Watch: South African boxing misses tough ‘Tommy Gun’

Tommy Oosthuizen beat Ezequiel Maderna from Argentina on points in an IBO super-middleweight world title fight at Emperors Palace in November 2013. Photographer: Debbie Yazbek

South African boxing misses Thomas ‘Tommy Gun’ Oosthuizen, a man who has probably been the best boxer in the country for the last decade.

Just 29 years of age and with 30 fights in his illustrious career, Oosthuizen has won eight titles and completed eight title defences in three different weight divisions.

Oothuizen has it all as a pugilist: pure God-given talent, a high boxing IQ, blinding hand speed, great footwork, charisma, controversy, height and a reach superior than most.

Okay, maybe his discipline and work-rate are questionable, but his professional fighting record speaks for itself.

His record since turning pro as a youngster about a decade ago reads 27 wins, of which 16 were by knockout, two draws and just the single loss he suffered in Germany late last year, when he was far from his best.

Video credit: Star Sport News.

Boxing is already clutching at straws to remain relevant, for multiple reasons – but that is a topic for another day.

The last thing the sport needs now is to be without fighters who can sell tickets and give boxing lovers their money’s worth.

In short, the sport needs athletes who can actually box.

And Oosthuizen did exactly that… and brought flair and charisma with it.

Yes, his fights towards the latter part of his career, before his unfortunate incarceration, were far from impressive by his own high standards – but he still sold tickets because of the artistry he displayed in the squared circle.

Some of my colleagues in the media industry might not admit it, but they and boxing aficionados alike used to love seeing the name ‘Tommy Oosthuizen’ on a fight card because they knew they were going to watch a man who would not be out of place among the boxing greats the country has produced.

Talking about pure in-ring ability, I doubt the Brian Mitchells, Gerrie Coetzees, Baby Jake Matlalas, Charlie Weirs and Corrie Sanders of this world would take offence at Oosthuizen being mentioned in the same breath as them.

Currently ranked top of the light-heavyweight division, according to the Boxing South Africa website, Oosthuizen has no current competition in his division. But then again, he’s never really had competition in the country.

In the super-middleweight division, where he’s enjoyed the most success in his career, he’s never lost. In fact, his only loss came in the light-heavyweight division. He’s also never lost to a South African opponent.

So it’s understandable that his long-awaited return to the ring will see him fighting above his weight and will likely be against a man capable of testing him, namely SA champion Thabiso Mchunu.

Because looking at the current crop of light-heavyweights and even cruiserweights for that matter, as listed by Boxing SA in their most recent ratings, it’s hard to imagine any of them being considered as world-class.

Oosthuizen’s target post-Mchunu, IBO champion Kevin ‘Two Guns’ Lerena, stands out alongside Mchunu in the cruiserweight division, and his record, like Oosthuizen’s, is impressive with just one loss.

However, Micki Nielsen aside, Lerena has yet to be tested against a great boxer.

And as stated before, no one can really challenge the lanky southpaw in his incumbent division.

As for the heavyweight division, the less said, the better.

Oosthuizen is the son of former two-division South African champion Charles Oosthuizen.

I challenge you to walk around the streets of Boksburg and the rest of the East Rand and ask people you meet who some of the best boxers in town are.

I’m willing to bet you that two men whose surnames begin with double ‘O’ would be mentioned. – @SabeloBoksburg

Sabelo Mashego
Sports Journalist

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