'Tommy Gun' ready to defend title
Tommy Oosthuizen (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Golden Gloves Promotions staged the final press conference and announced the bill for Saturday night's "Last Man Standing" series at Emperors Palace on Tuesday.
Shaun Smith, who will be in Thabiso Mchunu's corner in the headlining cruiserweight finale against Danie Venter, said his fighter had "never looked better in training - and I'm excited by his all-round improvement".
Harold Volbrecht, whose charges Tommy Oosthuizen and Gideon Buthelezi, will be involved in IBO title fights, expressed similar sentiments about what he described as "possibly South Africa's most talented boxers".
IBO super middleweight champion Oosthuizen will defend his title for the sixth time against 35-year-old Colombian veteran Fulgencio Zuniga in a homecoming bout, following the South African's victory against Rowland Bryant in New York.
It is a fight Oosthuizen dare not lose, with a lucrative programme already lined up for him when he returns to the United States early next year.
But with the ageing Zuniga seemingly another hand-picked opponent for South Africa's fast-rising champion, it is the potentially lucrative showdown between surprise finalists Mchunu and Venter in the "Last Man Standing" series that will arouse much of the intrigue and attention on the night.
Despite a commendable career record of 25 wins and five defeats, Zuniga has lost two of his last four fights, with the victory over an opponent ranked 59th by the IBO his best result during the twilight of his career.
Oosthuizen, in contrast, said he would enter the ring "in peak condition" and motivated by appearing in front of his own growing army of supporters.
"Fighting in America is a real eye-opener," said Oosthuizen, "but there is nothing like hearing the buzz and getting into the ring in front of you own fans as a motivator."
Promoter Rodney Berman confirmed the R300 000 purse and African Boxing Union title that will go to the winner of Super Eight Final.
Venter and Mchunu will also be vying for a place in the recently-announced WBC World Cup of Boxing, which will feature top fighters affiliated to the association.
"Even the loser in the first round of the WBC's World Cup series will receive somewhere in the region of R150 000," revealed the Golden Gloves promoter, "with the glittering prize of R1.5m on offer to the eventual winners in the eight different divisions that will make up the event."
Berman labelled the revitalised Venter as "The Cinderella Man" of South African boxing, after he emerged from a downward slump in his career, while Mchunu's recent two first-round TKO's of Flo Simba had aroused the imagination of the boxing public.
"It is truly a fight in which you could spin a coin to determine the winner," said Golden Gloves publicist Brian Mitchell.
"Venter and Mchunu have totally different styles and they can both punch. For sure their fight will not be a tepid affair. It's going to be explosive."
The second IBO title fight on Saturday's bill will feature South Africa's Gideon Buthelezi against the Philippines' Edrin Dapudong for the organisation's vacant junior bantamweight belt.
Like Zuniga, however, Dapudong's credentials as a title challenger can be questioned, with two victories from his last four fights and a best result against a boxer ranked 89th by the IBO.
Also on the Emperors bill is a bout between South Africa's fast-rising, unbeaten Rayno Liebenberg and Zambia's Donald Kampamba for the IBO's All Africa light-heavyweight title.