Three SA boxers throw punches for two world crowns

2011-09-17 15:09

Three South African boxers engage in two world title fights that will separate the men from the boys in different countries on Saturday.

Celebrated Chris van Heerden faces recently vanquished Kaizer Mabuza for the vacant International Boxing Organisation (IBO) welterweight crown at Emperors Palace.

And Gideon Buthelezi, a dual IBO kingpin, challenges Mexican Adrian Hernandez for the World Boxing Council (WBC) junior flyweight title in the champion’s backyard.

On the surface, Van Heerden is the favourite as he is still celebrating his victory over Bongani Mwelase at Emperors Palace three months ago.

The unorthodox Van Heerden was at his best, giving Mwelase, who was once believed to be a potential international star, a boxing lesson in an IBO eliminator.

Should he reproduce the same form, Mabuza’s dream of wearing the IBO belt will become an illusion.

Van Heerden’s record suggests inexperience compared to Mabuza’s, though in fact it is more impressive than the veteran’s.

Van Heerden has stopped 10 of his 16 adversaries, losing one fight and drawing one. On the other hand, Mabuza has ex-changed more blows than his opponent and has met foes of a better quality.

He has had 27 battles, winning 17 (14 on knockouts), losing seven and drawing three.

Mabuza failed to seize the more credible International Boxing Federation junior welterweight title from deadly American Zab Judah six months ago.

The South African put up a terrific performance, hurting his rival in earlier rounds but failed to press his advantage and was ultimately taken out in round seven.

Mabuza will need to be supremely fit against Van Heerden, sustaining the earlier form that almost made Judah involuntarily count the stars.

Should Mabuza be durable, a masterpiece can be expected against the clinical Van Heerden, and fans will be kept in a frenzy throughout the 12 blistering rounds.

Hernandez makes his first defence since winning the title on an 11th round stoppage against compatriot Gilberto Keb Baas.

Buthelezi will have the advantage of having Elias Tshabalala in his corner, a man who has previously barked instructions to two South Africans assigned to WBC confrontations.

Tshabalala was initially an understudy to Nic “Mthakathi” Durandt when Thulani “Sugarboy” Malinga seized the super middleweight crown from Englishman Nigel Benn in England 15 years ago.

Tshabalala went on to ­single-handedly mastermind Dingaan “The Rose of Soweto” Thobela’s corner when he dethroned Briton Glenn Catley for the super middleweight title in 2000.

That exposure should have prepared Tshabalala for Buthelezi’s assignment against Hernandez in Mexico.

Should Tshabalala successfully shepherd Buthelezi to victory – which is not an impossibility – South Africa will celebrate its third WBC champion.

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