Much to everyone’s relief, the Golden Gloves Box and Dine tournament dubbed “No Love Lost” has been rescued and will proceed on Saturday at Emperor’s Palace in Ekurhuleni.
It has been a particularly nerve-racking week for Golden Gloves tournament co-ordinator Jeff Ellis and he and his associates will all heave a collective sigh of relief when the first punch is finally thrown.
Two of the originally slated fights had to be cancelled in quick succession during the week due to unforeseen Covid-19-related circumstances but kudos to Ellis and his team, who scrambled into action and managed to rescue the tournament.
The much-anticipated junior middleweight rematch between Brandon “Fast Guns” Thysse and Roarke “Razor” Knapp was to headline the card.
Thysse and his trainers, Damien Durandt and Adson Kazembe, all returned positive Covid tests during routine testing on Monday and that fight had to be canned.
The strong, rugged Cape Town-based Angolan Cristiano “Warrior of Faith” Ndombassy (12-5-9 kos), was battle-ready and will now face Knapp in a scheduled 10-rounder, with the WBA Pan-African middleweight title on the line.
Knapp (12-1-1- 10 knockouts), trained by Vusi Mtolo at the RUB Boxing Gym in Edenvale, is unfazed by the late change of opponent or the step up to a higher weight class and is intent on just “getting on with the job”.
“A new opponent doesn’t change a whole lot. Boxing is a chess game. You can only prepare for certain things. Ultimately one has to adapt to what’s in front of you in the ring, judge what you see and handle it,” said Knapp.
“I’m just excited to showcase what I’ve learnt, how far I’ve come and what I’ve gained through my training camps and surrounding myself with good people. This is the more experienced, mature, professional Roarke Knapp.”
Despite the disappointment on losing out on an opportunity to avenge his sole career loss, he still has Thysse on his radar but for now, he’s focusing on his own journey.
Already a fight down, the card was further decimated on Thursday when the WBA Pan-African junior bantamweight clash between Ricardo Malajika and Sabelo Ngebinyana, also had to be scrapped.
Malajika was keen to avenge a shock eight-round split decision loss to the same opponent in March but both fighters, as well as Ngebinyana’s trainer, tested positive.
The revised bill also features recently crowned South African junior middleweight champion Shervantaigh Koopman (8-0), who faces Angolan Henriques Lando (6-2-0) for the vacant IBF Inter-Continental junior middleweight title.
After dropping a six round points decision to Joshua Pretorius in September, gangling heavyweight Wilhelm Nebe (5-1-4 kos) hopes to redeem himself in a scheduled six-rounder against unbeaten Juan Roux (4-0-1 ko).