Tommy Oosthuizen beat Ryno Liebenberg on a split decision to claim the vacant IBO light-heavyweight title on Saturday night.
The talented southpaw was almost back to his best in a hugely entertaining bout at Emperors Palace near Kempton Park.
Judges Deon Dwarte and Ace Makaluza scored the bout 117-111 for Oosthuizen but Simon Xamlashe called it 115-113 for the courageous but outgunned Liebenberg.
In a performance that should earn him a big-league fight soon, "Tommy Gun" Oosthuizen put his personal problems behind him and delighted his trainer, Harold Volbrecht, as well as his many supporters by not only going twelve rounds but looking in excellent shape at the end.
He remained undefeated and enhanced his professional record to 24-0, with two draws and 14 wins inside the distance. Liebenberg’s dropped to 16-2; 11.
Oosthuizen, a former IBO super-middleweight champion, showed off his delightful footwork in the opening rounds and was still bouncing on his feet when the bout ended. He also exhibited his amazing hand speed in bewildering flurries, and treated the spectators to showboating that bordered on arrogance.
Liebenberg remained positive and kept going after his bigger, taller and more experienced opponent. He also proved his ability to take damaging blows and tested Oosthuizen with crisp punches whenever he got close enough.
Referee Grzegorz Molenda from Poland cautioned Liebenberg a few times for leading with his head in the clinches and hitting behind the head. He eventually docked Liebenberg a point when he threw everything at his opponent in a memorable final round.
The fight, and the preliminaries, presented by Rodney Berman’s Golden Gloves Promotions, turned into a credit for SA boxing on a night that spectators got their money’s worth, and more.
Giovanni Bushby had Dowayne Combrink in trouble several times during their fight for the WBA Pan-Africa middleweight title but did not have the power to seal the deal against an opponent who refused to back off.
In the end, the judges called it a draw -- 116-114 for Combrink, 115-113 for Bushby and 114-114.
Bushy’s record now stands at 6-4-2, with five wins inside the distance; Combrink’s at 11-1-1; 7.
The two produced an entertaining exhibition of fighting, if not much in the line of classic boxing, in a scrap that screamed for a rematch long before the result was announced.
Bushby seemed tired as early as the end of the fifth round and exhausted at times as Combrink stuck to his guns, showing excellent conditioning to go with his courage and determination.
The match was also a friendly competition between two former stars of SA boxing, Harold Volbrecht and Vuyani Bungu, who now train Combrink and Bushby respectively.
Commonwealth Games lightweight champion Richard Commey knocked Thompson Mokwana down twice in the first round and again in the fourth and fifth before referee Allen Matakane did what the South African’s corner probably should have done a lot earlier. He stopped the bout 29 seconds into the seventh round.
The undefeated Commey, from Ghana, is probably one of Africa’s most exciting boxers. He deserves to share the ring with much better opponents to show off his commendable skills and punching power.
Mokwana did well to stay around as long as he did, clearly reluctantly, and had a shot at winning on a disqualification after Commey had received a stern warning for repeated low blows.
Commey will take a record of 21-0 (ten knockouts) into his next fight. Mokwana’s dropped to 20-10, with one draw and 12 shortcut wins.
Jasper Seroka stopped Ashley Dlamini in the seventh round to retain his SA junior lightweight title.
Fighting in the opening bout of the tournament, the 33-year-old took control in the first minute. He landed solid rights to the head and knocked Dlamini down in the second round with a left.
Dlamini might have thought Seroka was running out of steam in the fifth and sixth rounds but did not have the hand speed and punching power to make an impression on the champion.
A right to the solar plexus convinced Dlamini to turn his back and surrender in the seventh round. Referee David van Nieuwenhuizen called it over 2 minutes 32 seconds into the round.
Seroka improved his record to 24-4, with 11 wins inside the distance and Dlamini’s dropped to 16-3; 9.