Boxing, belts & bids to light up Emperors

Ready for battle – tonight’s boxers geared for action at Emperors Palace. Pic: N-Squared

Tonight’s “Reach for the Stars” event has percolated for months. In several hours, the talking stops and the chase for titles and bragging rights gets real.

There are two SA championships on the line, the unveiling of a fresh-faced prospect and another test for former amateur star Jay Jay Sonjica.

Rowan Campbell has been a pro fighter for less than two years, but tonight he faces a real gut check against Renson Hobyani, a tough campaigner from Limpopo who is determined to make his moment under the lights count.

The pair fight for the SA super-middleweight title.

Hobyani can blow hot and cold, but if he brings his A game, he could make life difficult for Campbell. Key to this contest could be Campbell’s power. He can hit hard and if he gets an opening, he might dismantle his opponent’s challenge, especially as Hobyani’s two defeats were by KO.

On the undercard, the highlight is a bout for the interim SA middleweight belt, so-named because the champion (Barend van Rooyen) is under a doping cloud and his situation is unresolved.

No matter. It’s still an exciting fight. Wynand Mulder is never backward in coming forward and unbeaten Wade Groth is happy to box or engage in a tear-up.

After a long build-up, Durban’s Keaton Gomes will step out of the shadows to make his cruiserweight debut against Moses Bila. Gomes has been on an accelerated training programme under Peter Smith and will be expected to demonstrate a touch of class as he makes his pro bow.

Notwithstanding his laidback image, he hits hard and will want to put on a show to justify Golden Gloves’ investment.

Sonjica, the junior-featherweight, will be going for win number five, against Deon Mbumbana, while the show opener will be a junior-welterweight four-rounder between Jabulani Makhense and Siya Mabena.

Ahead of the bout there will be an auction of top-class memorabilia, including gloves signed by Gennady Golovkin, Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua, and a special tribute to long-standing boxing writer Ron Jackson.

The fights start at 7 (there is no live TV).