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18 NOVEMBER 2018


Funeka vs Marali Promises To Be A Thriller

Ali Funeka, 30-3-3 (25), has been in three world title fights so far in a professional career that started in 1995. In fact, his last three outings were for world championships. Each time he came very close to winning, only to see the sports ultimate price narrowly escape him.

On November 19 he gets a fourth chance when he takes on fellow South African Zolani Marali, 21-4 (13), a former IBO World Champion, for the vacant WBF Light Welterweight title on the “Urban War” promotion in Johannesburg, South Africa headlined by a WBF Heavyweight title fight between Francois Botha and Michael Grant.

After winning the South African title in 2004 and the WBC International crown in 2006, and defending those belts successfully seven and two times respectively, Funeka burst onto the international scene in 2008 when he knocked out former US Olympian Zaheer Raheem in a world title eliminator.

With a record of 29-2 in the pros, Raheem held a victory over Mexican legend Erik Morales, and the triumph over the American secured Ali Funeka a shot at unified World Champion Nate Campbell. Despite suffering knockdowns in the second and 11th rounds, Funeka pushed Campbell to the brink and in the opinion of many won more rounds than the defending champion.

But after 12 thrilling rounds Campbell was awarded a majority decision (113-113, 114-112, 115-111), and Funeka travelled back to South Africa without a world title, but knowing he could hold his own with the best in his weight class.

Nine months later Funeka got a shot at the IBF world title, vacated by Campbell, and dominated undefeated Dominican Pound-For-Pound candidate Joan Guzman only to see the verdict come out a draw when two of the judges handed in 114-114 tallies. The third judge saw it 116-112 for Funeka, but once again he went home empty handed.

In March 2010 Funeka fought Guzman in a much closer rematch, and lost a less disputed split decision that could have gone either way. The deciding scorecard favored Guzman by one point, and there were those at ringside who felt that Funeka was wrongly denied a world championship for the third time in a row.

Against Zolani Marali on November 19 at the Monte Casino in Johannesburg, Funeka plans to take the outcome out of the judges hands. And with twenty-five out of thirty victories coming inside the distance, he has the power to do so.

However, Marali obviously has other plans. The 34-year-old two-time former IBO World Champion, at super bantamweight and lightweight, is beaming with confidence coming off a decision victory over big-punching 19-1-1 prospect Kgotla Baeti in his last fight. And with thirteen stoppages to his credit, Marali is no powder-puff himself.

Ali Funeka vs. Zolani Marali is just one of six WBF title fights on the huge “Urban War” bill promoted by Showpony Promotions headed by Damian Michael. Five world championship encounters and one All-Africa title fight completes the biggest event in World Boxing Federation history.

Besides Funeka – Marali and the Botha vs. Grant Heavyweight encounter, Lubabalu Msuthu will defend his WBF World Bantamweight championship against undefeated Philippino Dennis Tubieron, Malcolm Klassen squares off with Mexican Daniel Lomeli for the vacant WBF World Welterweight crown, and Ilunga Makabu goes for the vacant WBF World Cruiserweight title against Pedro Otas from Brazil.

The vacant All-Africa Welterweight title will be up for grabs in a fight between compatriots Mthobisi Buthelezi and Gerry Nekhubvi.

October 26, 2011

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