Ali Funeka Fighter Biography, History and Career Record
Ali “Rush Hour” Funeka is a South African lightweight who is slowly making a name for himself in the game. The freakishly tall 6’1” veteran is 30-2-3 (25 KOs). He has had some hard luck recently and looks to turn it around in 2010.
He turned pro at 17 in 1995 as a flyweight. He only had 2 bouts at that weight before taking off almost 2 years and resurfacing as a featherweight/junior lightweight. Seeing him at lightweight with his incredible lankiness, it’s difficult to imagine him at these lower weights where he must have been enormous in relation to his opponents.
Even with his size, he found the beginning of his career to be difficult, managing only one win and two draws in his first three fights. From 1997-2001, he began to find his bearings, stringing together a nice winning streak, albeit against undistinguished competition.
In 2002 Funeka fought future junior lightweight titlist Mzonke Fana, another standout South African for the national 130 lb. crown. Fana went down in the first, but otherwise out boxed his gifted but undeveloped foe. Funeka went back to work, piling up wins over other South African opponents.
In 2004, Funeka got a good win beating Gabriel Phakula for Fana’s old domestic crown. He followed that with 5 defenses, and then set his sights on the lightweight division. He won the WBC international belt and continued his rampage on the demanding South African circuit.
15 consecutive wins put him high in the IBF lightweight ratings. In his first test against non-domestic opposition, his management was able to lure Eric Morales-conqueror Zahir Raheem to East London for an IBF elimination bout. Funeka was dominant and never let his slick foe into the fight. A 4th-round KO served notice: Ali Funeka was ready for the big time. It had been a long climb, but Funeka was now battle-tested and ready to take on the best.
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Funeka somehow managed to raise his stock in 2009 without winning a fight. It was a hard luck year for the South African standout, as he could simply not catch a break. First came his long-awaited title shot against murderous-punching champion Nate Campbell. Campbell weighed 2.5 lbs. over the limit. Funeka seemed unfortunate to lose a majority decision, a result that may have been different if Campbell had made weight like he was supposed to.
Funeka shook off that loss, at least confident that he could hang with the best at 135. That confidence seemed to serve him well in his next fight. Fighting for Campbell’s old title, Funeka took on undefeated Joan Guzman. Funeka was dynamic, raking the talented Guzman with shots and controlling the action. Guzman’s aggression increased as the fight wore on, but the decision seemed a formality.
Some viewers were shocked as a draw was handed down in a bout Funeka appeared to win. Some people have said the bout was a lot closer than others made it out to be, but it still appeared to be an unlucky result for Funeka.
While he has nothing tangible to show for what should have been a breakout year, Funeka can look ahead to 2010 at least knowing he has what it takes. A rematch with Guzman might be his best option at this point, but there is any number of other interesting routes for Funeka to take.