Time to Retire- by Pete Moscardi

The first tournament to be held in South Africa in 2010 succeeded in highlighting some serious flaws in both lack of control by the commission and in inept officiating. Ruben Groenewald must, for his own health and safety, be prevented from stepping into a ring again. Groenewald, whose career started at junior-middleweight, was pounded into a one-sided stoppage defeat in four brutal rounds by Thabiso Mchuno in his challenge for Mchuno’s WBA Pan African and South African cruiserweight titles in the Bloemfontein City Hall on this Robs Promotions bill. It was a fight which should never have taken place, as all the signs were there prior to this event which indicated that Ruben had past his sell-by date.

Ruben, (23-7-2 going in) who, as a middleweight, once beat Anthony Farnell for the WBU title in their fight in Manchester in June 2002, and was considered a suitable opponent for Carl Froch, who stopped him on a fifth round TKO in their fight in Nottingham in December 2005, suffers from Asthma and, at the cruiserweight limit, looks grossly overweight and under-trained. And, to be brutally honest, he is a shot fighter who no longer has the reflexes or defence to adequately protect himself. Mchuno, (6-0 going in) was a raw novice in terms of experience compared to Groenewald, but outclassed Ruben from the start. Groenewald tried his best to mount a challenge, but was outpunched and outboxed by the southpaw champion and was forced to soak up a steady pounding in each round.

By the fourth it was obvious that Groenewald, who was now gasping for air and hardly punching back, had shot his bolt. A series of solid combinations to his head had him staggering, and referee, Jaap van Niewenhuizen, made a merciful stoppage at 1.31. Although Ruben had shown guts in standing up to the punishment, at no time had he been competitive in this fight and clearly his boxing days are over. It is a shame that he was allowed to venture to a bridge too far.

Gideon Buthelezi and Nelson Mtshali waged a cracking all-southpaw fight for the vacant WBO Pan African strawweight title, but this was marred by a totally inept performance by referee Freddy Makhatini who seriously blundered when the end came suddenly in the fourth round. For three rounds these two fighters had put on an all-action fight. And although Buthelezi was generally in control throughout, Mtshali fought sufficiently competitively to make the fight interesting.

But in the fourth round Mtshali was caught by a solid three punch combination to the head which dumped him heavily onto his back. He was in no condition to defend himself when he only just managed to beat the count, but referee Makhatini did nothing to stop the fight. Buthelezi started to close in on Mtshali, but Nick Durandt, the latter’s trainer, was up on the ring apron and waving a towel. It was this action which prompted the referee to call a halt, but at this stage Durandt was in the ring and walking towards the fighters. Durandt is to be commended for his prompt action, which could have saved his fighter from serious injury – but in this instance he was doing the job of a referee who had clearly lost the plot.

Ghanaian Asamoah Wilson, whose Boxrec statistics show the fighter to have a record of 1-5 prior to his fight against Bongani Mahlangu for the WBA Pan African bantamweight title, had to make two trips to the scales before making the weight. His efforts may have seriously weakened him for he was only in the ring for 54 seconds before a crushing left cross dropped him for the count. Mahlangu extended his record to 12-2 in this defence of his WBA Pan African title. Wilson is known to British fans, having lost to Don Broadhurst on a sixth round TKO in their British Commonwealth super-flyweight title fight in Wolverhampton in April last year. He lost on points (4) to James Speight in Swindon last July and beat Andrew Kooner on a first round TKO (a clash of heads resulted in Kooner sustaining a bad cut) in their fight last June. At the time he fought Broadhurst his record was listed as being 12-3-2. It is not known whether Boxing South Africa was able to verify his correct statistics.