Bantamweight tyro Joshua Studdard was sensationally upset by little-known Rofhiwa Nemushungwa at Emperors Palace last night, dropping a split decision after starting like a house on fire.
Topping African Ring’s excellent “Christmas Cracker” card, Nemushungwa cocked a snook at his underdog status by establishing a furious pace and coming on strong in the second half of the fight. Although Studdard was the aggressor and did some excellent work inside, he ran out of ideas as the fight wore on and was unable to make the necessary adjustments.
Southpaw Nemushungwa, trained by Alan Toweel jnr, used his superior reach well and stood toe-to-toe as the pair exchanged furious blows, not least in the seventh and nine rounds, when the fans roared their approval. It was a disappointing night for Studdard, who had trained hard and was desperate to get back in the win column after losing his previous fight at the casino venue.
Scores were 97-93 (Nemushungwa), 96-94 (Nemushungwa), 93-97 (Studdard).
Unbeaten super-middleweight Rowan Campbell and game Jackson Masamba produced the fight of the night, a rousing six-rounder that looked comfortable on the cards – 59-55, 59-55, 60-54 – but was anything but.
Masamba, of DRC, brought his A-game and pushed Campbell hard from the off, but the flashy fighter from the Smith gym was up for this particular gut-check. He took a few cracks along the way, demonstrating a solid chin, but his excellent fitness pulled him through. Masamba was lucky to be fighting at all, having weighed in heavy, but Campbell was so keen for action, he agreed to go ahead.
Campbell is likely to be rewarded for his excellent form by securing a place on the big March 3 event at Emperors Palace.
“He looked brilliant,” said promoter Rodney Berman.
Cruiserweight Khayeni Hlungwane was a late replacement for Johnny Muller, stepping in against Kozanga Mwanza Youssef, who won easily enough over eight rounds: 77-75, 78-74, 77-75.
Unfortunately Hlungwane fought as if he had a bus to catch, seldom engaging and showing little of the ambition that once saw him beat Junior Makabu and Flo Simba.
Youssef pressed hard, walking Hlungwane down, but he lacked the firepower to get rid of him. Muller was an interested spectator and no doubt felt comfortable on the outside seeing how busy and accurate the DRC fighter was.
Earlier, southpaw cruiserweight Chris Thompson produced his customary good performance as he blew away Katende James Tshibuabua in the second. Using his height and reach well, the youngster asserted himself early and fought on the front foot throughout. Tshibuabua retreated early and was in survival mode from the start, quite happy to have the action waved off when shots were raining down on him in the second.
In the show opener, debutant Michael Markram looked smooth and steady as he took care of business in the second round against McLeod Nkhoma.
Cruiserweight Markram mixed up his game and broke Nkhoma down with a sustained attack that saw him mercifully stopped on his feet.