Mike Coppinger

Oosthuizen aims to prove himself on ShoBox

Thomas Oosthuizen comes from a fighting family in South Africa. His father, Charles, was a two-division national champion as a professional. Thomas’ brother, Charles, is a 5-0 middleweight.

But it is Thomas who holds the most promise of the fighting Oosthuizens, just 24 years old yet already THE RING’s No. 6 super middleweight.

His father and brother have never fought outside of South Africa, but Oosthuizen (18-0-1, 13 knockouts) recently signed with American promoter Lou DiBella and traveled stateside, eager to prove himself as a world class fighter on the biggest stages.

On Friday, he’ll get his best chance yet to establish himself in the fight game, when he makes his American TV debut in the main event of ShoBox: The New Generation at the Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, Oklahoma, taking on once-beaten Marcus Johnson.

“World boxing recognition comes from fighting in America, boxing is big in America,” Oosthuizen told RingTV.com. “[Americans] understand the sport best, according to my point of view. They know the art in the guy who lands the more clean punches in a fight.”

Johnson (21-1, 15 KOs), a 26-year-old from Houston, Texas, was once a highly-regarded prospect before losing to Dyah Davis last year. Oosthuizen isn’t overlooking him, but doesn’t feel his opponent matches up to him.

“He comes in there with a pretty good record but he hasn’t fought me yet. It’s not a good thing for him,” Oosthuizen said. “I’ve fought a lot of better quality opponents than he has. I’m not undermining him or taking him lightly. At the end of the day, come Friday night, I will win.”

DiBella, who promotes both Oosthuizen and Johnson, thinks this is the kind of fight ShoBox was designed for – a top prospect in tough against another prospect in his toughest fight to date, at least on paper.

“People are going to see two of the top young prospects in the world,” DiBella told RingTV.com. “In Oosthuizen, they’re going to see a guy who’s very young, very aggressive, very tall and very active with his punches. He’s up to his ass [with Johnson].

“I think [Oosthuizen’s] literally like one of the best prospects in boxing and I’m not going to do anything stupid with him. But Marcus is a very good fighter in his own right.”

Training in South Africa, Oosthuizen receives inspiration from his sparring mate and brother, Charles. He feels being a second-generation boxer has been a big lift for his career.

“South Africa is not what everyone thinks it is, the lions don’t just walk around,” Oosthuizen said. “It’s a very nice country to live in. I’ve been boxing since I was six years old. I grew up in the sport, my father was a two-division professional champion in South Africa – junior middleweight and middleweight. My brother, Charles, is 26 now and also boxes.

“We go to the gym together, we spar, we run together. We’re very close, he’s my best friend in the world. He’s always there for me. It’s a big bonus coming from boxing blood, a boxing-bred family.“

Oosthuizen is extraordinarily tall for a 168-pounder, 6-foot-4, and a southpaw as well — a deadly combination of size and style. He was a decorated amateur in “The Rainbow Nation” and was all set to participate in the Olympic trials, but decided to forego the qualifying rounds, wishing to instead get on with professional career. With Oosthuizen about to compete in his second fight in the U.S., the move seems to have paid dividends.

“I’m a talented fighter and I train hard. I’m not one of the talented fighters that hold back in the gym,” said the fighter known as “Tommy Gun”. “At the end of the day, I’m always fit, and I’m always fast and strong.

“What the South African fans have seen in me, the hand speed, the flair, something special [talent-wise] — I need to prove that on Friday night.”



Photo / Scott Foster-Fightwireimages.com

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