Fighters face festive fury

Dangerous Khayeni Hlongwane fights Youssef Mwanza of DRC on Monday.

The last major tournament of the year in Gauteng goes down at Emperors Palace on Monday evening with the traditional “Christmas Cracker”, which never disappoints.

Promoter Jeff Ellis throws together some of the best young talent around and what results is inevitably an all-action festival that perfectly rounds out the year.

In the headliner, Joshua Studdard makes a welcome return to the palace of dreams when he fights Lemogang Mapitsi in a 10-round bantamweight clash. When he’s on song, Studdard is a joy to watch, his fast hands and work to the body roundly appreciated by his big fan base.

Unfortunately, illness has scuppered Johnny Muller’s appearance, so he’s been replaced by local warrior Khayeni Hlongwane, who goes in against the DRC’s Youssef Mwanza. It’s difficult getting a line on Mwanza’s form given that he had a number of early pro fights in his native DRC.

Word on the circuit, though, is that he means business and will be in Hlongwane’s face, which, of course, the South African won’t mind at all – he was the man who sparked once highly-touted Flo Simba in the heavyweight’s final bout. He also famously sparked Junior Makabu in one round in Makabu’s debut nine years ago and lost a points decision to current IBO champion Kevin Lerena in 2013.

The much-awaited cruiserweights fight between Chris Thompson and Josh Roos is also off after Roos suffered a hand injury in training, which requires an operation, which takes place on Tuesday. Thompson, though, gets to go against another novice fighter in the shape of Katende James Tshibuabua of DRC.

Not forgetting unbeaten super-middleweight Rowan Campbell, another popular staple at Emperors, who faces a real gut-check in the formidable shape of Jackson Masamba from the DRC.

The action starts at 7pm. There is no live TV. A limited number of tickets are available from Jeff Ellis on 078 457 3030.