Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Baeti’s title ambitions hang in the balance

Hope is fading fast for Botswana’s Kgotla Baeti in his endeavours to be the first Motswana to win an internationally recognised boxing title.

The pugilist, probably Botswana’s best boxing export currently, was given a shot at the World Boxing Federation (WBF) lightweight title but his dream of fighting for the title looks likely to go up in smoke as sponsors and other key stakeholders seem reluctant to bring the fight home. Speaking to Standard Sport from his base in South Africa, Baeti expressed disappointment at the current events, which look likely to ruin his chances.

“I am doing great physically but I am psychologically devastated. Pelo yame e tshologa kgodu e khibidu (my heart is bleeding),” Baeti told Standard Sport.

Baeti says should the title fight fail to get sponsors, there is a high probability that it will be given to another promoter who will ‘probably field his own boxers,’ something which will see him miss the opportunity. “All I can tell you at the moment is that the WBF is keen to give me the chance to prove myself. They have agreed to postpone the title fight to the first quarter of next year to give us a chance to host it. Should this fail, I will have to keep on and look elsewhere,” the pugilist said.

He says due to the reluctance of some key stakeholders, one of the potential sponsors pulled out of the tournament. However, despite all the disappointment, Baeti says he will stay focussed and hopeful, adding that he will spend the festive season in his stable in South Africa to prepare himself for the fight, should it happen.

The fighter says his hopes now rest with the powers that be, including the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture, to help him achieve his dream. Meanwhile, Baeti’s local promoter, Pako Baitsile, says they are still negotiating with potential sponsors who can help bring the fight home. He says should promoters come on board, the fight will be expected to take place in March next year while failure will mean the fight will be taken elsewhere.

Baitsile says they have had tough negotiations with the WBF convincing them to postpone the fight but he says he expects this to be the last chance for the country or even Baeti to host the title fight.

He says while the WBF understood the reasons put forward for postponing, given that it will be the first time Botswana hosts and organises the event of that magnitude, they were also sceptical of whether the fight can go on as planned.

Baeti, now training with Undisputed Fitness Gym after parting ways with trainer Colin Nathan of Hot Box gym, is billed to face undefeated Alan Paredes of Peru.

Should Baeti have the chance to fight for the vacant WBF lightweight title in Botswana, it will all be history in the making for both the country and the boxer himself.


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