Dan Rafael: Thomas Oosthuizen

Anthony Joshua's pro debut foe set

September, 25, 2013
A few notes from the boxing world:

• Anthony Joshua, the 2012 British Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist, had his Oct. 5 pro debut opponent announced on Wednesday. Joshua will face 32-year-old Emanuele Leo (8-0, 3 KOs) of Italy in the six-round main event of a big card at the O2 Arena in London, Matchroom Sport promoter Eddie Hearn announced. The card also includes Scott Quigg against Yoandris Salinas for a vacant junior featherweight title, lightweight contender Kevin Mitchell against Marco Lopez and featherweight prospect Lee Selby defending his British and Commonwealth titles against Ryan Walsh. Also, lightweight prospect Luke Campbell, the 2012 British Olympic bantamweight gold medalist and Joshua’s teammate, will have his second pro fight on the card.

• Super middleweight contender Thomas Oosthuizen (21-0-2, 13 KOs) of South Africa, who is coming off a poor performance in a 10-round split draw against Brandon Gonzalez on June 29 in his HBO debut, returns Nov. 9 in his home country, co-promoter Lou DiBella told ESPN.com. Oosthuizen will square off with Argentina’s Ezequiel Osvaldo Maderna (20-1, 13 KOs) in a scheduled 12-rounder at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park, near Johannesburg, on a card being put on by Golden Gloves promoter Rodney Berman, DiBella’s partner on Oosthuizen. Maderna won his only fight since suffering his lone defeat, a 10-round decision loss to Edwin Rodriguez in the semifinals of the Monaco Million Dollar Super Four tournament in March.

• Former junior bantamweight titlist Juan Carlos Sanchez (17-1-1, 9 KOs) of Mexico and Zolani Tete (17-3, 15 KOs) of South Africa have both told the IBF in writing that they are willing to participate in a final eliminator to produce the mandatory challenger for titleholder Daiki Kameda (29-3, 18 KOs), who won the vacant belt Sept. 3. It became vacant because Sanchez failed to make weight for a June defense. But Sanchez plans on staying at 115 pounds and will meet Tete in the eliminator. The sides have until Oct. 7 to make a deal or a purse bid will be ordered.

Oosthuizen ready for big things

June, 27, 2013
MASHANTUCKET, Conn. – Charles Oosthuizen was one of South Africa's top fighters during the late 1980s. He won his country's national title at junior middleweight and middleweight, but when he stepped up to fight Reggie Johnson -- who would go on to win world titles at middleweight and light heavyweight -- in 1988, he was stopped in the seventh round.

Oosthuizen (26-7-2, 17 KOs) eventually retired in 1991, never having achieved the goal of winning a world title. More than 20 years later, his son, Thomas Oosthuizen, has emerged as one of the top up-and-coming super middleweights with a chance to take his career further than his father did.
[+] EnlargeThomas Oosthuizen
Courtesy of Dibella EntertainmentThomas Oosthuizen is on the verge of making a name for himself in the 168-pound division.

The younger Oosthuizen was just five or six when his dad introduced him to boxing.

"I was raised in the sport of boxing by my dad," Oosthuizen said. "Then I turned professional at 19."

Now 25, Oosthuizen (21-0-1, 13 KOs), a southpaw with a crowd-pleasing style, has a chance to take the next step toward a world title opportunity when he faces Brandon Gonzalez (17-0, 10 KOs), 29, of Sacramento, Calif., in a scheduled 10-rounder on Saturday night (HBO, 9:45 ET/PT) at the MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods in Mashantucket, Conn.

The fight is the middle bout on the card headlined by middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin (26-0, 23 KOs) defending against Matthew Macklin (29-4, 20 KOs), with junior middleweight Willie Nelson (20-1-1, 12 KOs) taking on Luciano Cuello (32-2, 16 KOs) in the opener.

Oosthuizen's father is very supportive of his son's career.

"My dad won't be at my fight, but I know he'll be glued to the screen at home. He knows what it's about and that I am ready," said Oosthuizen, who is nicknamed "Tommy Gunn."

The fight with Gonzalez is a chance for Oosthuizen to be seen by a wide audience and put himself into the conversation for significant fights in one of boxing's best weight classes, one that HBO happens to be heavily invested in -- which is why it is putting Oosthuizen-Gonzalez on.

The division boasts champion Andre Ward, titleholder Carl Froch and former titlist Mikkel Kessler, among others, not to mention that Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is on the verge of moving up to join the party.

"Tommy is not only one of the best 168-pound fighters in the division but, in my eyes, one of the top prospects pound-for-pound in the entire world," said Lou DiBella, who co-promotes Oosthuizen with South Africa's Rodney Berman. "He is taking on another undefeated, highly regarded fighter in Gonzales, and the winner of the bout truly emerges as not only a force in the 168-pound division, but as a potential star."

Oosthuizen, who will be fighting in the United States for the fourth time, views himself as fitting in with the big names at 168 but knows he needs an impressive performance against Gonzalez to get there.

"That's the goal," he said. "I'm trying to fight the top guys in the world, to compete against them and, by the grace of God, to win those fights and keep moving forward. Super middleweight is the most exciting weight class in the world. Guys like Andre Ward, Kessler, Froch -- that's where I want to compete."

Oosthuizen has faced far better opposition than Gonzalez, who shares trainer Virgil Hunter with Ward and has sparred with him. Oosthuizen owns wins against Aaron Pryor Jr., Rowland Bryant, Marcus Johnson, Francisco Sierra and Fulgencio Zuniga while his draw was against contender Isaac Chilemba. Gonzalez's best win? Ossie Duran.

"We both have a lot of experience, but competition-wise, I have fought the tougher competition," Oosthuizen said. "I have to give him his first loss."

Oosthuizen doesn't come off as cocky, but he sure thinks highly of his style, comparing himself to a pair of all-time greats.

"My style is basically Tommy Hearns on the outside and Bob Foster on the inside," he said. "Hopefully, one day I'll reach greatness and be in the Hall of Fame like they are. It's a dream but right now I am working on that dream."
Andy LeeChris Farina/Top RankAndy Lee is looking for his second straight victory after losing to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
A little of this and a little of that from the boxing world:

• Middleweight contender Andy Lee (29-2, 20 KOs), 28, of Ireland, gets back in action May 15 on promoter Lou DiBella’s Broadway Boxing card at B.B. King Blues Club in New York. Lee will be seeking his second win in a row following his seventh-round knockout loss to then-titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in June. Lee will face Darryl Cunningham (28-4, 11 KOs) in a scheduled 10-round bout. It will be Lee’s second fight since the untimely death of longtime trainer and close friend Emanuel Steward. Lee has since moved his base from Steward’s hometown of Detroit back to the United Kingdom to train with Adam Booth.

"I'm very much looking forward to this fight,” Lee said. “Having lived in New York for two years, I know firsthand what a great fight town it is. The New York fight fans are a very knowledgeable crowd, and I intend on putting on a first-class performance for them. I want to thank my promoter Lou DiBella for giving me this chance to showcase my skills as I look to rebuild myself into title contention.”

• When featherweight titlist Miguel Angel “Mikey” Garcia makes his first defense against Juan Manuel Lopez on June 15 in Dallas, the HBO co-feature will feature Terence Crawford in a lightweight fight against Alejandro Sanabria (34-1-1, 25 KOs) of Mexico, according to Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti. Crawford (20-0, 15 KOs), 25, of Omaha, Neb., had his coming-out party March 30 when he filled in as a late substitute to face junior welterweight Breidis Prescott on the HBO-televised co-feature of the Mike Alvarado-Brandon Rios rematch. Crawford dominated, but when he faces Sanabria, he will drop down to his more natural lightweight division, Moretti said.

• Welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s lopsided decision win against interim titlist Robert Guerrero in Saturday’s Showtime PPV main event at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas will be replayed on Saturday night (Showtime, 9 ET/PT). The telecast will open with a replay of Abner Mares' ninth-round knockout of Daniel Ponce De Leon to win a featherweight world title, the third weight class in the past three years that Mares has won a championship in.

• The hunt for an opponent for Cleveland junior middleweight contender Willie Nelson (20-1-1, 12 KOs) is, at last, over. After weeks of back-and-forth between DiBella, Nelson’s promoter, and HBO, they finally settled on Argentina native Luciano Cuello (32-2, 16 KOs), who will face Nelson on June 29 in the opening bout of an HBO tripleheader at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Conn. Middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin (26-0, 23 KOs) defends against Matthew Macklin (29-4, 20 KOs) in the main event with super middleweights Thomas Oosthuizen (21-0-1, 13 KOs) and Brandon Gonzalez (17-0, 10 KOs) meeting in the co-feature. Cuello’s only two losses came against well-known Mexican stars before they won their world titles -- a unanimous 10-round decision to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in 2009 and a sixth-round knockout against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in 2010.

• Junior welterweight titlist Khabib Allakhverdiev (18-0, 8 KOs) will make his first defense, a mandatory, against former titlist Souleymane M'baye (40-4-1, 22 KOs) on July 13 in Monte Carlo, Monaco. Allakhverdiev was supposed to defend his title for the first time against Prescott on March 30 on HBO on the Alvarado-Rios II undercard, but he injured his right elbow and withdrew. The fight will be on the same card as the final of the Monaco Million Dollar Super Four final between Denis Grachev (13-1-1, 8 KOs) and Edwin Rodriguez (23-0, 15 KOs), who will meet at a catchweight of 171 pounds because Grachev is a light heavyweight and Rodriguez is a super middleweight. In the March 30 semifinals in Monte Carlo, Grachev advanced with a decision win against former light heavyweight titlist Zsolt Erdei and Rodriguez outpointed Ezequiel Osvaldo Maderna.

• Covina, Calif., lightweight John Molina (25-2, 20 KOs) is on the comeback trail seeking his second win in a row following his 44-second knockout loss to Antonio DeMarco in a September world title fight. Molina, who rebounded for a fourth-round knockout win against Dannie Williams in January, will face Andrey Klimov (15-0, 8 KOs) of Russia in a scheduled 10-rounder on June 7 at the Little Creek Casino and Resort in Kamilche, Wash., in the main event of ESPN2’s "Friday Night Fights,” promoter Dan Goossen announced. In the super middleweight co-feature, Farah Ennis (20-1, 12 KOs) of Philadelphia meets Anthony Hanshaw (23-2-2, 14 KOs) of High Point, N.C.

Golovkin-Macklin close, plus more

April, 10, 2013
Here's the lowdown on a bunch of fights that are either set, in the works or falling apart:

• Middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin (26-0, 23 KOs) of Kazakhstan and former title challenger Matthew Macklin (29-4, 20 KOs) of Great Britain have a deal in principle to fight June 29 in the main event of an HBO tripleheader, according to both camps. The fight likely will be finalized in the coming days and could be announced as soon as Saturday at a news conference in New York, where many boxing writers will be covering the Nonito Donaire-Guillermo Rigondeaux junior featherweight unification bout. No site is set yet, but the Foxwoods resort in Mashantucket, Conn., is the front-runner to host.

The co-feature will pit South African super middleweight Thomas Oosthuizen (21-0-1, 13 KOs) against Sacramento's Brandon Gonzalez (17-0, 10 KOs). The fight has been agreed to but isn't yet signed. The opener will feature Cleveland junior middleweight Willie Nelson (20-1-1, 12 KOs), although promoter Lou DiBella and HBO have been arguing over an opponent for days.

• Fresh off his junior lightweight title defense against Diego Magdaleno in Macau, China, last Saturday, Roman "Rocky" Martinez (27-1-2, 16 KOs) is looking toward his next defense. It could come against former featherweight titlist Orlando Salido (39-12-2, 27 KOs) in September in Martinez's native Puerto Rico, according to Salido's manager, Sean Gibbons. Salido, who lost his featherweight belt to Mikey Garcia in January, will fight June 1 in Mexico or June 15 in Puerto Rico before the possible bout with Martinez.

• Light heavyweights Tony Bellew (19-1-1, 12 KOs) of England and Isaac Chilemba (20-1-2, 9 KOs) of South Africa will meet in a rematch May 25 in London on the undercard of the Mikkel Kessler-Carl Froch super middleweight title rematch, according to Chilemba's promoter, Lou DiBella, who said he made a deal with Bellew promoter Eddie Hearn. Once again, Bellew and Chilemba will fight for the right to become champion Chad Dawson's mandatory challenger. Bellew and Chilemba met on March 30 in Bellew's hometown of Liverpool, England, and fought to a draw.

• The third fight between cruiserweight titlist Marco Huck (35-2-1, 25 KOs) and interim titlist Ola Afolabi (19-2-4, 9 KOs) is scheduled for May 11 in Germany, and both fighter camps say their man is training. However, promoter Don King, who doesn't handle either fighter yet won the purse bid for a whopping $1.5 million, still doesn't have a specific site or a television deal, leading both sides to believe the fight won't come off as scheduled. According to the Afolabi camp, the WBO, which is sanctioning the bout, has given King a Wednesday deadline to produce signed contracts for the fight or he will forfeit his right to promote the bout.

• Lightweight Ameth Diaz (31-11, 22 KOs) of Panama will travel to Martin Gethin's hometown of Walsall, England, for a lightweight title eliminator on May 24. Diaz was supposed to face Marvin Quintero in the eliminator on April 5 in Santa Ynez, Calif., but Quintero suffered a broken nose, needed surgery and withdrew from the fight. Since Quintero was unavailable, Gethin (24-3-1, 11 KOs) was the next available contender in the IBF's rankings for the eliminator. The Diaz-Gethin winner will become the mandatory challenger for Miguel Vazquez.

• Featherweight titlist Evgeny Gradovich (16-0, 8 KOs) of Russia will make his first defense against mandatory challenger Mauricio Munoz (26-3, 12 KOs) of Argentina. An April 16 purse bid was canceled after the sides made a deal. Top Rank, Gradovich's promoter, plans to put the fight on in June or July, probably on the undercard of featherweight titlist Mikey Garcia's first defense.

• The promoters for junior lightweights Rances Barthelemy (18-0, 11 KOs), a Miami-based Cuba native, and Thailand's Fahsi Sakkreerin (39-3-1, 21 KOs) reached an agreement for their title elimination bout. Warriors Boxing promoter Leon Margules told ESPN.com that the sides have agreed on the terms and that the fight will be promoted in the United States this summer. The Barthelemy-Sakkreerin winner will become the mandatory challenger for 130-pound titlist Argenis Mendez.

Golovkin close to fighting Macklin

April, 3, 2013

Now that middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin is safely through his Saturday fight -- having absolutely drilled Nobuhiro Ishida in the third round in a knockout-of-the-year candidate -- attention can turn to a more serious fight for the man called “GGG.”

Golovkin (26-0, 23 KOs) is slated to be back in action June 29 at a site to be determined (likely on the East Coast) to headline an HBO tripleheader. He will be making his eighth title defense and fighting for the third time already this year. Golovkin’s opponent will likely be the one I have been hoping it would be (and the one HBO wants): Great Britain’s Matthew Macklin (29-4, 20 KOs).

Promoter Lou DiBella said both fighters have accepted the bout, and he is working to finalize the details with K2 promoter Tom Loeffler.

I see no possible way this can’t be an exciting fight. Golovkin is one of the most fan-friendly fighters on the planet and is in such a groove right now it is scary. Macklin is a quality contender who is also a regular crowd pleaser.

Although Macklin is just 1-2 in his last three fights, let’s go beyond the record. In June 2011, he lost a split decision in a world title fight to Felix Sturm on Sturm’s turf in Germany. Macklin was robbed, simple as that. He won, and did so rather easily in my view, but was absolutely ripped off.

His performance against Sturm was so good that it got him a shot at Sergio Martinez, the legitimate 160-pound champion. They met in March 2012 at the Madison Square Garden Theater in New York and produced a compelling and competitive fight. Macklin dropped Martinez in the seventh round before being stopped in the 11th round. Then, in Macklin’s ring return, he starched former junior middleweight titlist Joachim Alcine in the first round on the Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. undercard last September.

Macklin is a worthy opponent for Golovkin, who has not had any other top middleweight contenders or titleholders show a willingness to face him. So props to Macklin for taking the fight a few months after he and Golovkin went back and forth a bit on Twitter about the proposed fight. Now DiBella and Loeffler are finishing a few details, DiBella said.

The two other featured fighters on the card are supposed to be Cleveland junior middleweight Willie Nelson (20-1-1, 12 KOs), who is on a very nice run and looking quite formidable, and super middleweight contender Thomas Oosthuizen (21-0, 13 KOs), a lanky lefty from South Africa.

Nelson, who is starting to win me over, doesn’t have an opponent yet. He has beaten three solid opponents in a row. He is coming off a blazing first-round destruction of Michael Medina on March 1. But before that, he upset John Jackson (one of former champ Julian Jackson’s sons) on the Martinez-Chavez Jr. undercard and also outpointed former Cuban amateur standout Yudel Jhonson.

Oosthuizen is my kind of fighter. He has skills and size (and a good chin) but is also more than willing to take two shots to give one. He’s a crowd pleaser.

DiBella and promoter Dan Goossen are trying to close the deal to match Oosthuizen and Brandon Gonzalez (17-0, 10 KOs), of Sacramento, Calif. Gonzalez recently withdrew from an April 12 ESPN2 undercard fight because of a hamstring problem, but he is expected to be just fine to lace 'em up for June 29.

Geale-Golovkin a no-go (for now)

November, 2, 2012
Don't feel bad for Daniel Geale, who was stripped by the WBA of his middleweight "super" title at the organization's annual convention this week in Jakarta, Indonesia. If anything, feel good about it because it means the WBA can, for the time being at least, suck only one sanctioning fee out of the 160-pound division because it now is down to only one titleholder, Gennady Golovkin.

Geale and Felix Sturm went into their unification bout in September knowing full well that the winner was obligated to fight Golovkin, at the time the "regular" titlist, in his next fight.

Sturm already had put off the fight multiple times, and the Golovkin camp wasn't going to put up with any more delays. So when Geale won the belt to go along with his IBF title, he knew the deal: Fight Golovkin next, or bye-bye, WBA strap.

Now, I don't blame Geale one iota for electing to defend his IBF belt against Anthony Mundine, which is the fight on the board for him in January. Both hail from Australia, and it's a big-deal rematch there because it was Mundine who handed Geale his only loss, in 2009.

No, Geale is not ducking Golovkin, as some have suggested. It's simply a matter of economics. At the moment, fighting Mundine is far more lucrative than fighting Golovkin.

"Whilst I enjoyed unifying titles and being crowned the WBA super champion, it has become ultimately clear to me that it is impossible to keep all the belts," Geale said. "I am aware of my mandatory obligations. However, I felt that the challenge from Anthony Mundine was an opportunity to settle the score once and for all, and I want to thank the IBF for granting me the exception that creates a fight which will please all Australian boxing fans. As I proudly remain the IBF world champion, I wish the WBA and whoever they crown the same short-lived pleasure, as I will be coming to reclaim what is rightfully mine."

Geale-Golovkin was due by Dec. 31, and with a January fight against Mundine set, that fight wasn't going to happen before the deadline. So now Golovkin is the WBA's only titleholder at 160 pounds, for now, anyway.

"We don't blame Geale and his team for taking a safer fight," said K2 promoter Tom Loeffler, who promotes Golovkin. "However, they knew the obligations they would have prior to the Sturm fight. Geale is still IBF champion, and if he continues to win, this might be a great unification fight in the future."

Loeffler's position on Geale taking the safer fight is disingenuous. He knows well that Geale (28-1, 25 KOs) will make a lot more money by facing Mundine (44-4, 26 KOs) instead of Golovkin. If Golovkin (24-0, 21 KOs) were in the same position, Loeffler would have him take the more lucrative fight, too, and he knows it.

One thing Loeffler is right about, however, is that a Geale-Golovkin fight down the road would be a fine match.

While Geale and Mundine will tangle on a January date to be determined, Golovkin likely will be back in action Jan. 19 on HBO at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.

K2 already has the building reserved and the date from the New York State Athletic Commission, from what I am told.

No opponent is set, but two names are under discussion: super middleweight contenders Thomas Oosthuizen (20-0-1, 13 KOs) and Edwin Rodriguez (22-0, 15 KOs), both of whom are promoted by Lou DiBella. South Africa's Oosthuizen, a 6-foot-4 handful of a southpaw, would have to get through a Nov. 10 fight against Fulgencio Zuniga to stay in the running.

If Golovkin faces either of them, they would meet at a catchweight of about 165 pounds.

Oosthuizen making U.S. TV debut

April, 27, 2012
One of the more intriguing fighters in the super middleweight division is Thomas Oosthuizen of South Africa. He's a tall southpaw with good power and a fan-friendly style.

He has fought only once so far in the United States -- when he outpointed Aaron Pryor Jr. on an Andre Berto undercard in September 2011 -- but he'll have his second fight in America on Friday night. That's when he will also make his U.S. television debut in the main event of a tripleheader on Showtime's "ShoBox: The New Generation" (11 ET/PT) at the Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, Okla.

Oosthuizen (18-0-1, 13 KOs) isn't in an easy fight, either. He will face Houston's Marcus Johnson (21-1, 15 KOs), a very talented but so far underachieving former amateur standout.

This is an excellent matchup because the winner could be going places.

Oosthuizen, whose nickname is "Tommy Gun," is now co-promoted by Lou DiBella, which means opportunities to fight in the United States will be plentiful.

"Yes, that's the goal," Oosthuizen said of fighting more regularly in the U.S. "[I want to fight at] MGM Grand in Las Vegas and [in] the main events at the big arenas. If you want something bad enough, nobody can take it away from you. So at the end of the day, I just have to keep on winning fights and get more attention in the States and worldwide."

Because few in the U.S. have seen Oosthuizen, he was asked whose style his most resembles. He wasn't shy about answering, comparing himself to a couple of all-time greats.

"I would say I'm a mix between a Bob Foster and Tommy Hearns," he said. "Bob Foster could fight very well on the inside, and Tommy Hearns was great from the outside. And I'm always training hard, so I would say a mix between those two."

If Oosthuizen can finish Johnson the way Foster and Hearns drilled so many of their opponents, that would be impressive. It would also accomplish one of Oosthuizen's goals for the fight -- to not only win, but to look impressive.

"I won't be satisfied with a 'W'. I'm here to make an impression," he said. "I have to look good. Every fight is an important fight to my career, and I have to show the people that I've got that something special."

If he wins, Oosthuizen would like to fight one of the big names in the 168-pound division.

"There are a few guys that I would really like to fight; all the guys that were in the Super Six and [Lucian] Bute. All of them: Mikkel Kessler, Andre Ward and Carl Froch. To be the best, you have to beat the best. It's easy to say, but it's going to be a tough challenge."

Also on the card, Puerto Rican junior featherweight prospect Orlando Del Valle (15-0, 11 KOs) will face Christopher Martin (23-1-3, 6 KOs) of Chula Vista, Calif., and junior lightweight Jose Pedraza (7-0, 6 KOs), possibly Puerto Rico's best prospect, will open the card against Gil Garcia (5-2-1, 1 KO) of Houston.