Inspired by Roy Jones Jr.’s achievement of winning world titles from middleweight up to heavyweight, former 3-time world champion Dingaan Thobela has decided he wants to do the same thing, but at a lower level.
Having already scaled the heights by winning two credible lightweight world titles in the early 1990’s (WBO and WBA) and then moving up in weight to win the WBC super middleweight crown in 2000, this veteran has set his sites on claiming the South African titles from super-middleweight up to heavyweight. Thobela also destroyed then WBF junior welterweight world champion Kenny Vice in a non-title bout in 1995, as well as Walter Daneff for the vacant IBO welterweight world title in 1999. He couldn’t claim the title, though, as he came in overweight for the fight.
“I definitely won’t take on international bouts in the heavier weight divisions, I’m not looking to fight Vitali Klitschko,” says Thobela. “But on the local front I feel confident that I can beat the four national champions in these divisions.” Thobela has previously held the SA junior lightweight, as well as the super middleweight titles and has never lost to a fellow South African. A record he intends keeping until his retirement, which if all goes to plan will be in 2 years time following his bid at winning SA’s heavyweight title.
The men who currently hold the titles Thobela (40 wins, 12 losses, 2 draws, 26 ko’s) is after are: former WBC contender and Commonwealth champion Andre Thyse (15 wins, 4 losses, 9 ko’s) at super middleweight, Erasmus Magwaza (8 wins 8 ko’s) at light heavyweight, Baldwin Shiakale (13 wins, 5 losses, 2 draws, 11 ko’s) at cruiserweight and Anton Nel (15 wins, 8 losses, 3 draws, 11 ko’s) at heavyweight. “I’ve worked with most of these boys and have either sparred with them or with guys they’ve fought,” says Thobela. “I know what to expect from each of them and will have no qualms moving up the ranks to fight them.”
No longer the noted stylist he was in his prime, Thobela is still accredited as having the best uppercut with either hand ever seen in a South African ring and speed few could match. He has also always been known to carry a deceivingly hard punch. Just ask Glen Catley, whom Thobela knocked out to win the WBC super middleweight title on September 1 2000. Catley never fully recovered from the beating he took at Thobela’s hands and following the fight claimed that Thobela hit him so hard that it felt as though he was being hit with an ashtray. (How Catley knew what that feels like remains a mystery).
The 2000 onwards Thobela, of course, no longer has the quick footwork around the ring, but is still very ring-wise and lands punches with precision and power. Even as a lightweight he had the ability of knocking bigger and heavier opponents down and dropped former 3 time super-middleweight world champion Sugar Boy Malinga in sparring while he was champion. In 2000 Thobela also dropped former WBU cruiserweight world champion and 2 time SA heavyweight champion Jacob Mofokeng in sparring. Mofokeng in turn demolished Anton Nel to win the title for a second time. “I will still take International bouts in the Super-middle - and even middleweight divisions,” says Thobela. “Who knows, there may even be another world title in my future, but I know my career is approaching its end and I would like to make history at least one more time before hanging up my gloves. Winning these 4 national titles would do that and it would give me something to train hard far. You don’t get that opportunity when all you receive is short notice fights and being a stepping stone is not something I want to go out as.”
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV