'He can't beat my little Zulu'
Johnriel Casimero won't be able to "beat my little Zulu", trainer Nick Durandt has warned ahead of Moruti Mthalane's defence on Saturday night. Meanwhile, Canada's IBF junior-featherweight champion Steve Molitor has hired a former conditioning coach of Lennox Lewis to help him against Takalani Ndlovu.
Promoter Branco Milenkovic has invested R2.2-million securing home ground advantage for Takalani Ndlovu to challenge for the IBF junior-featherweight title challenge at Nasrec on Saturday night, but champion Steve Molitor of Canada has responded by hiring a conditioning coach who worked with Lennox Lewis.
“This is my authority. This is my town. This is my time. I’ll be the fourth (South African) to capture the title,” vowed Ndlovu, referring to his predecessors Welcome Ncita, Vuyani Bungu and Lehlohonolo Ledwaba.
But Molitor, who has beaten Ndlovu twice before - once by stoppage and once on points - is leaving nothing to chance, having hired Courtney Shaney, a member of the entourage of Lennox Lewis when he defended (and lost) his world heavyweight crown in Johannesburg to Hasim Rahman in 2001.
“I watched the two fights previous, and saw how Takalani fights, and knowing the altitude here, we did a lot of high intensity type training,” said Shaney.
“The fans and the support isn’t that big a deal because you don’t just fight in your home turf, you fight in different countries; that’s why you’re world champion. The biggest thing we had to prepare for was the altitude.
“By the time the fight happens he will have been here 12 days. Most of the work has been done, 90% of the preparation was done back home.
Both fighters admitted that there would be no fourth fight. “It’s all or nothing” said Molitor.
When TimesLIVE asked Milenkovic why he invested so much in the bout, he replied: “Sometimes you go with your emotions, not just business decisions. That was the only way to bring Molitor into the country and we hope come Saturday night it will pay off”.
Sharing the card is IBF flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane, who defends his belt against Filipino Johnriel Casimero, touted as a quick fighter who is quick on his feet.
The 21-year-old challenger insisted he didn’t just jump at the chance for a world title bout, but felt he was ready and confident of dethroning Mthalane.
Mthalane’s trainer Nick Durandt countered this: “He doesn’t have what it takes to beat my little Zulu (Mthalane) over here.”
Mthalane said he wanted to control the pace and tempo of the fight and that it was up to the challenger to adapt to the conditions.
Milenkovic said tickets for the tournament had almost sold out, with only 87 remaining. “No tickets will be available at the venue.”