Despite a tough economy and ever-challenging conditions in local boxing, Rodney Berman is able to reflect on a year of growth and terrific fights.
With a mix of high-end shows and development tournaments, Golden Gloves produced the goods for a variety of fans, always with the aim of delivering outstanding fights.
Sunday was one such example with the Mzi Mnguni tribute tournament giving thrills from first minute to last.
“It’s been a great year,” said Rodney Berman, while conceding that Golden Gloves isn’t done yet – there’s one show to go, at Emperors Palace on December 1. “All our events were exceptionally well attended and unearthed a wealth of young talent. For me the most gratifying has been Lucky Monyebane, a product of our Dikebu-Golden Palace initiative. The youngster can really fight.”
He also points to the talent being discovered in the Smiths, HotBox and Hammer gyms in Gauteng where youngsters are constantly honed for the pro ranks. One such example is welterweight Thulani Mbenge, who will be showcased again on the “Christmas Cracker” event. He’s fast moving out of the prospect ranks to contender status.
Berman has also been taken by the emergence of Kevin Lerena, not least because he has shown real maturity in the ring despite no amateur experience to speak of. His triumph in the Super Four was testament to his work ethic. Berman will continue to push his claims with the various boxing organisations.
Berman plans to feature him again in February and then expose him to a US audience on a Banner Promotions event on Shobox.
“I will not be influenced or deterred by the armchair critics and experts. He’ll be brought along by his trainer [Peter Smith] at our pace. He certainly won’t be a talent wasted.”
The promoter was blown away by the performance of Simpiwe Konkco against Nkosinathi Joyi on Sunday, the IBO champion producing the performance of a lifetime. It wasn’t just that Konkco was masterful, it was that he has improved immeasurably since signing with Colin Nathan. More’s the pity he wasn’t carefully managed early on in his career.
Berman has committed to doing as much as he can to secure him a unification bout.
Of the other big names, Berman says Hekkie Budler just has to show the form of his recent fight as he approaches 2017 while Xolisani Ndongeni can back up his recent US performance with a repeat showing Stateside early next year.
Not forgetting hard man Ryno Liebenberg, who has copped poor decisions in his two recent fights but refuses to be deterred. Whether or not the Enrico Koelling fight materialises, Golden Gloves has committed to giving him further opportunities.