REMATCH: Takalani Ndlovu, right, gets a punch from Jeffrey Mathebula during their IBF junior featherweight title fight at Carnival City in 2010, which Ndlovu won on points. They will meet for the third time at Carnival City on March 23. Picture: SUNDAY WORLD
REMATCH: Takalani Ndlovu, right, gets a punch from Jeffrey Mathebula during their IBF junior featherweight title fight at Carnival City in 2010, which Ndlovu won on points. They will meet for the third time at Carnival City on March 23. Picture: SUNDAY WORLD

BIG-time boxing returns to Carnival City’s Big Top Arena on March 23. It has been more than a year since boxing took place at the casino in Ekurhuleni.

Branco Sports Productions, which last staged a big tournament there, returns with a tournament that has been dubbed "African Glory 3" by promoter Branco Milenkovic.

He said former International Boxing Federation (IBF) junior featherweight champions Takalani "The Panther" Ndlovu and Jeffrey "The Mongoose" Mathebula will top the bill when they collide in a n IBF junior featherweight title bout.

The winner will earn a title challenge against reigning and unbeaten Colombian Jonathan Romero, who beat American-based Mexican fighter Alejandro Lopez for the then vacant title last month.

Ndlovu and Mathebula have met twice before. Ndlovu won the first clash with a split decision in September 2010 and earned the right to challenge then IBF champion Steve Molitor.

He then dethroned the Canadian in March 2011.

He made a successful defence against Mexican Giovanni Caro in October, but suffered a split-decision defeat to Mathebula in their rematch last year.

Mathebula then lost the title to World Boxing Organisation holder Nonito Donaire in a unification bout that was televised live by HBO in the US in July last year.

"Because of the performance he displayed against Donaire, Mathebula’s international stock rose significantly, especially as Donaire has since knocked out all his following opponents after the Mathebula fight, including Japanese Toshiaki Nishioka as well as Mexican legend Jorge Arce," said Milenkovic on Monday.

"Meanwhile, Ndlovu, who at 35 years old is in the twilight of his career, was unlucky in his IBF title eliminator against Lopez last August, but he got the nod from the IBF to engage in another title eliminator."

Mathebula is rated No4, a spot above Ndlovu.

Milenkovic, whose good relationship with the IBF has seen him stage a lot of the organisation’s clashes, such as that between Mzonke Fana and Cassius Baloyi, Fana against Malcolm Klassen, Klassen versus Baloyi, Nkosinathi Joyi against Raul Garcia, and Joyi versus Katsunari Takayama, said the third fight between Mathebula and Ndlovu would deliver the intensity of their previous two bouts.

"We all know that these two don’t come to play in the ring, so people can be sure of an action-packed fight," he said. "The winner will earn a title challenge against reigning and unbeaten Colombian Jonathan Romero, who beat Lopez to lift the title."

Mathebula, 33, will be fighting for the first time since recovering from the broken jaw he suffered in the Donaire fight.

Ndlovu has 33 wins (18 KOs) against eight losses, while Mathebula’s record is 26 wins (14 KOs), four defeats and two draws.