Former three-time world champion Dingaan “Rose of Soweto” Thobela returns to the ring on December 3 in a fight that has many people filled with mixed emotions. While he still undoubtedly has the talent to be a force in boxing, conditioning is a serious concern, and this bout, which will be fought at light heavyweight, was taken on three weeks notice. The man does have an incredible amount of natural stamina, but firing at 60%, few engines deliver their best performances.

The 38-year-old Thobela (40 wins, 12 losses, 2 draws with 26 KOs), rated one of the best boxers ever from South Africa, will be facing off against 24-year-old Lucian Bute (8 wins with 8 KOs) in Montreal, Canada. Bute, who is five inches taller that Thobela, has had three fights in the last month and his fistic career is clearly being fast tracked.

“I know they are seeing me as a steppingstone,” says Thobela “but I am seeing Bute as a steppingstone also. I need to win this one to silence my critics and also a win will open the door to my future prospects.”

It may sound funny for a man of Thobela’s profile talking about future prospects, but he does still have a dream.

“I have achieved most of what I set out to do in my career,” he says. “Winning three world titles was my main ambition, but I have an obligation to my fans to finish my career in a big way. I need to make history one more time before hanging up my gloves and to do that I need to get a few wins under my belt.”

This will be Thobela’s fourth fight in Canada, with the first being back in 2000 when he was robbed of his WBC super middleweight world title in the favor of Davey Hilton.

“As a result of that poor decision I gained more support in Canada than I would have received had I retained my title,” says Thobela “When I returned there to fight Eric Lucas and in my last bout in Canada against Otis Grant, I had a lot of support. People know I was wronged so there are those who would like to see me win. It’s been very heartening and that’s one of the main reasons I’m happy to go back to Canada.”

Thobela has always been a fan favorite and is always readily available to acknowledge them from wherever they may hail. Prior to this fight Thobela was seeking to make history by capturing South African titles from super middleweight all the way up to heavyweight, but has received resistance from Boxing South Africa, due to the fact that he is now licensed in Namibia.

Thobela is involved in uplifting the sport in African countries, with Namibia being a key player in his future plans. A win on his resume would not only reopen doors for his own aspirations, but also for the continent as a whole. It’s no secret that sponsors need wins, irrespective the opposition. Bute is bigger, stronger and younger, but Thobela has history and experience on his side. If he loses this one, however, he may just be history.