By Ron Jackson
Johnny du Plooy one of South Africa’s most charismatic and exciting fighters died in Primrose on the East Rand on Friday morning after suffering from heart problems in recent years. He was 48.
Johnny who was born on September 27, 1964 was an outstanding amateur and won the South African heavyweight championship in the years 1982, 1983 and 1984 before joining the professional ranks on April 27, 1985, scoring a first round knockout over Sephonia Naile.
DuPlooy who was promoted by Rodney Berman of Golden Gloves Promotions then racked up 17 victories in quick time with 15 of those wins coming inside the distance. This included wins over international fighters like Stanley Ross, Mike Jameson, Steve Zouski, David Jaco, Kevin Porter, David Bay, James Tillis, Tyrone Booze and former IBF cruiserweight champion Ricky Parkey.
In November 1987 at the Rand Stadium in Johannesburg he suffered his first loss as a professional when he retired at the end of the sixth round against former WBA heavyweight champion Mike Weaver when he claimed that he had injured his hand.
After this setback he returned to action with wins over James Broad and a second round knockout victory over Mike Weaver in a return match.
Then in a lacklustre performance he fought to a draw with James Pritchard and lost under controversial circumstances against Renaldo Snipes in Milwaukee, USA when he went down in the seventh round without being hit and indicated to the referee that he did not want to continue.
Setting the controversy aside he won his next three fights before meeting Italian Francisco Damiani for the vacant WBO heavyweight title in Sicilia, Italy.
DuPlooy was knocked out at 1:43 of third round and was most disappointed as he was reported as saying that for first time in his career his preparation had been 100%.
On August 4, 1990 he met South African heavyweight champion Pierre Coetzer in a non title fight at the Sun City Superbowl in one of the most explosive heavyweight fights seen in South Africa.
There was a lot of needle as both fighters came out throwing bombs from the first bell in what was believed to be the biggest money fight in South African boxing history. Coetzer was left bleeding with blood streaming from a cut on the left eyelid.
In the second round DuPlooy impressed as he jolted Coetzer’s head back with lefts and rights, culminating in a big right hand that sent Coetzer crashing down to the canvas.
Coetzer was not that badly hurt and as DuPlooy stormed in intent on a knockout he was knocked down with two vicious left hooks, one to the side of the head and the other to the jaw. He managed to beat the count but soon afterwards went down again from another left hook.
DuPlooy managed to beat a the count but was in no condition to continue as referee Stan Christodoulou waived the fight off at 2 minute 46 seconds into the round.
Even though the fight lasted less than six minutes it was awarded the King Korn/Boxing World Fight of the Year for 1990.
After this setback Johnny came back to score victories over Tom Tomashek and Philip Brown before being knocked out in the first round by Corrie Sanders in a challenge for the South African heavyweight title in July 1991.
After this setback Johnny retired from the ring but subsequently had two more fights winning inside the distance against Samson Mahlangu in June 1993 and Benjamin Manyube on June 15, 1997. He finished with a record of 27-5-1, 22 KOs.
It what was possibly an apt description a journalist once wrote “Physically he has all the macho requirements of a matinee idle. Yet beneath the handsome, sun-tanned exterior bristles an untamed, spit in your face product as rough and resolute as the hard-bitten Ellis Park suburb from which he sprung.”