Thabiso Mchunu was introduced to me, for a phoner, as the “great and powerful” Thabiso Mchunu, by the superb Main Events publicity chief Ellen Haley.
I made a joke about presuming that this South African cruiserweight contender turning out to be more substantive than the other dude we think of when hearing that “great and powerful” line, the Wizard of Oz, who turned out to be a charlatan working with a bag of tricks including special effects and a booming sound system.
Mchunu (age 26; lives in Cato Ridge, SA, a predominately Zulu region; has two children, still lives with parents) started boxing at age eight, after following his dad, who worked as a cop in South Africa, to a gym, and watching dad smash a heavy bag.
He had success as an amateur and then turned pro in 2007. He fought in his homeland and then for the first time, hit the US, and made a decent-sized splash. His UD10 win over Eddie Chambers told people that Mchunu was something better than a C plus grade hitter. It remains to be seen how high his celing is. In his last outing, in January, he scored another UD10, this time over Olanrewaju Durodola (17-1) in a flip a coin scrap of which you see a fair number of on Main Events/NBC cable shows.
On Saturday night, you can see for himself Mchunu's upside; he takes on 13-7-1 Garrett Wilson at Foxwoods, with a Karl Dargan-Angino Perez fight underneath.
Wilson has one of those records that may or may not be deceiving, depending on how closely you have followed his career. Is he a legit 13-7, or could he be 18-2, and got screwed over because he wasn't connected? He comes in off back to back losses, to Alex Alekseev, and then Czar Glazkov, a bout he entered into as a late fill-in.
Mchunu told me he respects Wilson but “I will take him to a place he has never been.”
The South African said we can expect him to both lead and counter, be versatile, show hand speed, movement and power.
His promoter, Kathy Duva, filled me in on how Mchunu came to Main Events. “We found Thabiso when his promoter from South Africa, Damian Michael, began to call (matchmaker) Jolene (Mizzone) and ask if she would put Thabiso on one of our cards,” Duva told me. “He called frequently and said that Thabiso would fight absolutely anyone. So when Eddie Chambers decided to move down to cruiser and Jo had a hard time finding anyone who would agree to face him, Jo called Damian's bluff. Turns out he wasn't bluffing!”
Duva is a fan of his personality, as well as his ring skills. “He is charming, articulate, extremely talented, and a true 'bad-a**.' He actually will fight anyone and we love to work with guys who welcome a challenge. “
Longer term, he's got the bluster of the Wizard. Asked who he targets next, should he down Wilson, Mchunu said, “I can defeat any of the fighters who have cruiserweight titles. The Polish fighter, Hernandez, any of them. They haven't dealt with anything like me.”
Duva concurs. “In my opinion, Thabiso is a blue chip prospect for whom there are no limits. He wants to take on all the champions in the division, and I expect he will defeat them. I would not be surprised if Thabiso ended up owning his division with the next couple of years.”
Here is a release which went out which fills you in on the Dargan clash, and the air date for the card:
Dargan vs. Perez Scouting Report:
Who Will Win In A Battle of Speed Versus Power?
“Dynamite” Photo Credits: Rich Graessle/Main Events
Mashantucket, CT: Undefeated lightweight contender Karl “Dynamite” Dargan will face a fierce rival when he takes on Angino “The Nightmare” Perez on Sept. 20, 2014 at Foxwoods Resort Casino and live on the special afternoon edition of Fight Night on NBC. Dargan's biggest asset is his speed but Perez has power in his arsenal. Who will win this battle of speed versus power? Below is the scouting report for the Junior NABF Lightweight Championship:
Karl “Dynamite” Dargan
Age : 29
Record : 16-0 (8 KOs)
Strength : Dargan is a good technical fighter with great hand speed. He is very elusive, making it tough for opponents to hit him.
Weakness : At 16-0, he has not faced the class of fighters that Perez has faced.
Experience : Dargan had a long and successful amateur career. He also trained with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and “Sugar” Shane Mosley.
Power : His power comes out during his flurries of punches, seen in his last fight when he knocked out Anthony Flores in the fifth round.
Speed : Dargan has the speed advantage in both his hands and his feet, his speed may be his biggest asset on offense and defense.
Endurance : Dargan has been ten rounds just once in his career, when he defeated Michael Brooks in late 2013. His endurance is yet to be tested.
Accuracy : Dargan possesses effective accuracy; he picks his shots wisely and is a great counter-puncher.
Defense : Dargan is a defensive fighter who has never been stopped. His defense may be the best part of his game.
Chin : Dargan has been down in his career before but has managed to rise to the occasion and remain undefeated.
Style : Dargan is a technical fighter with great defense and counter-punching abilities.
Age : 31
Record : 16-5 (14 KOs)
Strength : Good height and reach advantage with knockout power in both hands, 14 of his 16 wins have all come by way of knockout.
Weakness : Perez has five losses and has been stopped in three of them, so his chin is a concern.
Experience : Although he came up short in all of them, Perez has been in the ring with current champions and former title challengers such as current WBA Lightweight Champion Richard Abril, Carlos Molina, and Ashley Theophane.
Power : Perez has the advantage in power, having recorded 14 knockouts in 16 victories.
Speed : Perez has average speed.
Endurance : Perez has only been past the fourth round once (in 2012 in a ten-round unanimous decision loss to Carlos Molina), so his endurance is still a question.
Accuracy : Angino possesses average accuracy, he throws a lot of punches but does not pick his shots as well as Dargan.
Defense : Perez has a tendency to throw wide and looping punches that can leave him open for Dargan to take advantage.
Chin : All three of Perez's stoppage losses were in bouts at higher weight classes, so he may have an edge fighting at lightweight.
Style : Perez likes to utilize his size and reach to keep you on the outside, as well as mixing in flurries of punches to overwhelm his opponents.
The Match-Up :
Will Dargan be able to demonstrate that he's ready for bigger fights?
Will Perez be able to handle Dargan's speed?
Will Dargan be able to handle Perez's power?
Will Perez's drop in weight class help or hurt him?
“The Nightmare” Photo Courtesy of: Sweatbox Boxing & Fitness
Main Events' CEO Kathy Duva said, “'Dynamite' Dargan is right on the cusp of becoming the next big thing in the lightweight division. An impressive win against Angino Perez will put him over the top. Perez has a style that will be entertaining for fans and could be dangerous for Dargan, as well as experience against elite fighters. This is a great match up for NBC that I'm sure Fight Night fans will enjoy.”
About September 20:
The Sep. 20th special afternoon edition of NBC Fight Night will take place at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, CT and will feature a ten-round cruiserweight match-up between Thabiso “The Rock” Mchunu and Garrett “The Ultimate Warrior” Wilson for the NABF Cruiserweight Title and a ten-round lightweight match-up between Karl “Dynamite” Dargan and Angino “The Nightmare” Perez for the Junior NABF Lightweight Title. The undercard bouts will be announced shortly. Tickets are $100, $75 and $40 and are available through Foxwoods.com and Ticketmaster.com. The card is presented by Main Events, Peltz Boxing and Showpony Promotions in association with Banner Promotions. The special NBC Fight Night broadcast will begin live at 3:00 PM ET/12:00 PM PT.
NBC Sports Live Extra:
NBC Sports Live Extra: NBC Sports Group's live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, and tablets – will live stream Fight Night at 3 PM ET/12 PM PT on September 20. For desktops, NBC Sports Live Extra can be accessed at NBCSports.com/liveextra. The NBC Sports Live Extra app for mobile devices and tablets is available at the App Store for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, and on select Android handset and tablet devices within Google Play.