WBC comes clean on Ndafoluma’s Manchester fight

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Otniel Hembapu

Windhoek-Following weeks of ambiguity around the actual status of the fight between Namibia’s middleweight boxer Lukas ‘Demolisher’ Ndafoluma and British opponent Craig Cunningham, held in Manchester, UK, last month, the World Boxing Council (WBC) has cleared the air and set the record straight.

During last month’s first leg of the UK vs Africa boxing series held at Manchester’s Victoria Warehouse, Ndafoluma stole the show when he defeated Cunningham in their highly entertaining middleweight showdown, which lasted 10 rounds.

Ndafoluma lifted both his lanky arms in the air when the referee announced a narrow points victory against the hometown boy, sealing the first and only victory for Team Africa on the night. Prior to the Ndafoluma defeat, Cunningham was the WBC International silver middleweight champion, a title he won last year when he defeated compatriot Anthony Ogogo.

Upon Ndafoluma’s arrival back home, his stable, Salute Boxing Academy (SBA), announced that as part of the UK vs Africa boxing jamboree, Ndafoluma was initially scheduled to challenge Cunningham’s WBC International silver middleweight title, but a delay in issuing Ndafoluma’s visa resulted in the Namibian missing out on the mandatory 72-hour weight check procedure, as he had arrived late in the UK.

As a result, and according to Salute’s announcement to the local media, the WBC refused to sanction the title fight and rather ordered the two boxers to square off for a ceremonial international bout.

Salute also later announced that plans were being finalised for a rematch in February next year, for a fight that would form part of the UK vs Africa series and that will also include Cunningham’s WBC International strap. It was also suggested that the fight would take place in either South Africa or Namibia.

According to world renowned boxing site Boxrec.com, Ndafoluma is currently ranked 71st in the global rankings and is ranked 2nd in Namibia, behind compatriot Walter Kautondokwa, who holds the WBO Africa middleweight title.
After Ndafoluma’s successful UK excursion, which saw him win over the love of that country’s boxing fans, many local boxing pundits raised serious question marks around the status of the Ndafoluma vs Cuningham bout, with many suggesting the fight was never a title fight to start off with and neither did Ndafoluma’s handlers apply for the fight to be a title fight.

Others equally claimed that Salute Boxing Academy, or South Africa’s Kalakoda Promotions, which negotiated the fight on behalf of Salute Boxing, knew from the onset that the fight was never a title fight but deliberately chose to mislead the nation.

In search of clarity, New Era Sport traced down WBC Vice-President Mauro Betti, who revealed to this publication that the matchup between Cunningham and Ndafoluma was never a WBC International silver middleweight title fight, but was initially scheduled to be a Commonwealth Boxing Council eliminator – however, due to visa issues the fight did not materialise and it was resolved the two boxers fight a non-title bout.

“On behalf of myself and my committee, let me start by saying Cunningham was the WBC International 160 Lbs champion before the fight took place. The involved promoters did not apply for the fight to be a WBC International title defence for Cunningham. The agreement between parties was that should Cunningham have turned to be successful in his fight against WBC unrated Ndafoluma, Cunningham would have been confirmed as the reigning WBC International champion subject to a title defence to be held before the end of this year. Should Ndafoluma have defeated Cunningham, the WBC International title would have been declared vacant. In this case Ndafoluma won and the title was declared vacant,” said Betti via email.

He further clarified: “The British Board was duly informed in advance and there were no complaints after the fight. The referee scored 97-94 for Ndafoluma in what was not a WBC International Championship. The fight could not be for a WBC World Silver title because to my understanding, the WBC never allowed this crown to be at stake. The WBC International title is now vacant and anybody who applies to the WBC can fight for it provided they qualify in terms of the WBC ratings.”

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