By Ron Jackson
Photo: Jeff Ellis
Ryno Liebenberg and Johnny Muller who meet for the vacant IBO All Africa light heavyweight title at Emperors Palace, Kempton Park on Saturday night, top the bill in what could be one of the best tournaments put together in recent years. Former SA light-heavyweight champion Muller (11-1-2, 8 KOs) has tough task on his hands against the rising star in Liebenberg who is unbeaten in 8 fights with 5 coming inside the distance.
Muller won the vacant light heavyweight title in November 2010 with an easy first round stoppage win over Ronnie Lategan. He made a successful defence against Roedolf Venter and then lost the title when he was smashed to defeat in the third round by Tshepang Mohale. Since this setback he has scored wins over Donald Kapamba and Khayeni Hlungwana.
Liebenberg who made his pro debut in July 2010 won his first five fights inside the distance which included a sixth round knockout against Tshepang Mohale in a ding-dong affair. He won his next two fights against Ramis Ilunga and David Basajjamivule on points before coming of age when he outpointed the cagey Tineyi Maridzo in July this year. In what could be a real slugfest the bigger punching Liebenberg could have the edge.
Budler makes first defence
Hekkie Budler (20-1, 6 KOs) will be making the first defence of his IBO strawweight belt when he faces the hard punching and more experienced Filipino Florante Condes (25-6-1, 21 KOs). Budler who does all the right things in the gymnasium with his trainer Colin Nathan tends to lose his way in the heat of battle and could pay the penalty against his more experienced southpaw Condes.
The 32-year old Condes from Romblon in the Philippines won the IBF minimumweight belt in July 2007 and eleven months later lost it to Raul Garcia on a split decision. In June 2009 he was outpointed by wide margins by South Africa’s Nkosinathi Joyi when challenging for the IBF minimumweight belt in East London. Since that setback he has had two fights stopping Kenichi Horikawa (20-8-1) in seven rounds and beating Wanheng Menayothin (16-0) on points in a bout for the WBC International silver minimumweight belt.
Super 8 Semifinals
In the first bout of the Super Eight cruiserweight semi-finals Florante Simba (12-3, 10 KOs) of the DRC who is based in South Africa and Thabiso Mchunu (11-1, 9 KOs) meet in a rematch over ten rounds after the controversial first round stoppage by referee Tony Nyangiwe which resulted in Mchunu winning on a first round technical knockout in their first fight. This is a crossroads fight for both fighters who have not realised their potential after showing promise at the start of their careers.
In the other semi-final of the Super Eight competition the powerful and lesser experienced but heavier punching Zack Mwekassa (13-2, 12 KOs) also from the DRC meets a rejuvenated Danie Venter (13-5, 9 KOs). It is an intriguing matchup between the boxing skills of Venter who is possibly in the best condition ever since he joined the professional ranks, against the power and youth of Mwekassa. Mwekassa whose defence is leaky at times could be upset by Venter whose pin point punching and accurate shots could upset the odds.
In the opening bout of the evening the 31-year-old Sipho Taliwe (15-2, 10 KOs) defends his WBC International junior lightweight title against the veteran former IBF junior lightweight champion Mzonke Fana (31-4, 13 KOs). Provided Fana who will 39 years-old on October 29 does not get old in the ring he should have too much skill for his lesser experienced opponent.
The tournament is presented by Rodney Berman of Golden Gloves Promotions.