Sweeney to face Lutete as Berman maps out fighter plans

Golden Gloves 23/08/2015

Promoter Rodney Berman is investing big hopes and resources in Irish cruiserweight Gary Sweeney, who makes his professional bow in one month’s time.

The overseas banger fights Jean Lutete (1-1), who is best known for losing to Kevin Lerena three years ago.

The plan is to go fast and furious with Sweeney, putting him on again in December and the first Golden Gloves bill in 2016. Berman is also pursuing an Irish promoting license as he intends showcasing Sweeney in his homeland and developing him into a major star.

Berman is also in talks with another major cruiserweight, details of which will be announced at a suitable time.

The promoter is still high on the available talent in South Africa and has his eye on a number of big match-ups.

Despite being rebuffed by a range of champions, Berman says he will go all out to nail down a unification fight for Hekkie Budler if he is successful against Simpiwe Khonco next month.

If Khonco prevails in the WBA and IBO clash, Berman has options on him. Because Khonco is jumping the queue, he would have to honour the mandatory contender Knockout CP Freshmart in his first outing, a fight Berman said he would ensure takes place in South Africa.

Berman is also toying with the idea to seek a Johnny Muller-Kevin Lerena rematch. This obviously depends how Muller goes against dangerous Oleksandr Usyk later this month, but there’s good value in entertaining the rematch idea.

The first fight was close and exciting and Berman believes the second could be even closer.

It’s seldom that unbeaten fighters are matched, but that isn’t stopping Berman from touting Paul Kamanga against Roman Zhailaouv for year-end. They both have impending fights, but if they come through, there’s could be a war.

Kamanga is a welterweight and the Kazakh a junior-welter, which would force Berman’s hand. He says he would opt for a catchweight bout to ensure it happens.

“Two exciting 21-year-olds, both unbeaten. It could be fantastic,” he enthused.

Berman has also heard enough calls to consider pitching Grant Fourie against Warren Joubert in a rematch for the SA junior-welterweight title. They recently engaged in a see-saw battle for the title, with Fourie snatching the decision. Joubert looked out of sorts on the night and has promised a better showing if given the chance.

For all this, the single best fight that can be made is Zolani Tete against Moruti Mthalane. Both former world champions, Tete reigned as IBF flyweight and super-flyweight champion while Mthalane was the IBF flyweight champion and now holds the IBO title.

They could also fight at catchweight. Although the fight would mean little in Johannesburg, it would be a massive event in the Eastern Cape.

It isn’t Golden Gloves territory, but the dream is moot anyway: the purse demands, whether justified or not, would be astronomical.