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“Bad Boy” Lovett will look to emulate Liston - by Terry Pettifer

Former world heavyweight champion Sonny Liston was one of the most enigmatic and mysterious fighters in history. An illiterate with a lengthy criminal record, Liston knocked out Floyd Patterson in 2: 06 sec of the first round to lift the world heavyweight crown at Comiskey Park, Chicago on September 25, 1962. Before the bout, Liston had been quoted as saying, “Boxing is like a cowboy movie, you have good guys and bad guys, and the public pay to see the good guy win. So I’m the bad guy, but I turn things around, I don’t get beat!”

In South Africa at present, we have an upcoming bout that rekindles memories of that famous ‘good’ guy versus ‘bad’ guy contest between the bucolic Patterson, and the surly and menacing Liston. I speak of the July 11 crunch meeting at Emperors Palace Casino, between Jared “The Storm” Lovett (8- 0, 8 knockouts) and Tommy “Tommy Gun” Oosthuizen (9-0, 9 knockouts). Certainly there are a number of similarities between the Lovett-Oosthuizen clash and the fight which saw the Liston – who entered the ring as a 9-5 favourite –stun the world with his brutal annihilation of the much loved Patterson.

The 21-year-old Oosthuizen and the 22-year-old Lovett will also be fighting for a world championship, namely the IBO “Youth” world light heavyweight title, and like Liston and Patterson, they could clearly qualify for a ‘good’ guy versus ‘bad’ guy billing.

Indeed Lovett, while oozing charisma, has already built up a rather sinister reputation in the street, where his fearsome fists have purportedly registered a number of assault raps. Definitely portrayed as the ‘bad’ guy ahead of his confrontation with the phlegmatic Oosthuizen, the southern suburbs boxer will –according to Golden Gloves Promoter Rodney Berman –have to ‘toe the line’ if this
dream meeting is to become a reality. “I don’t want to hear one more word about Jared Lovett being involved in an out-of-the-ring punch up!” warned Berman. “The kid has to know that he is a professional pugilist and that demands living a clean life, free of controversial incidents, such as the one which recently took place at a restaurant in Glenvista”.

Mind you, numerous observers have said that Lovett has become a constant target for trouble seekers, keen on establishing a reputation of their own.

And Oosthuizen? An electrician by trade, this homely Afrikaans speaking predator is by all accounts a docile young man outside the roped arena, looking only to impose a violent reputation when there are padded gloves attached to his fists.

So why is there such an unusual stampede for tickets ahead of this potentially
explosive encounter? Simply the age-old hero-villain routine: Oosthuizen (pale-faced, clean-cut, every mother’s son) versus Lovett (untamed, rough, spit-in-your-eye). One to cheer, one to jeer, which is always a sure-fire seller in the cauliflower-ear profession. Methinks it will attract a full-house crowd to Emperors Palace on the night notwithstanding the other major attraction that sees Phillip “The Timebomb” Ndou take on his namesake from Australia, Lovemore Ndou in an
IBO junior welterweight title eliminator, with the winner to fight Matthew Hatton. Then too there’s an IBO bantamweight title fight between Simpiwe Vetyeka and Eric Barcelono of the Philippines.

But it’s Lovett versus Oosthuizen that everyone’s talking about at present and you wont find a watering hole anywhere in the southern suburbs or the East Rand that isn’t bristling in anticipation.

Lovett, unlike the monosyllable Liston, is a highly intelligent young fighter and he realizes that victory over Oosthuizen could set him on the road to fame and fortune. Yes, he’ll live with the ‘bad’ guy tag as long as it assists in his marketing. “This is no dream match for me” Lovett growled at a recent press briefing, “he’s just another opponent I’ll leave dead”.

Far less voluble, Oosthuizen doesn’t really care either way how or what his opponent does in his spare time, offering only to ‘tame’ his rival once they climb through the ropes. “Jared has got a lot to say, but come fight night, I’ll close his mouth properly”.

While Lovett has promised his multitude of fans and detractors a quick knockout, Oosthuizen aims to teach his opponent manners before applying the coup de grace!

No doubt the ghosts of Liston and Patterson will lend an understanding nod.