NEW FACES: AZINGA FUZILE
Hometown: East London, South Africa
Weight class: Junior lightweight
Height: 5-foot-4′ (166 cm)
Amateur record: 190-10 approximately
Turned pro: 2014
Pro record: 14-0 (8 knockouts)
Trainer: Colin Nathan
Manager: Colin Nathan
Promoter: Rumble Africa Promotions
Best night of pro career and why: Fuzile feels that two fights helped progress his career to where he is today.
“Tshifhiwa Munyai and Malcolm Klassen,” Fuzile told The Ring. “A lot of people were saying Munyai is an experienced boxer. For me, it was the first time to fight a guy like that.
“Everyone respects Malcolm Klassen. I used to watch him. I never thought I would fight him, but I did. Most of the people didn’t think I would win, but it was my intention to knock him out and I did.
“They were experienced boxers in South Africa at that time. It was a good step for me in my career. ”
Worst night of pro career and why: The 23-year-old is least happy about a fight he had in July 2017. However, he was able to overcome adversity midway through the bout to secure the all-important victory.
“Rofhiwa Maemu, I didn’t know Maemu and I saw his boxing style and thought, ‘I will beat that guy,'” Fuzile said. “He surprised me inside the ring, coming with the pressure, but then I had an injury. I was fighting with one hand. For me, I won the fight, but not how I wanted to. I thought I would knock Maemu out, but it never happened.”
Next Fight: Fuzile had been all set to travel to Tokyo to face Kenichi Ogawa in early July in an IBF 130-pound title eliminator. However, the fight never came to pass.
“The IBF has rules,” said Nathan. “Basically, when you enter into an IBF eliminator, you are not allowed to engage in any other contest until the completion of the IBF eliminator bout. Ogawa and his team were insistent that they have a keep-busy, 10-round bout.
“We also had issues in getting our visa in time. But they still went ahead and therefore lost their right for the eliminator.”
That meant Fuzile will now face unbeaten Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov on Sunday at the Orient Theatre, East London Eastern Cape in an IBF eliminator.
“I think this is a very important fight for me,” he said. “I will make sure I win the fight so I can fight for the world title, not just to fight for a world title but to be a world champion.”
Nathan had been looking forward to returning to Japan, where he’s enjoyed success previously with current IBF flyweight kingpin Moruti Mthalane and former two-weight champion Hekkie Budler. However, the well-respected trainer has had to change his approach.
“Different styles,” he said about the key differences between Ogawa and Rakhimov. “This is equally a tough fight. Nothing beats fighting at home, but given the success we’ve had, I love fighting abroad, too, particularly in the fighter’s back yard.”
Rakhimov (14-0, 11 KOs) was an experienced amateur before turning pro in 2015. The 25-year-old southpaw hails from Tajikistan, but all his fights have been in Russia.
Rakhimov and Fuzile share two common opponents: Rofhiwa Maemu and Malcolm Klassen. Rakhimov stopped Maemu in four rounds, while he went the distance with Fuzile. However, the South African bettered Rakhimov by stopping Klassen in four rounds, while the former world champion went eight rounds with the Russian-based fighter.
The fight looks even. Whoever prevails will have the best win of their young career, and also take a giant step toward their long-term goal of becoming a world champion.
Why he’s a prospect: Fuzile won two South African titles and the African Cup of Nations. He had international experience fighting in Germany, where he won gold.
Fuzile has sparred with a handful of his countrymen, including Michael Moekwena, Sabelo Ngebinyana and Ayabonga Sonjica.
He feels he has two core strengths as a boxer: “Awkwardness and quick handspeed.”
Nathan, who has worked with Fuzile for four fights, feels his fighter’s natural ability is his best trait.
“Azinga is a naturally gifted fighter,” said the manager/trainer. “It’s a pleasure coaching him. I truly gel with this kid when it comes to boxing. Working and talking the game plan, the kid honestly, truly makes me love my job.”
Although he has only 14 fights, Fuzile has been the 12-round distance on four occasions. He also has 200 amateur bouts worth of experience and at 23 is a young veteran.
Why he’s a suspect: Fuzile wasn’t particularly active for the first few years of his career. However, he made the most of the opportunities he was presented and has since developed into one of the top prospects in Africa.
Fuzile has a mediocre 57 percent knockout ratio, but has fought several experienced pros on the local circuit and also last time out against grizzled Mexican Romulo Koasicha.
He is a bag of tricks, his style could be compared to IBF junior lightweight beltholder Tevin Farmer. His awkward style might make it difficult for opponents, but also as we saw with the Ogawa fight falling through, overseas promoters aren’t in a rush to put him on against their fighters.
Nathan feels his boxer is still developing and will improve in time.
“He is still so young,” said Nathan. “And I still think he has not reached his peak yet. As he develops, gets the fights and experience, he will become that complete fighter. This will come over time.”
Storylines: Fuzile, who has two sisters, was born and grew up in East London, the son of an amateur boxer.
“I started Boxing when I was 10,” he said. “I grew up watching and admiring my father, who was an amateur boxer. He pushed me in that direction.
“Gabula Vabaza [who was a world-rated junior featherweight in the 2000s] is from my location, Duncan Village [influenced me].”
His boxing hero is Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Away from boxing, he is not married and likes to relax watching TV. He is also a boxing fan.
April 7 – Romulo Koasicha – UD 12
Dec. 9 – Ibrahim Mgender – TKO 7
Oct. 21 – Malcolm Klassen – TKO 4
July 29 – Waidi Usman – TKO 7
April 8 – Immanuel Andeleki – KO 1
Oct. 21 – Tshifhiwa Munyai – TKO 3
July 30 – Rofhiwa Maemu – UD 12
May 7 – Sydney Maluleka – UD 12
Dec. 9 – Giorgi Gotchoshvili – KO 1
Sept. 30 – Macbute Sinyabi – UD 12
April 23 – Aphiwe Kelewu – TKO 8
Oct. 16 – Mziwodumo Mangxilana – TKO 2
March 7 – Tumelo Pedi – PTS 6
Dec. 15 – Sibusiso Khumalo – PTS 6
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright
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