Although Guy Fawkes’ failed attempt to blow up the British Parliament is traditionally celebrated on the 5th of November, there will be loads of fireworks on the 4th this year when Gairy St. Clair, 38-3-2 (17), makes the first defense of his IBF/IBO junior lightweight world title at Emperor's Palace in Kempton Park, South Africa. St. Claire, who won the titles at the same venue by outboxing Cassius Baloyi on the 29th of July this year, will be facing a fiery fighter in Malcolm Klassen,18-3-2 (10), a classy, supremely well conditioned boxer with a wide array of punches in his arsenal.
He is currently the South African featherweight champion and looks to have all the makings of a world beater. Having said that he has never beaten anybody of real significance and moving up a division to challenge a fighter of St. Claire's experience and ability is certainly a big leap. Looking great and outclassing average opposition does not necessarily mean that he is ready or capable of doing the same against the likes of the world champion.
Let's face it, even if Baloyi was just having a bad night, he would still have beaten an average world title challenger. The fact is St. Clair wanted the title and did what he needed to do to claim it and he did it against Baloyi; he is thus no ordinary boxer himself. Most pundits were shocked at Baloyi's out of character and dismal performance against St. Clair, so much so that when it was announced that the two would face each other in a rematch some went as far to say Baloyi lost the fight on purpose in order to cash in on the rematch. Of course there is also the fact that sometimes you can only fight as well as your opposition allows you to.
I had, in all honesty, mixed emotions about there even being at the rematch between the two. Even though I believe Baloyi has superior abilities and would defeat St. Clair 6 out of 7 times, his performance in their fight did not scream “rematch” to me. Why should people pay to see a second fight in order to see the fight they wanted to see the first time around? In any event, Baloyi and promoter Rodney Berman could not come to terms for the rematch and so Klassen gets his shot. In all likelihood Baloyi will get a crack at the winner of the St. Claire – Klassen fight and if the real Baloyi rocks up, he'll win it, irrespective of who he faces.
St. Claire will have the advantage over Klassen in every respect except that the champion has more holes in his defense than the challenger. The champion showed he does have a solid chin, however, but Klassen can pack a solid punch. The two have a similar all-action style and this bodes well for fight fans. This should be a cracker with a lot of leather flying. Both have above average skills, but Klassen has not been tested against the caliber of opposition the Australian-based fighter has. Whether or nor the South African has the firepower to stop his man remains to be seen. If not, he could be the one watching the fireworks display from the canvas. I can't see this one going 12 rounds. St. Claire must be the favorite, but don't write Klassen off just yet.
Also on the St Claire – Klassen bill, former IBO bantamweight world champion Simon Ramoni will face Tanzanian Mbwana Matumla for the vacant IBO junior bantamweight world title. Matumla defeated Ramoni two years ago to win the WBA Pan-African title. Matumla was initially scheduled to face another former IBO champion in Silence Mabuza. Mabuza, who is coming off a loss to IBF kingpin Rafael Marquez, withdrew saying he did not feel comfortable moving down in weight for the fight.
Danie Venter, 8-2 (6), who won the national cruiserweight title against a shot Earl Morais a few months back challenges Hungarian Gyorgy Hidvegi, 11-1-1 (8), for the WBF cruiserweight world title on the same bill. Neither fighter brings anything special to this one, except that they can bang, and neither has a spectacular defense, so it should be an early stoppage either way. In other WBF action on the bill, Poland’s Albert Sosnowski will meet Australia’s Bob Mirovic for the WBF world heavyweight title. Rounding off the five “world title” fights is an IBO mini flyweight clash between Nkosani Joyi and Filipino Armand De La Cruz.
In other action Isaac Hlatswayo, 25-0-1NC (9), faces Kendall Holt, 20-1 (12), early in November in Atlantic City for the NABO and WBO intercontinental junior welterweight titles. This is a welcome move for Hlatswayo to his natural weight. Although he claimed the IBO lightweight world title, the fact that he was staying in a division he had outgrown was affecting his performances.
Another IBO titleholder, Takalani Ndlovu, 26-3 (17), continues his march to a credible world title challenge when he takes on the experience Ricardo Castillo, 27-2 (17), in Mexicali, Mexico on November 17. Both men are rated in the top-ten by the IBF so a win by either is sure to advance their respective chances of challenging for the title. Although Ndlovu will be fighting Castillo in front of the Mexican's home crowd, he is a firmly focused fighter who is not easily affected by fighting on foreign soil.
Prior to Mikkel Kessler's three-round demolition Saturday night of Markus Beyer, Dingaan Thobela predicted that the Danish powerhouse would stop the German champion. “Kessler's a very talented boxer,” said Thobel,a “and he's got a solid punch.” Thobela went 12 rounds with Kessler a few years back and has always had great respect for him. Thobela returns to the ring October 27th, following a two year layoff, when he challenges Soon Botes for the South African light heavyweight crown. “After I beat Botes I'll relinquish the title and campaign as a super middleweight,” Thobela said. “I would love to get back in the ring with Kessler and this time I'll be ready for him.”