By Jake Donovan
Thomas Oosthuizen is at it again. The unbeaten but oft-troubled light heavyweight showed up more than a full pound above the light heavyweight limit, thus forced to forfeit his IBO title at the scales ahead of Saturday's showdown with Robert Berridge at Emperor's Palace in Kempton Park, South Africa.
The show will still go on, as will the bout. However, Oosthuizen will be hit hard in the pockets as well as in noteriety. His latest antics will result in a 30% pay cut, as well as a demotion on the card as his bout has been downgraded to undercard filler.
Berridge (26-2-1, 21KOs) has the option of pulling out of the fight altogether. Having made weight, he will still be eligible to fight for the vacant title should he agree to still go through with the scheduled bout versus his overweight opponent.
Now topping the bill, Mateusz Masternak meets Johnny Muller in a 10-round cruiserweight bout. Both fighters made weight for the makeshift headliner; Poland's Masternak (35-2, 25KOs) came in at 198.5 lbs., while local favorite Muller (18-4-2, 13KOs) weighed 196.4 lbs.
The evening's new co-feature pits unbeaten lightweight Xolisani Ndongeni (17-0, 8KOs) versus former 130 lb. titlist Mzonke Fana (34-7, 14KOs).
“It's still a great show,” believes promoter Rodney Berman, though clearly disgusted by his fighter's actions.
Friday's scale follies by Oosthuizen (24-0-2, 14KOs) come on the heels of his having recently signed an advisory deal with Al Haymon. The move was made following extraordinary efforts from Berman, who had been in talks with the powerful adviser in having his fighter join the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) family.
A major motivating factor in his signing with PBC was the possibility of Oosthuizen moving towards a lucrative showdown with World light heavyweight king Adonis Stevenson down the road. Also in the works was a planned ring return in Monte Carlo in November, but new business isn't a topic immediately on the mind of his once again disgusted team.
“Tommy has let everyone down yet again,” noted Berman in a statement. "It’s very disappointing. What I fail to understand is that nobody had the decency to come and tell us there was an issue. We had to find out when he was on the scales.”
Oosthuizen made headlines for all of the wrong reasons in 2014, including his ruining an HBO date last January due to reckless behavior and lack of discipline in training. The light heavyweight was due to face Eleider Alvarez, but just two weeks prior to the show wound up in a motorcycle crash and was a medical scratch from the show.
Berman indicated at the time that Oosthuizen was struggling to make weight and also battling personal demons. The two parties eventually split, only to reunite later in the year. His return under the Golden Gloves banner was once again delayed when he withdrew from a planned light heavyweight tournament, only to come back and assure his handlers that his house was back in order.
The results of Friday's weigh-in strongly challenge that claim. Still, the show goes on in South Africa, with Masternak and Muller eager to give the fans their money's worth.
Masternak fights for the first time in South Africa, having won three straight since dropping a competitive decision to Youri Kalenga last April in Monte Carlo. At stake in Saturday's bout is another shot at cruiserweight glory, which he doesn't plan to squander.
“I can see in Johnny’s eyes that he is very confident and ready for a fight, but so am I” said Masternak. “I’m confident in my own ability and I’m sure it’s going to be an exciting fight. Now, the time for speaking is over, I will let my fists do the talking in the ring tomorrow night.”
Event handlers can only hope that all fighters on the card will deliver on that front.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox