Ellen Simwaka aims for IBF crown at her second Africa Boxing stint

Five years after losing to Sharadene Fortuin on points in Mdantsane, Ellen 'The Tigress' Simwaka is out to settle the score in a rematch at Africa Boxing 17 on May 26 in Johannesburg.

This time, Simwaka, whose career record stands at 9W-5L-2D, will be looking to take the International Boxing Federation [IBF] Africa female bantamweight title off Fortuin.

After a frustrating 2021 spent on the sidelines, Simwaka is hungrier than ever, and the 24-year-old from Lilongwe, Malawi, told ESPN: "I was supposed to fight in the UK for a Commonwealth title last year, I was prepared.

"Unfortunately, it was during very strict lockdown protocols in the UK, so due to backlogs, we could not get my VISA processed. During 2021, I was quiet, but I was training the whole time and 100% ready for the fight."

Simwaka began this year with a fourth round TKO win over Gabisile Tshabalala [1 minute 14 seconds] at Africa Boxing in January, to set up another encounter with 28-year-old Fortuin.

She would, however, not be drawn into bemoaning her past defeat to Thursday's opponent, saying: "I did fight Sharadene in 2017 and we respect the result of boxing that comes out with the referees and the judges. The energy that I'm putting now is into the future.

"I was happy [with the Tshabalala fight]. I've never undermined my opponent and I train hard always. I put all the work in it. I listen to the coach [Vusi Mtolo]; whatever they tell me, I have to do it. I was very happy."

Simwaka does not need to be motivated by revenge when she is carrying the hopes of her family and her supporters in Malawi and South Africa, her home since 2017, alike.

"I get so much support from my family and my fans at home. Here as well, I've got lovely friends that I've made... The fans [are supportive] here and at home." she said.

If the love of her fans is not enough to motivate her, she is also supporting her daughter, and occasionally her elder family members, mainly through her income from training other fighters at Edenvale's Brian Mitchell Boxing Academy.

She said of her motivations: "I go home [to Malawi] and come back. I go home and come back, to feed the family. That's what I do."

First and foremost, Simwaka dreams of being an inspiration to her daughter, and women and girls inside and outside the sport.

"I want to be the best that I can be and push the limit and keep growing. I want young girls to see that no matter where you come from, never give up on your dreams." Simwaka said.

"I want to provide a future for my daughter and for her to be proud of her mom. I want her to grow up and know that she can achieve her own dreams.

"I want to encourage young girls that they have to believe in whatever they do -- that they can do anything."

The action starts on Thursday 26 May at 19:00 [CAT] on ESPN (DStv 218, Starsat 248), SABC Sport and selected international broadcasters including ESPN across Latin America.

ESPN Africa Boxing 17 - Fight Card

Main card:

- Main event: SA Junior Lightweight Title, 12 rounds: Sibusiso Zingange (17-5-2) v Lunga Sitemela (13-1-0)

- Co-main: IBF Africa Bantamweight Title, 10 rounds: Sharadene Fortuin (13-1-1) v Ellen Simwaka (9-5-2)

- Junior Middleweight, 6 rounds: Darren Rossouw (4-0-0) v Welcome Malumbu (0-4-0)

- Featherweight, 6 rounds: Itumeleng Tsholo (4-1-0) v Katiso Hlahabe (7-4-1)

- Super Middleweight, 8 rounds: Patrick Mukala (11-2-1) v Jimmy Mabunji (10-5-0)

Undercard:

- Welterweight, 4 rounds: Lence Ngoy (2-1-0) v Phumelelo Cele (1-0-0)

- Junior Bantamweight, 4 rounds: Lopez Maluleke (0-1-0) v Koena Mokoena (1-0-1)