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Boxing | South Africa

Jeffrey Mathebula © Gallo Images

Mathebula lands IBF title fight

Jeffrey Mathebula has an opportunity to regain the IBF junior featherweight title before the end of the year.

The South African is scheduled to fight Kiko Martinez in Spain on December 22. It will be a mandatory title defence for the Spaniard.

Martinez won the title in August when he knocked out Jonathan Romero in the sixth round. This was after WBO champion Nonito Donaire had relinquished the IBF title he had won in a unification bout with Mathebula.

Donaire gave up the IBF title to try to add the WBA title to his WBO belt. But he ended up without any title when Cuban-born Guillermo Rigondeaux beat him on points.

Mathebula put up a courageous performance against Donaire, one of the best fighters, pound for pound, in the world. But his jaw was broken halfway through the bout.

After a five-month lay-off, Mathebula repeated an earlier victory over Takalani Ndlovu, from whom he had taken the IBF title in the first place. The result has now earned Mathebula a crack at Martinez's title.

But he will be without trainer Nick Durandt, who guided him to the IBF title. "Jeffrey was evasive about renewing our partnership," Durandt has said.

"I'm not interested in boxers who are not fully committed to me. I wish him luck wherever he goes, but he might come to realise he has taken a step in the wrong direction."

Promoter Branco Milenkovic, who has presented some of Mathebula's fights, is recovering from stomach surgery but he expects to tie up the loose ends for the Martinez fight when he returns to the job.

Mathebula, now 34 years old, is nicknamed The Mongoose.


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