‘The Rock’ Thabiso Mchunu has no fear for WBC title bout in Durban

Thabiso Mchunu, right, and Tommy Oosthuizen during their ABU cruiserweight title bout in 2018. Photo: BackpagePix

Thabiso Mchunu, right, and Tommy Oosthuizen during their ABU cruiserweight title bout in 2018. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Feb 22, 2024

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The darling of KwaZulu-Natal boxing, Thabiso “The Rock” Mchunu, will lock horns with Argentinian Yamil Alberto Peralta for the vacant World Boxing Council (WBC) Silver cruiserweight title at the Olive Convention Centre (OCC) on March 22.

The fight was confirmed by Mvelo Boxing Promotion, the company promoting the event in partnership with the KZN Department of Sports and Recreation, Durban Tourism and SABC Sport.

Mchunu (29-23-6, with 13 knockouts) will be looking to reclaim the vacant WBC Silver cruiserweight belt he had won in 2019 against Denis Lebedev from Russia.

The southpaw lost the belt in 2022 in a title defence against bitter rival Ilunga “Junior” Makabu from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

What makes Mchunu’s fight against Peralta interesting is that the 35-year-old South African is ranked third by the WBC, while his 32-year-old opponent is breathing down his neck in fourth.

“Last year I had a year to forget, since I did not get a single fight through the whole of 2023. I am overjoyed to start this one with a fight. A promise I am making to my fans is that the belt will not be leaving South Africa,” said Mchunu, who was reported to be considering retirement last year.

“I want to take this opportunity and thank Mvelo Boxing Promotion for presenting me with this great chance to challenge for another world title.

“I’m hard at training. I’m experienced enough to know that it won’t be an easy fight.

“I’m coming up against a well-established boxer who boasts an impressive record, but that doesn’t pose any fear to me.

“I want to make the people of KwaZulu-Natal proud. I’m eager to showcase that I still have what it takes to contest on the world stage.”

Peralta (16-1-0, with eight knockouts) is also seemingly oozing the same degree of confidence.

“I have shown in the past that I can compete anywhere in the world,” said Peralta in a media statement from the promoters.

“I won’t be fazed by fighting away from home. I have one mission, which is to win this title. I understand that it won’t be easy, but I will do my level best to win on the night.”

The WBC gave the green light for the fight as early as December, but it almost never happened due to internal Boxing South Africa (BSA) politics.

In December, the National Professional Boxing Promoters Association (NPBPA) took to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria complaining that Zizi Kodwa, the minister of sport, did not follow the Constitution when appointing the new members of the BSA board.

The NPBPA claimed that the Boxing Act was not followed as they were not consulted prior to the appointments.

The BSA board was then barred from entering the premises and thus unable to attend to administration matters.

CEO of Mvelo Boxing Promotion, Nomvelo Shezi, expressed his delight at finally having the fight sanctioned.

“I’m over the moon that we’ve been given the green light to stage this mega-boxing bout between Thabiso and Yamil. These are two boxers with pedigree, and I have no doubt that they will deliver a spectacle when they contest for this world title,” Shezi said.

“Thabiso has represented KZN with distinction at international level in the boxing fraternity. He is one of our shining stars, and is ready to challenge for this title that he has held before.

“We would like to thank all our stakeholders who ensured that we put this boxing tournament together.

“We would like to thank KZN Sports and Recreation, Durban Tourism and SABC for supporting this event.”

Tickets are now on sale at Webtickets at R100 for adults. VIP seats wits cost R1 000, while ringside seats will cost R500.

Gates will open at 5pm for the eight-bout event, which will be streamed live on SABC Sport channels.

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