While the concept may not be an entirely novel one, and as intermittently as they may be staged this impressive card aptly named 4@War features a “tournament within a tournament”.
The headline bout, scheduled for 10 rounds between two unbeaten champions Nicholas Radley (light heavyweight) and Rowan Campbell (super middleweight) at catchweight (78.4kg) is enough to turn heads on its own and is a gamble for both fighters.
The same applies to the respective careers of African Boxing Union (ABU) South junior bantamweight champion Mnqobi Mkhize and hot prospect Ricardo Malajika.
Barring a draw, only one of the two will remain unbeaten with the former’s fledgling ABU strap on the line.
With both boxers boasting unblemished professional records in different divisions there has been a popular payoff line coined since this bout was announced - “Someone’s 0 (zero) has to go”.
The 4@War junior middleweight tournament is a pundits’ nightmare to call and forms part of a fascinating sub-plot to the broader story.
That probably explains why Golden Gloves threw a sizeable R1.8 million purse at this four-man semifinal shootout featuring Tristan Truter, Boyd Allen, Brandon Thysse and Roarke Knapp.
ABU south welterweight champion Truter steps between the ropes against unbeaten former MMA exponent Allen in the first semi and Thysse will mix it with Knapp in the other with both scraps scheduled for 10 rounds.
Each fighter – win or lose – will be guaranteed a R200 000 payday tonight.
The two winners, however, have a huge R750 000 carrot dangling in front of their noses when the final is staged in March next year, with a 60/40 split in favour of the winner, and we are told a commemorative diamond ring thrown in as well.
In what amounts to what would be a 3/4th place playoff in a team sports context, the two losers are pencilled in to face one another in March next year for a R250 000 purse split.
4@War – Junior Middleweight Tournament
Semifinal 1: Tristan Truter vs Boyd Allen (10)
Former amateur champion Truter has beaten all comers in his last three fights and developed into a very hard hitter.
Sparring with Tommy Oosthuizen will hold him in good stead.
He is the most active fighter of 2019 and steps between the ropes for a fifth time on Saturday.
He hasn’t, however, gone much beyond four rounds and the 10-rounder against an awkward puncher will be a big tester for him as he drifts between junior middle and welterweight.
Former MMA exponent Allen will certainly bring out the best in Truter.
He is strong, an awkward customer, elusive and difficult to hit and particularly strong on the back foot.
Allen has stamina issues at times and can be prone to fading later in a fight after a good start, but his crew would no doubt have worked hard on that element.
Record: 8-1 (5)
Titles: ABU South welterweight champion.
Strength: Developed into a hard-hitter with a big right hand.
Potential Weakness: Drifts between junior middle and welterweight.
Trainer: Harold Volbrecht – The Hammer Gym.
Last Fight: Faraday Mukhandila – Won TKO 1.
Record: 4-0-1 (3)
Titles: WBA Pan African champion
Style: Orthodox/southpaw switch hitter
Strength: Durable, strong, good counter puncher.
Potential Weakness: Stamina at times.
Trainer: Peter Smith – Smith’s Gym
Last Fight: August 8 – Alexandr Zhuravskiy (Kazakhstan) – Majority Draw (8)
Semifinal 2: Brandon Thysse vs Roarke Knapp (10)
Thysse is the son of former SA and Commonwealth super-middleweight champion Andre Thysse, so boxing runs deep in his veins.
Knapp is another fighter who turned pro after a very brief amateur career.
Thysse appears to be on an upward curve after hitting a few road blocks but his durability, excellent conditioning and the fact he is an out and out junior middle may be to his advantage.
He is solid in most areas of his make-up but prone to boxing off the back foot at times.
Knapp is a busy fighter and has some decent combinations in his armoury but is prone to lunging and hasn’t quite mastered the effective use of the switch-hitting technique.
If he fights within himself and finds that x-factor, then he may walk away with victory.
Record: 11-2-1 (9)
Strength: Durability, excellent conditioning. Quick hands.
Potential Weakness: Too defensive at times. Prone to boxing off the back foot.
Trainer: Damien Durandt – Durandt’s Gym
Last Fight: August 31 – Mbiya Kanku – Won Pts (8)
Record: 9-0-1 (7)
Style: Orthodox/Southpaw switch
Strength: Busy fighter, good combinations.
Potential Weakness: lunging, switch hitting too often.
Trainer: Vusi Mtolo
Last Fight: August 31 – Alexandr Zhuravskiy (Kazaksthan) – Won Pts (10)
ABU Junior Bantamweight Title (10)
Ricardo Malajika vs Mnqobi Mkhize
Unbeaten Malajika is a big talent and has been fast-tracked since taking his highly decorated amateur pedigree into the professional ring just a little over a year ago.
His maturity goes way beyond his short five-fight professional career.
The six-time SA amateur champion has the uncanny ability to switch between orthodox and southpaw stance.
Adding the fledgling ABU title to his Gauteng provincial belt after just five outings is a distinct possibility.
Mkhize is another boxer who has an impressive amateur resume’ totalling over 60 fights.
An all-action, aggressive, in-your-face fighter who has only once been taken the distance, early in his eight-fight pro career.
He has largely gone under the radar for much of his career and quietly built up a decent record fighting predominantly in rural Kwazulu-Natal.
He stunned local Eastern Cape favourite Theo Nxyiphi in June to annex the ABU title but may find the busy Malajika more than a handful up here on the Highveld.
Nickname: The Magic Man
Record: 5-0 (4)
Titles: Gauteng junior bantamweight champion
Style: Orthodox/Southpaw switch
Strength: Great switch hitter. Good reader of a fight.
Potential Weakness: No apparent weakness is evident.
Trainer: Anton Gilmore – Box Office Gym
Last Fight: August 23 – Leyton Gloss – Won TKO 6
Record: 8-0 (7)
Titles: ABU South junior bantamweight champion
Strength: Good puncher; high knockout ratio, very durable.
Potential Weakness: Over-cautious.
Trainer: Zwilenkosi Magudulela
Last Fight: June 23 – Theo Nxayiphi – Won TKO 8
Catchweight 78.4kg (10)
Nicholas Radley vs Rowan Campbell
A “champion vs champion” match-up between two unbeaten fighters.
Campbell is developing into a very accomplished boxer-fighter and improves with every fight.
He has developed into a strong all-round pressure fighter with a bruising body punch.
One cannot fault his conditioning, stamina and mental strength.
He has reached a watershed point in his career in what will be his toughest assignment yet against a tall, rangy former K1 and MMA fighter from Cape Town with a very high knockout ratio.
A drop down in weight may affect string bean Radley but he may be able to capitalise on a distinct height and reach advantage and may trouble Campbell from range.
This one could potentially develop into a war.
There are big fights in the pipeline for the winner of this one so the stakes are very high.
Nickname: The Natural
Record: 9-0 (8)
Titles: SA light heavyweight champion
Strength: Tall, height and reach advantage.
Potential Weakness: Susceptible to body punches, uppercuts.
Trainer: Michel Mouneinne
Last Fight: June 16 – Frank Rodrigues – Won TKO 11
Record: 11-0 (7)
Titles: SA/IBO Africa super-middleweight champion
Strength: Developing into the ultimate boxer-fighter. Improves with every fight.
Potential Weakness: Inclined to get drawn into a war at times.
Trainer: Peter Smith – Smith’s Gym
Last Fight: August 23 – Patrick Mukala – Won TKO 7
Lightweight (4 rounds): Shone van Schalkwyk 0-2-0 (0) vs Ketlego Khanyisa (debut)
Junior Bantamweight (4 rounds): Arnel Lubisi 3-1-0 (2) vs Layten Gloss 5-3-0 (3)
* Records listed as wins-losses-draws (wins by knockout)