Tommy Oosthuizen’s claim to being an elite-level fighter looks decidedly tenuous after he sleep-walked his way to a 12-round victory against New Zealand’s Robert Berridge at Emperors Palace on Saturday.
Oosthuizen prevailed via points (116-112, 117-111, 117-111), but few were impressed with the manner of victory, not least because a day earlier he had lost his IBO belt on the scales because of his disregard for both the rules and his sport.
Apart from forfeiting a big chunk of his purse money, Oosthuizen suffered the indignity of being knocked down the card. It was an ironic gesture because on the form he displayed it’s precisely where he belonged.
As a young fighter coming through the ranks, Oosthuizen was a blazing talent. Now, he looks no better than ordinary, able to rely on his fast hands and long reach to get him out of trouble, but ill-equipped to excite as he once did.
Berridge, shorter by a full 20cm, was made to order. Except Oosthuizen never got the memo. He opted to coast his way through the fight and although he was always in control, he copped a mouthful of left hands that would have had him in deep trouble against the likes of Sergey Kovalev or Adonis Stevenson, the champions Oosthuizen deludes himself into believing he would have a chance of beating.
Berridge showed great endeavour, always looking to mix it, but he lacked the power game to wake Oosthuizen up. He relied on short bursts, but Oosthuizen tended to cover up or ride the storm.
The South African won, but we can’t be sure anyone really cares.