Lerato “Lights Out” Dlamini is a fighter known for his exquisite sense of timing, so he wasn’t going to let something as basic as a 16km run put him off a phone interview.
“Just doing my roadwork,” he said breathlessly, “of course we can talk.”
There’s a first time for everything, so of course that’s what we did.
The exciting featherweight, still on a high after beating former world champion Simphiwe Vetyeka in his last outing in October, headlines next Sunday’s “High Noon” card against experienced Sydney Maluleka at Emperors Palace.
Against Vetyeka, he showed his boxing smarts, keeping things tight while throwing plenty of punches. Dlamini (10-1) knocked Vetyeka out of his rhythm and dominated him down the stretch for the most important win of his career.
It earned him a crack against Azinga Fuzile in the Super Four final, which is why he’s been hard in training since January 2. Even when the final ran into problems, he never let up, certain that he’d get the call – as he did.
He’s expecting a tough outing against the taller, more experienced Maluleka (17-8) who has a decent right hand and has lost only against decent opposition. It’s a big deal for Dlamini as it’s his first crack at a major belt: WBC International featherweight honours will be on the line.
He takes great pride in representing the Free State, having travelled from Welkom two years ago to take his chances in Joburg. Along the way, he produced the SA knockout of the year in 2017 when he iced Sinethemba Bam in the seventh round of a memorable outing that made boxing experts sit up and take notice.
“That was important, but beating Vetyeka gave me real confidence,” he said yesterday. “It proved that all my hard work, dedication and consistency paid off. I’ve dedicated my life to this sport, so it felt good shocking everyone with the win. It showed that nothing is impossible.”
Dlamini took notice of promoter Rodney Berman’s comments about the need to win on April 8 if he wants to fight dangerous Fuzile in the oft-postponed Super Four final, now rescheduled to September.
“It puts extra pressure on me, but, you know what – I’m not gonna lose. It’s a big opportunity and those don’t come along very often.”
With that, it was back to the grind without pesky PR men to trouble him as he goes in search of pro win number 11.