Boxing Snippets

‘Van Heerden would struggle with Mbenge’ – Berman

Headed for the bright lights . . . Thulani Mbenge. Pic: NICK LOURENS

These are early days, but on Tuesday Rodney Berman threw out the wild suggestion that Thulani Mbenge may end up being better than Dingaan Thobela.

If it seemed a rash statement given Mbenge’s youth and inexperience, Berman said he had similar charisma, punching power and confidence to the acclaimed former world champion.

The promoter admitted to being more than impressed with Mbenge’s clinical destruction of Shaun Ness to lift the SA welterweight title recently, an outcome that put him head and shoulders above any other welterweight in the country.

Might that list include Chris van Heerden, Berman was asked.

“That would be a dream fight, I must admit,” said Berman, “but I think Van Heerden will dodge him. He’s got a world ranking, as does Chris, who won’t want to risk it. I respect what Van Heerden has done, but I can’t see him stepping up against Mbenge. He’d struggle with a guy that fast and that strong, but that’s just my view. Van Heerden would no doubt feel differently.”

It’s a fight that would have huge appeal, but for now Mbenge has an international contest against Jay Inson to prepare for. There’s nothing on the immediate horizon for Van Heerden, although he’s always fit and soaking up the experience of being based in America.

Inspired by the form of Mbenge, Berman was just as effusive of DeeJay Kriel, who continues to rapidly improve. The youngster’s big chance will come in August; Berman is looking to match him for a youth or ABU title as a precursor to a bigger fight down the track.

On the subject of big fights, Berman said he’d love to see Moruti Mthalane, so impressive at the weekend, against IBO super-flyweight champion Gideon Buthelezi.

Given the slight weight differential, it would have to be at catchweight, although that presumably wouldn’t deter Berman, who made a similar super fight some years ago with Philip Ndou against Cassius Baloyi.

Berman has no formal ties to either fighter, but he’s someone who can get things done if he sets his mind to it.

Watch this space.

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