Pretoria getting ready for title fight

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Copy of PN TATE19 Reuters Gerrie Coetzee and John Tate in action during their 1979 fight in Pretoria.

Pretoria – It’s been 34 years since Pretoria last saw a world title fight.

That was when Gerrie Coetzee and “Big” John Tate of the US clashed for the WBA heavyweight title at Loftus Versfeld on October 20, 1979, in front of an impressive crowd of 81 000.

Now, decades later, the city has been afforded another opportunity to host a world title fight.

Cruiserweight Danie Venter will appear in a showdown with Shawn Cox of Barbados, at the Heartfelt Arena on Saturday. The two will be contending for the WBF cruiserweight world title. Both competitors are hungry for a win and will no doubt put on a display of epic proportions with exhilarating boxing that should entertain the crowd.

Back in 1979, the country wanted the Coetzee fight so badly that they stretched the apartheid rules to allow black South Africans to sit alongside their white counterparts to watch the fight. They also allowed Tate to stay in a mansion in a white suburb in Johannesburg, with the government conveniently turning a blind eye to the Group Areas Act – the law which decreed separate areas for racial groups and restricted entry for non-caucasians into white suburbs.

Come Saturday that won’t be the case in a new democratic South Africa, as people from all walks of life will sit together to watch boxing history being made.

The historic bout between Coetzee and Tate began slowly. With very little intent from either boxer, it was only around the end of the fourth round when the home-grown favourite looked like he could be a champion as he landed a good left that had Tate searching for his legs. But Tate recovered and in round six he started to show more promise, and in the seventh he dropped Coetzee for the first time in the fight. With each round Tate looked stronger as Coetzee seemed more fatigued.

The US boxer silenced the Loftus crowd, and ruined the country’s expectations, when he won the title with a unanimous decision. Much has changed since Coetzee took on Tate in an epic battle that went to decision.

This time around Venter and Cox won’t be reliving the 1979 clash, as South Africa has stepped into the democratic light bringing with it the emerging rainbow nation. After all, nothing brings South Africans together more than sport does.

Cox, who has been in South Africa since last Thursday, has been putting the final touches to his preparations for Saturday’s fight. The Cox camp said they have been preparing for this title fight for a long time and will be ready to go the full 12 rounds. However, Cox’s trainer Sam Layne believes the fight won’t go that far and that spectators can expect a knockout.

Venter and his camp are happy to be fighting on home soil and in front of a home crowd, more so to give Pretoria a fight worthy of watching.

“Saturday is a big evening for us in Pretoria. Its the first time in 34 years that we are having a world title fight here,” said Venter.

Venter’s coach Charles Backhouse said that the crowd can expect exciting and scientific boxing from Venter and he is fairly sure that Venter will produce a knockout and can do so with either hand.

With both trainers expecting knockouts from their boxers and both fighters ready and willing to go the whole 10 yards, it makes for an interesting contest. Both boxers have a track record of producing stellar knockouts in their professional careers.

The main event takes place after South African Kevin Lerena battles for the WBF Africa cruiserweight title against the rampant Ghanaian, Ibrahim Labaran.

Then current South African Champion Daniel Bruwer will fight for the WBF international cruiserweight title against Sofiane Sehibi of Switzerland.

The two international bouts hold the promise of entertaining boxing that will showcase speed strength and precision from the competitors. – Pretoria News


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