SA boxing: ‘Colourless’

Last weekend’s comeback fight of undefeated former South African heavyweight champion Osborne “Big Daddy” Machimana against Elvies “The Elevator” Moyo was flat.

This provoked talk about the questionable quality and competency in this division.

Machimana’s lack of punching power, movement and his overall poor display for a man who held the SA title for about six years before vacating it without a loss in 2010 left a big question mark.

What has happened to what was once the most exciting division, renowned for making sparks fly?

Why does it now look like such a joke?

On the local front, things are worse than the global slump, proof of which is the domination of the Klitschko brothers Vitali and Wladimir, who have monopolised the heavyweight world titles over the past decade.

Even Boxing South Africa (BSA), in its latest ratings documents admitted that weight classes from cruiserweight up are in tatters.

The document reads: “Boxers are rated more for visibility and marketing purposes than talent, potential, record, activity and experience.”

Independent sports consultant and veteran boxing commentator Dumile Mateza believes that heavyweight greats such as Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier set the bar too high for today’s generation.

SA had its own colossal superstars in Gerrie Coetzee, Kallie Knoetze, Jacob Mofokeng and the late Corrie Sanders to name but a few.

Mateza explained: “The character and the will possessed by former heavyweight champions is a foreign thing in today’s boxers.”

According to him, the situation can only get better when promoters try out creative ways to revive the excitement the division was known for in the 80s and 90s.

He added that last year’s Super8 tournament, organised by Rodney Berman of Golden Gloves Promotions, which mainly featured heavyweight fighters, was a step in the right direction and that other promoters should follow suit.

A sentiment which is echoed in the BSA ratings that “perhaps a project similar to the Super8 that would include all the heavy-weights in the top 10 that would inject some excitement among the big men”.

However, Mateza maintained that the underlying problem is that “many trainers never boxed as heavyweights and them training in the division makes no sense”.

Former World Boxing Foundation title holder Frans “The White Buffalo” Botha described the local heavyweight class as one that “is in a shambles” and is “colourless”.

He said: “Fighters in SA are not hungry enough and do not want to work hard. It’s no secret that ours is a dead and colourless heavyweight division.”

The 44-year-old shunned the SA title from the start of his more than 20-year-long career and instead advanced his talent in the international arena, where he enjoyed some success against the best opposition in the world.

Reigning local champion Wiseman Dlomo has been inactive. He last defended his title in 2011 and his champion status is almost meaningless, given the lack of competition.

Machimana, currently ranked fourth in SA, remains the only possible threat to Dlomo but if his recent showing is anything to go by, coupled with the champion’s inactivity, a fight between the two would hardly generate much interest.

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