Nontshinga’s shot at title in danger

Johannesburg- International Boxing Federation (IBF) light flyweight challenger Sive “Special One” Nontshinga’s camp is worried that the South Africa travel ban by the US could put the youngster’s world title shot aspirations in jeopardy.

The South African boxing prospect is scheduled to challenge the reigning IBF light flyweight champion, Felix Alvarado, in the US on December 18.

The junior flyweight kingpins form part of the Golden Boy promotion’s tournament.

With US president Joe Biden’s government imposing travel restrictions on five southern African countries that include South Africa, it would be impossible for Nontshinga and his team to travel to America for the fight. The US and UK have put SA back on the red zone list after the outbreak of the Omicron variant.

Although President Cyril Ramaphosa has called to his US and UK counterparts to lift the travel bans, it remains to be seen whether Nontshinga and his handlers will be able to travel for the boxer’s fight of a lifetime.

The East London boxing camp is crossing fingers that Biden hears Ramaphosa’s plea and removes Mzansi from the travel red list. South Africa had just recently been
removed from the red zone travel list by some of the European countries.

Nontshinga’s trainer, Thembelani Gopheni, said since he heard of the not-so-good news, he has had sleepless nights.

“After the US president imposed the travel restrictions on South Africa, we started to worry. We hope that things can change and we will be allowed to travel to America. If things are going according to our plans, we hope to be in the US 10 days before the fight.

“However, given the current situation we continue with our training programmes as usual. As for the boxer, he is not thinking about the travel restrictions and we at the camp haven’t talked to Sive about the situation as we don’t want to disturb him.

“Our preparations have been going well, the boy is hard at training every day preparing for a tough outing against the champion. I have watched a couple of Felix’s fights and we know he is a beast, but we are ready for anything he brings to the ring. Sive has a good supporting structure to feel comfortable going to such a big stage,” said Gopheni.

Well-traveled boxing guru Andile Sidinile and the former WBO bantamweight champion Zolani Tete are supporting Nontshinga in his quest to bring the title home.

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