New Faces: Emmany Kalombo
Hometown: Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo
Weight class: Junior middleweight
Height: 5-foot-9½ (182 cm)
Amateur record: 6-0 (6 knockouts)
Turned pro: 2015
Pro record: 13-0 (13 KOs)
Trainer: Damien Durandt
Manager: Damien Durandt
Promoter: Ayanda Matiti – Xaba Promotions
Best night of pro career and why: Kalombo stopped the grizzled veteran Nkulueko Mhlongo in March 2018.
“The fight I think was most impressive was fight number nine,” Kalombo told The Ring. “[Mhlongo] was the South African champion. He’d never been stopped and I stopped him in round five.”
Worst night of pro career and why: Although on paper, Mhlongo is his best win, Kalombo feels there were aspects of that fight he needed to improve.
“The fight was tough. The guy had more experienced and landed the more shots on me,” he explained. “He made me wake up and he gave me a good fight and since that fight, I know how to pick my hands up.”
Next fight: Kalombo closes out the year with a fight against Daniel Lartey at the International Convention Centre, East London, South Africa, next Monday.
“I just want to win the fight beautifully again, stop the guy, the way I always do,” he said. “Make my team and everyone proud.”
Lartey (14-2-1, 12 KOs) turned professional in 2016 and looks a dangerous puncher. The Ghanaian has only been stopped once and has fought at middleweight.
Why he’s a prospect: “The General” is one of the most under-the-radar fighters in boxing today and is potentially a dark horse in the talent-laden junior middleweight division. While still a prospect, at 28, he’s more mature than others.
Kalombo is a very aggressive fighter and his power is very real, stopping all 13 men inside six rounds. Could he be a modern-day John Mugabi?
He moved to South Africa in 2014 under the guidance of cruiserweight contender IIunga Makabu and made his debut the following August. His first three fights were with the late, great Nick Durandt. When he retired, his son Damien took over. The two share a close bond.
Kalombo has sparred with heavyweight Martin Bakole, Makabu, perennial light heavyweight contender Isaac Chilemba, welterweight Thulani Mbenge and stablemate Brandon Thysse.
Kalombo feels his ability is his biggest strength: “I think landing clean shots with nice technique. I have good power.”
Durandt believes Kalombo is a natural and possesses a good boxing I.Q.
“I think he’s a clever boy. He picks things up very quickly. You can teach him something once and he adapts to it immediately,” said the young trainer. “I think that’s his best asset is that he’s a fast learner.
“He has good power; he’s got good speed. He’s got good head movement; he’s good with angles and he’s a good boxer and puncher but I think it’s because of the way he learns so quickly.”
Why he’s a suspect: Kalombo didn’t start boxing until he was 18 and only had six amateur fights, which hamstrung his progress until he moved to South Africa.
Since then he’s moved steadily and appears ready to make his move. However nobody seems to be in a rush to face the junior middleweight powerhouse.
“I’m not rushing Kalombo,” Durandt said before revealing, “He didn’t have an extensive amateur background. He learns every fight, takes something away from every fight. I do believe he’s world-ready. I do think he can mix with the top 20 comfortably.”
His record has scared off several possible opponents. While not a weakness, per se, it very much keeps him on the backburner waiting for his chance.
“I’ve had hassles trying to negotiate deals for him to fight guys in the top-40 or 50 in the world,” said Durandt. “They look at him and they run. For me, I think the opportunities will start to come now, he’s fighting for the WBO Africa title. I think that will crack him in the [WBO] ratings. He’s number 38 with the WBC.
“We struggle to find opponents for him. We’ve tried to speak to Internationals. They want $30,000 to come and fight and they’re guys who shouldn’t be earning $30,000. It’s a tough road. I want to go slowly; I don’t want to rush. I think he’d be ready for a world title by maybe fight number 16, 17 and I think he’ll ready to knock out some of the big boys.
“We got offered a fight in China. We agreed to the fight and said, ‘Come back to us with what you want to offer,’ and they came back and said, ‘No, we’re going to take someone else.’ As soon as they do a bit of homework, they step out. I’ve tried to do one or two things in Russia. Earlier this year we were offered a fight with a Russian boy, a hot prospect, eight fights, six knockouts, a good amateur background. They pulled out and said he was injured. I’ve been trying to make the fight the whole year. They never came back to me. We’ve had these little speed bumps. I think next year will be a big year for him.”
Durandt has no issues with his fighter going on the road. He actually welcomes those opportunities and has a few potential targets in mind.
“I want to start mixing him with some foreigners, maybe a Mexican, Argentinean or Russian,” he said. “I want to take him to the next level. I also want him to travel. He needs to fight on the road. A lot of fighters get too complacent fighting at home. You look at a guy like IIunga Makabu; every time he goes overseas, he knocks guys out and that’s what I want for Emmany.
“I would love for Emmany to fight the winner of the rematch of Anthony Fowler and Scott Fitzgerald. It would be a great fight for us. They’ve all got similar records. I’d like to put him in with one of them, even a Liam Smith, test him. [Smith]’s been in there with [The Ring Magazine middleweight champion/WBO light heavyweight titlist] Canelo [Alvarez]. That would be a big step now. I’d really like the winner of Anthony Fowler-Scott Fitzgerald. Would they take it? I don’t know.”
All the while, Kalombo listened intently to his coach before adding, “I’m hungry. I want all of them, to eat all of them one by one.”
The South African-based Congo native is willing to do what his coach asks of him.
“They always say you never stop learning,” said Kalombo. “I’m ready to step up to the top level but you have to take things step by step. I have to just improve small things that my coach has to teach me.”
Storylines: Kalombo was born and raised in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the second largest country in Africa, after Algeria. He is one of 19 children. Things weren’t easy growing up in the capital.
“It was tough. Kinshasa is not easy, Kinshasa made me tough,” he said. “We did not have much but we were fine.”
As a child, Kalombo played soccer but when he decided he wanted to toughen up, he turned to boxing.
“I wanted people to respect me,” he explained. “Went to school and played soccer, I was a good player. I was a defender; I was the captain.”
Durandt traveled to the DRC to visit Kalombo’s family in Mbuji-Mayi, an hour outside Kinshasa, to meet his family.
“You could see the upbringing was not easy,” said Durandt. “They come from a township outside Kinshasa. It’s a bit of a drive; the roads are very bad to get there. It’s an old home. You could see his mom and dad did their best to raise their kids well and they’re all respectful.”
It’s a tough area where many other boxers including Makabu, Bakole, Kalenga and various mixed martial arts fighters have come from.
Kalombo’s boxing heroes are Canelo Alvarez, Andre Ward and his friend Makabu.
Like many boxers, he has lofty goals and dreams of one day sitting a top the mythical pound-for-pound rankings.
“I think he’s very comfortable at 154. I think he’ll be in that division for a very long time,” said Durandt. “I don’t see an issue with him going to middleweight but I think I’ll let him accomplish what he needs to accomplish first at junior middleweight.
“I want him to win a world title at 154, make one or two defenses, see how it goes, unification. You never know what opens up at that time. The road is slow as long as there’s progress.
“Every fighter wants to win a world title; that’s the ultimate goal. For Emmany it’s even bigger than that. He wants to be in the top-10 pound-for-pound.”
Kalombo has a girlfriend and lives in Johannesburg. He likes to relax and enjoys comedy. His team describes him as a playful character. He also likes watching soccer and supports Juventus because he is a big Cristiano Ronaldo fan.
September 28 – Henriques Lando – TKO 4
July 27 – Cristiano Ndombassy – TKO 6
September 21 – Chimwemwe Chiotcha – TKO 2
July 13 – Samuel Antwi – TKO 2
March 23 – Nkulueko Mhlongo – KO 5
December 2 – Aphiwe Myoyo – KO 2
August 25 – Thembani Mhlanga – TKO 2
July 1 – Charles Misanjo – TKO 1
March 25 – France Ramabolu – TKO 5
December 8 – Siyamcela Mntwana – TKO 1
August 27 – Phakamani Mthethwa – KO 1
February 25 – Dennis Mbath – TKO 2
August 15 – Garth Noot – TKO 4
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