Johannesburg - South African boxer Thomas Oosthuizen has ended a year's absence from the ring with a TKO victory after 11 rounds against Russian journeyman Denis Grachev, in his first outing as a light-heavyweight at Emperors Palace on Saturday night.
But rather than roaring back into action, the boxer nicknamed "Tommy Gun" came back with something more resembling a whimper and fired blanks for most of an uninspiring, plodding fight against an opponent who gradually lost all his steam like a punctured balloon.
The decision went in favour of Oosthuizen when Grachev's handlers surprisingly threw in the towel with a mere single round left, despite their fighter not appearing to be in serious trouble.
Oosthuizen had forged into a clear lead by this stage, but this was mainly due to Grachev's lack of punching power that left his willing, but declining career in tatters after suffering a fifth defeat in his last six fights.
It was Grachev, however, who came out the more aggressive and impressive boxer in the opening two rounds and landed the greater number of punches.
Former IBO super middleweight champion Oosthuizen retained his unbeaten record with 23 wins and two draws, but gone was his once-famed dancing footwork and his movements were more in keeping with someone in the heavyweight division.
In the main supporting bout between two of Emperors Palace's most popular fighters, Johnny Muller's all-action approach gained him a points victory to end Kevin Lerena's 11-bout unbeaten record with a clear-cut points victory.
Although Muller is the South African light-heavyweight champion, the bout was staged at the heavier cruiserweight limit and this was expected by many pundits to give the stylish Lerena an advantage.
Instead Muller's relentless attacking approach earned him the nod of the judges, one of whom made it as 98-92 in favour of the victor, with the other two ruling it as 97-93 to complete the unanimous decision.
It was considered a make-or-break fight for Muller, who had been badly beaten by little-known Doudou Ngumbu in his last unimpressive appearance in Monte Carlo recently.
Eastern Cape 36-year-old veteran Ali Funeka finally gained a clear-cut technical points decision over Russian Roman Belaev for the IBO welterweight title, after his opponent suffered a nasty cut over his eye in the 11th round that resulted in the fight being stopped.
Despite the fight being for the IBO title, the organisation's limited recognition was reflected by the fact that they sanctioned the fight for one of their titles despite Belaev being ranked 36th and Funeka at 19th in the lighter junior welterweight division.