Silence was golden. Silence Mabuza that is.
A unique opportunity arose to go through the motions at Urban Warrior boxing gym this week with the man who became a two-time world champion as part of a campaign by Remy Martin which identified with people who consider themselves bruisers and have paid their dues in the school of hard knocks before going on to be successful.
The assembled group included a mix of businessmen and entertainers but it was the stories shared by Mabuza that got the most attention, once everyone had got their breath back of course.
“I’ve been busy with youth development. I got discovered by guys who were passionate abut boxing and now I’m looking to give back to boxing.
“That was the fight that made me,” Mabuza said, referring to his stoppage win over Johannes Maisa back in 2001.
“He was the SA champ and I was an up and comer. I managed to knock the SA champion out and that’s when everyone realised that I was a force to be reckoned with.”
After being stopped by Mabuza in the ninth round of their non-title clash, Maisa was never the same, surrendering his crown in his next outing before a win and five losses as his career fizzled out.
It was the opposite for Mabuza, who picked up the nickname “African Spice” from his days as an amateur competing overseas, and he went on to pick up the IBO bantamweight world title a year later and then the IBF crown.
He defended the crown six times before bumping Rafael Marquez in Nevada in 2005 – a fight that saw Mabuza stopped for the first time. The South African would lose to Marquez once more a little less than a year later for the the second of his three career defeats.
“Those two fights for me were more of an awareness. For me to lace up with Marquez, as tough as he was, it was just a wake up call. I wasn’t invincible, there was someone who could beat me and unfortunately for me it was Rafael Marquez at the time.
“He was a tough cookie. By the time I fought him he was in his prime. One of us had to win and it was him. I did all that I could but I can say that he was the best in the bantamweights,” said Mabuza.
His career came to a conclusion against a relative unknown in 2010 but Mabuza was one of the few fighters who manage to make it out with a win to their name. Most fighters continue longer than they should and tarnish their legacies.
“We knew it was time,” Mabuza, who was trained by Nick Durandt, said.
“Boxing is addictive. They stay in boxing because they want to survive. They end up sticking around for too long and get hurt. When it’s done you can feel it.”