“Prelude” Programme - by Terry Pettifer

Boxing intelligentsia will no doubt concur that the “PRELUDE” fight bill at Emperors
Palace on February 27 is the ideal launching pad for what Golden Gloves Promoter Rodney Berman has said will be “one of the most exciting years in the history of South African boxing”! Indeed the February tournament not only features four championship bouts, but also the most lucrative 4-round preliminary encounter in local fight annals and fistic acolytes are already clamoring for tickets, which Promoter Berman has ensured are highly affordable.

The headline event sees local junior flyweight favourite Hekkie “The Hex-ecutioner” Budler (13-0) challenge Juanito Rubillar (48-13-7) for the vacant IBO
world junior flyweight crown over 12- rounds, thus becoming the first local
Caucasian ever to fight for a world junior flyweight title. Yes, Rubillar has been installed as the bookmakers choice, mainly because of his wealth of experience
against some of the finest junior flyweight competitors the planet has to offer. Yet don’t for one moment write off the 20-year-old Budler, who has constantly bolstered his standing since shedding his amateur status in mid-2008. A
crowd-pleaser from the outset of his career, Budler will be looking to emulate
the great Vic Toweel, who in 1950, won the world bantamweight championship
in only his 14th professional outing.

The current IBO Africa junior flyweight champion, Budler, and his mentor Colin Nathan have secured the services of the legendary “Baby” Jake Matlala ahead of
this potentially definitive title showdown against one of the shrewdest southpaws
in the game. Methinks the Soweto icon’s insight of how best to neutralize lefthanded opponents may prove pivotal to Budler’s chances of victory, especially if
the contest goes down to the wire (the full 12 rounds).

No doubt East Rand fight lovers will stream into Emperors Palace in their droves, as Van Dyk fight idol Tommy “Tommy Gun” Oosthuizen (9-0) looks to successfully defend his WBA Pan African super middleweight crown against Zambia’s dangerous punching John Chibuta (8-3). Indubitably 2009 was a watershed year that the 21-year-old Tommy Gun will long cherish, particularly since the hammer-fisted southpaw won three championships; namely the IBO Youth world light heavyweight, IBO Youth world super middleweight and WBA Pan African super middleweight titles.

One of South Africa’s cruelest punching portsiders in living memory, Oosthuizen
is trained by former national welterweight ace Harold Volbrecht and may well be one of this country’s most electrifying finds since World War ll.

Jason “Badman” Bedeman (10-0-2) presently owns the IBO Africa lightweight
title and if this land has a fighter with more inbred tenacity, I haven’t seen him.
A warrior who wears his heart on his sleeve, Bedeman may well have been dubbed “The Bull Terrier” and like that splendid breed of dog, there is absolutely no quit in this flaxen-haired pugilist from the Southern Suburbs. Not that Mr Bedeman has a perfunctory task on his hands when he enters the ring at Emperors Palace to face Ghana’s lethal hitting Bilal Mohammed for the vacant WBA Pan African lightweight title. Clearly a consensus of expert opinion fancies that this contest will be an unremitting clash of wills and trainer Manny Fernandes will no doubt be counseling his lion-heart on the price of carelessness.

WBA Intercontinental bantamweight champion Tshifhiwa “The Atomic Spider”
Munyai makes his Emperors Palace debut on the night of February 27, when he defends his laurels against Daniel Ferreras of the Philippines, and you can bet the
farm that this hotshot boxer-fighter will be an instant box-office hit. With a record
of 18-1-1, the Limpopo-reared Munyai is one of GGP’s latest signings and his experienced manager-trainer Elias Tshabalala is of the opinion that this may be his
most exciting protégé in years. Coming from a man who also coached the likes
of Cassius Baloyi and Dingaan Thobela, that statement speaks volumes and it will be interesting to see how he copes with the Filipino seeking to dethrone him.

Not that the “PRELUDE” bill is solely dependant on championship action! Indeed
the preliminary explosives will indubitably be closely monitored, as local heavyweight sensation Flo “The Demolition Man” Simba (2-0) seeks to dismantle
his third opponent in as many outings. However since the obstacle in his way is none other than Stephen “The Warrior” Castle (5-1-2), the 20-year-old Simba may be called upon to exercise far more caution than he did in his first two bouts;
both of which ended in the opening round. Moreover, Castle at age 38 has established a reputation of upsetting the odds and his confidence level ahead of
this eagerly awaited fight has reached new heights, fuelled I suspect by a pay
packet that is unrivalled for a homespun four-rounder.

Then too Kgotla “Bang Bang” Baeti (18-1-1) will be making his first appearance
at the Palace of Dreams when he faces up to trusted war-horse Danile Botman over a slated 4 rounds in the lightweight division. A brutal hitter, Baeti will find that the tough-as-nails Botman is an uncompromising battler with courage to spare and their leather-encased exchanges may be far more competitive than many surmise!