Tian Fick beats Joshua Pretorius by decision, wins South African heavyweight title
The South African heavyweight title has a long, proud history dating back all the way to 1884. It was held by future world champions such as Gerrie Coetzee and Corrie Sanders, as well as a slew of contenders like Don McCorkindale, Johnny Ralph, Mike Schutte and Pierre Coetzer.
Throw in a handful of other world class heavyweights that never held the title, like Kallie Knoetze, Johnny DuPlooy and Frans Botha and one must conclude that, for such a small country, South African has done rather well when it comes to the big men.
Today the division is desperately short of a new star, but Tian “The Hamilton Hammer” Fick and Joshua “Red Beast” Pretorius were no doubt aware of this history. They gave it their all in a rematch over 12 rounds for the vacant title at the Vibrant Sports Studio in Cape Town, and for the fans watching at home via live stream.
In their initial encounter in June of 2019, Fick won a wide decision. This time, both showed improvement, but the result was still the same, with Fick prevailing on Friday evening by two scores of 118-110 and 119-109 to take the unanimous decision, fulfilling a promise he made to his late father by becoming national champion.
Fick used his height and reach to stay on the outside but this time he displayed an excellent jab that was often missing in previous fights. For his part, Pretorius appeared fitter and stronger than he did in their last encounter, landing some hard shots and bulling his way inside. He just could not do it often enough to win rounds.
Fick started off by boxing behind an accurate jab but in the second round Pretorius made his intentions known by landing a hard right. He forced his way inside, only to be smothered by Fick who held him and pushed him back. Pretorius tried to work in the clinches but could not punch effectively and then he was back on the outside where Fick just kept moving around while sticking him with the jab.
After a good exchange to start the third, Fick added to his gift of the jab by landing a huge straight right that snapped back the head of Pretorius in a halo of water and sweat. He somehow did not budge, a testimony to his conditioning and just kept trying to walk Fick down, but to no avail.
That set the pattern for the fight with Fick moving around the perimeter of the ring, thumping his long jab into Pretorius’ face and every so often finding a home for an eye catching straight right. Pretorius landed the odd right and occasional left hook to the body, but he just could not sustain a consistent offense.
By the eighth Fick seemed to be in control. Besides eating a massive left hook from Pretorius, which he appeared to take well, he started mixing left hooks on the inside as well as an uppercut into his offense.
Some hope appeared on the horizon for Pretorius in the tenth when he had his best round. Fick suddenly seemed to abandon his jab which allowed Pretorius to land a series of straight rights. His opponent took them well, but one had to wonder whether the 36-year-old Fick was suddenly showing his age and starting to come apart at the seams.
That fear proved to be unfounded though, as Fick found his jab again in the eleventh and mixed in a booming straight right. Pretorius landed a right hand-left hook combo at the end of the round, but it was too little, too late.
Fick punctuated his victory in the final round, landing head snapping jabs, a couple of one-two combos and closing the show with a straight right followed by a left hook.
Tian Fick moves to 9-0 with five knockouts whereas Pretorius drops to 7-5 with five knockouts.
Given his age combined with where he is at in his career, Fick may never be a Gerrrie Coetzee or Corrie Sanders, but he will be able to tell his grandkids one day that he was the South African heavyweight champion and over here at least, that means something.
In the main supporting bout, South African based Angolan welterweights, Antonio “The Eagle” Mayala and Henriques ‘Spartacus” Lando treated the viewers to a ten-round war, Mayala prevailing by unanimous scores of 97-92, 98-91 and 99-90. The scorecards failed to tell the story of the fight which ebbed and flowed and had plenty of close rounds.
In a fight of contrasting styles, the taller and rangier Mayala boxed well off the back foot, landing quick punches to the head and body while Lando kept coming forward, throwing punches in bunches.
A fight broke out in the third when both planted their feet and exchanged punches in what was an excellent round. Mayala landed several hard rights on the button that would have felled lesser men but Lando took them and ploughed forward answering with more punches of his own, most notably a chopping, short right.
Mayala came to his senses in the next round and used his superior ring craft to stick and move but Lando broke through again in the fourth, landing a big right. Mayala responded by landing thudding blows to the body before getting back at arm’s length. Lando simply would not stop coming and managed to force Mayala into the ropes and corners but could not keep him there for long. Mayala always seemed to find a way to turn his opponent around and escape the traps that Lando was trying to set but he had to dig deep.
Mayala seemed to be tiring in the eighth when Lando landed a series of rights, thrown in the overhand fashion and one had to wonder how much Mayala could possibly have left. Quite a bit more it seemed. He timed one of Lando’s rushes in the ninth and landed a volley of punches of his own, culminating with a right that sent Lando to the canvass. He was up quickly and staged a comeback of sorts, throwing everything at Mayala before Mayala retaliated with a hard, eye catching combination to shade the round.
Both let it all hang out in the final round with Mayala’s superior speed and ring craft making him slightly more effective. Lando has heart, some power and a great chin which makes up for his lack of finesse, which can always be developed. Mayala, a marvel at the age of 40 (or 42 depending on which source you want to believe), will hopefully receive a long overdue opportunity at something big.
The card was presented by Jack Brice of Jack Brice Promotions and is hopefully one of many to come in the Mother City.
Four fighters made their debut on the undercard.
Here are the results:
Dillon Solomons W4 Setshaba Mapukhata (super middleweight)
Athenkosi Plaatjies W4 Sithembile Ngqele (junior middleweight)
Juan Roux W4 Peto Kapela (heavyweight)
Thulani Mhlombe W4 Lukhanyo Lamla (welterweight)