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Double Trouble in South Africa

BY Deon Potgieter ON February 20, 2005
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East London has been the biggest breeding ground of champions for South Africa for over a decade and on Friday, February 25, two more of its favorite sons will be looking to further climb their way to the top of world boxing in front of their home crowds.

Former three-time world champion Masibulele “Hawk” Makepula and Gabula “Tiger” Vabaza will be vying to claim the WBC super flyweight international and the WBA intercontinental junior featherweight titles respectively.

Makepula, who has held the WBU and WBO junior flyweight and the IBO flyweight world titles, will be facing Rolly Lunas from the Philippines in what is a must win bout for him. It has long been Makepula’s dream to hold one of the more respected world titles and hopes that by winning the WBC international title it will open doors to finally get the opportunity. He came bitterly close in 2000 when he lost a highly controversial points decision to Irene Pacheco in an IBF flyweight world title.

Although he’s only 31, Makepula looks to be a little disillusioned and needs a big win to revitalize his dreams. Lunas, a former OPBF champion with 16 wins, 4 losses and 9 KOs, is unlikely to give Makepula, with 24 Wins, 3 losses with 17 KOs, too much trouble. I don’t see this one going past 8 rounds.

The main event will be between former WBU super flyweight world champion Vabaza and former WBC bantamweight international champion Roger Galicia, also from the Philippines. This bout promises to be an exciting affair and offers the not often seen matchup of two southpaws.

While I haven’t seen Galicia in action, he holds a 12-round points win over Eric Barcelona, who I have seen, and going on that he must be pretty good. Barcelona is a class act who is very capable of winning a world title in the super flyweight division. Like Barcelona, who recently moved out of his natural weight class to challenge for the IBO bantamweight world title, Galicia will be moving from the super flyweight division to challenge for a junior featherweight title.

This tactic of bringing boxers up from lower weight divisions, albeit small weight differences, to challenge at a higher weight was used to great effect by the likes of “Prince” Naseem Hamed, who fought many opponents who were just too small and too light to stand up to his punching power.

Vabaza, with 19 wins, 1 loss and 15 KOs, is a solid puncher and is likely to be too strong for Galicia who has 23 wins and 4 losses with 8 KOs. While I’m not at all a supporter of these kinds of matchups, if a boxer is a class act, he could still win even with the slight disadvantage.

It does sadden me, though, that promoters continue to use these kinds of tactics to give their boxers an edge. It saddens me even more that the world’s sanctioning bodies condone these actions. I’m not even raising the fact that in his last 3 outings, Galicia’s record is 2 losses and a draw. Sounds like a worthy contender for a WBA continental title. Besides these points, Galicia should put up a good show against the talented Vabaza, who is coming off a six month suspension for allegedly smoking grass.

Vabaza should smoke Galicia.

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