If it’s power you want, you’ll get it. If it’s slick boxing you want, you’ll get it. And if it’s a mixture of excitement and tension you crave, you’ll get that too.
The “Showstoppers” tournament at Emperors Palace on Sunday has a blend of everything, not least the inclusion of some of SA’s best aspirants. A chunk of them were SA amateur champions, now seeking their way as pros, while fighters like Kevin Lerena, DeeJay Kriel and Ashley Dlamini are all seasoned campaigners.
“We’ve gone for solid match-ups designed to be explosive,” said Jeff Ellis, who put some of the bouts together. “There are some real gems there.”
Ahead of a major announcement on Sunday regarding his future, Lerena is matched against Sergio Ramirez, a feisty Mexican who has made it known he wants Lerena’s world ranking. The South African cruiserweight is on the cusp of big things, so anything other than a conclusive win could be considered a let-down.
The fight that really has people talking is the SA welterweight title clash between champion Shaun Ness and rising hot shot Thulani Mbenge. Ness is an old school fighter, an honest workaday pro who has paid his dues. Mbenge is the flashy upstart with power in both hands and a rare charisma.
This ought to be the toughest outing of Ness’ career, but, equally, this will be a stern gut check for the talented Mbenge.
The Gauteng junior-lightweight title fight between Lucky Monyebane and Ashley Dlamini is similarly poised: Monyebane is the exciting prospect; Dlamini is the experienced old hand. Monyebane brings pressure and intensity, not to mention a busload of boisterous fans from Hammanskraal, while Dlamini is an all-rounder who knows exactly what to do.
Popular Kriel is matched tough against Xolisa Magusha at strawweight. Magusha is a rising star from the Eastern Cape, but he’ll be stepping out of his Eastern Cape stronghold for the first time to face a man for whom Emperors is like his own living room. Expect a high-paced, entertaining fight.
The rest of the bill is rich with promise. Anton Gilmore and Brian Mitchell have sung junior-middleweight Troy de Paiva’s ability to the heavens. We’ll know soon enough.
The same is true of Ricky Tshabalala, the SA amateur champion who looked sensational when taking out his pro license. There’s more, too, with Rowan Campbell and Jay Jay Sonjica also on show in what looks to be a spectacular Sunday afternoon bill.
The action starts at 2pm and will also be broadcast live on SuperSport 9.