Innovative Berman stages two tourneys in one day

'We are building for the future'

Thulani Mbenge lands a punch at Kuvesa Katembo of the DRC during their ABU Welterweight title in Soweto.
Thulani Mbenge lands a punch at Kuvesa Katembo of the DRC during their ABU Welterweight title in Soweto.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

Venerable boxing promoter Rodney Berman has been in the fight game since 1977, but the Golden Gloves Promotion (GGP) boss still has the insatiable desire to bring innovation in the staging of big boxing tournaments. 

One of his biggest moments was when Panamanian icon Roberto ‘Hands of Stone” Duran came here to fight David Radford in an eight-rounder Duran won on points at the Carousel on November 15 1997.

In that tournament, local boxing authorities denied pint-sized Jacob “Baby Jake” Matlala the right to defend his IBA junior-flyweight belt because they did not recognise the Switzerland-based sanctioning boxing body.

Berman will stage what is possibly the first of its kind –  two tournaments on the same day at the same venue at Emperors Palace on June 19. The first six bouts are categorised as “The Next Generation” because they feature boxers with less than 10 fights.

“We are building for the next generation,” he explained.

Prospect Shervontaigh Koopman will headline that line-up with a six-rounder against Jacques Tshikubu Mavud from Congo. Koopman and his opponent are undefeated after six fights each.

Louis Malajika – the younger brother of WBA Pan African junior bantamweight champ Ricardo Malajika – will make his professional debut against Koan Mokoena.

“If we, as promoters, don’t build for the future, then we may as well close shop,” reasoned Berman. “We’ve got to develop fighters and build for the future.”

Action will begin at 2pm and finish at 6pm.

Berman said action in the second six bouts will begin at 7pm. Ludumo “9mm” Lamati will headline it in his attempt to win the IBO junior featherweight vacant belt. This talented former ABU bantamweight, IBF Intercontinental junior featherweight champion who is undefeated in 18 fights will welcome Mexican Jose Martin Estrada Garcia. The fight will be Garcia’s second outside home. Garcia has lost one of his 13 fights.

The main supporting fight will be a winner-take-all affair between SA and ABU welterweight holder Thulani “Evolution” Mbenge and WBA Pan African champion Jabulani Makhense.

WBA and IBO All Africa junior-middleweight titlist Brandon Thysse will entertain Tomi Silvennoinen of Finland over 10 rounds while Roarke “Razor” Knapp will take on Benoit Makangila Cela of the Democratic Republic of Congo over eight rounds also in the junior-middleweight.

All eyes will be fixed firmly on the rematch between Johnny “Hurricane” Muller and Akani “Prime” Phuzi. Pressure is on Phuzi to avenge the loss he suffered to Muller in their previous fight at the same Kempton Park venue in December 2020.

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