Thursday, June 13, 2024  |



Roarke Knapp wins war of attrition over Ahmed El Mousaoui, earns decision in South Africa

Roarke Knapp (right) lands a right hand on El Mousaoui. Photo by James Gradidge
Fighters Network

Junior middleweight Roarke Knapp won a unanimous ten round decision over Ahmed El Mousaoui Saturday night at Emperor’s Palace in Gauteng, South Africa.

In a crowd-pleasing affair, the local lad had to dig deep against the French veteran. As is so often the case, the unanimous scores of 99-91, 98-93 and 96-94 did not fully reflect the competitive nature of the fight.

Both men got off to a fast start in the first round, exchanging a pair of left hooks. Knapp banged in a hook to the body and landed another good one upstairs, only for El Mousaoui to come right back with combinations of his own.

El Mousaoui started the second by nailing Knapp with a left hook flush on the chin. Knapp ate it and came right back with his trademark hooks to the body, punctuated by a final left hook to the head. He ended the round well, forcing the visitor to the ropes where he rained punches on him as the bell rang.

Once again, El Mousaoui started well in the third, landing another left hook. Knapp nailed him moments later with a huge right uppercut, followed by a left hook that got the crowd excited but there is a reason why the French fighter has never been knocked out. He clearly knew how to survive and took some of the sting out of the punches with his tight guard, leaning with the shots.

El Mousaoui had a good fourth round. He landed several straight rights and the odd left hook to the body as Knapp started backing off for the first time, either taking a breather or looking for a counter. He built on that success in the fifth as the exchanges slowed down. He landed two more straight rights on the button with a left hook sandwiched in between before getting on his bicycle.

Knapp took back control in the sixth. He attacked with hooks to the body and then backed off, boxing behind his jab. After a shoe-shine combination by El Mousaoui, Knapp responded by landing a left hook-right hand combo that seemed to hurt his opponent.

Knapp had a good run in the next two rounds, even though the Frenchman seemed to stun him with a series of rights in the eighth. The problem for El Mousaoui was simply that every time he had success, Knapp came back with the harder, more eye-catching shots.

They were hard to separate in the ninth, bouncing combinations off each other.

The tenth round was a microcosm of the fight as both combatants let it all hang out. A straight right landed flush on Knapp’s chin, sending a halo of sweat flying. Knapp took it, momentarily backed off and boxed well behind his jab before putting his foot back on the gas pedal. He piled into El Mousaoui once again, backing him to the ropes where he opened up with his combinations. He ripped shots to the body and then brought them upstairs, punishing his opponent in the dying seconds of the fight.

Ahmed El Mousaoui, who now drops to 34-5-1 with eight knockouts, was as gritty and brave as they come and landed some excellent, accurate shots. He just simply lacked the power to take Knapp out or keep him away for any length of time.

Roarke Knapp now moves to 16-1-1 with 11 knockouts and has become a popular crowd pleaser. He has speed, power and charisma but one has to worry about his penchant for taking flush shots. Hopefully, trainer Vusi Mtolo, who was in the corner of all five house fighters on the card, can help him close the holes. He will need it if he is going to mix with the elite of the division.

As entertaining as the main event was, the performance of the night belonged to Ricardo Malajika who was scintillating, stopping the Filipino Adrian Lerasan in the fifth round of a ten round junior bantamweight bout.

Ricardo Malajika lands a right on Adrian Lerasan. Photo by James Gradidge

Malajika, a decorated amateur, struggled with the transition to the pro ranks, collecting two decision losses along the way but he certainly put his career back on track last night.

Lerasan was riding a five-fight win streak, winning his last four by stoppage, in Thailand no less. Many felt that Malajika had been thrown to the wolves, but he proved the critics wrong.

Malajika took control from the start, boxing behind his jab, landing his straight right and touching Lerasan to the body with the same punch every time his opponent wanted to go into forward gear.

With every round Malajika landed a punch or two more. He soon started landing his combinations, punctuated by a straight right that the southpaw Lerasan seemingly could not avoid.

Malajika trapped Lerasan in the corner in the fifth, banging away to the body before going back to the center of the ring. Then he brought his left hook into play, throwing it off the jab. A big right moments later sent Lerasan to the canvas. He got up but Malajika continued to take him apart. When a right uppercut from Malajika twisted his head upwards, he indicated to the referee moments later that he had enough, and the fight was promptly waved over at the 2:49 mark.

Malajika improves his record to 11-2 with nine knockouts while Lerasan drops to 12-5.

South African junior middleweight champion, Shervantaigh Koopman returned after an injury induced absence of almost a year. He successfully defended his belt, knocking out Jackson Kaptein in the eighth round but he had to shake off some ring rust first.

Shervantaigh Koopman lands an uppercut. Photo by James Gradidge

The challenger came out fast, pressing the action while Koopman elected to box from a distance. Kaptein landed a pair of hard rights to the head of Koopman followed by a big left hook that sent the sweat flying at the end of the second to possibly shade the round. However, he struggled to build on his success.

The challenger kept coming forward, jabbing to Koopman’s chest, and throwing single rights and left hooks which the champion avoided. Koopman punched back but struggled to land anything as Kaptein ducked underneath the punches.

Koopman started to shake off the cobwebs at the end of the fourth landing a good straight right and finding a home for his uppercut. In the fifth he finally found his rhythm and from then on he started picking Kaptein off with jabs, straight rights and uppercuts.

In the seventh he buzzed the challenger with a beautiful right uppercut-left hook combination and two more uppercuts put him on his heels.

That same uppercut-hook combination deposited Kaptein on the canvas in the eighth. He got up, but a left hook-right hand combination put him down again. He somehow dragged himself up again but was counted out on unsteady legs at the 1:17 mark.

Shervantaigh Koopman improves to 11-0 with eight knockouts while Jackson Kaptein drops to 6-2-1.

Undercard results:

Keanu Koopman TKO 2 Xolani Selimane (welterweight)

Michael Head W UD 4 Trust Duma (light heavyweight)