Azinga Fuzile's bid to be world champ starts today
Junior-lightweight has been tipped as a superstar in waiting
Unbeaten junior-lightweight hope Azinga Fuzile returns to the ring today on his anointed journey towards a world title.
He puts his stepping stone International Boxing Federation Inter-continental belt on the line against Mexican veteran Romulo Koasicha at the Centenary Hall in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth.
Fuzile has been tipped for greatness since he was still at school, and while he might not have got his matric, he's convinced many boxing pundits around the country that he's a superstar in waiting.
He possesses a great eye and lightning reflexes, and he's developed a heavy punch to accompany his awkward wide stance.
But just how good is the 22-year-old?
The boxer smiled when I put the question to him and, displaying a playful confidence, replied: "I'd give myself nine out of 10. Maybe 10 out of 10." But is that realistic? What about his flaws?
THROW SINGLE BOMBS
While he sparred with Lerato Dlamini last week, I counted the number of punches he threw in two random rounds. He did 21 in the one, and 23 in the other. Thrown, not landed.
That's pretty low, but in fairness to Fuzile, in the first round, Dlamini only got close enough to throw 10. In the second, however, Dlamini nearly matched him.
The point is that Fuzile throws single bombs instead of combinations.
Trainer Alan Toweel junior has been in the opposing corner to Fuzile a few times.
He lost on each occasion, but his one boxer, pressure fighter Rofhiwa Maemu, gave what Fuzile describes as the toughest fight of his career.
"Before he fought Rofhiwa I had this picture of Azinga as a top, top guy, but after that not as much. A top pressure fighter could give him problems.
"I still think he's a talent and I think he's on the right path. He has a lovely style and good hand speed, but he needs to up his punch-rate."
"I can't say I learned it [the wide stance] from somebody," said Fuzile. "I did it once before in a fight and I could see my opponent can't reach his target so I thought this is working for me."
He believes he can still handle himself when his range is breached. "Sometimes it's difficult, but I can defend myself because I'm used to what I'm doing."
Fuzile's trainer, Colin Nathan, is adamant he will become a great. "This guy just comes naturally with the X-factor. He does things that are so unorthodox, so unconventional that I just shake my head.
"He has a certain ability and talent that no one can teach."
Brian Mitchell, who once held the IBF junior-lightweight title that Fuzile hopes to fight for within the next year, was impressed when watching him win a gold at a continental age-group amateur tournament in Botswana a few years ago.
"I looked at this kid and I thought 'he can fight' ... He's a brilliant talent but he hasn't beaten anyone at the top of his game. He has to beat a top fighter to become great."
Koasicha isn't that man, certainly after not fighting in just more than a year.
But such a man is waiting in Fuzile's future, and Fuzile insists he isn't fazed.
The Africa Rumble tournament, in honour of the late Mzukisi Sikali, who fought in the same venue several times, will be broadcast live on SuperSport 11 from 2pm.