Boxing Snippets

‘Mexican style’ crushes Knapp’s dream, but Koopman wins big

Roarke Knapp had a plan – but he hadn’t reckoned on Jorge Garcia Perez’s vicious left hooks.
On Saturday night, the popular South African was meant to be acclaimed as the new IBO junior-middleweight champion; instead, he was sensationally knocked out in the third round at Emperors Palace.
Everything had looked to be in place for Knapp’s coronation. His camp had been spot-on, he had the home crowd on its feet and he started strongly. He even buzzed his Mexican opponent in the second round, his educated right hand having done its job from the very start.
The taller Perez, who had looked unthreatening, was deceptively fast and powerful, although his record of 24 stoppages in 29 wins should have spelled danger.
It all fell apart for Knapp in a dramatic third round. Perez was so quick that the right hand that clipped Knapp in the third, which sent him tumbling, was ruled a slip by referee Deon Duarte.
The shot ought to have activated survival mode in Knapp. Instead, the moment only inspired Perez, who came on strongly with a savage attack. A big left hand to his head was the beginning of the end for Knapp, who absorbed several follow-up punches before another cracking left hook sent him to the canvas.
He struggled manfully to regain his senses and his footing, only to collapse whereupon he was counted out, an unimaginable, devastating loss that represents a significant blow to his ambitions of mixing it with the division’s big guns.

Shervantaigh Koopman was the quiet man of the junior-middleweight division, but he made some noise on the undercard with a measured defeat of Wendy Toussaint in their 10-rounder for the IBO Intercontinental championship.
Although Toussaint had his moments, and was excellent on the counter, his volume was seldom enough as he slipped to a unanimous points defeat by scores of 98-92, 96-94 and 97-93.
Koopman started slowly and it was a cagey affair through the early rounds with neither fighter claiming the upper hand. By the sixth round both were into an easy rhythm. Koopman found his shots with relative ease, but if there was a failing it was that he seemed reluctant to let his hands go.
In the seventh, promoter Rodney Berman was urging Koopman to cut Toussaint off, but he never quite managed it, allowing the visitor’s movement to make it a more difficult fight than he’d have liked.
But Koopman’s poise and steady pressure were virtues against the seasoned Toussaint, who came well prepared but never quite had the answers for the crafty South African.

Little Beaven Sibanda lived up to the hype as he put together a spirited performance to outhustle and outbox Siphamandla Baleni in their eight-round strawweight bout.
In just his seventh professional fight, Sibanda looked like an experienced veteran as he put together combinations, showed excellent footwork and boxed at cute angles to secure the win.
The man they call the “Flame of Zimbabwe” never had it easy as Baleni delivered on his promise to make life difficult for him. He tried to set traps and maintained a steady workrate, working Sibanda hard.
But the pocket rocket was the aggressor, his neat, compact southpaw style a treat on the eye and a tough challenge for Baleni, who had no complaints with the result.
Bedecked in gold trim, the Zimbabwean brought the shine and reaffirmed promoter Rodney Berman’s faith in him as a looming star.
Two scores of 79-73 were spot on, with the third handing in a 77-75 card.


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