White Buffalo mauls the Black Panther
Fransie Botha proved too big, too strong and certainly too experienced as he sensationally chopped Flo Simba down in six rounds at Emperors Palace on Saturday night. What was supposed to be the coronation of a new king turned into a disaster as the beefy youngster opted to slug it out with a slugger and paid the ultimate price. Caught backing up and on the ropes in the sixth, he sucked up a succession of right hands and appeared to stumble. Badly dazed, he was out on his feet as the referee waved the action off, giving Botha a TKO win. It was a massive setback for the 21-year-old, who tasted his first defeat against the wily veteran.
He now needs to go “back to school” to reconstruct his career, but thankfully he is both young and talented enough to do so. Simba’s tactics were bewildering. Instead of utilising his superior speed and movement, he often chose to mix it up with the vastly heavier former world champion. Botha’s right hand was a dangerous weapon all night and he unloaded it often on the unsuspecting prodigy. By the second round Botha was already in his groove, taunting Simba that he wasn’t quick enough. Using his size to good effect, Botha swarmed all over Simba and wasn’t above fouling, at one point even attempting to trip him over.
Botha’s experience was vastly superior and he used his ring nous to good effect, dipping and feinting and closing down the space. Like an ageing warrior, he knew every trick in the book. Sadly, Simba did not. He often flailed with his punches and neglected to cover up. The warning signs were there in the fourth when he ate plenty of right hand leather. Moreover, he foolishly invited Botha in and was rewarded with more punches than he would have liked to the head. But he initially withstood the attack well and his workrate was good. Simba was best when he opened up and threw combinations, which flustered Botha, but at no point did he unduly trouble the 42-year-old.
When the end came it was as sudden as it was devastating. Two early right hands had been a portent of things to come, but when Botha lowered the boom halfway through, the shock among the audience was palpable.
The Black Panther hadn’t only been beaten, he had been savaged.
‘Tommy Gun’ outlasts Gare
Tommy Oosthuizen won as he pleased on the undercard, outboxing and outfoxing veteran Wiliam Gare over 12 underwhelming rounds. It was the first defence of his IBO super-middleweight championship. Gare had been expected to be a sacrificial lamb, but he fought with great confidence and ability, stalking his man from beginning to end. Oosthuizen is a superb counter-puncher, however, and he used his terrific handspeed to subdue Gare’s ambition.
Aware that he wasn’t likely to outbox the champion, Gare was always looking for an opportunity to land squarely, but such opportunities were rare. He managed to open a cut above Oosthuizen’s eye in the seventh, but that was no more than a hindrance as the flashy champion boxed smartly. Oosthuizen was unusually susceptible to the right hand, but Gare lacked the power to make it matter. Oosthuizen won a unanimous decision (116-112, 117-111, 119-110), but the margins were unkind to Gare, who deserved better.
Back to school for Muller
In a devastating setback, SA-light heavyweight champion Johnny Muller was relieved of his title in brutal fashion as SA super-middleweight champion Tshepang Mohale KO’d him in the third round. Muller fought entirely the wrong fight as he neglected his defence and threw big bombs against a man who not only threw big bombs back, but did so better. Muller’s chin has always stood up well, but not this time as he was dropped in the third for an eight-count. He was on wobbly legs when he recommenced the action, only to have the swarming Mohale smash into him with a right to the jaw that sent him sprawling. Referee Wally Snowball never even bothered to count, while Muller was left to pick up the pieces after an all-too-sluggish effort.
‘The Heat’ reigns supreme
In the best fight of the night, southpaws Chris van Heerden and Bongani Mwelase put on a supreme tactical display that mixed in blood and guts with equal measure. Mwelase had been expected to dominate Van Heerden with his natural boxing ability, but the SA welterweight champion displayed an improved defence and superior workrate to outhustle and outbox the celebrated former amateur star. Matters were even through the first five rounds, but Van Heerden’s relentless style meant Mwelase was unable to box and score from the outside and he was sucked into close-quarter battle where he stood no chance against the rugged champion.
The fight was billed as an eliminator for the IBO welterweight title. Notwithstanding the enmity between the pair – they had nearly come to blows at the pre-fight medical – the two embraced at the start of the 12th and suitably ended matters with a flourish of punching. The judges got it spot on with scores of 116-112, 115-113 and 116-113.
Undercard action . . .
SA cruiserweight champion Thabiso Mchunu had a harder time than expected against Danie Venter, winning a majority decision over eight rounds via scores of 78-74 (twice) and 76-76. It was a fascinating clash of styles, with the short, squat champion throwing punches on the inside while Venter smartly fought at a distance. The challenger was very good defensively, but was well worked over, especially on the inside, and did well to survive the distance. Meanwhile, Bongo Lipemba continues to improve rapidly and the muscular junior-lightweight had little trouble dispatching Samson Ndlovu inside a round.