Cruiserweights winning battle of the big men in South Africa by Cyril Lehong

Historically the cruiserweight division has been known to take a back seat to the heavyweight division. This no longer seems to be the case as one seems to notice more entertaining fights in the junior heavyweight category as it is sometimes called.

Part of the reason is the lack of good quality fights in South Africa and abroad in what used to be boxing’s most watched weight division.

On October 1 1975 the world witnessed one of the greatest heavyweight fights of all time. The bout titled “The Thriller in Manila” between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier for the heavyweight championship of the world entertained all who witnessed the fight and those who have watched it years later.

Fast forward to October 5 2013 and watch the battle for portion of the heavyweight title.

Wladimir Klitschko and Alexandra Povetkin gave us a really poor fight. I feel sorry for the television producer who had to compile a highlights package for this one.

The fight was so bad that reading Twitter comments seemed more exciting than watching the contestants, can I call them that, hugging each other for 2 minutes and 30 seconds and then spending another 30 seconds circling each other through every round.

A few hours later we got to watch a fight for the vacant South African heavyweight title between Anton Nel and Hein van Bosch in Bloemfontein. Most of us were wondering how either one of the boxers actually earned a title shot.

Nel who was a former two-time national champion before the fight had not fought since April 29 2011 when he was knocked out in the fifth round by Wiseman Dlomo. In fact most of us thought the 45-year-old Nel was retired.

Van Bosch who will be 44 on January 27 next year came into the fight with a losing record of 11 wins, with 4 inside the distance and 16 losses. One has to wonder how the fight could be sanctioned by Boxing SA.

The heavyweight division which was once regarded as the sport’s premier division seems to have fallen apart throughout the world, including here at home.

The division is so desperate for a hero that when former WBC heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, 48, who retired after beating Vitali Klitschko on June 21 2003, joked around saying he would fight for $100 million it made headlines around the world.

In South Africa it seems as if the cruiserweight division which is known as the junior heavyweight division in this country has become the more celebrated weight category.

The division, which was once looked upon as contested by those who are not quite big enough to be the boxing’s glamour boys, is producing some quality here at home.

With the rise of the dangerous and exiting South African based Ilunga Makabu from the DRC, who is ranked at number seven by The Ring magazine, and Nashua Super 8 winner Thabiso Mchunu on the international stage, one has to smile about the cruisers.

There are also others in the weight division like Danie Venter who has just won the WBF belt and prospect Keven Lerena that make one enjoy this weight division more.

There has also been talk of Golden Gloves Promotions organizing another Super 8 tournament next year. This already has fans talking.