Christmas Cracker - by Terry Pettifer

When Jeff Ellis matches fighters, one can rest assured that the product mix leaves little to be desired, and his annual “Christmas Cracker” tournament at Emperors Palace on November 30, has the makings of an electrifying night of boxing!

IBO Africa lightweight champion Jason “Badman” Bedeman (9-0-2, 7 knockouts) will head the African Ring bill at the Theatre of Marcellus and the tournament, which will be held in association with Golden Gloves Promotions, has a total of fight bouts, stretching over seven weight divisions.

Bedeman’s opponent on the night will be Joseph Modesi, whom he battled to a slam-bang draw in their previous encounter! Ellis confirmed that the bout will be fought over 8 rounds. Also featuring on the fight roster is Grant “The Fireball” Fourie, who’ll be looking to make amends after his thrilling loss to Bedeman, last time out. The Bedeman/Fourie encounter, which was for the vacant IBO Africa lightweight title, was a blistering encounter from the opening round and although Fourie’s erstwhile trainer Colin Nathan tossed in the towel after the Fireball had taken several trips to the canvas, the contest was poised on a knifeedge for most of the preceding seven rounds.

Fourie will be fighting Thulane Mbatha over 6 rounds at the lightweight limit.

“Experts will be keenly appraising how well Grant fares in this fight, especially now that his father Louis is coaching him” said Ellis.

The tournament organizers have announced that this year’s “Xmas Cracker” is being dedicated to former Natal heavyweight champion Ron Ellis, and one of the beneficiaries of the evening’s event will be a 20-year-old lady Kerryn Roodt who was recently brutally attacked and shot by robbers. This young woman needs all the financial assistance possible and Ellis has implored people to support the boxing tournament and ‘Boxing Auction’ that will take place in the intermission between

“We ask that you all lend your support to this badly injured young lady in order to enable her family to make her a little more comfortable during this traumatic period in her life” said Jeff.

An aspect of the event which should prove to be very interesting, is a boxing demonstration that will be conducted by Kathy Deftereos who is described as “Queen of Tribes Restaurant” by Ellis, and respected trainer John Kriege.

As for the rest of the bill, there is a potentially explosive match-up, scheduled for 4 rounds between the constantly improving veteran Stephen Castle and Khayeni Hlongwane. Castle, who’s already in his mid-thirties, has amazed pundits time after time, and he’ll definitely enter the fray at Emperors Palace as a confirmed favourite.

Also, sensational heavyweight newcomer Flo “The Demolition Man” Simba (1-0) will be having his second outing against Thato Tholano in a fourround catchweight contest (92 kg limit) and Ellis is betting that there’ll be strong support for the South Hills whiz-kid on the night.

“Simba is one of the most exciting fighters that Rodney Berman has signed in years” said Ellis, “and I’m prepared to wager that he’ll become an extraordinary talent over the next two years”. Berman readily agrees and has confirmed that Simba will be fighting in both the USA and UK in 2010.

Unbeaten junior lightweight Joey Stiglingh, who fires leather-encased missiles with venom, will be in action over 4 rounds against Stephen Ntshingila, as too will trainer Colin Nathan’s other blossoming prospect, Ashley Dlamini, who fights Balaganana Ndou over 4 rounds in a featherweight bout.

“Stiglingh is a young fighter who could make great strides in 2010” said Rodney Berman.

Finally, fight fans will be keen to see how Kyle Smith performs in his 4 round junior welterweight bout against Mbuso Ndlela. Son to the late Richard Smith, the smooth-boxing Kyle may have the makings to become a recognizable prospect in the months ahead.

Morne Bothma features in the curtain-raiser on the night, when he takes on Nhlanhla Mguni in a slated 4-round event in the bantamweight division.