Gideon Buthelezi is primed for the fight of his life against WBC champion Adrian Hernandez

Gideon Buthelezi was given a rousing send-off on Tuesday as friends, dignitaries and the boxing media wished him well ahead of his WBC title challenge against Adrian Hernandez in Mexico next weekend.

Amid the august surroundings of Melrose Arch, where his sponsors Ocean Basket laid on a spread fit for royalty, Buthelezi spoke confidently of rising to the challenge.

He said he had trained hard and was now itching for the real thing against the champion, who has lost just once since turning professional five years ago.

“He’s been knocking out sparring partners daily,” said trainer Elias Tshabalala, who subsequently roped in featherweights, lightweights and even welterweights to give Buthelezi the sort of pressure he can expect against the hometown hero.

WBC representative Peter Ngatane confirmed that the organisation was again looking closely at South African fighters and expressed the wish that Buthelezi emulate the feats of Sugarboy Malinga and Dingaan Thobela, the only SA boxers to have worn the WBC crown.

Said promoter Rodney Berman: “He’s going into the lion’s den, but I can see he’s in fantastic shape. If anyone can win in Hernandez’s backyard it is Buthelezi. His trainer (Tshabalala) is a key part of his success and they’ve put in the hard work.” Berman confirmed that Golden Gloves was negotiating with SuperSport to broadcast the bout, which will take place in Mexico City. Buthelezi will head traight to Mexico where renowned Houston trainer Bill Benton’s son will team up with the camp to apply the finishing touches.

“I hope my fans get to see me,” said the quiet-spoken IBO light-flyweight champion from Boipatong. “Growing up, I never dreamed of this, but this is my
great chance. I will not waste it.”