By Jake Donovan
Undefeated super middleweight contender Thomas ‘Tommy Gun’ Oosthuizen overcame a rough start to settle down and outbox Marcus Johnson in their main event Friday evening at the Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, Oklahoma.
Scores were 98-91 across the board for Oosthuizen, who made his U.S televised debut. The show aired live on Showtime’s Shobox series, enjoying a long overdue return to its roots. All three bouts saw top prospects tested and forced to work hard to retain their unbeaten records rather than being set up in showcase bouts.
Momentum shifted back and forth in the first several rounds. The table was set early on by Johnson, who has been fighting for redemption ever since struggling to a disappointing points loss Dyah Davis in his own Shobox headliner last year. The 6’4” Oosthuizen enjoys a massive height advantage over most of his opponents, but has yet to master the art of fighting tall.
Johnson exploited this in the early going, taking the fight straight to the South African southpaw. The ability to work his way inside began with Johnson utilizing his five-inch reach advantage – an odd stat considering he gave away six inches in height. Nevertheless, an effective jab paved the way for infighting, an area in which Oosthuizen was clearly uncomfortable.
The threat of an upset existed for the first several rounds, but Oosthuizen – a South African product fighting in the United States for the second time – eventually figured out how to put his strengths to use. The unbeaten southpaw was at his best when staying off the ropes and keeping the fight in the center of the ring.
Ironically, the best moment of the fight for Oosthuizen came while the fighters were on the ropes. A body shot produced the bout’s lone knockdown, also dislodging Johnson’s mouthpiece as he fell to all fours midway through the eighth round.
The sequence left Johnson more frustrated than hurt, sensing that his early lead was not only squandered but that he reached the point of no return on the scorecards.
Oosthuizen picked up on this as well, fighting smart in the final two rounds. Any threat of infighting was met with a brief enough clinch to not warrant a warning, but effective enough to nullify Johnson’s attack. Oosthuizen would offer his own body attack, though more in the way of flurries and shoeshines in efforts to swing any potential close rounds his way.
Johnson was sent out for the 10th and final round with the understanding that the final bell would mean he loses for the second time in his past three fights. The opening minute suggested that Johnson understood what he was up against, coming out firing and trapping Oosthuizen on the ropes.
The momentum didn’t last very long, though. Oosthuizen swung the bout back in his favor and never looked back. Right hand jabs peppered Johnson, who managed to land a couple of desperation rights late in the round but never managed to score anything fight-altering as Oosthuizen fought hard all the way to the finish line.
Oosthuizen improves to 19-0-1 (13KO) as he continues to move up the super middleweight ranks. There is still work to be done before considering a run at the top of a still-loaded division.
Johnson hits a fork in the road in his career. The once highly-touted Houston-based prospect has now dropped two of his last three as he falls to 21-2 (15KO).
Luis "Orlandito" del Valle outpointed Chris Martin in the evening’s co-feature. A 7th round knockdown was the cherry on top for del Valle, who endured several shaky moments from a determined Martin.
del Valle never stopped fighting in a bout that picked up steam as it went along and proved to be an entertaining affair throughout. Scores were 97-92, 98-91 and a laughable 100-89 for del Valle, who improves to 16-0 (11KO).
Martin falls to 23-2-3 (6KO). The former spoiler and one-time rising prospect is now winless in his last three bouts.
Jose Pedraza looked impressive in outboxing a determined Gil Garcia en route to an eight-round decision in the opening bout. Scores were 80-71 (twice) and 79-72 for Pedraza, who was credited with a knockdown in round five.
Garcia was tough as nails throughout, but beaten to the punch in nearly every exchange. Pedraza (8-0, 6KO) never eased up, as the Puerto Rican southpaw let the leather fly from the opening bell until the very end. The approach had Garcia (5-3-1, 1KO) battered and wobbled on several occasions, but managed to go the full eight.