Slim Mwelase has big chance
Bongani Mwelase will forfeit 40% of his purse if he fails to make the welterweight limit for his showdown against veteran Lovemore Ndou at Emperors Palace on Saturday night, says his trainer Johnny du Plooy.
The last time Mwelase tried to fight in the 66.7kg division - nearly two years ago - he was stripped of the marginal WBF title for being overweight.
At the time he insisted he had outgrown the division, but his lack of muscle tone told a different story and he waddled up to junior-middleweight.
One had to wonder if Mwelase, who is the only SA boxer to have won a Commonwealth Games gold in the post-isolation era, was emulating Du Plooy, who as a heavyweight in the 1980s and 1990s was notorious for his lack of discipline.
Mwelase, nicknamed Cyclone for his all-action style as an amateur, was once one of the hottest young properties in local boxing. He joined boxing's paid ranks directly after returning from the multi-sport showpiece in Melbourne 2006, and won the SA welterweight crown in a classic battle - his 10th professional bout - in 2007.
Mwelase's reputation was further enhanced when India's Vijendra Singh, the man he beat to win gold at the Commonwealth Games, went on to win an Olympic bronze in 2008.
But as Singh's career moved up, Mwelase's went sideways. Since offending the scales in 2008 he's had just one fight.
On Saturday Mwelase can reignite his career, but he'll have to be at this best against IBO champion Ndou, a former IBF titleholder who has sparred with Floyd Mayweather and been the distance with the likes of Miguel Cotto, undefeated at the time, Sharmba Mitchell and Junior Witter.
Ndou's record of 47 wins (31 KOs) and five defeats doesn't worry Du Plooy, whose own charge has an undefeated record after only 14 fights (12 KOs): "I don't care who's standing in front of him, Bongani will blow them away.
"We - not Bongani, we - did take the Ali fight lightly (that's when Mwelase was overweight)," admits Du Plooy. "But Bongani is motivated. If he doesn't make the weight he'll lose 40% of his purse. But money is not what is motivating him."
It's common for boxers to forfeit a percentage of their purse if they fail to make the limit, but it's not usually as steep as 40%.
The tournament will be broadcast on SS7 from 7.45pm.