Crowning Glory

Thabiso Mchunu (11-1, 8 KOs) v Danie Venter (15-5, 11KOs) Nashua Super Eight cruiserweight fi nal

Emperors Palace, November 10

The two boxers who meet in the final of the Super Eight could not be more different if they tried.

Danie Venter is older, a boxer-puncher who was an amateur standout who has suddenly breathed new life into his flagging career.

Mchunu, from Pietermaritzburg, is fully 10 years younger, well chiselled and carries above average power. Very few fi ght fans gave Venter a chance of advancing this far in the popular contest. While he easily had the beating of Daniel Bruwer in their tournament opener in June, Venter was expected to wilt at the fists of big Zack Mwekassa three months later.

Instead, in arguably the finest performance of his career, the 33-year-old dismantled Mwekassa by withstanding his punches and landing devastating left and right hands of his own to knock the favourite out inside four rounds.

It was a display that made everyone sit up and take notice. To some, he is now the favourite to land the R300 000 first prize and a place in next year’s WBC World Cup event.

Venter’s career has turned full circle, ironically since his last defeat at the hands of the selfsame Mchunu last June.

With trainer Charles Backhouse he has re-committed himself to proper conditioning, having won three of his last four fights inside the distance.

One of these included a first round blowout of former top prospect Flo Simba.

Mchunu, in turn, has rebounded nicely since losing inside six rounds to Mwekassa last year. Back-to-back fi rst round KOs of Simba earned him his place in the final and he will take great heart from having beaten Venter via majority decision in 2011.

He trains particularly hard and has developed an unorthodox style that makes him difficult to beat. Fighting southpaw, his defences are very high, making him an elusive target to hit.

With Venter having been anointed the “Cinderella Man” by Golden Gloves boss Rodney Berman on account of his unlikely success story and Mchunu having been the quiet contender, the final promises to be a compelling affair.

“It really is a pick ‘em fight,” says Berman. “They have totally different styles and they can both crack. I can say with some confidence that what fans won’t get is a tepid affair – this will be explosive.”

Tommy Oosthuizen (20-0-1, 13 KOs) v Fulgencio Zuniga (25-5, 22KOs) IBO super-middleweight championship Emperors Palace November 10

Tommy Oosthuizen, South Africa’s best boxer, will make title defence number six against rugged Colombia Fulgencio Zuniga in the headline bout at Emperors Palace on November 10.

Oosthuizen is fresh off a convincing defeat of Rowland Bryant in his last fight in New York recently.

The IBO champion has now entered the realm of the division’s top half dozen fighters, a bitter-sweet position. While it gives him the status he deserves, he is also considered one of the division’s dangerman. Consequently, hardly anyone wants to fi ght him.

Indeed, only after five different boxers had turned down fi rm offers from Golden Gloves did they manage to secure Zuniga’s signature.

Given Oosthuizen’s speed, power and reach, it perhaps isn’t surprising that fighters aren’t banging down the door to fi ght him.

His last three opponents had combined records of 51-3, but he saw them off with little difficulty on his way to entrenching himself as a potential future superstar.

“You are yet to see the best of him,” promises trainer Harold Volbrecht. “We are at the stage where we will fight anyone. At worst, he will go in with a 50-50 chance against the division’s elite.”

Zuniga is renowned as a dangerous puncher as his 22 KOs from 25 wins suggest. He’s also mixed it with the cream of the division. In 2010 he lost to IBF light-heavyweight champion Tavoris Cloud on points. He has also fought top campaigners like former champions Kelly Pavlik and Daniel Santos.

In a career best showing in 2007, he outboxed Antwun Echols in Las Vegas, confirming his credentials as a top 10 fighter.

“My agent in South America tells me that Zuniga is a very tough customer,” said Berman. “He’s also at that stage of his career where he gets no handouts, every fight could be his last, so he gives everything. That makes him very dangerous.”

Berman added that this will probably be the final time South Africans get the opportunity to watch Oosthuizen fi ght on local soil given America’s intentions of showcasing him on US television in future.