By Mesuli Zifo
Pound for pound boxing star Floyd Mayweather's visit to South Africa has left boxing stakeholders in East London, which is the country's boxing heartland, seething with rage after he cancelled the trip to the region where he was expected to conduct coaching clinics.
Mayweather landed in the country on Wednesday amid fanfare which included a press conference which lasted about an hour as he fielded questions about his boxing career.
While questions related to his next opponent for the May date and the potential fight against Filipino Manny Pacquiao were originally barred from being asked, the 36-year-old unbeaten star had no problem answering them.
He also touched on his previous two opponents from the African continent Justin Juuko of Uganda and Philip Ndou describing them as tough competitors.
While he was expected to visit East London on Friday where he would address about 20,000 people at the iconic Sisa Dukashe stadium renowned for hosting memorable boxing matches, Mayweather cancelled the trip in favor of a visit to a game reserve.
Local organizing committee member and the country's regional manager for the boxing commission known as Boxing SA, Phakamile Jacobs could not conceal his disappointment about Mayweather's cancelled visit.
“Since we were informed that Mayweather would visit the region we have been working tirelessly to ensure that everything should run smoothly,” he said.
“We have been having sleepless nights holding meetings after meetings but now we are told that he is no longer coming. I cannot begin to express my disappointment.”
On Thursday Mayweather visited Dube Boxing Club where recently deceased boxing legend Jacob “Baby Jake” Matlala trained for all his career.
The gymnasium will be upgraded using proceedings raised from the gala dinner where Mayweather's memorabilia and fighting regalia will be auctioned.
However East London had also planned to ask Mayweather to help build a gymnasium in the region which has produced the country's best boxers including Vuyani Bungu (IBF junior featherweight champion), Welcome Ncita (IBF junior featherweight champion and the region's first world champion), Mbulelo Botile (IBF bantamweight and featherweight champion), Zolani Petelo (IBF minimumweight champion), Nkosinathi Joyi (IBF and IBO minimumweight champion) and others.
While Mayweather's trip has been associated with reviving boxing in the country, it has emerged that the American is in the country to explore venues for a possible fight here.
His trip is reportedly funded by businesspeople who want to stage his fight in Cape Town where Mayweather will also pay a visit to see Robben Island where the late struggle icon Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years.
“If truth be told Mayweather is only here to inspect a venue for his possible fight here as well as a vacation,” one member of the task team organizing the visit said.
“He is only doing a favor by visiting Matlala's gymnasium otherwise he is not here to revive boxing at all, “the member continued.
Mayweather is expected to fly back to US on Saturday.Tags: Floyd Mayweather Jr.