Boxing: White Buffalo gets ready to champion new causes

By Paul Lewis

Soon after he fights Joseph Parker at Auckland's Trusts Arena tonight, Francois Botha's thoughts will start turning towards Evander Holyfield, Tanzania and an African version of Fight For Life.

"It's getting time for me to think about putting something back into the sport," says the 44-year-old Botha at yesterday's weigh-in for the Hydr8 Zero explosion encounter with promising young New Zealand heavyweight Joseph Parker. "I am talking to Evander Holyfield ... about going to Tanzania, to put something back into the sport and raise money by fighting exhibition matches to fight malaria in that country and show kids how they can build a good foundation for their lives, too."

Botha, the self-styled "White Buffalo", plainly has something of a social conscience.

Asked how much longer he would fight, Botha shrugs and talks of changing the direction of his boxing career. He mentions Mike Tyson - one of the many world champions he has fought - and Nelson Mandela and, with his connections now with Duco Events (promoters of the Parker-Botha fight and Fight For Life), he is also talking of the possibility of an African version of Fight For Life to honour Mandela and/or raise money for charity.

"He is the father of our land, you know," he says. "He is an inspiration to us all - a great, great man and we need to honour him."

Botha says he isn't really thinking of retirement: "It all depends how much punishment you take. I really haven't taken too much, except maybe for the Michael Moorer fight (in 1996, he lost by knockout in the 12th round of 12) when I was over-trained."

Botha doesn't mention his knockouts to Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson and Wladimir Klitschko. He also lost by TKO to Holyfield in 2010 when the latter was 48.

Parker stands in huge contrast to this - 21, with only five fights behind him but superbly fit, a fast-hands fighter who says of his training with Kevin Barry in Las Vegas: "I used to fight like a small man, getting in close and throwing a lot of punches, but I have been learning to fight like a big man and I will fight Botha like the big man I am [Parker stands 1.97m and weighed in at 102.9kg to Botha's 1.88cm and 116.5kg]."

These two obviously respect each other once you cut through the promo-talk. Botha says Parker has a bright future ahead of him while Parker has a shy grin when he calls Botha "Grandad" in response to Botha's habit of calling him "Baby Joseph".

- will live blog the Joseph Parker-Francois Botha fight from 7.30pm tonight.

- NZ Herald

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