As the days wind down to the biggest South African match-up of recent years, top trainer Harold Volbrecht has laid down the law with former world champion Tommy Oosthuizen.
“He can’t just win and look okay,” Volbrecht said of Saturday’s fight against dangerous Ryno Liebenberg. “People must say ‘wow’. That’s what we need, otherwise the big fights may not happen.”
Oosthuizen’s blazing talent has always been enough for him to prevail, but somewhere along the way his spark appears to have been snuffed out. Volbrecht, and Oosthuizen’s many fans, want to see its return at Emperors Palace this weekend.
Volbrecht puts Oosthuizen on a par with Corrie Sanders as the most naturally talented boxer he has trained, although he says the key difference is that Sanders hated boxing while Oosthuizen loves the sport.
Volbrecht has been encouraged by Oosthuizen’s dedication to training in recent months, not least because of his reputation for leading a hard and fast life away from the gym.
“He’s trained well and had great sparring against strong guys like Flo Simba, Johnny Muller and Dowayne Combrink. As people saw at Tuesday’s pre-fight medical, he’s very calm and composed, even if he said he was prepared to die to get the win against Ryno.”
Volbrecht believes that speed will be key to victory on Saturday, remarking that quickness combined with timing is what leads to knockouts.
“I don’t think Ryno can outspeed Tommy. Tommy is gonna be too smart. Ryno’s got big heart, but he’s not in the same class. Tommy can fight toe-to-toe or box on the outside – he’s that skilled.”
Volbrecht agreed that the more talented fighters often believe they don’t need to work as hard for success, but that Oosthuizen had bucked that habit forSaturday’s challenge, with the vacant IBO light-heavyweight title on the line.
All sorts of avenues will open up for the winner. Oosthuizen is rated number five by the WBC with Liebenberg at number eight.
There’s talk of big names like Andre Ward and Jean Pascal. The prize is thus huge for whoever comes up trumps on Saturday.
The loser won’t quite have nowhere to go, but it will be a long slog back to the bright lights.