In a major coup for Golden Gloves, Tommy Oosthuizen will headline the bill at New York’s famed Madison Square Garden against big hitting WBA middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin on January 19.
Golovkin will move up in weight to challenge for Oosthuizen’s IBO super-middleweight belt in a bout to be broadcast live on HBO.
Only a handful of SA boxers have ever fought at the venue, among them Willie Toweel, Zolani Petelo and Corrie Sanders. However, this is believed to be the first time a South African will top a major bill at the venerable arena.
It’s an extraordinary shot in the arm for SA boxing and underscores Oosthuizen’s status among boxing cognoscenti. What’s more, it gives the IBO real legitimacy given the stage and the two protagonists involved.
Golovkin may not be widely known, but he’s one of the hottest properties in world boxing following his most recent title defence against Gregory Proksa.
With 21 knockouts in 24 fights, he is a vicious puncher and rated a star of the future. Indeed, reports this week spoke of a host of fighters ducking out of a potential Golovkin match-up.
Said his manager Tom Loeffler: “The response from Gennady’s last fight has been sensational and we know the boxing world is very interested in when he is fighting again.”
Promoter Rodney Berman was delighted. “This is the sort of fight that could elevate Tommy into a legitimate superstar. It also proves that fighters make the boxing organisations, not the other way round. The IBO has been very good to Tommy and deserves its good standing. He will do it proud.”
Naturally, this windfall places greater pressure on “Tommy Gun” to produce the goods at Emperors Palace next weekend. He’s up against a tough hombré in Fulgencio Zuniga and will have to emerge strongly to keep the Golovkin fight on track.
“The news is still sinking in,” said Berman. “But this could rank as one of SA boxing’s most pivotal moments – Tommy fighting before a massive US television audience against one of the top pound-for-pounders out there. I’m predicting this will be Tommy’s coming out party. The world will know his name after January 19.”