Noel on trail of IBO title by Phil Hay Noel Wilders will fly out to South Africa for the biggest night of his career tomorrow – and the Castleford bantamweight does not intend to go quietly against Silence Mabuza.
Wilders will challenge for the IBO title in the South African city of Temba next weekend against a fighter who boasts a perfect 15-fight record and has gone the distance only once.
Mabuza is a rising star in the bantamweight division and has held the IBO belt for over two years after his sixth-round knockout of Colombia's Jose Sanjuanelo in 2002.
Anthony Hanna took Mabuza to a decision 12 months earlier but since then he has reeled off seven straight stoppages, his most recent against talented compatriot Khulile Makeba in November.
The fight is a step up in class for Wilders, who has held the IBO, European and British belts before, and Mike Marsden's charge will also have to adapt quickly to
fighting at high altitude.
But Wilders said: "I wouldn't be going out there if I didn't think I could win. People see it as a big pay day but I'm not interested in the money, I want the title.
"We've seen videos of Mabuza and he's a quality operator, he's got class and style, and we know that he can bang. I'm expecting to feel some big hits but I'm ready for them.
"His people are expecting big things of him but I want to go over to South Africa and make him look ordinary. It's always difficult when you fight in somebody else's country but I did it in France when I won the European title and I'll do it again."
Wilders' performance in Nice was eye-catching, earning him the EBU belt with a unanimous decision over home fighter Fabien Guillerme, but he
surrendered the title last year when he was stopped in the seventh round by David Guerault, his first professional defeat.
However, the recent imprisonment of Nicky Booth has left Wilders in line for a shot at the vacant British crown, and a fight with Martin Power is likely to be made if he comes up short in South Africa.
"It's good to have options and that's something we would look at," he said.
"Martin's a bit raw and I'm confident that I'd have too much for him because my opponents have been of a
higher class. But I don't want to fight for the British title – I want the IBO title instead.
"It's a bigger prize and next Saturday will be the biggest night of my career.
"When I lost last year I had a few personal problems and I'll admit that I was guilty of cutting corners. Sometimes you can get complacent but losing gave me a kick and that's exactly what I needed. We're flying out tomorrow and I'm ready to go."
But Huddersfield trainer Chris Aston is preparing to upset the domestic scene by forcing Dale Robinson into contention for the British
Robinson – a natural flyweight – is out of the picture after the Board of Control's decision to pair Wilders with Power, but his promoter, Tommy Gilmour, is urging boxing's governing body to rethink their plans.
Aston said: "We want to get Dale mandated for the British title. We'll fight eliminators against either or both of them, or fight them for the title. Dale's got no problem fighting at bantamweight and we want to get him involved."