Funeka's 'Rush Hour' drive
Story & photos by Chris Cozzone
Ali “Rush Hour” Funeka might’ve been blindsided by three blind mice in his first fight with Joan Guzman, last November, but, Saturday night in Las Vegas, the man just about everyone but three Canadian judges had coming out ahead, plans to pull off a bang-up job in the rematch.
“Las Vegas won’t be the same as it was in Canada,” Funeka said on Wednesday before a limber-up workout at the Extreme Couture Gym.
“It looks like the title will be mine, and I will defend it after Guzman.”
On Saturday night, from the Hard Rock’s The Joint, Funeka, 30-2-3 (25 KOs), will get a second chance to take the vacant IBF lightweight title back home to South Africa when he rematches the still-undefeated Guzman, 29-0-1 (17 KOs), of the Dominican Republic.
The fight will be the opener of an HBO doubleheader, promoted by Golden Boy Promotions.
“This fight is very important to me,” says Funeka, who had to settle for a draw with Guzman the first time around.
“I was very unhappy. I was angry and upset – and surprised. I should have won that fight.”
Even drawing, however, had its rewards.
Upon returning home to the Eastern Cape, Funeka was presented with the keys to a newly-minted BMW by his manager, Butityi Konki.
“I did it the other way around,” says Konki. “I bought him a BMW as a reward because he did win the fight. He is now the first and only boxer in South Africa to have a BMW.”
Should Funeka pull off the win on Saturday, Konki says, “The sky’s the limit,” in regard to rewards and opportunities for his fighter.
“He is the new breed of South African fighter. We’ll fight anybody and anywhere – even if it’s on the moon.”
Funeka is fully confident in his abilities to beat Guzman (“again”).
“He has pressure but I proved I can take his pressure,” says Funeka. “There is nothing we need to change. I will use my reach and a knockout will be a bonus. I am prepared for a 12-rounder.
“I am more than prepared for Guzman.