Ex­its of Big Daddy and KO Kid her­ald exciting times for lo­cal box­ing

CityPress - - Sport - PULE MOKHINE pmokhine@city­press.co.za

The de­par­ture from the lo­cal scene of for­mer cham­pi­ons Os­borne “Big Daddy” Machi­mana and Kevin “KO Kid” Ler­ena will make the heavy­weight and ju­nior heavy­weight di­vi­sions as vibrant as they were more than a decade ago.

This is the view of Box­ing SA rat­ings com­mit­tee chair­per­son Wil­lie Saay­man af­ter Machi­mana and Ler­ena re­lin­quished their ti­tles. They va­cated their South African heavy­weight and ju­nior heavy­weight crowns, re­spec­tively, early last month to fo­cus on pur­su­ing in­ter­na­tional ti­tles. Big Daddy had held the na­tional heavy­weight crown since May last year af­ter knock­ing out An­ton Nel in four rounds at Birch­wood Ho­tel, Boks­burg. KO Kid had reigned supreme in the ju­nior heavy­weight class since 2015.

The two have de­cided to set their sights on a path that will ul­ti­mately see them fight for world ti­tles.

As na­tional ti­tle hold­ers, they have not been very ac­tive as there were no wor­thy foes to de­fend against.

Saay­man, who is in charge of com­pil­ing monthly rat­ings for lo­cal box­ers, be­lieves the ab­sence of both fight­ers as na­tional ti­tle hold­ers will give the cur­rent crop of con­tenders in both di­vi­sions a chance to fight reg­u­larly, and will re­sult in qual­ity champs and con­tenders en­ter­tain­ing the crowds.

In the past, the heavy­weight class saw big punch­ers such as Cor­rie San­ders, Fran­cois “White Buf­falo” Botha and Sam Ubokane, who were huge draw­cards dur­ing their era.

San­ders knocked out Johnny du Plooy in the first round at the Sun City Su­per­bowl in 1991 to win the va­cant South African heavy­weight ti­tle. He also held the World Box­ing Or­gan­i­sa­tion belt, which he took from Wladimir Kl­itschko via a sec­ond-round tech­ni­cal knockout in Hanover, Ger­many, in 2003.

White Buf­falo beat Ger­man Axel Schulz by a unan­i­mous points de­ci­sion to snatch the In­ter­na­tional Box­ing Fed­er­a­tion heavy­weight crown in Stuttgart, Ger­many, in 1995. Botha was later stripped of his belt af­ter test­ing pos­i­tive for steroids. Ubokane was a promis­ing heavy­weight who car­ried a big punch and drew crowds to his bouts. Un­for­tu­nately, he did not man­age to win a ti­tle.

In 2006, the ju­nior heavy­weight cat­e­gory had exciting pugilists in the mould of Soon Botes, An­dre Thysse and Wise­man Dlomo.

The cur­rent crop of heavy­weights com­prises num­ber one con­tender in Gaut­eng Ruann Visser; the oth­ers are Marc Subra­money (sec­ond, KwaZulu-Natal), War­ren le Roux (fifth, Gaut­eng) and Danie van Heer­den (eighth, Gaut­eng).

In the ju­nior heavy­weight divi­sion, Johnny Muller and Thabiso Mchunu are listed first and sec­ond re­spec­tively in con­tention for the cham­pi­onship that was va­cated by Ler­ena. Muller and Mchunu will slug it out for the African Box­ing Union cruis­er­weight belt at Em­per­ors Palace on Satur­day.

“With the de­par­ture of Machi­mana, the South African heavy­weight divi­sion is go­ing to be very vibrant, like it was many years ago, be­cause these con­tenders are very tal­ented. They just need to be kept as ac­tive as pos­si­ble by pro­mot­ers,” said Saay­man.

He said the ju­nior heavy­weight class would also be exciting in the next few months.

“Muller is a top con­tender, while Mchunu is sec­ond. It will be nice if pro­mot­ers could just al­low the two guys to fight for the va­cant na­tional ti­tle. This is the fight that the pub­lic want to see,” said Saay­man.

Machi­mana said Ven­ter would hope­fully make the weight cat­e­gory if he won the na­tional ti­tle.

“Look, I ba­si­cally re­lin­quished the crown for him to fight for it and win it. Now that I’m no longer cham­pion, I would like to see this divi­sion be­ing more ac­tive, like it was many years ago,” said Big Daddy.

KO Kid said he had given up his belt so that he could fight Rus­sian Maxim Vlasov for the va­cant In­ter­na­tional Box­ing Or­gan­i­sa­tion in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal belt at Em­per­ors Palace on Au­gust 12.

Ler­ena also hopes the divi­sion will be more daz­zling now that he is no longer in the pic­ture.

“I think Thabiso [Mchunu] is good enough to win the crown. I would like to see him be­ing matched against Muller,” he said.

PHOTO: JB GRADIDGE / N-SQUARED

CON­TENDER Ruann Visser (left) in ac­tion against George Tshi­manga in a six-round bout in 2015

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