By Mesuli Zifo
AFTER a turbulent reign as the two-time IBF super featherweight champion, South African Mzonke Fana is now content to be used as stepping stone for up and coming stars in their own backyards.
Fana left his country at the weekend en route to Finland where he will take on that country's unbeaten star Edis Tatli at Barona Areena, Espoo on Saturday.
The bout will be for the WBA Intercontinental lightweight title and it will mark Fana's return to the division where he had a disastrous spell when he was pummelled to defeat by compatriot Sipho Taliwe for the WBC silver title before being bludgeoned to a fourth round stoppage by former WBA king Paulus Moses.
After those defeats Fana who is now 40-years old dropped down to the junior lightweight where he achieved most of his success including holding the IBF title twice and challenging Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera for the WBC title which he lost via a second round knockout in 2005.
While he rebounded to win a major title after his loss to Barrera when he dethroned compatriot Malcom Klaasen in 2007, Fana has never really enjoyed the fruits of being a world champion.
Firstly he surrendered the title to countryman Cassius Baloyi after only one defence but his second reign when he beat Baloyi for the vacant title which had been relinquished by American Robert Guerrero was most painful one.
Fana suffered the ignominy of losing his title without defending it in the ring when he was stripped for failing to honour a mandatory defence against Dominican Republican Argenis Mendez.
This was due to his fallout with his promoter Branco Milenkovic after Fana had hired Butityi Konki as his manager.
He spent time appealing to everyone including the South African Parliament to help him get back his title to no avail.
And when he eventually returned to the ring he was handed a severe beating by Taliwe, a loss that ended his status as a world class fighter.
Although he rebounded to beat another former two time IBF champion and spent force Takalani Ndlovu to pick up a regional title, he is considered as shop-worn which is why he has been shipped to Finland.
His new promoter Siphatho Handi says Fana received two offers with the other being to challenge Indonesian Daud Yordan for the IBO lightweight title in Perth, Australia this Friday.
But we decided to take the one in Finland because we feel that Fana stands a good chance of winning, Handi said.
Yordan will now face Taliwe in a doubleheader also featuring Chris John defending his WBA featherweight title against IBO champion and Taliwe's countryman Simpiwe Vetyeka.
The 26-ear-old Tatli is yet to taste a defeat in 21 bouts but his record is littered with nondescript opponents.
Fana (32-6, 13 KOs) who seemed to have regained his vaunted jab in his last fight against Ndlovu, which was his best weapon is still gun-shy and against a youthful opponent he will likely not stand a chance.Tags: Mzonke Fana