Motau comes on strong

BY Deon Potgieter ON August 29, 2006
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Everybody loves to see a knockout and boxers who deliver them on a regular occasion are most often the biggest fan favorites. Even if the majority of the fight is fought with little entertainment value, the fact that the knockout could come at any moment makes the fight worthwhile. It’s the anticipation which keeps fight fans enthralled, until the big bomb lands. When we watch the boxer’s highlight real of knockouts we forget we had to sit through a number of dull rounds to get there.

Funnily enough people in general remember this style of fighter way longer and with more relish than the classy boxer who wins his fights on points, even though that stylish boxer could defeat the big banger 9 out of 10 times. And which fight would be the fan favorite – that’s right, the one that ended by KO.

Kgotso Motau, who won the vacant South African middleweight title on Friday night at the Nasrec indoor arena in Johannesburg, is one of those fighters who engenders excitement because he possesses a sleep producing punch.

Motau stopped Simon Mokoena (12-7-4) in the 11th round to claim the title after also having his man down in the second. This was the new champion’s 9th professional fight and his 9th win via the short route. He represented his country as an amateur at the Commonwealth as well as the Olympic games in Athens, but was not amongst the medal-winners.

Although he has dynamite in his left hook, Motau is not the most skillful boxer around. Mokoena did show good durability by hanging in with the younger less experienced man and was on the receiving end for the majority of the fight. This was the first time Motau ever went past five rounds and the extra work did him good.

He certainly does bring some charisma to the ring with him and there is always a tangible underlying excitement amongst the spectators when he fights, brought on largely by the anticipation of seeing him drop his man.

Motau needs more experience against a tougher level of opposition as in all honesty he hasn’t really been tested, and while his punching power looks impressive, its easier to knock a dent in a tin can than a plate of steel. He has proven that he has more to offer than the average middleweight in the country, but how will he perform against formidable opposition?

Pressure is mounting on Gabula “The Tiger” Vabaza who faces Canadian Steve Molitor on Friday night at the selfsame Nasrec indoor arena in a bid to win the vacant IBF super-bantamweight world title. With news that Cassius Baloyi’s proposed rematch with Gairy St. Clair for the IBF junior lightweight world title has been put on ice, Vabaza is no seen as the man who needs to bring back a credible title to the country.

Bolstering the main event there will be three national title fights on the undercard. Lucky Lewele and Thabo Mashishi will contest the vacant welterweight title. Joseph Makaringe earlier relinquished the crown to focus on his International career. Lewele is a former national junior welterweight champion.

Another eagerly anticipated clash is the national bantamweight title fight between champion Simon Ramoni and Zolile Mbitye. Both are former IBO world champions and have had a fierce rivalry over the years. They faced each other once before in an exciting fight which Ramoni won on a close points decision.

Mavhuso Nedzanani also defends his national junior flyweight title against Charity Mukondelleli. Nedzanani is a talented boxer, who has tremendous potential and would not be out of place in the world title arenas. All in all this is one of the better bills put together in recent times, perhaps only hampered by the lack of international opposition in the lineup.

Former WBA and IBF junior lightweight world champion Brian Mitchell is being honoured as South Africa’s fighter of the century on September 5th at a gala dinner at the Emperors Palace in Kempton Park. Mitchell, who know lives in Florida in the US, won the WBA title in August 1986 when he stopped Alfredo Layne in 10 rounds.

He went on to defend the title 11 times before drawing an IBF/WBA unification bout against Tony Lopez in Sacramento in March 1991. Six months later he returned to Sacramento to defeat Lopez on points to win the IBF crown.

What made Mitchell’s reign all the more impressive was the fact that while he was WBA world champion, he was not permitted to defend his title in South Africa. This meant all his defenses were on foreign soil. The fact that he had to travel all over the world to retain his crown led to him earning the nickname of the ultimate road warrior.

The only loss on his record was a controversial points decision to Jacob Morake early in his career. The two met on another three occasions after that. Mitchell won the first on points, the second by KO, and the third and fourth encounters also by KO. Tragically, on going down in their last fight, Morake snapped his neck on the bottom rope and died shortly thereafter.

Mitchell contemplated retiring from the sport following his death, but Morake’s family encouraged him to continue. “Morake was a great fighter,” says Mitchell “It was just unfortunate for him that he was at the same time as me. Had he been in another era he would have been a champion.”

Mitchell retired following the second Lopez fight, but returned three years later, won two fights at junior welterweight and then hung up his gloves for the last time. His record was 45-1-3 (21 KOs). He turned his hand to training and was very instrumental in Cassius Baloyi’s career and in Harry Simon defeating Winky Wright to win the WBO junior middleweight world title.

Namibia’s Harry Simon, who retired from boxing due to injury sustained in a fatal head on motorcar collision a few years ago, is reportedly back in training and hopes to return to the ring later this year or early in 2007. Simon was allegedly driving under the influence when he drove into the car of a German family who were on holiday in Namibia.

Simon was always regarded as his own worst enemy. With an abundance of talent and at one time the boxing world at his feet, he basically blew it. There will be interest in his return, but the tragedy he inflicted on an unwitting family will never be forgotten.

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