Can Hawk Fly Again?

BY Deon Potgieter ON July 19, 2004
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Former WBO, WBU and IBO flyweight world champion Masibulele "Hawk" Makepula continues his bid to re-establish himself in a heavier weight division this Friday night when he takes on Zanomzi Xola (W15 L 6 D 4 KO 7 ) in what will be his third fight at junior bantamweight.

Although he has held three world titles, albeit two from smaller sanctioning bodies, it was the title fight he lost that most people remember Makepula for. He unsuccessfully challenged Irene Pacheco for the IBF flyweight world title in November 2000 in Mandalay Bay Las Vegas. The judge's decision was highly controversial as most ringsiders and media felt that Makepula had won the fight. One judge scored it a draw 114-114, while the other two gave it to the defending champion by margins of 118-110 and 117-111. Although there was talk and promise of a rematch, nothing materialised and the "Hawk," as he is affectionately known, remained inactive for 9 months waiting for the still undefeated Pacheco to come to the table.

Although Makepula claimed his 3rd crown (IBO) two fights later, the disappointment clearly took its toll on this spiritual man. He also battled to stay in the flyweight division and suffered terrible leg cramps as a result of pulling weight. He lost his IBO title to former two time WBU world and WBA and WBC international champion Mzukisi Sikali in his first defence, as well as a rematch with the big hitting southpaw before realising that he simply had to move to a higher division.

The huge local demand for the Makepula-Sikali rematch contributed to the delay in his move to junior bantamweight, as he had been contemplating it even before winning the title. Since moving up Makepula has beaten former South African bantamweight champion Johannes Maisa, as well as former IBO junior bantamweight world champion Lunga Nontela, both by stoppages. When making the move, Makepula also switched trainers from Mzi Mnguni, who handled the likes of Vuyani Bungu, Zolani Petelo and Mbulele Botile, to join the stable of Nic Durandt.

Durandt trains Phillip Ndou and another rising star, Silence Mabuza among others. Durandt was also in Hassim Rahman's corner the night he knocked out Lennox Lewis to claim the latter's crown. Durandt's fighters are known as knockout specialists and Makepula, who has 16 ko's in 22 wins and 3 losses, will be looking to increase his knockout ratio come fight night.

The bout takes place at the Carousel casino in Hammanskraal South Africa, the same venue Makepula made his debut in on September 10 1996. Whether Makepula can shake off his disillusionment and find the spirit he had the night he stood up to Pacheco remains to be seen, but at 31 he still has some good fighting years in him.

The main event on Friday sees"Smoking"Jo Makaringe (W 24 L 2 KO 20) make the 8th defence of his SA welterweight crown against little known Avashoni Mbedzi (W7 L2 D1 KO 5) in a fight which is seen as a warm up to his much anticipated rematch with former WBU welterweight world champion Jan Bergman (W42 L 5 KO31) in September. Makaringe is a solid boxer with two fisted punching power who just hasn't got the breaks he's deserved over the years, though he would give any welterweight a run for his money.

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