Oosthuizen, Funeka Gear Up For Kempton Park Bouts

SuperSport will broadcast live coverage of Tommy Oosthuizen’s return to the ring on Saturday night.

Oosthuizen, who was regarded as the golden boy of SA boxing not so long ago, takes on Denis Grachev, a Russian, in a light-heavyweight bout at Emperors Palace near Kempton Park.

The Golden Gloves Promotions tournament will be televised live on SuperSport 7 from 7.30 pm (SA, CAT, GMT+2).

The 26-year-old Oosthuizen has not fought since November 9 last year, when he beat Ezequiel Oswaldo Maderna by majority decision at the same venue. During his absence, he relinquished his IBO super-middleweight title.

His debut in the light-heavyweight division is unlikely to be a picnic even though Grachev has lost four and drawn one of his 18 professional fights.

In his last three bouts, Grachev lost on points to South African Ryno Liebenberg and Johannesburg-based Malawian Isaac Chilemba and on a first-round stoppage to Edwin Rodriguez.

But the 32-year-old Russian, who now lives in California, showed his potential when he made an end to Zsolt Erdei’s status as undefeated contender last year and he has gone the distance with highly rated Canadian Lucian Bute.

Oosthuizen, nicknamed Tommy Gun, was confident at a pre-fight media conference on Tuesday, saying he would be back to his best on Saturday night.

"I've been in the gym for three months solid and I look forward to getting back into action," Oosthuizen said. "A good win will put me in line for a shot at the IBO title in February. That's extra incentive to come back in style."

Asked about the problems he had experienced during the past year, he said: "If you're asking me if I'm walking with a Bible under my arm, the answer is no. But I'm doing my job in a fully professional manner.

“I'm also committed and hungry after being out of action for so long. I don't believe in rustiness if you train properly, so I won't use that as an excuse."

Golden Gloves promoter Rodney Berman was pleased to welcome Oosthuizen back. "We've been assured by [trainer] Harold Volbrecht that Tommy is now fit," Berman said.

On the same card, Ali Funeka takes on another Russian, Roman Belaev, for the vacant IBO welterweight title in what could be the fight of the night.

Belaev is undefeated after 14 professional bouts, including ten wins inside the distance.

Funeka is a veteran of 42 fights – 35 wins, including 29 knockouts, and four defeats – and is a former IBF lightweight and WBF light-welterweight champion.

He has won his four most recent fights inside the distance, seeing off Boitshepo Mandawe and Mzolisi Yoyo earlier this year and Jason Bedeman and Vusi Dladla last year. His last defeat was against Zolani Marali in December 2012.

Unbeaten Kevin Lerena faces Johnny Muller in a cruiserweight bout.

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by dan_cov on 11-12-2014

Almost sad how much stock they put into Oosthuizen, he'll no doubt have his hands full with Grachev despite him on a 4-5 fight losing streak.

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