By Mesuli Zifo
Former two-time 130 pound world champion Mzonke Fana is refusing to give up his ambition of winning yet another world title as he continues to fight on despite being clearly past his sell-by date.
The 40-year old veteran will take on Themba Shicila on April 26 for the WBA Pan African junior lightweight crown in his birthplace of Qumbu in Transkei, South Africa-a region famous as the birthplace of the late former statesman Nelson Mandela.
This will mark the first time Fana fights in the area as he fought most of his bouts in his adopted Cape Town region from where his career rose steadily, culminating to his WBC junior lightweight title challenge of Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera in a bout he was easily knocked out in two rounds in El Paso, US in 2005.
Never considered as a future world champion, Fana (32-7, 13 Kos) defied the odds when he captured the IBF crown from compatriot Malcolm Klassen two years later but would surrender the title to Cassius Baloyi a year later.
But thanks to close relations with the IBF, his promoter Branco Milenkovic was able to get him another shot at the vacant title relinquished by American Robert Guerrero and Fana regained the crown by avenging his loss to Baloyi in 2010.
His relationship with Milenkovic soured and Fana was relieved of his crown without defending it in the ring when he failed to honour his mandatory defence against Argenis Mendez.
His attempts to be reinstated when he even sought intervention of SA Parliament failed and Fana found a new promotional home under Mamali Promotions who secured him a shot at the vacant regional title against another former IBF title holder Takalani Ndlovu.
In the bout Fana showed glimpses of his old form when he out-jabbed Ndlovu to win the title which he will now defend against Shicila.
Shicila (26-11-3, 7KOs) is another old trial-horse of 38 years old who has failed in numerous regional title challenges against the likes of Ali Funeka and Jeffrey Mathebula.
But the southpaw has showed some of sort rejuvenation after joining Downtown gymnasium owned by fitness expert Vido Madikane.
Shicila was able to beat Nkululeko Venganayi for the WBF International title last November after giving unbeaten SA champion Xolisani Ndongeni fits in a failed title challenge.
Fana is coming off a points loss against Edis Tatli in Finland last December.
Mamali Promotion boss Siphatho Handi says bringing Fana back home is an attempt to rekindle boxing interest in the area.
“Mzonke is a household name in the country but he has always been associated with Cape Town when his area of Qumbu appeared not interested to own him,” he says.
“But now after convincing the local government of his area we are happy to bring him back so that he can inspire the youth to follow a career in boxing.”
Handi argues that a successful defence of the title will help Fana climb up the WBA ratings culminating to a world title shot in the near future.
“All Fana needs to do is to keep winning and he will fulfil his ambition of becoming a world champion again.”