In a rematch the 2011 WBF Fight Of The Year, Zolani Marali got his revenge when he dethroned fellow countryman Ali Funeka to win the World Boxing Federation World Light Welterweight title on Saturday, December 8, at the Orient Theatre in East London, South Africa.
Funeka had won a controversial split decision over Marali in November 2011, and both had wowed to set the record straight in the long-awaited second go-around. It didn’t turn out to be quite as pulsating as the first encounter, but the two warriors did, again, bring the best out of each other, and gave the enthusiastic crowd another good fight.
But this time there was no controversy, as Marali was the best man on the night and put on a magnificent performance to win a unanimous decision. Marali looked sharp and determined from the start, and boxed well from his southpaw stance, but the defending champion also had his moments and was not giving up his title without a fight.
In the end, judges Siphiwe Mbini, Lulama Mtya and Andile Matika, all from South Africa, scored the contest 116-113, 116-113 and 116-114 in favor of new champion Marali, who surely must have found great satisfaction in evening the score with Funeka after more than a year of waiting for the opportunity.
New WBF World Light Welterweight Champion Zolani “Untouchable” Marali improved his professional ledger to 22-5 (13), while now former titlist Ali “Rush Hour” Funeka drops to 31-4-3 (25). A rubber-match between these two should not be out of the question, as they will likely always put on a great show.
The fight was promoted by Siphato Handi and his Mamali Promotions. Referee in charge was Darryl Ribbink, WBF Supervisor President Howard Goldberg