In honour of Women’s Month in South Africa, fan favourites Smangele Hadebe and Ellen Simwaka headline an all-female main fight card at ESPN Africa Boxing 20 in Johannesburg on Thursday August 25.
The main event is a battle for the ABU Flyweight Title over 10 rounds between ‘Smash’ Hadebe (11-3-2) and Stumai Muki (6-1-0). South African Hadebe claimed this belt in February of this year when she defeated Halima Vunjabei at Africa Boxing 14 — a sixth straight win.
Appropriately given the theme of the month, 28-year-old Hadebe is a survivor of physical abuse and fights on behalf of those who have also suffered such trauma.
“I dedicate my fights to women and children who were abused and could not speak for themselves,” Hadebe said. “My fights are about telling them that they can fight what they went through, and also know that they are not alone.
“We need to be the change we wish to see in others. Women out there must speak out and don’t let the abusers take advantage of you. Let’s empower each other and love each other.”
The ABU Flyweight champion is expecting a tough encounter, but she is looking for the KO.
“I need to step up as a champion,” added Hadebe. “I am prepared for a hard fight against Stumai, but a good one. I want to win by knockout, that is the plan, but I am ready to work for all 10 rounds.
“I have to step up my game because ESPN has made me the headline of the main card, my performance has to be better than last time when I won the title.”
Her opponent, Muki, hails from Tanzania and has racked up a three-fight win streak, most recently defeating Nicholine Achieng via unanimous decision in Dar Es Salaam in early July.
The Tanzanian is confident she will leave the ring with the belt around her waist: “I will go home with the ABU title. I believe in myself. I can knockout Simangele. I only care about winning.”
The co-main event sees Ellen Simwaka (10-5-2) take on Lanah Kasweka (6-0-0) for the IBF Africa Bantamweight Title over 10 rounds.
Malawian Simwaka claimed the belt by edging Sharadene Fortuin via split decision in May of this year, while Zambian Kasweka racked up a sixth win in her young career by defeating compatriot Chimwemwe Banda back in February.
The rest of the main fight card features Nosiacwase Dube (0-3-2) v Lufundo Mutshayi (1-6-1) and Matshidiso Mokebisi (15-10-1) v Patience Mastara (5-7-4), over six and eight rounds respectively, both in the Junior Featherweight division; as well as Nomusa Ngema (1-0-0) v Monica Mkandla (1-0-0) over four rounds in the Bantamweight division and a four-round Junior Featherweight opener between Sazisiwe Simon (1-0-0) v Adidya Mimu (1-0-0).
The undercard will feature the only male action of the night with Luvo Xhomfo (0-2-1) taking on Ishmael Kadri (2-0-0) in the Featherweight division over four rounds; and Katlego Mahlangu (2-0-0) up against Sipho Mahlangu (2-1-0) in an eight round Lightweight contest.
The action will be broadcast live at 19:00 [CAT] on ESPN (DStv 218, Starsat 248), SABC Sport and selected international broadcasters, including ESPN across Latin America.
– Main event: ABU Flyweight Title (10 Rounds): Simangele Hadebe (11-3-2) v Stumai Muki (6-1-0)
– Co-main: IBF Africa Bantamweight Title (10 Rounds): Ellen Simwaka (10-5-2) v Lanah Kasweka (6-0-0)
– Junior Featherweight (6 Rounds): Nosiacwase Dube (0-3-2) v Lufundo Mutshayi (1-6-1)
– Junior Featherweight (8 Rounds): Matshidiso Mokebisi (15-10-1) v Patience Mastara (5-7-4)
– Bantamweight (4 Rounds): Nomusa Ngema (1-0-0) v Monica Mkandla (1-0-0)
– Junior Featherweight (4 Rounds): Sazisiwe Simon (1-0-0) v Adidya Mimu (1-0-0)
– Lightweight (8 Rounds): Sipho Mahlangu (2-1-0) v Katlego Mahlangu (2-0-0)
– Featherweight (4 Rounds): Luvo Xhomfo (0-2-1) v Ishmael Kadri (2-0-0)