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Boxing | South Africa

Two top-line bouts at Emperors Palace

Two top-line bouts, and three good matchups on the undercard, will be presented at Emperors Palace near Kempton Park on Saturday night.

In the main event, South African and WBC International welterweight champion Thulani Mbenge (13-0; 10) meets Diego Gabriel Chaves (26-3-1; 22) from Argentina in a clash for the vacant IBO welterweight belt. Mbenge is listed at No 32 and Chaves at No 28 in the latest IBO rankings.

In the main supporting bout, in a ten-round international cruiserweight fight, South Africa’s Thabiso Mchunu (18-4; 11) of Cato Ridge, KwaZulu/Natal, takes on Ricards Bolotniks (11-4-1; 5) from Riga, Latvia.

The 26-year-old Mbenge was an outstanding amateur, winning three South African titles and a bronze medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

He made his pro debut in May 2015 and has won the South African and WBC International welterweight titles.

Chaves, 32, is more experienced at world level than Mbenge but he has been inactive since December 2017.

His losses have come against top fighters like Keith Thurman (20-0), who stopped him in ten, and Brandon Rios (31-2-1), when he was disqualified in the ninth round for an intentional blow to the face, in a closely-contested fight before the disqualification.

In his most recent fight he was knocked out in the third round by Jamal James (21-1).

This could be a tough one for the South African against the more experienced Chaves.

The other main organisation champions are WBA, Keith Thurman (USA); IBF, Errol Spence Jr (USA); and WBO, Terence Crawford (USA). The WBC belt is vacant.


The talented Mchunu, 30, who fights from the southpaw stance, is hoping to get his career back on track after suffering three loses in his last five fights.

The 28-year-old Bolotniks will have height and reach advantages over the South African.

However, most of his opponents are unknown except for Micki Nielsen, who beat him on a split decision. Nielsen out-pointed Johnny Muller and lost to Kevin Lerena.

On the undercard, Rowan Campbell meets Malkhaz Sujashvili from Georgia in a super-middleweight bout scheduled for eight rounds.

In the opening two bouts of the evening, Ayabonga Sonjica (EC) meets Tumelo Matsane (Gauteng) over four rounds at junior-featherweight, and, in a middleweight bout scheduled for six rounds, Wade Groth (Gauteng) goes in against Andile Mtungwa (Gauteng).


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