By Wolfgang Schiffbauer
For the 55th time, Ulf Steinforth’s SES-Boxing staged a big boxing show. This time, in their hometown of Magdeburg, Germany. Around 5000 visitors came to the Bördelandhalle to see heavyweight Timo “The German Oak” Hoffmann lose a hard-fought split decision against WBF titlelist and four-time heavyweight title challenger “The White Buffalo” Francois Botha from South Africa.
The fans at ringside whitnessed a heavyweight slugfest from the very first to the twelth and final bell. Hoffmann started as the aggressor, moving Botha into the ropes and unleashing with combinations. He did not use his reach advantage, which turned out to be a deciding factor. For a moment, though, it looked like the “White Buffalo” would not stand a chance against the German local hero. However, Botha quickly proved that he can not be underestimated as he all out of sudden connected with massive overhand rights to the chin of the challenger.
The fight developed into a give-and-take battle, technique went out of the window in the first couple stanzas. For some rounds, Hoffmann dictated as he put the pressure on his foe, in other stanzas it was Botha who connected with powerful shots right on the chin of the “German Oak”. Both combatants fought on even terms for most of the time.
That is until the championship rounds. After a impressive barrage of explosive punches, Hoffmann went down hard in the eleventh. The 34-year-old recovered but went down again in the twelth. It seemed like the referee would have stopped the contest at this time and Botha was already celebrating. However, the referee ruled it a slip and the battle continued. The South African still went forward relentlessly but was not able to archieve the knock out. Therefore, after twelve hard-fought, spirited heavyweight round, the judges had to declare the winner. Two officials scored it 117-110 and 114-113 for Botha, the third had Hoffmann ahead 114-113.
Botha’s huge ralley in the last two rounds was the deciding factor, making him the deserving winner. Hoffmann tried his best but walked into too many right hands by his foe. Although having an iron chin, the shots had to take their toll on the German. And they did. Late. But they did. Francois Botha retains his WBF belt and moves to 47-4-2. Hoffmann, on the other hand, felt short in another big fight, falling to 36-7-1.
The co-feature at the Bördelandhalle saw former world title challenger Robert Stieglitz scoring a impressive win over hard-hitting Jindrich Velecky and moving another step towards a second crack at a championship belt. The #8 ranked WBC contender at supermiddleweight controlled the fight and his opponent from the opening bell. Stieglitz was too quick, too accurate, just too good for Velecky. Time and time again, the German connected with hard shots at will. However, knowing about the knock out power of his opponent, he did not take unnecessary risks and therefore went the distance of ten rounds en route to a clear cut unanimous decision. A dominant display of boxing skills by Robert Stieglitz, who upped his record to 35-2 and came one step closer to his dream of winning a world title. The very tough Velecky falls to 16-6.
Slovenian Jan Zaveck made his comeback to the ring in Magdeburg after losing a disputed split decision in November of 2008 in a European title bout to Rafal Jackiewicz. Ranked #8 by the IBF at welterweight, Zaveck scored a easy victory over journeyman Arek Malek from Poland in preparation for a international title affair in a rematch against Jorge Daniel Miranda on June 19 in Maribor, Slovenia. Miranda and Zaveck fought to a no-contest in 2007 after the Slovenian suffered severe cuts and was unable to continue after three rounds. Zaveck dominated the tune-up bout against Malek from the get-go, outboxing and outfighting his tough foe. In round five, Zaveck once more suffered cut in his career, this time over the left eye. Knowing this feeling, the Slovenian continued to do his work just as he did before and cruised to a six round unanimous decision. With the win, he moves to 26-1. Malek falls to 5-19-2.
Fan favorite Oliver Güttel was held to a controversial draw by unknown Anthony Ukeh from Nigeria. The SES fighter had a good first round but Ukeh uppered his pace and volume in the second, controlling the action from that point on. Güttel was not able to work out a plan to overcome the aggressive Nigerian. After six, the crowd and experts agreed that Ukeh should have gotten the nod. When the draw was announced, the fans errupted into loud boo’s. As Ukeh, who’s record moves to 3-2-1, raised his hands, the crowd cheered him like the winner. Güttel moves to 16-1-1. The WBC youth welterweight champion went into the non-title fight as a clear favorite and looked like the loser afterwards.
German light middleweight Rico Müller had a short night of work as well, knocking Demir Nanev down twice en route to a first round t.K.o. win. Time was 1:14 minutes. Müller moves to 7-0-1 with six knock outs. The Bulgarian Nanev falls to 10-27-1.
Coming back from a world title loss to Ina Menzer in January, Dutch boxing-beau Esther Schouten returned to winning ways in Magdeburg with a stoppage win over Marina Kohlgruber from Cologne, Germany. A perfect right hand provided the first knockdown of the night, as Kohlgruber went down early in the second. Quickly after, Schouten pinned her in the corner with a barrage of punches, leaving the referee no choice but to call a halt to the action. The official time was 2:44 seconds. The former world champion improves her record to 23-5-1 and might be in line for a rematch against Menzer. Their first battle was a brutal all-out affair and one of the best women’s boxing bouts in some time. Marina Kohlgruber falls to 1-5-1.
Making his professional debut, German Christoph Woditschka scored a first round t.K.o. over countryman Richard Zwang, who falls to 0-3. The stoppage seemed premature, but it was obvious that Woditschka was the better fighter and on his way to a more devastating knock out victory. The time was 57 seconds.
In an interesting opening bout, local favorite Tommy Altmann barely kept his unbeaten record with a very close split decision over tough journeyman Pietro d’Alessio. Although being the better technican, Altmann was over-powered by his foe, who was the aggressor through-out the battle. The 19-years old welterweight was hit with wild and wide but powerful hooks by d’Alessio in most of the rounds, moving backwards. He did, however, score himself with some sharp and quick combinations. His precision might have saved him the victory, as d’Alessio often missed the mark with his shots. Altmann moves to 8-0, while d’Alessio felt to 8-8-1.