By Ron Jackson
In an epic toe-to-toe encounter, Roarke Knapp (14-1-1, 11 KOs) beat Brandon Thysse (14-3-1, 12 KOs) on a twelve round split decision in their rematch at Emperors Palace, near Kempton Park on Saturday night to win the vacant African Boxing Union junior middleweight title. Knapp, who was stopped in the seventh round to suffer his only defeat against Thysse in their first fight, was much sharper as he weathered an early storm in the opening round to punch out a deserved decision.
Judges Kedibone Phetlho and Mfundo Mvandaba scored it 115-114 and 116-112 for Knapp and judge Thabo Spampool had 115-113 for Thysse.
The slugfest continued through round two with Thysse (69.55kg) possibly shading it. However, Knapp (69.80kg) came back well in rounds three and four with both fighters throwing bombs.
In the fifth round the toe-to-toe action continued and Thysse landed a big uppercut just before the bell that sent Knapp’s head jolting back.
With his faster hand speed Knapp continued to beat Thysse to the punch in rounds six and seven but the gutsy Thysse came back in the later rounds to close the gap, but this was not enough on two of the judge’s scorecards as Knapp emerged a winner.
CHRIS THOMPSON WINS SA AND ABU HEAVY TITLES
In a poor fight that never rose to any heights, a well-conditioned Chris Thompson (104.85kg) outscored Joshua Pretorius (106.45kg) over twelve one-sided rounds to win the South African and African Boxing Union heavyweight titles.
Judges Namhla Tyuluba, Ben Ncapi and Mfundo Mvandaba all scored it 120-108 for the new champion.
Pretorius, who was making the first defense of his title, never got into the fight – or past the southpaw jab of Thompson. The shorter Pretorius only threw a few tentative punches throughout the 12 rounds and did not know how to handle a southpaw.
Thompson improves his record to 12-2-1, 7 KOs, and Pretorius’s record drops to 9-6, 5 KOs.
Mini flyweight – Beaven Sibanda W rsf 1 Bandile Leopeng.
Light heavyweight – Gerhard Thysse W tko 2 Penitence Duma.
Welterweight- Keanu Koopman W rsf 1 Bongani Ngqubuka.
Junior lightweight – Samuel Taki W rsf 2 Mandlenkosi Sibuso.
Lightweight – Saziswe Simon W pts 4 Yolanda Gelderblom (woman’s fight).
The tournament was presented by Golden Gloves Promotions.