The boxing-rich area of the Eastern Cape is poised to deliver a new star on Friday night when Nhlahla Tyirha fights Jaysever Abcede of the Philippines in an international junior-flyweight showdown.
A WBO belt will be on the line in the main event, which tops the fight card being broadcast on SuperSport Variety 4 from 5pm.
Despite his size, the tiny boxer goes by the nickname of “Mount Kilimanjaro”, presumably in reference to his ambitions of making it big as a fighter.
He’s enjoyed a frenetic career that includes winning the South African title in just his fourth fight and then taking on local legend Nkosinathi Joyi straight after, losing a decision.
A fast, exciting, non-stop boxer, Tyirha is being pushed hard and early on account of his promoter Ayanda Matiti’s deep well of confidence. “This boy is a future champion, no doubt at all,” said the effusive Eastern Cape promoter who has few concerns that 29-fight veteran Abcede may carry too much artillery on Friday.
The Filipino’s biggest challenge may be ring rust – he hasn’t fought since the pandemic took hold and may struggle to find his rhythm so far from home.
The southpaw has lost several times, but he’s as gritty as they come and ought to give the South African the workout he requires at this stage of his promising career.
On the undercard, Siphamandla “Toyi-Toyi” Baleni of Umtata defends his SA light-flyweight title for the first time against raw but unbeaten Mpumelelo Tshabalala of Gauteng.
It’s always a long shot winning in East London, but the absence of a local crowd could help Tshabalala in the biggest fight of his career.
Yet Baleni won’t go easy. He’s fought all the local light-flyweights of consequence and will feel he has the measure of the challenger. With designs on bigger things internationally, a slip-up will be furthest from his mind as he takes the fight to Tshabalala.
Phila Gola v Zolisa Batyi, Sange Ngoza v Onela Qongwana and Sonwabile Marenene v
Siphenathi Nobanda also feature.