous two bouts.
The popular promoter said “We all know that these two don’t come to play in the ring so people can be sure of an action-packed fight.”
Mathebula (26-4-2, 14 Kos ) who is Ndlovu’s junior by two years, will be fighting for the first time since recovering from a broken jaw he suffered in the Donaire fight with “The Filipino Flash” subsequently relinquishing the title.
The winner will earn a title challenge against reigning and unbeaten Colombian Jonathan Romero who beat Lopez to lift the title.