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“Triple Thunder” at Emperors Palace - by Terry Pettifer

It seldom gets bigger than this! Three world title bouts on one evening, two of which rank amongst the most eagerly awaited local showdowns in recent years. If there’s a late stampede for tickets, don’t be surprised, and methinks there’ll be hordes of late-comers queuing for a glimpse of the action.

Thankfully for those who won’t make it to Emperors Palace on the night of
Saturday, July 11, the savage mechanics of this trip-hammer event will be televised LIVE per courtesy of Super- Sport and if pre-advanced interest is anything to go by, folks will be talking boxing for weeks afterwards!

So why the intense interest in this star-studded event? Golden Gloves Promoter Rodney Berman probably summed it up best. “It’s the age-old hero versus villain routine in one of the fights (Oosthuizen vs Lovett) and the grim realization that in at least one of the others (Ndou vs Ndou) the loser may be featuring in his last championship event. Moreover the third world title bout (Vetyeka vs Barcelona) on
the bill features an intriguing match between two of the most lively and combative exponents on the international bantamweight scene. With that type of product mix, why wouldn’t this tournament roster evoke thunderous applause?” asked Berman.

Since few local pundits can recall a more sought after fight than that between the two 22-year-old’s; Jared “The Storm” Lovett (8-0, 8 knockouts) and Tommy “Tommy Gun” Oosthuizen (8-0, 8 knockouts), it’s easy to understand why acolytes from various parts of South Africa will be journeying to Emperors Palace, to see which of these barnstorming punchers triumphs on the night.

Besides carving a lucrative payday for their belligerent endeavours, the swashbuckling Lovett and the more reticent Oosthuizen will be dueling for the vacant IBO Youth world light heavyweight title; the first time ever that such a bout is staged on these shores.

By promoter Berman’s evaluation, it is virtually impossible to know which of these two splintering hitters ultimately “kisses polly” (gets knocked out!)

The southpaw Oosthuizen would appear to be gaining slightly in the popularity stakes, but so too did countless other gloved exponents prior to being dismantled.

Taller, leaner and arguably more clinical than his equally fierce opponent, Oosthuizen will have veteran trainer Harold Volbrecht in his corner, while the smouldering Lovett has his illustrious manager Brian Mitchell, recently
returned from induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, there to assist up-and-coming trainer Colin Nathan. Some experts feel that while the dark-haired Lovett has physical strength on his side, his tendency to freely exchange punches could prove disastrous against a skyscraper hitter like Oosthuizen. Not so, though,
African Ring publisher Jeff Ellis, who predicts that the “Storm” will blow Oosthuizen away inside five rounds.

“Jared is just too hot for Tommy to handle”- said Ellis. Other analysts, Ron Jackson and Andries Steyn, however, are firm for Oosthuizen, citing his “edge” in firepower as the winning ticket! “I’m only going with Oosthuizen because I think he’s the harder puncher” said Jackson. “Other than that there’s nothing in it”.

The Lovemore Ndou vs Phillip Ndou battle for the vacant IBO welterweight crown has also garnered interesting reviews by hardened pen-pushers contemptuous of cannon-fodder opposition. “This fight is for real” said veteran expert Paul Hetz. “What is more, either fighter could conceivably win what promises to be a thrilling twelve-round encounter.” Phillip Ndou is notably the more devastating hitter, having starched no less than 31 of his 32 professional victims. Initially a featherweight, Ndou went on to lift WBU championship honours as a junior lightweight and beat arch-rival Cassius Baloyi in one of the greatest fights ever staged on South African soil. Baloyi remains the only one of Ndou’s victims to have gone the distance! After that the Timebomb ventured into the lightweight ranks, before capitulating inside seven rounds to Floyd Mayweather for the WBC lightweight title on November 1, 2003. A subsequent 12-round ‘split’ decision loss to Isaac Hlatsawayo (113-115, 115-113, 113- 115) the following May led to Ndou’s
premature retirement from the sport by means of contentious medical advice.

Earlier this year Ndou (32) returned to the ring after an absence of almost
5 years, and in his first comeback fight, in France, he trounced Rachid Drilzane, scoring a 5th round TKO.

Can the “Timebomb” carry the omnipotence he had as a junior lightweight into the welterweight division? It’s a question nobody knows the answer to, although Ndou’s trainer Mick Castalano would have us believe that he is sharper than ever.

Clearly the fearsome punching Ndou will have his mettle sorely tested when he squares up to his 37-year-old Limpopo namesake, who for a number of years has fought out of Australia, where he’s gleaned sizable international fame en route to winning the IBF junior welterweight crown in 2007. Lovemore, who sports one of the most dependable jaws in the business, has amassed an overall record of 46-11-1 with 31 knockouts and fought some of the most renowned competitors on the
planet, amongst them Junior Witter, Kermit Citron, Miguel Angel Cotto, Sharmba Mitchell and Paul Malignaggito whom he lost the IBF junior welterweight championship in 2007.

An incredibly fit and durable craftsman, Lovemore Ndou could conceivably be the punters choice in this potential slugfest, if only due to his greater experience and proven ruggedness under fire.

Eric Barcelona (47-15-4) of the Philippines, is no stranger to South Africa, having previously fought here and given the then IBO bantamweight champion Silence Mabuza a grueling night’s work.

A fiery boxer who relishes toe-to-toe warfare, Barcelona will however have a torrid assignment when he enters the ring to meet the Eastern Cape’s Simpiwe Vetyeka (18-1) in a contest for the vacant IBO bantamweight title. Promoter Rodney Berman believes that Vetyeka could become one of his consortium’s finest chievers in years, but until he faces off against the highly seasoned Barcelona, there are a number of skeptics who’ll remain unconvinced.

A fitting inclusion on the TRIPLE THUNDER undercard, is junior flyweight sensation Hekkie “The Hexecutioner” Budler, who in a couple of months will fight for the vacant IBO junior flyweight belt.