A return to title contention is the big prize that awaits the winner of this weekend’s African Boxing Union and SA cruiserweight title fight between Thabiso Mchunu and Johnny Muller at Emperors Palace.
The pair headline the all-action “Hurtin’ for Certain” tournament that will be broadcast live on SuperSport 4 and 9 from 8.30pm.
Mchunu is rebuilding after defeat in a championship shot against former Olympic champion Oleksandr Usyk and Muller is looking to work his way into the top 15 after winning, and then losing, against top 10-ranked Kevin Lerena.
World Boxing Council vice-president Houcine Houichi will be ringside with the winner all but guaranteed a place in the top 15 of the WBC.
The bout offers a fascinating contrast in styles. From his side-on southpaw stance, the short, muscular Mchunu is fast and difficult to hit, utilising movement to dominate opponents.
Muller is the archetypal brawler, although his skills are often overlooked, as he demonstrated in the first fight with Lerena. He’s as tough as they come and will press the action against Mchunu, who surprisingly has been priced by the bookmakers as a narrow underdog.
Simpiwe Konkco, the always-exciting IBO strawweight champion, defends his belt against Lito Dante of the Philippines on the undercard. Dante comes from the hard streets of Valenzuela City and showed tremendous form in upsetting undefeated Jay Loto earlier this year.
Word from Konkco’s camp, however, is that he is in tip-top shape and looking to make a big statement.
Meanwhile KO specialist Thulani Mbenge, who has yet to go the distance in 10 pro fights, faces his toughest test against world number 15 Jay Inson, also of the Philippines.
Mbenge is an electric talent with fast, heavy hands, but he’ll need to demonstrate intelligent boxing to get past Inson, who has no fears of fighting in Africa after upsetting a Japanese favourite in his back yard recently.
There’s a potential “war” on the undercard between SA super-middleweight champion Lee Dyer and local contender Alfonso Tissen, who will be contesting the ABU belt.
Dyer is a vicious body puncher and loves a good tear-up which will suit Tissen, who loves a good scrap and has a rock-hard chin.