By Mesuli Zifo
MOST fighters would kill to be on a Showtime televised bill headed by an eagerly anticipated rematch between Victor Ortiz and Andre Berto.
However according to Thomas Oosthuizen’s manager Brian Mitchell, the left handed super middleweight contender had given up his spot on the Ortiz-Berto undercard in favor of headlining a Golden Gloves Promotion (GGP) tournament at Emperors Palace in South Africa on March 3.
Mitchell, a former IBF/WBA super featherweight champion, insists that pulling out Oosthuizen from the Ortiz-Berto undercard did not go against the objective of marketing the 23-year-old to the US audience as he vies to challenge for a major title before the end of the year.
Due to an unforeseen incident, their move paid off. Berto ruptured his left bicep during a Monday sparring session and withdrew from the rematch, which in turn canceled the Las Vegas event which was scheduled for February 11th at the MGM Grand. The promoters are hoping to reschedule the card.
So far Oosthuizen has fought once in US when he scored a dominant points decision over Aaron Pryor Jnr in Mississippi, US, last September.
With his SA promoter Rodney Berman having established working relations with DiBella Entertainment boss Lou DiBella to help the IBO super middleweight champion make forays into the US boxing scene, Oosthuizen was already included in the co-promoted DiBella show on February 11.
But Berman, whose March 3 show had already been scheduled to be topped by an IBO mini-flyweight title clash between South African Hekkie Budler and Filipino Florante Condes, was forced to reshuffle his cards when Condes withdrew after reportedly falling off a tree while preparing for the fight.
“We had to borrow Oosthuizen from Lou in order to have a recognisable boxer headlining our show,” Berman said.
“I know it is a bit of backward step to withdraw Oosthuizen from the Ortiz-Berto show because of the massive exposure he would have gotten there but there is still time to market him in other upcoming DiBella shows.”
Berman says there was no guarantee that Oosthuizen’s bout would have received television coverage on the Ortiz-Berto undercard.
He reveals that Oosthuizen has already been scheduled to headline a ShoBox card in a venue yet to be confirmed in the US on April 27.
“It is good for him to headline a televised show in US and even though ShoBox is rather on a relatively small scale but it still falls in our objective of marketing him as a star in the making in US,” Berman adds.
But the opponent Serge Yannick- originally from Cameroon but based in Australia- who Oosthuizen will face for the March 3 show may just upset all the plans DiBella and Berman have for the lanky southpaw.
The IBF#9 and WBC#7 Oosthuizen is touted as the best prospect to emerge from South Africa in a long time but is yet to be tested by an elite fighter.
Yannick is not such an elite fighter as yet but his African genes of fighting may turn the bout into a tough day in office for Oosthuizen who tend to struggle against African-born fighters as he showed against Isaac Chilembe who held him into a draw in his only blemish of his 18 bouts.
Oosthuizen, nicknamed “Tommy Gun” also did not look good against veteran compatriot William Gare even though the judges were generous in awarding him the points verdict.
Yannick WBC# 13 and WBA #12 is a bit long in the tooth at 28 years old but his gritty fighting style is expected to give Oosthuizen fits.
Mitchell admits that Yannick may be a tough cookie but adds that Oosthuizen needs to be tested by all sorts of different styles to shore up his boxing makeup.
“Remember that Oosthuizen is struggling to get opponents so we have to pay too much money to get guys to fight him,” Mitchell says.
“We know Yannick will come to fight but that is exactly the kind of opponents we need for Tommy.”