By Ron Jackson
Ali Funeka, one of South Africa’s most exciting fighters in recent years who has held two versions of a world title, has decided that after a long and successful career at the age of 41 it is time to retire.
Born Ali Mziyanda in Tshabo in the Eastern Cape on March 4, 1978 he made his pro debut on September 24, 1995 at the Mdantsane Indoor Centre near East London with a four round draw against Simphiwe Xabendini.
He won the South African junior-lightweight, WBC International lightweight, WBF junior- welterweight, South African junior-welterweight, IBO welterweight, WBO Africa welterweight, and IBO International welterweight titles in an illustrious career.
After the draw against Xabendini, he remained unbeaten in his next 15 fights before losing to Mzonke Fana on points in a challenge for the South African junior-lightweight title.
He then racked up an unbeaten 16 bout streak which included winning the South African junior-lightweight and WBC International lightweight titles before losing to the highly rated Nate Campbell on a majority decision in February 2009 in a clash for the vacant International Boxing Federation lightweight, vacant World Boxing Association junior-lightweight and vacant World Boxing Organisation lightweight titles.
At this stage, his career began to slow down and after being stopped in six rounds by Jeff Horn he only won one of his next six fights and was only a shadow of the former slick fighter.
Funeka finished with a record of 40-11-3, 32 KOs, with seven of his losses coming in the last two and a half years, when possibly he stayed in the game too long after and exiting and outstanding career against some of the best fighters in the world.