Oosthuizen relinquishes title

Tommy Oosthuizen (Gallo Images)
Tommy Oosthuizen (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - One-time Golden Boy of South African boxing Tommy Oosthuizen has relinquished his IBO super-middleweight title and vowed to resurrect his wavering career in the light heavyweight division.

The 26-year-old boxer, who has plummeted from hero to zero after experiencing ongoing weight and personal problems, on Friday described himself as "a champion without a belt."

The WBA generously elevated him to number-four contender for their light heavyweight title before he has fought in this heavier division.

Promoter Rodney Berman, who cut all ties with Oosthuizen after he failed to honour numerous commitments, said the rift with the boxer had now been healed.

"He has to show that he has turned the corner and is now serious about doing justice to his ability," Berman said.

Berman said no decision had yet been taken as to whether to include Oosthuizen in the Super Six light-heavyweight tournament due to be held later in the year.

This would pave the way for what could be an eagerly-awaited clash against the WBC's sixth-ranked Rayno Liebenberg.

"Deeds not words will decide the issue and I could be swayed by popular opinion," Berman said.

"If the public want to see an Oosthuizen-Liebenberg confrontation, we'll have to take note but there are other considerations as well."

After Oosthuizen withdrew from a proposed fight in Canada earlier in the year because of a motorcycle accident, Berman announced he would cut ties with the fighter.

Oosthuizen's weight had ballooned to a point where he might have struggled to even to make the light heavyweight limit.

He has since undergone a rehabilitation programme and was reunited with long-time trainer Harold Volbrecht, who said Oosthuizen had regained his zest for training and was already in good shape.

"With no comeback fight yet finalised, I've had to curb his training routines so as not to reach peak fitness too soon," Volbrecht said.

Despite his problems and indifferent form in his most recent bouts, Oosthuizen has yet to be beaten, with a record of 22 wins and two draws.

He also defended his IBO super middleweight title on seven occasions and was in line to challenge for even more prestigious honours in this division before the decline set in.

Oosthuizen is the second leading South African champion to relinquish his IBO title in recent weeks but for different reasons.

Former IBO welterweight champion Chris van Heerden said he was seeking honours in one of the more acclaimed boxing organisations and transferred his activities to the United States where he has already won two fights.

He also took a swipe at South African boxing for the limited opportunities afforded to even the leading fighters, pointing out that he had been inactive for the best part of a year and had only fought three times in the last two years.

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