Tommy Oosthuizen answered the first big question of his latest comeback when he won a majority points decision over Thabiso Mchunu in their cruiserweight fight at Emperors Palace on Saturday night.
Both 30-year-olds were at the proverbial crossroads of their careers, but it was Oosthuizen who came away with the lightly-regarded ABU cruiserweight belt with a 115-113, 115-113, 114-114 points verdict. With the scores being made public at the completion of the fourth and eighth rounds – and then after the final bell – it was the man they call ‘Tommy Gun’ who was leading from early in the fight.
But this was never a contest about the ‘title’; the performance and result were the only things that mattered. It wasn’t a spectacular show, which was understandable given both are essentially counter-punching southpaws, but the pattern of the fight was established early.
Oosthuizen is 1.93m tall, and enjoyed a 13cm height advantage and significant reach advantage over the man they call ‘The Rock’ and the smaller fighter simply wasn’t able to get within range often enough to trouble his opponent.
A slow start didn’t help Mchunu either, with the impression being that he was expecting Oosthuizen to tire later on in the bout and then take advantage. But Oosthuizen, a troubled individual from Boksburg, who was earlier in his career being groomed at world honours, came into the ring after a 16-month lay-off in good shape.
He used his fast hands and good footwork to his advantage around the ring and didn’t allow himself to engage at close quarters with Mchunu, who was losing for the fifth time in 24 contests and for the fourth time in his last seven fights.
Oosthuizen has been in trouble with the law on several occasions in the past and had spent time in jail between his previous fight – the only defeat of his 31 bouts – last May and on Saturday night. He knows he is at the last chance saloon and this was a good, if unspectacular, ‘comeback’.
It had been rumoured that the reward for the winner, now Oosthuizen, would be pitted against the unbeaten Kevin Lerena in what would be an intriguing showdown.
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