By Ron Jackson
Two boxers with a combined age of 89 years meet for the vacant SA heavyweight title in Bloemfontein on Saturday night. Hein van Bosch and Anton Nel, who have won 27 and lost 27 professional bouts between them, are scheduled to meet at the Free State Sports Science Institute Hall. Nel was 45 years old on July 9 and Van Bosch will be 44 on January 27. Their combined age is probably some sort of record for a national title fight. And does reflect on the state of heavyweight boxing in South Africa. The title became vacant when Wiseman Dlomo failed to renew his licence.
Boxing SA’s sanctioning of the bout between Nel and Van Bosch could and should be questioned. Nel’s professional record stands at 16-11-3, including 12 wins inside the distance. Van Bosch will come in at 11-16, with 4 shortcut wins.
Neither fighter has been particularly active during the past seven years. Nel had three fights during this period. Kali Meehan knocked him out in the third round but he then knocked out Pieter Cronjé in the first before being knocked out in the fifth by Dlomo.
Van Bosch was stopped by Denis Boytsov, lost to Sean Santana on points over four rounds and beat Sithembile August, who had one victory and two defeats behind his time at the time.
Van Bosch was then stopped in the fifth round of a fight against Dlomo before he beat Basil Ray in one round. Ray had won two and lost five fights before their clash.
Questions could also be asked about compliance to certain regulations under the SA Boxing Act.
Under Registration requirements for boxers it is stipulated that “to be registered as a boxer, an applicant shall be older than 18 years but younger than 35 years in the case of a first registration”. A boxer who has not participated in a fight for 12 months or more “shall be deemed to be a first registration”.
It is also stipulated that when a boxer of 35 years or older applies for a licence renewal, Boxing SA must “require the boxer to submit himself … at his expense, to the medical examination and tests that Boxing SA deem appropriate … to determine whether it is in the best interests of [the boxer’s] mental or physical well-being … to continue boxing.”
Many experts and observers will argue that Nel and Van Bosch could be putting their health at risk by boxing. In the absence of other suitable contenders the title should be left vacant.
On the undercard Themba “Doctor” defends his WBF international flyweight title against Motswake Moselesele.
The tournament is promoted by Lebohang Mahoko and sponsored by the Free State department of sport under the aegis of the annual Mangaung African Cultural Festival.