Cruiserweight Super 8

ZACK MWEKASSA
TRAINER – HAROLD VOLBRECHT
AGE: 28
FIGHT RECORD: 14 fights, 12 wins, 11 stoppages, two losses.
The Democratic Republican- born SA-based swarthy fighter is the overwhelming favourite to walk away with the Super 8 Cruiserweight Crown.

Since joining Harold Volbrecht, the heavy legged Mwekassa has transformed from a wild swinging energy -consuming fighter into a refined patient stalker who sets up his bombs with an educated jab.

Mwekassa was previously fighting on raw talent alone, expending too much energy in the ring, which quickly exhausted him as it proved in his first loss against Jozsef Nagy when he dropped the Hungarian five times before running out of gas and got stopped in the sixth round for the WBF title.

Afterwards Mwekassa, who only took up boxing after trying out on kickboxing, accepted a short notice fight in US against then formidable Paul Jennette.
He put forth a gutsy performance in losing a split decision before deciding to take his boxing career seriously by joining the experienced Volbrecht.

Under Volbrecht, who holds a record for most national title defences when he defended the SA welterweight title 19 times, Mwekassa has mercilessly blitzed through four opponents, including the biggest win of his career when he stopped the highly fancied Thabiso Mchunu in six rounds on September 24 last year.

Strength: heavy handed and legged makes it almost impossible to back him up. A marauding, stocky brute who will be in his opponent’s face until the latter wilts under pressure.

Weaknesses: Still a bit technically flawed as he does not turn his punches over to get a real good power out of them. This shortcoming may be attributed to his kickboxing days but by incorporating patience in his boxing make up he will learn to perfect his craft with time.

Chances in the tournament: Odds on favourite to walk away with the series.

DANIEL BRUWER
TRAINER: JOHN KRIGE
AGE: 27
FIGHT RECORD: 26 fights, 22 wins, 19 stoppages, three losses, 1 draw

Bruwer is the most experienced participant in the tournament and having shared the ring with worthy opponents he could spring a surprise.

But after literally getting a beat-down by the average Ruben Groenewald in their last January bout- which was stoked by their press conference brawl he failed to live up to expectations- before capitalising on Groenwald’s asthma attack to score a last gasp eighth round stoppage win, Bruwer’s status as a top fighter in the country is under serious scrutiny even though he still sports an impressive fight resume.

After his come-from behind win over Groenewald, Bruwer, a former SA light heavyweight champion, was stopped by highly rated Uzbekistanborn, Germany- based Alexander Alekseev in eight rounds in his last bout on November 18 last year in Germany. But it is not really such a shame to lose to a fighter of Alekseev’s calibre.

His upcoming clash with fellow participant Flo Simba on March 3 at Emperors Palace should give and indication if there is still some gas left in the tank.

A good showing by both men will guarantee them entry into the tournament, whilst a decisive loss by either will see the loser being omitted.

Strength: Bruwer is as durable as they come and does not flinch from a punch to land his own. Experience will come in handy in a series with different fighting styles to contend with.

Weaknesses: As much as he likes fighting in the telephone booth, Bruwer’s tendency to clown around even when he is getting a hiding might cost him in the series. His arrogance of dropping his guard and invite his opponents to take their best shots will cost him dearly one day especially against heavy handed hitters such as Mwekassa and Simba.

Chances in the tournament: Bruwer’s durability will carry him, but he should pray that he is not matched against a Mwekassa type of a guy in the preliminary stages. He has already lost to a fellow participant Thabiso Mchunu and chances are he will come second best if they were to be matched again.

DANIE VENTER
TRAINER: Charles Backhouse
AGE: 32
FIGHT RECORD: 17 fights, 12 wins, nine stoppages, five losses

Venter, a former Olympian, has always shown good boxing basics but his juggling between the heavyweight and cruiserweight divisions robbed him of his chances to realise his full potential.

However there is no denying that when he takes his boxing career seriously very few fighters can match his resilience and boxing IQ. He showed his true potential when he sensationally destroyed highly touted Flo Simba in the first round in his last bout on September 24 last year.

Those who have been with him in the amateur days lament his light build to compete with the heavyweights and indeed Venter has often entered the ring sporting a flabby waistline, resembling a sumo wrestler rather than a boxer.

Strength: Venter is a technically sound fighter who can ruthlessly exploit his opponents’ flaws and is very good at detecting them. He carries considerable power in both hands.

Weaknesses: He hates training and has probably never entered the ring in top physical condition.

Chances in the tournament: A motivated Venter will make for exciting duels against the likes of smaller cruiserweights such as Bruwer. He lost to Mchunu when he refused to take him on toe-to-toe.

THABISO MCHUNU
TRAINER: SHAUN SMITH
AGE: 23
FIGHT RECORD: 10 fights, nine wins, six stoppages, one loss

SO much was expected from the KwaZulu- Natal born southpaw who claimed the SA
cruiserweight title in only his third professional fight.

Mchunu gave Bruwer and other former champions such as Soon Botes, Groenewald
and Ronnie Lategan, a severe beating, promising big things until he dumped his father who had been with him since the amateur ranks. In his first fight under a new home of Peter Smith, he failed to impress against Venter.

Then came the shocking six round stoppage defeat by Mwekassa when he got intimidated by Mwekassa’s pose and simply gave up trying.

The defeat should have served as wake up call for him that not all opponents will be intimidated by his power and chiselled body. But he can still bounce back and cement his status as one of the best cruiserweight in the country.

There is no denying that Mchunu is a talented youngster but he needs to properly utilise his compact frame and put more leverage on his punches otherwise he will always struggle against taller opponents.

Strength: Mchunu is technically gifted with great boxing skills, whilst also possessing considerable power, and can outbox an opponent as he showed against Mwekassa in the early rounds. He is blessed with considerable power to hurt his foes, but unfortunately does not use this asset to his best advantage.

Weaknesses: He has no Spartan work ethic and tends to take time off in the ring, giving his opponents hope in fights they were losing. He likes his bouts to be fought on his terms and once an opponent starts imposing his will on him he tends to lose focus and abandon his game plan.

Chances in the tournament: If there is one fighter who needs this tournament to redeem himself it is Mchunu. He has the ability to win it but his mental weakness especially against tough foes like Mwekassa, will be his biggest Achilles Heel.

 

FLO SIMBA
TRAINER: HAROLD VOLBRECHT
AGE: 22
FIGHT RECORD: 13 fights, 11 wins, 2 losses

The jury is still out on Flo Simba as a boxer in any division. Fortunately he will have to prove himself against Daniel Bruwer on March 3 to prove he should be in the tournament. So far his bouts have been against hand-picked opposition.

He is reeling from two career-shorting stoppage defeats but it was his first round shocking loss to Venter that raised alarm bells about whether he should continue his boxing career.

He possesses considerable power, but history has proven that a former heavyweight fighter will not necessarily be dominant in the lighter division. Former heavyweight champion Chris Byrd tried it with disastrous consequences so did Roy Jones Jnr when he won the WBA heavyweight title but lost his spark when he returned to the light heavyweight class.

The difference with Simba is that he is still young, and with only 13 fights his body has probably not accustomed itself to a particular weight class as yet.

Strength: Simba was fast for a heavyweight and he will probably continue with this advantage even in the cruiserweight. There was concern that he was never really a heavyweight, and now he will get a chance to confirm that belief. His height will be a definite advantage, and he needs to develop his jab to set up his punches properly.

Weaknesses: His chin was never tested and when he was hit with a solid punch his whiskers failed the test. Simba will also need to stop bouncing off the ring and start planting his feet and throw shoulder –propelled punches.

Chances in the tournament: After his first round defeat by Venter it is hard to imagine him progressing far in the series especially against other notable heavy hitters who will be aiming for his glass jaw. But his duel with Bruwer will give us an indication if he has a chance at all in the tournament.

TSHEPHANG MOHALE
TRAINER: PETER SMITH
AGE: 32
FIGHT RECORD: 12 fights, 8 wins, 7 stoppages, 4 losses

Mohale is taking a huge gamble by entering the tournament, having never fought in this division before.

Only a super middleweight not so long ago, his stunning second round stoppage of Johnny Muller to capture the SA light heavyweight crown convinced him that he has power to compete with the big boys, especially as Muller had previously fought in the heavyweight division.

Mohale’s height will be expected to give him an edge against other participants, but his tendency to slip into complacency when things are going his way will cost him dearly against the big bangers in the tournament. Mohale was beating novice Ryno Liebenberg from pillar to post for six rounds until he became careless and was stopped.

Strength: His height and wingspan will give him advantage against shorter opponents such as Mchunu and Muller. He can crack as he proved against Muller and will always have a puncher’s chance.

Weaknesses: His glass jaw will be his biggest disadvantage and he is yet to prove that the extra kilos will not inhibit his punching power.

Chances in the tournament: Mohale will most likely be eliminated in the preliminary stages but he will go down swinging.

JOHNNY MULLER
TRAINER: HAROLD VOLBRECHT
AGE: 21
FIGHT RECORD: 13 fights, 10 wins, 7 stoppages, 1 loss, two draws

Muller campaigned as a heavyweight for the better part of his professional career but surprisingly dropped down to the light heavyweight to stop Ronnie Lategan in one round to win the SA title.

He appeared comfortable in the lighter division but when he was knocked out by Mohale, question marks about his conditioning began to surface.

He redeemed himself with a points victory over Ghanaian Donald Kampamba. Now he will be tested against the “Big Boys” in this division. His experience as a heavyweight should hold him in good stead against lighter punchers in the tournament.

Strength: Having fought in the heavyweight division should prepare him against big hitters in the tournament.

Weaknesses: If Muller could be knocked out by a super middleweight in Mohale you bet he will kiss the dust when hit by the likes of Mchunu, Mwekassa and Venter.

Chances in the tournament: Every participant is predictably praying to be matched against him as he is seen as the whipping boy of the tournament.

DANIEL ADOTEY ALLOTEY
AGE: 27
FIGHT RECORD: 16 fights, 14 wins, 7 stoppages, two losses

Allotey will be coming to the tournament as a closed book as no one has ever seen him fight. But a quick look into his fight record suggests that he is capable of holding his own although he has fought most of his bouts in the super middleweight division.

He got stopped in four rounds by unbeaten British super star George Groves but nothing can be read from that bout as Groves was expected to win anyway.

Besides the Groves fight which took place in England, all of Allotey’s bouts have taken place back home in Ghana where the level of competition is not that stiff.

Strength: Allotey will be expected to come to the tournament in a physical good condition and will be as gritty as a typical African fighter. His unknown status will work to his advantage.

Weaknesses: He will find the level of competition in the tournament a bit tough compared to the fights he has fought back home.

Chances in the tournament: He is not expected to go far especially if he is matched against other African styled fighters such as Mchunu, Mwekassa and Simba.