When winning the South African super middleweight title five years ago, few thought Andre Thyse (18-4, 10 KOs) would be able to hold on to it for long, yet he’ll be making the eighth defense of crown on October 2 and has proven himself a worthy and very capable boxer. He is in fact one of the most underrated yet consistent performers in South African boxing at present. This is largely due to his appearance. You’d rather peg him as a motor mechanic or just your average looking everyday working-class citizen who enjoys potting a few beers watching sport on TV than a professional boxer.

What you see is deceiving however. The Thyse of today is a very experienced fighter with a solid chin and a heart which never quits. His only loss to a fellow countryman was a 6 round point decision against Samson Khoza in his sixth outing as a professional. He avenged that defeat three fights later by stopping Khoza in 10 rounds for a provincial title and won the national title in his next bout by stopping Thabiso Mogele in 9 rounds.

Four successful title defenses later he was matched against the big hitting Briton David Starie for the latter’s Commonwealth title. Starie, then rated #2 by the WBC, was at the time being touted as the next big thing in the division and few gave Thyse a chance. A sensational fight followed in which Thyse had his man down and easily took the fight on points over 12 rounds. As boxing goes it was Starie who then received the better opportunity by being rewarded with a bout against IBF/WBA world champion Sven Otke ahead of Thyse. Starie lost on a closer decision than against Thyse and then retired from boxing.

Given Thyse’s style, which is not too dissimilar from Otke’s, the South African would have had a better chance at a victory than Starie, who in fact was a poorly equipped boxer with nothing but a big punch. Following his win over Starie, Thyse challenged another big hitter in Brian Magee for the IBO version of the title and lost on a 10 round TKO. Styles make fights and undoubtedly a Starie-Magee encounter would have made more sense and an Otke-Thyse match would have been a more intriguing affair. Why I’m throwing the two together is because at the time both were promoted by Rodney Berman and both Thyse and Staries’ futures could have been different had the correct matches been made. Of course the champions also decide who they want to face and probably opted for the easier matches.

Following his loss to Macgee, Thyse did receive an opportunity to challenge Markus Beyer for the WBC title, but fell short and lost a points decision over 12 rounds. He slipped in a successful national title defense and then took on Mikkel Kessler for the WBC international title. Kessler stopped him in the 11th round.

Considering a move up to the light heavyweight division, Thyse challenged Erasmus Magwaza for his national title. Boxing South Africa decreed that they would not sanction a title fight as it was Thyse’s first fight in the heavier division. (This inane rule has since been removed.) Thyse still took on Magwaza in a non-title fight and stopped him with brutal precision in the 8th round.

Thyse decided to remain a super middleweight however and made two more defenses of his title, the last being against an impressive young gun on the horizon, Daniel Bruwer, on the undercard of the Isac Hlatswayo-Cassius Baloyi encounter in August. The Thyse-Bruwer fight was one of the most entertaining and gripping fights I have seen in a very long time. It was a clash between a young bull with dynamite in his hands and a veteran who needed to draw on every ounce of experience he had to defeat his challenger. Truly a remarkable encounter with both men showing tremendous heart and in the end it was Thyse’s cast-iron jaw and his ability to adapt and use his superior experience to outfight his young and very hungry opponent. If Bruwer continues to improve as he has been doing, this youngster (21) has a fantastic future ahead of him and could well be amongst the titleholders in the near future.

Thyse will be facing Andile Tshongolo (16–10, 9 KOs) in his 8th defense in a fight that’s been two years in the making. Tshongolo has proven himself in the local ranks but has campaigned abroad with little success. He did hold the WBU intercontinental middleweight title as well as the WBO Intercontinental super middleweight title, but lost his last fight against Josef Nagzy when challenging for the WBA International middleweight title in Hungary.

But Tshongolo is a proud man and will be looking to reaffirm his status by claiming the title against a respected champion. Thyse is coming off a tough fight, but also carries with him an incredible heart and experience rivaled by few.

There were no surprises on Friday night when Muvhuso Nedzanani (15-1-3, 9 KOs) stopped the veteran Ayanda Ramncwana (21-10, 11 KOs) in the 9th round in defense of his national junior flyweight title at the Nasrec indoor sports arena in Johannesburg. There were those opposed to the 44-year-old Ramncwana receiving a title shot against the 23-year-old champion from the outset, but considering the challenger is a former IBO intercontinental champion there was an argument in his favor.

The older man resorted to using his head and was warned for head butting repeatedly by the referee. Even though he was behind on points and had visited the canvas earlier on in the fight, it was somewhat unexpected when the challenger went down in the ninth round from a left hook and failed to make the count.

While age should not be held against boxers who are still physically sound and have the skills to deliver the goods, a victory against such men counts little in my book. Other than an experience gaining exercise and insuring the champion of another payday, it matters little in the big picture of things. All credit to Ramncwana that he can still make the weight at his age and to put the work in prior to getting into the ring. Many younger man lack that discipline and as we all know the older you get the tougher it gets.

All eyes will now be on Nedzanani’s next move in a division which has spawned many great South African fighters the likes of Baby Jake Matlala, Hawk Makepula, the late Mzukisi Sikali and Zolani Petelo, to name a few.