Boyd Allen, Brandon Thysse and Jabulani Makhense set for action in South
Africa’s first post-lockdown card.
South African boxing is finally back with a bang with “Back4Battle” happening at Emperor’s Palace
on Saturday night.
The “Bubble” or “Fight Camp” format, popularized in the US and UK, was followed with strict testing
and isolation of all participants, officials and skeleton staff in a special section of the hotel. Although
no live crowd is allowed, starved South African fight fans will no doubt be glued to their couches on
Saturday night to view five evenly matched bouts.
Topping the bill will be the long awaited 4@War junior middleweight tournament final between
Boyd Allen and Brandon Thysse over ten rounds with Allen’s Pan African junior middleweight title,
the winner’s purse and a commemorative ring at stake. The fight will be a rematch of their 2019
encounter that was won by Allen who eked out a split decision.
Will things be different this time around? It is an open question. Both fighters seem to have
Allen has been moved fast against more experienced fighters to reach this point in his career with
only six pro boxing bouts under his belt. It was a more settled Boyd Allen that stopped Tristan Truter
in the tenth round in the one semi-final in November 2019. A former EFC featherweight champion,
Africa’s premier MMA promotion, he settled into a more orthodox boxing style as opposed to his
previous switch-hitting style. Is it a new style for him or was it just the strategy for the night? We will
have to wait until Saturday night to find out.
If Allen looked like a different fighter, the 12-2-1 Brandon Thysse had his coming out party when he
stopped the undefeated Roarke Knapp in seven rounds in the other semi-final. He got off to an
uncharacteristically quick start, using his rangy jab. He weathered a mid-rounds storm and finally
stopped Knapp in the seventh round, courtesy of a series of uppercuts set up by a body shot.
Thysse is brimming with confidence going into his second encounter with Allen. He still has that
underdog mentality and the hunger has not left him. He has boldly predicted a knockout.
In the main supporting bout, undefeated Jabulani Makhense takes on the 22-3-2 Erik Kapia from the
Democratic Republic of the Congo in a ten round welterweight bout for the vacant WBA Pan African
Makhense had a decorated amateur career, culminating in a bronze medal at the Commonwealth
Games but Kapia is the more experienced as a professional.
Makhense, currently 9-0, has been moved through the ranks fast and 2019 was his breakout year
when he took on the former South African champion, Xolani Mcotheli, durable Michael Mokoena
and fellow undefeated Marios Matamba. The experience gained in going through that murderers’
row should serve him well.
Kapia, who has been based in South Africa since 2016, is a durable fighter who has only been
stopped once by hard hitting Thulani Mbenge. It would be interesting to see whether Makhense can
win inside the distance.
Kapia, for his part, is aware that he is the underdog in this bout, but seems determined to spring an
upset, inspired by his three-month-old baby daughter. He also holds a draw over Roarke Knapp.
Roarke Knapp and the 8-2 Tristan Truter will be looking to get back in the win column when they
take on each other for the tournament third place over ten rounds. This should be an action-packed
affair with Knapp’s explosive inside combinations up against the speed and movement of Truter who
also packs a respectable punch.
Both are seeking to learn from their mistakes. The 9-1-1 Knapp has cut out all distractions, using the
lockdown to re-dedicate himself to his training. Truter, for his part, took a step back to analyze the
situation, looking for openings in his opponent’s arsenal and working on his own skills.
In the second rematch on the card, two cruiserweight prospects, 7-1 Lebo Mashitoa and 6-1 Keaton
Gomes, will go at it over ten rounds. Mashitoa handed Gomes his first loss when he outboxed him
over ten rounds in September last year.
There is no love lost between the two and each are determined to succeed, whether it be repeat or
revenge. Gomes has promised a knockout while Mashitoa has vowed to fight fire with fire.
In the opening bout, 5-0 super middleweight, Cowin Ray, looks to shake off the cobwebs after a long
stint away from the ring and takes on 2-3 Karabo Mokupi in a six rounder.