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Boxing title contenders dish up something different at launch

Boxing gloves
Boxing gloves

Middleweight title contenders Wade Groth and Wynand Mulder started their stare-down at pre-fight publicity event on Thursday — and then the unthinkable happened.

Eyeballing-on-demand has been part and parcel of boxing for a long time‚ and shoving and pushing are not uncommon.

There’s even been a few blows‚ like when Robbie Williams took a shot or two at Kallie Knoetze‚ who returned to the disrupted weigh-in a little later wearing a motorcycle helmet.

But on Thurdsay it went the other way. Groth made a comment under his breath and then he and Mulder packed up laughing.

But it didn’t take them too long to reset their fight faces for the photographers.

Groth‚ a former mixed martial arts fighter unbeaten in six paid boxing bouts‚ takes on Mulder‚ with a record of four wins‚ five losses and a draw‚ for the interim South African middleweight crown at Emperors Palace on August 10.

The winner will either become champion‚ or will have to fight champion Barend van Rooyen if he wins his appeal against a drugs suspension.

The bill will be topped by the clash for the vacant national super-middleweight bout between Rowan Campbell and Renson Hobyani.

Also of interest will be cruiserweight Keaton Gomes‚ a former SA amateur champion who makes his debut at cruiserweight.

But forget the laughter at the tournament launch at a boxing gym in Mulbarton‚ Johannesburg south‚ warned Mulder.

There’ll be no friendliness in the ring.

“I’m coming to fight. I’m not there to collect a purse‚ I’m collecting a title," said Mulder.

“I hope he’s prepared for the fight of his life ...

“But he seems like a nice guy. I’d like to have a braai with him one day.”

They will have something in common apart from boxing: Mulder has two pitbulls as pets — “the loves of my life” — while Groth‚ an inspector for the Animal Anti-Cruelty League‚ has one pitbull and a cat.

“I’ve seen some very sad things‚ but it’s also very rewarding. The other day I had to climb down through a manhole to pull two dogs out.

"It was far down‚ you couldn’t see a thing‚” added the 30-year-old‚ who has worked as an animal handler on film sets‚ one of which included US star Lawrence Fishburne.

The tournament is a fund-raiser for Reach For A Dream and also serves as a tribute to long-serving boxing historian Ron Jackson.

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