Fast-rising SA welterweight champion Thulani “Tulz” Mbenge will take a step into the unknown early next year when he ventures to Germany to fight unbeaten Russian southpaw Aram Amirkhanyan.
The bout will feature on the undercard of Ryno Liebenberg’s fight against Vincent Feigenbutz on February 24.
A star of the Golden Gloves stable, Mbenge will be having his first pro bout overseas. If he succeeds, Golden Gloves hopes to parlay a win into more international action, not least with Lou DiBella, who is keen to feature the unbeaten South African in America.
For now, focus will be very much on Amirkhanyan, though. The Russian is a former amateur star, who made it to the quarterfinals of the world championships in Kazakhstan four years ago. He also won the Moscow amateur championship, in 2012.
As a pro, he has packed in 10 fights in a little over two years, winning the national title in just his fourth fight. Insiders say he is typically East European: tough and relentless.
Mbenge will be looking to build on his excellent recent form that saw him win four on the bounce in 2017, including the SA title and an impressive international win, against Jay Inson, that saw his stock rise.
“He’s at the point of his career where he must make a move,” said promoter Rodney Berman. “The depth at welterweight is formidable, but I believe Thulani has the tools to make a big statement. He still has much to learn, but the fundamentals are in place. His next fight will be a true test, but I believe he has the quality to prevail.”