Boxing Snippets

Berman charts future after Saturday sizzle

In the immediate afterglow of Thabiso Mchunu’s accomplished beatdown of Tommy Oosthuizen at Emperors Palace on Saturday night, promoter Rodney Berman said he would feel uncomfortable pursuing a big fight against IBO champion Kevin Lerena.

A day later, his view hadn’t changed, and he spoke rather of pushing Mchunu back into the spotlight by matching him against international opposition where his form of Saturday would give him a shot against most elite fighters.

Berman reasons that because Lerena and Mchunu are friends and can viably pursue different paths, there is little to be gained by matching them.

And, encouraged rather than elated by Thulani Mbenge’s form, he plans to feature him in a March double-header that appears to stall his move to America – for now. Berman’s rationale is that he remains a work in progress and must not be rushed.

A guest at Saturday’s event was Ron Russo, an associate of US promoter Lou Di Bella who has partnered with Golden Gloves.

“I’m excited to start work with Rodney and Golden Gloves on Thulani,” said the New Yorker, who will help chart Mbenge’s course. “Thulani is a very athletic kid who, while raw, understands how to box already at a young age. We saw this against Miguel Vazquez. Mbenge knew he was a highly skilled former world champion. He took some time behind the jab and knew the importance of working the body.

Ron Russo and Rodney Berman.

“He has a sharp corner behind him. Sean Smith is a very good trainer out of Joburg. The body shot was what eventually led to Vazquez not coming out after the eighth.

“Look, Vazquez fought Canelo Alvarez twice and even though this was a while ago, he went the distance both times. The kid has a bright future and I’m excited to bring him to the US next year.”

Another fighter who took a big step forward was Keaton Gomes, who crushed brave Warren le Roux in three. Gomes will march on much as he did this year, keeping busy while gradually increasing his level of opposition.

The same is true of Boyd Allen, the popular ticket-seller who produced the punch of the night to spark Wynand Mulder. He will be propelled into a Pan-African title shot in the new year.

Unfortunately for Wade Groth, however, he’s got a ton of rebuilding to do after getting blown away by Walter Dlamini in 42 seconds on Saturday.

The positive to emerge was yet another fairy tale South African championship story with the 38-year-old Dlamini given little chance of winning and yet gambling his reputation on a blazing start and emerging triumphant on the other side.

“It was brilliant to see,” said Berman, while bemoaning Groth’s rabbit-in-the-headlights response that cost him so badly.

There were plaudits, too, for young Ricardo Malajika, who looks determined to make a name for himself in the talent-laden junior-bantamweight division.



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