Sunday, January 13, 2013

Boxing Fights to Look Forward to this year.
 Juan Manuel Marquez is lifted by his cornermen after KO’ing Manny Pacquiao Dec. 8.

At the start of each year, sports writers and bloggers come up with lists of fights they wish would happen. More often than not, these fights don’t materialise because boxing, unlike most sports, does not have a set calendar.

Despite the many inaccuracies of these lists, they provide those remotely interested in boxing knowledge of which fighters they should watch and avid sports fans topics to debate.
Here is our “wish-list” of fights to look forward to this year:

Marquez – Pacquiao V:

Pacquiao and Marquez’s four fights have produced what is arguably the greatest boxing rivalry since the turn of the century. After each of their fights I thought their performances against each other couldn’t get any better, I was proven wrong each time. The two go at each other with one intention, to end the fight with a knockout and this desire to win has kept both fighters getting back on their feet when knocked down except on one occasion.

The first bout ended in a draw with Marquez, seemingly on the brink of defeat, recovering from three first round knockdowns to finish strongly. The second and third, which had some people thinking Marquez won or at the very least drew, were scored in favour of Pacquiao.

The fourth fight was meant to settle the inconclusiveness of the rivalry. Many expected Pacquiao to prove once and for all that he was the better of the two. Despite been knocked down once, going into the sixth round it appeared that Pacquiao was winning convincingly, outpunching Marquez and bloodying his face.
And then it happened. Marquez connected a thunderous right that left Pacquiao unconscious for over a minute. The punch so beautifully executed is possibly the reason the bout was voted fight of the year by Ring Magazine.

Both fighters have stated that they want a fifth fight in September and their promoters, considering public demand for a fifth fight, feel it makes economic sense to make Marquez Vs Pacquiao V happen.

Floyd Mayweather Vs Eddie Guerrero:

Last year Robert Guerrero (31-1-1, 18 KOs) joined the upper echelon of boxing when he defeated all his opponents in empathic fashion.

Now Guerrero is going to face his biggest challenge yet against Floyd Mayweather. The fight has been tentatively set to take place on the 4th of May.

Many pundits feel this will merely be a tune up bout for Mayweather, who intends to fight Saul “Canelo” Alvarez later on in the year. And that Mayweather will make mincemeat of Guerrero.

They have a point: Mayweather (43-0-0 26KOs) is undefeated, has unparalleled technical skills, is more experienced and has a history of adapting to styles of all the fighters he has faced. But I have a feeling Mayweather could suffer his first defeat.

Consider this: As Guerrero rose to the Welterweight division from Lightweight he showed that he was more than just a good technical fighter, he can a brawl and take punches. He showed this when he faced hard-hitting pugilists Kastidas and Andre Berto. Both fights were ferocious with Guerrero out-brawling his rivals to win by a unanimous decision.

For me what Guerrero brings is the belief he can defeat anybody and this self-confidence could propel him to victory come May 4th.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez Vs Austin Trout:

At only 22, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s record of 42 fights, 41 victories and one draw have made him a superstar in Mexico despite Canelo not having faced any proven opponents.

2013 is a year he has stated he intends to face world class fighters with Floyd Maywether top on his list.
Mayweather is most definitely fighting Guerrero on May 4th, so Canelo’s only credible opponent in the 154 (Jr. Middleweight) weight class is Austin Trout (26-0-0 14KOs).

Trout just came off a victory over highly rated Miguel Cotto. If the fight happens, it will not only act as a unifier of the WBA (regular) and WBC belts but act as an eliminator for a Maywether showdown in September.

With the kind of money and credibility that follows a Maywether fight, both fighters will try and win in style via a knockout or unanimous decision. This is a fight with high stakes and one not to miss.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez Vs Floyd Mayweather:

If the two aren't upset in their first bouts of the year they will meet in September.

Since both fighters are represented by Golden Boy promotions the fight will be easy to arrange. And considering the fan base they both have, this could be one of, if not, the highest grossing bouts in history of the sport.

Mayweather will be out to maintain his unbeaten run while Canelo will know victory over Mayweather will make him the biggest boxer in the sport.

Tommy “Tommy Gun” Oosthuizen Vs Carl Froch:

Tommy Gun (22-0-1 13 Kos), South Africa’s undefeated IBO super Middleweight champion has always made it eminent he aims to win the more superior IBF title held by Carl Froch. However, when IBF provided the opportunity for Tommy to face Froch in November of last year Tommy turned it down to face “more suitable opponents” that would build his profile in the USA.

This decision seems to have back fired, Carl Froch appears to be uninterested in fighting Tommy and plans on facing Kessler in a WBO and IBF unification bout.

The winner of the fight will be expected to face IBF’s mandatory challenger, Adonis Stevenson. This reduces Tommy’s chances of winning a major title.

However, with Froch fighting Kessler Tommy may face Stevenson during the first quarter of the year increasing, a Tommy win will make him IBF’s mandatory challenger and set up a bout with either Kessler of Froch.

Donaire Vs Rigondeaux :

Nonito Donaire (32-1-0 20KOs) was the most talked about fighter of 2012 for two reasons:
Donaire, Ring Magazines’ fighter of the year, rose to fistic summits by convincingly winning all his four fights. His best performance was in his last fight when he knocked out veteran Jorge Arce while virtually fighting the whole fight with one hand after injuring his left arm.

Secondly, Donaire became the first and only professional boxer to agree to random blood and urine testing with Voluntary Anti-Doping Association. In a year filled with Performance Enhancing scandals, most notably the Lance Armstrong Saga, Doniare said he made the move to prove to his fans that his achievements are a result of skill and not chemical enhancement.

Who can beat this guy? Is the question bloggers and sports writers’ asked and the most common answer is no one. I disagree.

Enter Guillermo Rigondeaux (11-0-0 8 Kos) of Cuba. At first glance, Rigondeaux professional record looks unimpressive with only eleven fights to his name. Don’t be fooled. Rigondeaux is arguably the greatest amateur boxer; he is a double Olympic gold medallist and fought about 400 bouts losing only 12.
Having watched both fighters’ matches last year, I am sure Rigondeaux will emerge victorious when they meet.

I may be wrong as to who is the better fighter between the two but I am positive it will be a match not to miss.

Donaire Vs Abner Mares

If Donaire aims at dominating the Super Bantamweight division before moving up to featherweight he has to face WBC titlist, Abner Mares (25-0-1 13 KOs). This fight is unlikely as the promoters of the two, Golden Boy and Top Rank, have contracts with HBO and Showtime respectively. We can only wish their promoters reach a consensus and give the fans what they want.

Kell Brook Vs Devon Alexander

British boxing seems to be producing the most promising fighters in the world at the moment; the British Amateur Boxing Association (BABA) finished top of the medals table at the 2012 Olympics. Amongst the BABA alumni is Kell Brook (29-0-0 19 KOs) who has represented England in 16 fights at amateur level.
It has being well documented that Kell Brook has wanted to win the IBF title for a while. This plan could come to fruition on the 23rd of February when he faces titlist, Devon Alexander (25-1-0 13KOs).

This will be Brook’s first top-class fight and winning will open the doors for fights against the likes of Paquiao, Mayweather, Guererro and possibly a British Mega fight against Amir Khan.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Recently I was asked to cover the inaugural South African Hip Hop Awards, it was a crying shame, the event. Here is my review of the event
Nkandu tried out Critical Mass - an organised bike ride through town at night - and had an awesome time. Besides breaking his jaw. That sucked. But otherwise, he had an awesome time! Check out this account from the man himself here

Chibundu Onuzo was born in 1991 in Lagos, Nigeria. While studying History at the King’s College London she signed a two novel deal with Faber&Faber. Her debut, The Spider King’s Daughter, is currently winning much acclaim: long-listed for the prestigious Desmond Elliot and Dylan Thomas prizes. 

The novel, set in Lagos Nigeria, is about the relationship between Abike, the daughter of a wealthy businessman, and a Hawker (Runner G) she buys ice cream from. Abike, impressed by Runner G’s looks and command of English, stages a car breakdown to check if Runner G has the mindset and mannerisms fit for her collection of friends. Runner G impresses enough to turn Abike’s curiosity into affection. A romance ensues. But revelations from the past threaten their relationship and lead to thrilling twists in their lives and the lives of the people around them.

In our wide-ranging interview, Chibundu reveals how she deals with criticism, the way her faith shapes her interests and how she maintains her hair.

Mahala: When did you first start writing and when did you finish The Spider King’s Daughter?

Chibundu Onuzo: I started writing in nursery school. I was taught the alphabet and was neither overly fast nor overly slow in learning how to fashion three letter words. I finished a first draft of The Spider King’s Daughter when I was 18 so there was quite a gap between my first words and my first completed book.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

I really don’t know. Reviewers are generally not tough on debut authors so we’ll have to wait for my second novel to see. My favourite compliments are when someone who knows Lagos reads my book and say words to the effect of ‘that’s so Lagos!’

How do you react to a bad review of your book?

I’ve actually only read one review that I would call ‘bad’ (as I mentioned above people are nice to debuts). I read it twice to see if I missed anything constructive in my first natural repulsion and then to be honest I forgot it. You forget the substance of most of your reviews over time, even the positive ones.

The Spider King’s Daughter is partly a story of love. Did any of your previous relationships play a role in the creation of the romance between Abike and the Runner G?

Wouldn’t you like to know.

In a recent interview you said, “We [Nigerians] have civic duties towards our nation that go beyond just paying taxes…” the United Nations estimates that around 100 million Nigerians live under a dollar a day despite Nigeria being the second largest economy on the continent. Was writing about the disparity in wealth between your characters Abike and Runner G an act of civic duty?

Not really. I wrote about the disparity of wealth between Abike and the hawker because if you’re going to write about a relationship between two people of such different socio-economic groups, the income gap is going to come up at some point.

Abike encounters a different Lagos to the one she is accustomed to during her rendezvous with Runner G. Many tourists visiting Lagos, like Abike, may overlook visiting certain parts of Lagos. What places do you recommend tourists that want to have an out-and-out experience of Lagos go to?

I don’t know. I don’t really think of Lagos as a place for tourists. I think of Calabar (which I’ve never been to) as a place for tourists and Jos and Abuja. But if you come to Lagos, you come with a purpose not just to look. And in trying to achieve your goal, which for newcomers is usually of a pecuniary nature, you see the most fantastic things while sitting in traffic or waiting in the queue at the bank.

You were recently longlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize. How did you react when you first learned of your nomination? And what impact has the nomination had on your writing?

I smiled. I thanked God and because it was towards the end of my final year, I probably went to the library. As to what impact it has had, none that I’m aware of. If I were to stick a poster that said LONGLISTED FOR THE DESMOND ELLIOTT PRIZE on the wall opposite the table where I write, then it might affect me, but as I’m not willing to attempt this experiment, we will never discover the effects, if any, the longlist has had.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

No. Let it suffice that I am writing it.

You dedicated your debut novel to your “Father in heaven”, and often tweet about your faith in God. Have your religious beliefs ever caused you to self–censor your writing?

Censorship is an interesting word to use in relation to writing. Is editing censoring yourself? What makes you think one sentence sounds better than the other if not the type of literary cannon you’ve grown up reading (which in my case was very Western.) So perhaps my early reading patterns censor me. To directly answer your question, my faith, which I’ve had from a young age, shapes what I’m interested in and wish to explore about human nature in my fiction. I wouldn't say it censors me (2 Corinthians 3:17: in the presence of the Lord there is liberty) but it certainly guides me.
Finally, on a topic that is totally unrelated to your writing, do you have any hair tips for African women who say they cannot keep natural hair because they find kinky hair difficult to maintain but want to grow their hair naturally?

It’s not by force o, as we say in Nigeria. If you like your hair permed, perm it. If you want natural, stop perming it. I have very little stress with mine. I comb it when its wet and don’t touch it til the next time I have a shower and it’s worked for me for two years.
*You can buy The Spider King’s Daughter online here.
Nkandu Mwenge describes the alienation and xenophobia experienced by African immigrants just trying to get by -

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Xenophobia or Culture Shock?

Xenophobia is one topic that many writers find unfashionable because of the way it has being recycled over and over in the media. I however find that the writings on Xenophobia unrepresentative of me, the young foreign student.

University brochures emphasize on how South Africa offers international students, “Exotic combinations of landscapes, people, history and culture for a-larger-than life experience." a tempting prospect. These glossy prospectuses almost guarantee a smooth transition into the South African way of life. They did not however prepare me for the hostility I face for being a black foreigner. Or for what some call culture shock.

With the credit crunch hitting the finances of my parents badly, attending university in America or the United Kingdom became a fleeting illusion, the best alternative, was enrolling at a university in the country whose people killed mine in xenophobic attacks. When I boarded my flight to OR Tambo airport, I shrugged off the possibility of been a victim Xenophobia. I thought xenophobic attacks were isolated to townships and illegal settlements.

Like most foreigners (and many South Africans I have come to learn) my perceptions of Johannesburg were fashioned by the media. This, with the news headlines in mind, is what I kept telling myself each time I walked out my flat:
• There is a criminal lurking behind every corner waiting to stab somebody and that somebody might be you.
• Move with a pocket knife everywhere you go.
• If you’re going to a lower income area travel on a tourist buses with guides to take you to the safe places.
• If you left someone at home, call them every hour to find out if they are safe.

In the same way I perceived Joburg as a city with bullets flying around at every corner, South African Xenophobes may tacitly agree with news and feature stories that portray the immigrant as a parasite bent on feeding off benefits meant for South Africans. This could be one of the reasons for implicit and explicit acts of xenophobia in this country.

My friends often jokingly say the worst place for a foreigner to be in Jozi is a reception manned by security guards. My own experiences of being the foreigner attended to by a guard have gone something like this:

"Heita" the guard greets me while wearing a smile.

"Enter" I answer.

The guard then begins to speak to me in Zulu.

“I cannot understand you sir. I’m a foreigner.” I tell him.

“What language do you speak?” the guard asks, now frowning.

“English.” I say, knowing that English is where our language skills intersect.

“No what traditional language do you speak wena?”

“Bemba, Nyanja and bits of Ki-Swahili.”

“Oh, where do you come from mfana?”

“Zambia.” I respond.

A black woman walks in, she and the guard speak in vernacular. The guard helps her fill in the entrance forms before letting her in. He then turns his attention back to me, speaking in his native tongue and expecting me to follow.

“I cannot understand what you are saying” I tell him.

He continues speaking Zulu. I ask him to switch to English, but he ignores. Then a whitey walks in "Good Afternoon Sir, how can I help you?" the guard asks paying attention to the way he pronounces his vowels.

"Am headed to see a friend, picking him up for lunch."

"Yes Sir. Fill in this form, write your name here and your contact details there. Thank you and have a good day" the guard tells the whitey.

"Thank you."

I get angry and tell the guard off but he still responds in vernacular. I decide to walk past the guard without filling in the form. The guard stops me and says in English “Ey fill these form. You can't leave the building without having this slip signed." I fill in the form while wondering whether or not to lodge a complaint. I have had similar experiences in restaurants, at roadside markets and even in banks. I decide against lodging a complaint, as reporting such acts has become tiresome.

I can construct a few sentences in Zulu and when the bit of Zulu I know is sufficient enough for me to get to the end of a conversation, I make a new friend. But when I can't get to the end of a conversation without asking to switch to English, I get cold feedback. At these times I feel like leaving, quitting my degree and catching the next flight home. But then again it could be culture shock; my failure to understand that blacks 'ought' to speak vernacular or risk been shunned and that a white man can get around fine without speaking a word of Zulu or Xhosa. Or maybe I’m a victim Xenophobia and should count myself lucky because I do not get a tire lit around my neck.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


I was taking a piss on a graffiti ravaged wall when over my shoulder I saw a police patrol car pull over. I managed to quickly finish up between muffled curses and an effort to decipher what the policemen were shouting in what I presumed is Zulu. "Hey wena come over here" a policeman shouted. I walked over to the car in which two policemen were seated. One spoke in Zulu calmly, then begun to rant angrily all of a sudden.
"I can’t understand what you’re saying officer." I meekly stated.
"What language do you speak?" his partner asked.
"English sir" I informed him.
"What!" the angry officer shouted.
"I’m a foreigner." I hurriedly explained, "I’m Zambian."
"Ah the same country with Mbesuma." the angry officer said now smiling "How is he?"
"His well, I think. His scoring lots of goals I hear."
"I like that guy, he is a good player." the angry officer said keeping his smile "So, do you urinate in public in Zambia?"
"I’m sorry officer. I will never do it again."
The policemen begun to speak in vernacular, they laughed as they spoke. "So how much do you have for us?" he asked, "You know I can arrest you for this neh? And you’re drunk" he judged.
I pulled out my wallet, and only found had a R100 note. I gave it to him and asked "can you give me R50 change?" He scoffed at my request then drove off.

When I got home I told my housemates, Katlego and Olufemi (the Nigerian), about my run in with the police.
"Dude! You paid a 100bucks, you idiot. Foreigners have kak for brains" Katlego said.
"Hey shut up your mouth, I no go let you insult us like dat." Olufemi finishing off with 'Idiot'.
"You paid a 100bucks!! haw" Katlego repeated ignoring Olufemi, "I would pay 20rand tops mate."
"It was an act of goodwill bruv, to ease the policemen’s troubles and mine." I told Katlego "Yo man I hear JZ is introducing a tax on bribes, he made the announcement at the state of the nation address. This is in a bid to recoup the billions his ministers will steal."
"See what your government is up to, you now go tax bribes" Olufemi said.
"Don't even go there." Katlego warned. And we fell silent.