Johannesburg – All eight boxers on Golden Gloves' Triple Thunder bill at Emperors Palace on Saturday were already within their respective weight limits on Tuesday, proclaiming they were in peak condition.
American Eric Fields, who meets South African-based Congolese Junior Ilunga Makabu, for the WBC silver belt in the main bout said he would be providing both “lightning and thunder”.
“I've got a few surprises in store for Makabu and his supporters,” said the 31 year-old, two-times former American Golden Gloves champion.
“I've been studying videos of his recent fights in Europe since I arrived in South Africa, and will be prepared for anything he can throw at me.
“I don't think he can say the same about what to expect from me – and the outcome is going to be a big shock for him and all those who are raving about his recent performances.”
Fields' boast is backed up by top local trainer Colin Nathan, whose Hot Box gym in Johannesburg has been the American's training headquarters.
“This guy's the real deal,” said Nathan, “and judging on the form of Makabu, it should be a helluva fight.”
It was initially suggested that former IBF strawweight champion, Nkosinathi Joyi, who recently failed in his bid to annex the IBO title from Hekkie Budler, would be given the chance to claim the organisation's super flyweight title, held by Filipino Edrin Dapudong.
Instead, the one-time, world number one strawweight would be given the chance of reviving his career in a heavier division – in a junior flyweight bout for the WBC's lesser international title – against Filipino Benezer Alolod.
Suggestions that either Budler, IBO super middleweight champion Tommy Oosthuizen or acclaimed WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin might feature on the tournament also proved fruitless.
Golden Gloves promoter Rodney Berman said the programme had been pieced together with the objective of “mixing popular, crowd-pleasing fighters with top level title contenders.”
Fresh from two impressive victories at Golden Gloves' new promotional base in Monte Carlo, local boxing fans would be curious to see for themselves whether the IBO's sixth-ranked Makabu had improved sufficiently enough to be touted as a future world title contender.
He boasted a record of 14 wins and a solitary defeat against Fields' 21 wins and a also a single defeat.
“We were looking for an easier opponent after Junior's striking wins in Monte Carlo,” said Makabu's manager Brian Mitchell.
“But the promoter insisted my boxer had elevated himself to a higher category and warranted a better opponent.”
However, despite his impressive record, Fields was yet to beat anyone from the top bracket and this would, therefore, be a test of his ability as much as that of Makabu.
Also out to prove his mettle was rough-and-tough Ryno Liebenberg, who tackles Argentinean Gabriel Ramirez for the WBC's light-heavyweight silver belt in what he claimed was “the best shape of my career.”
Johnny Muller and Tshepang Mohale have been given the chance of fighting for the South African light-heavyweight title, in spite of both suffering defeats in their recent bouts.
Mohale stopped the battling Muller when the pair previously met in 2011, but he had shown improved form and great courage while losing to Liebenberg recently and was capable of reversing that result.
“If I lose against Mohale again, I might as well retire,” said Muller. – Sapa