Boxing fans came in their droves for action and action is what they got in the second instalment of “Prospects at the Palace” on Sunday afternoon.
Emperors Palace was packed to capacity for the 11 fights which produced seven knockouts and confirmed promoter Rodney Berman’s view that talent abounds if given the chance.
With little room to breathe in four-rounders, the boxers got stuck in fast and furiously. Given the chance to catch Golden Gloves’ eye, many didn’t disappoint.
Among those to gain approving ticks against their names were DeeJay Kriel, welterweight puncher Thulani Mbenge, Brandon Thysse, Joshua Studdard and welterweight Jeffrey Magagane. None is an elite-level fighter yet, but they all show encouraging signs of having much more to offer. Berman and co-promoter Jeff Ellis would have been pleased.
In the main fight of the afternoon, and the only six-rounder, Kriel won a decision (60-53, 60-53, 57-56) over a game Khotle Morabedi of Free State. The junior-flyweights hammered away from the off and although Morabedi – self-trained through circumstance rather than choice – never stopped trying, Kriel was a cut above.
He showed admirable patience in picking his man apart, combining accuracy with skill, chiefly in the fourth when a peach of a right hand put Morabedi over. Happily, defence is a cornerstone of Kriel’s game and the way he slips punches and rolls his shoulders reflects a fighter with terrific fundamentals. Having asked for a stern test and been given one, Kriel is now ready for deeper water.
Morabedi can feel proud, too, and can probably expect to be back on a local card before long. He deserves another shot.
In probably the best fight of the afternoon, lightweights Lucky Mongebane and Xolani Mgidi got stuck in early and never relented. Southpaw Mongebane had to weather an early storm as Mgidi waged all-out assault. Mongebane found his rhythm, but that early attack proved costly as the Dikebu protégé lost a majority decision – 38-38, 39-37, 39-37.
His big contingent of supporters, who nearly blew the roof off Emperors with their singing and chanting in the preamble, were stunned into silence as the defeat sunk in.
Middleweight Brandon Thysse’s reputation continues to grow. He was in no mood to hang around, a big right hand sparking Philip Dlamini in the first. It’s early days, but Thysse has the hallmarks of a future star.
Sean Smith’s welterweight Thulani Mbenge is also proving a star turn. He banged out Andile Mabalusa in the first and looked untroubled doing so. The charismatic Mbenge is definitely worth keeping a close eye on.
Joshua Studdard’s right hand has earned rave reviews – and with good reason. The man packs a triphammer and he unloaded it in explosive fashion to stop Mthobisi Nkosi in the first. Studdard took his time, soaked up a couple of punches against the ropes, and then dropped the bomb. He has a natural fighter’s instinct and slips punches beautifully; little wonder Berman is high on him.
Tucked away early on the card was a very fine prospect from the Alan Toweel jnr stable. Jeffrey Magagane looked outstanding as he moved to 3-0 against Stanley Motsweyane, who was dispatched in double-quick time via first round KO in a welterweight match-up. Magagane showed good poise and power. Remember the name.
In other action, featherweight Anthony Malosane had too much for Nyiko Ndukula, winning a decision – 40-35, 39-36, 40-34.
At junior-flyweight, Nyelasani Thamabega was made to look foolhardy for entering the ring making throat-slitting gestures. The Hammer Gym boxer was promptly stopped on his feet in the first by Sihle Lelwane.
Bantamweight Ronald Malindi scored the most devastating knockout of the day as he put hapless Thamsanqa Cele to sleep in the first.
Lightweight Michael Mokoena showed good flashes, but little power in his defeat of Lusindiso Mlamlama. Even so, he put Mlamlama down with a left hook in the third and battered him into fourth round TKO defeat.
Light-heavyweights Friston Kabamba and Jade Karam put on an entertaining four-rounder with Karam edging it via split decision: 39-37, 37-39, 39-37.