Few local fights this year, or of recent years, have captured the imagination like tonight’s showdown between Tommy Oosthuizen and Thabiso Mchunu at Emperors Palace.
“Call to Glory” pits two big-name fighters flirting with their legacies. Oosthuizen is the bad boy of local boxing, supremely talented but given to indiscipline and wild behaviour. It partly explains why he is so popular.
Mchunu, like his opponent a southpaw, isn’t given to histrionics or smack talk. He’s all business, but it’s equally true that he’s fallen short in his major contests. This, then, is an opportunity for redemption, to stake a claim as one of South Africa’s best fighters.
If it’s true that both are cagey, slick count-punchers, it’s equally true that they can be dangerous. In belting Ricards Bolotniks in his last outing, Mchunu demonstrated a rare savage side. He not only hurt his opponent, he finished him in brutal fashion.
Oosthuizen is often satisfied to cruise through the action, but he can be deadly. He’s super-fast and throws sublime combinations – when he’s in the mood. As ever with “Tommy Gun”, tomorrow night might be a case of which Oosthuizen will rock up. If he’s switched on, it could be a difficult night for Mchunu.
If not, Mchunu could toy with him, peppering him with his short right jab and throwing his dangerous left to keep him honest.
Promoter Rodney Berman, for one, can’t make up his mind about the outcome. “I’m torn. They are both very different with their own offensive and defensive qualities. It might well come down to the best attitude; who is prepared to dig deep.”
The undercard is power-packed with promising action, chiefly the ABU super-middleweight title belt between Ryno Liebenberg and Alfonso Tissen. At 34, Liebenberg is getting long in the tooth, but he swears he’s a long way off being an old man in boxing terms. Tissen, young and determined, won’t have a better chance, although he’ll have to produce the fight of his life to beat the man they call “The Lion”.
There’s also an intriguing ABU lightweight title fight between Lusanda Komanisi and Michael Mokoena. Komanisi brings power and ambition to this fight, not least because it will be his first in this higher weight division. Not having to drain himself to make weight might make all the difference.
Cruiserweight prospect Keaton Gomes will continue his charge, fighting Tshilidzi Mulaudzi, who is best advised to keep his hands up given Gomes’ relish for the heavy stuff.
There’s also an entertaining middleweight scrap between Cowan Ray and Jade Karam.