Thulani Mbenge’s march towards international recognition will continue this year with plans to have him feature in a major double-header at Emperors Palace towards year’s end.
Having annexed the IBO welterweight championship in style against Diego Chaves last weekend, a world of possibilities has opened up for the charismatic champion.
“There’s the overseas road, which we’ll get to, but for now we’ll fight him at Emperors, who were delighted with last weekend, as were SuperSport,” said promoter Rodney Berman.
The Golden Gloves boss wants to co-feature Mbenge and Kevin Lerena, the IBO cruiserweight champion, both defending their belts on the same bill. He’ll have to crunch the numbers, but he’s confident he will be able to make it work to ensure a massive end to the SA boxing year.
There’s been a fair bit of talk about Mbenge hitting the road, perhaps fighting in the US. Berman agrees with that scenario, having spent much time on the phone this week to US counterpart Lou Di Bella. Mbenge is more likely to hit Stateside in 2019 when he’s more matured as a fighter, not least because if he features on a major network like HBO, he’ll be pitched in to a very testing challenge.
“You look at Mbenge and it’s easy to forget he’s had just 14 fights,” said Berman. “He’s hot property now, but this is the time to build him, not to break him. We’re well on target to take aim at the other big names. They’ll come in time.”