Azinga “Golden Boy” Fuzile could be on his way towards writing his own pay cheque if he captures the vacant IBF super-featherweight (junior lightweight) title against Japan’s Kenichi Ogawa at Madison Square Gardens in New York City early Sunday morning (SA time).
Annexing the reputable IBF world title at the famous venue – a shot he earned by out-classing the Briton Martin Ward in May – will fling open more global doors to the 25-year-old fighter from Duncan Village in the Eastern Cape.
He will also join four of his fellow countrymen – Hall-of-Fame inductee Brian Mitchell, Cassius Baloyi, Mzonke Fana and Malcolm Klaasen – who have previously strapped on the championship belt in the same weight class.
The showdown between the sanctioning body’s second (Fuzile) and third-rated (Ogawa) contenders is the main supporting attraction to the WBA Super, IBF and WBO lightweight title fight between champion Teofimo Lopez and Australian George Kambosos, staged by promoter Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Sport.
There is little doubt that this could be Fuzile’s (15-1-9 kos) toughest fight since succumbing to an eighth-round technical knockout defeat by the Russian Shavkat Rakhimov in his own back yard in September 2019.
Fuzile’s wide, hankering southpaw stance, a characteristic shoulder roll in his armoury, hand speed and a very sound defensive make-up and counter-punching ability could potentially frustrate his Japanese opponent.
The 33-year-old Ogawa (25-1-1 nc) is a physically imposing, front-foot orthodox fighter and boasts a very high knockout ratio (64.3%), having dispatched 18 of his opponents via the short route in a 27-fight career.
Based on that, one must anticipate that he will be in his shorter opponent’s face from the early rounds, but manager Colin Nathan, who is in New York and will be ringside, believes the South African has the boxing acumen and the right tools to counter that.
The fight is shaping up to be a classic orthodox versus southpaw confrontation. “Styles make fights and for that reason I believe it’s tailor-made for Azinga,” predicted Nathan.
”Like most Asian fighters, Ogawa is very aggressive and he will try impose his will on Fuzile (15-1-9 knockouts). But, he is prone to being one-dimensional on the attack and seems to lack variation, which has made him a touch predictable at times,” explained Nathan.
Fuzile is trained by Mzamo “Chief” Njekanye and has local promotional ties to Rumble Africa Promotions but is managed by the Johannesburg-based No Doubt Management consortium.
They hold a multi-fight promotional agreement with Hearn’s Matchroom Promotions, which is Fuzile’s ticket to ride if he successfully negotiates this weekend’s colossal assignment.