New Zealand’s Robert Berridge has ditched plans to train in Vietnam, preferring to stay at home for his IBO championship fight against Tommy Oosthuizen.
He is nonetheless determined to upset the unbeaten South African, who himself has a big-money fight down the track with WBC champion Adonis Stevenson. Beating Berridge is thus non-negotiable, although the Kiwi’s manager predicts a tough fight.
“Robert’s an exciting boxer, a tough fighter. We can expect a great fight,” said manager Vasco Kovacevic. “Our team has been looking into Tommy and we know that he is a very talented and tall fighter.”
Indeed, the difference in height will be stark: Oosthuizen is 1,93m compared to Berridge’s 1,73m.
A southpaw himself, he has faced left-handers before and won’t be daunted by the prospect of doing so again against Oosthuizen, who is freakishly tall for a light-heavyweight and fast-handed.
Despite both his losses coming away from home, the “backyard decision” is no great concern of the Berridge camp.
“We learn from our losses and try to improve,” said Kovacevic. “We are professional, so there’s no place for anxiety. At the same time we know that hometown favouritism is possible.”
Berridge, who grew up idolising Marvin Hagler, another southpaw, had just 24 amateur fights, with mixed results. As a pro he has gone well, winning 26 of 29 fights.
The stage is thus set for a man who comes to brawl against a pure boxer.