By Mesuli Zifo
FORMER world lightweight title contender Ali “ Rush Hour” Funeka is back and is aiming for another shot at the boxing summit after he sensationally destroyed Jason Bedeman in one round at Emperors Palace, Johannesburg in South African on Monday.
A big right hand floored Bedeman (17-1-3) but he managed to beat the count but a carbon-copy of the punch sent him back on deck again where he was counted out.
The win, his 33rd in 40 bouts with four losses and three draws, is a significant one for the 35-year-old lanky fighter who endeared himself to the Americans with spirited performances against Nate Campbell for the world title challenge and Joan Guzman in 2009.
In fact he was considered unlucky to lose to Campbell but his loss to Guzman was a downright robbery as he appeared to have easily out-boxed the eccentric Dominican Republican only for their November 2009 IBF clash to be declared a draw.
Four months later the pair duked it out again and this time Guzman did what he does best when came to the fight grossly overweight by a couple of pounds.
Funeka took the fight and lost a split decision but enacted his own ignominy when he failed a subsequent dope test.
He was slapped with a lengthy ban and his career appeared to have ended especially after splitting with manager Butityi Konki.
He teamed up with former SA Boxing Commission boss Mava Malla but his career continued its downward spiral as he fought only twice when he picked up the lightly regarded WBF junior welterweight crown via a controversial points win over former stablemate Zolani Marali in November 2011.
Marali later avenged the defeat by beating Funeka to take the title last December.
Funeka reconciled with his childhood mentor Mzi Mnguni who had been with him since his professional debut and the pair recorded the first win- a first round knockout of nondescript Vusi Dladla this past July.
The win over Bedeman is Funeka’s second under Mnguni and now the pair has set their sights on going after the IBO crown held by Russian Khabib Allakhverdiev who also holds the WBA regular title.
Golden Gloves Promotion (GGP) boss Rodney Berman who enjoys good working relations with Allakhverdiev camp, having sent his then charge Kaizer Mabuza to Russia to defend his IBO crown but was stopped in four rounds by Allakhverdiev in June last year says he will begin talks with the Russian monster to defend against Funeka.
Berman, who organized the Funeka-Bedeman clash, also promoted Allakhverdiev’s clash against Souleymane M'baye when the Russian stopped M’baye in 11 rounds in Monaco, France this past July.
Funeka says he wants to return to the US to convince Americans that his career if far from over.
“I must admit that I did not have the best of luck in US but I enjoyed fighting there because the fans there know their boxing,” he said.
“Even though I was robbed against Campbell and Guzman, the fans congratulated me, telling me that in their eyes I was the winner and that meant a lot to me.”
Funeka believes he can be a welcome addition to the junior welterweight division teaming with talent.
“I want to fight guys like Tim Bradley, Danny Garcia, Lucas Matthysse and these other cats.”