Mongoose on the world stage
Jeffrey Mathebula will truly be on the world stage when he fights Nonito Donaire in California on July 7.
The South African, whose performance will be seen by a vast television audience, is likely to find the limelight as intimidating as his opponent’s reputation.
The title unification fight at the Home Depot Centre in Carson is already drawing immense interest and is generating huge publicity in all sections of the news media.
Donaire is the WBO junior featherweight champion and Mathebula, nicknamed Mongoose, holds the IBF belt.
Boxing analysts keep pointing out that the 33-year-old Mathebula is taller than anyone Donaire has ever faced. Even the 29-year-old “Filipino Flash”, who is only 1.66 m tall, has acknowledged that he will be at a considerable height and reach disadvantage.
Mathebula, who won the IBF title when he beat Takalani Ndlovu on a split decision in Match this year, is over 1.8 m tall.
He lost on a split decision to Panama’s Celestino Caballero in 2009 but has fought and beaten several other
Since representing South Africa at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Mathebula has learnt to handle crowd
pressure. We will, inevitably, be nervous about fighting in the United States for the first time but Donaire has said his trainer, Cameron Dunkin, is also nervous about the fight.
Mathebula takes a record of 26-3-2, with 14 knockouts, into the fight. Donaire has lost once in 29 bouts, winning 18 of them by knockout.
The Filipino, a crowd favourite who has beaten the outstanding Vic Darchinyan, suspects Mathebula will follow an attacking strategy, but he said the week he did not know what to expect.
The featherweight division probably has more talented fighters than any other weight class at the moment and Donaire is rated the best of the lot. If Mathebula beats him, he is likely to earn millions of dollars in the next year or so.
On the same bill, former world champion Kelly Pavlik will be in action against Will Rosinsky, adding to the interest in the tournament.