Boxing Snippets

September 1 is all about the look, says savvy Smith

Sean Smith has been in the game long enough to know that sometimes winning isn’t enough.

Nowadays, it’s often about the optics. Does it look good? Is it exciting? Will fans come back?

This is why he believes the biggest challenge on September 1, when his boxer, Thabiso Mchunu, takes on Tommy Oosthuizen, is not merely to win, but to win well.

“It must be fan-friendly. Thabiso must show he can compete at the highest level under the bright lights,” said the trainer of the ABU cruiserweight 12-rounder. “But it could be difficult; Tommy might spoil if he feels Thabiso is stronger.”

It’s tough to get a line on the contest. Both boxers have their supporters and each fighter brings very different skills and mindsets to the event.

What Smith knows is that Mchunu feeds off the momentum of having recently fought at home several months ago. He enjoys the rhythm of his daily rituals amid familiar surroundings. Smith believes he’s a better fighter for it, too.

He doesn’t buy into the loose talk that it’s not a worthwhile fight for Mchunu given that Oosthuizen is no longer ranked. Smith says he’s picked up the buzz around the fight and even the comments that while Mchunu is by far the bigger man, Oosthuizen has his believers.

“People say he’s the favourite, so I guess it’s a good match. This is a fight we really want. When people like the WBC ask about a fight’s quality, we must be able to say it was exciting. Thabiso will bring it, for sure.”

Mchunu has mixed up sparring, having used Thulani Mbenge for speed and southpaw angles and Chris Thompson for size and power. Thompson, the cruiserweight prospect, used to spar with Oosthuizen and has a fairly good idea of what he brings to the fight.

They’ll pick up some other work in the days to come, but for now, confidence is surging through the Smith camp.

They know that a win over Oosthuizen, one of SA’s most gifted fighters, will bring them plaudits. Better still, it would give them relevance in a division that’s on the move.


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