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Preview and Predictions for Thomas Oosthuizen vs. Brandon Gonzales

Briggs SeekinsFeatured Columnist IVOctober 19, 2016

Preview and Predictions for Thomas Oosthuizen vs. Brandon Gonzales

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    On the Gennady Golovkin vs. Matthew Macklin card this Saturday from the Foxwoods Resort, undefeated super middleweights Thomas Oosthuizen and Brandon Gonzales will face off. The fight will be part of HBO's televised broadcast.

    Thomas “Tommy Gun” Oosthuizen already appears in many top 10 rankings at 168 pounds and is sometimes spoken about as a potential future opponent for pound-for-pound star Andre Ward.

    Gonzales is a former amateur standout who has developed slowly as a professional. After six years in the pro game, this will be his first time in a bout scheduled for more than eight rounds.

Tale of the Tape

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    Gonzales is four years older than Oosthuizen, but Oosthuizen is the far more experienced professional prizefighter. He has 21 fights against Gonzales' 17, but the real story here is the number of rounds fought. Most of Oosthuizen's fights have been scheduled for 10 and 12 rounds, while Gonzales has yet to go over eight.

    Oosthuizen is one of the tallest fighters in the super middleweight division. Whenever a southpaw and orthodox fighter meet, there is a high risk of accidental headbutts. But Oosthuizen's four-inch height advantage could diminish the possibility here.

    While neither of these guys is a monster puncher, they both have the ability to end fights early.

    Thomas Oosthuizen    Brandon Gonzales
    Record: 21-0-1, 13 KOs    17-0, 10 KOs
    Height: 6'4"    6'
    Weight: 168 pounds    168 pounds 
    Reach:  78"    74"        
    Stance: Southpaw    Orthodox
    Age: 25    29
    Hometown: Boksburg, South Africa    Sacramento, California
    Rounds: 153     77

Main Storylines

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    This is a showdown between two undefeated prospects, in a division that is often one of the sport's most high-profile and exciting. But Oosthuizen and Gonzales are not really at the same point in their development.

    Oosthuizen, 24, was already fighting 10-round fights his second year in the sport, and 10 of his last 12 fights have been scheduled for 12 rounds. He's fought a respectable level of competition, including fellow prospects Rowland Bryant and Marcus Johnson.

    He represents a major step up in competition for Gonzales. When Ossie Duran and Darnell Boone are the two most recognizable names on your resume, you've clearly been toiling on the under cards.

    Oosthuizen is viewed as one of the top young fighters at 168. The Ring has him rated No. 5. If Gonzales can beat Oosthuizen, it will leapfrog him up the rankings, and make up for a lot of lost time in his career. 

Strengths

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    Thomsas Oosthuizen is a physically awkward opponent for almost any super middleweight fighter. His height, reach and southpaw stance make for a very unique package, and even an experienced fighter could have trouble adjusting to him.

    Despite his reach, Oosthuizen is very comfortable fighting at closer range. He is very much a come-forward fighter, and he lets his hands go with crisp, fluid combinations.

    Oosthuizen has not been coddled during his career. While he has yet to fight a big-name opponent, he has fought a level of competition more than appropriate for his experience.

    He is far more battle tested than his opponent heading into this fight.

    Brandon Gonzales had a strong amateur career. He has solid boxing skills and very good athletic ability.

    Gonzales has great hand speed and is physically strong, making him an effective fighter in the trenches. While his experience is lacking in the ring, he has always been a touted prospect and has spent time around some very good boxing gyms.

    He was trained by Jeff Mayweather in Las Vegas and has more recently moved to the Bay Area, to work with Virgil Hunter, after having been a sparring partner for Andre Ward.

Weaknesses

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    Thomas Oosthuizen has always held his own exchanging in close range. He punches very well, in quick, fluid combinations. Still, the guy has a lot of thin body to pound on, and I don't think fighting in a phone booth will serve him well against Gonzales.

    At the higher levels of the sport, I like to see a boxer fighting in a way that is more tailored to his body type. Oosthuizen's come-forward style is exciting, and he has gotten by with it so far.

    But against a physically powerful opponent who has very quick hands, it could lead to him getting pretty banged up.

    Brandon Gonzales fought last in January, on a Friday Night Fights card against Don Mouton. It was a scheduled eight-round bout, and by the end of the fight, Gonzales was showing definite signs of fatigue.

    The really dangerous thing I saw him doing in that fight was letting his jab drop as he brought it back. In the colorful language of Friday Night Fight's Teddy Atlas, Gonzales was “leaving the window open to let in a cold draft.”

    If Gonzales was showing fatigue in an eight-round fight last January, against 12-4-1 Don Mouton, I have my doubts about him holding up for 12 with the likes of Oosthuizen.

    If he starts getting lazy and dropping the jab against the South African, the “cold draft” he will feel will be a jolting overhand left.

Thomas Oosthuizen Will Win If...

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    Oosthuizen needs to set a blistering pace. He's fought 12 full rounds a half dozen times, but his opponent has never gone more than eight. He needs to operate under the assumption that he has the better conditioning and make Gonzales prove him wrong.

    He also needs to make better use of his reach than he often has in the past. He should look to move into and out of range behind his jab.

    He should use the jab to obscure Gonzales' vision as Gonzales tries to move into range, then look to catch Gonzales with blistering uppercut/hook combinations, before moving away behind the jab.

    Parts of this fight are going to be fought in the trenches, and I expect Oosthuizen will hold his own there. But he can score from much safer geography.

    If Oosthuizen can control the distance with his jab and footwork, he should be able to beat Gonzales up and wear him down.

Brandon Gonzales Will Win If...

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    Gonzales needs to double up on the jab to move into range on Oosthuizen, before pounding him to the body. Gonzales should use his physical strength to muscle Oosthuizen around and create angles to score. This is something Andre Ward excels at, so I expect Virgil Hunter will be working on it with Gonzales.

    Even though he is not a big-time knockout artist, I think Gonzales should look to land a big punch early. I'm not saying he should hunt for the knockout, but he might want to roll the dice a little more, given the opportunity this fight represents.

    Above all else, Gonzales needs to keep his defense tight, even as he fatigues later in the fight. If he gets lazy with his jab, Oosthuizen will blast him over the top with a counter left.

Prediction

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    Gonzales has some obvious physical tools, and he is well thought of by the likes of Jeff Mayweather and Virgil Hunter. But he's done nothing so far in the professional ring to indicate that he is anywhere near ready for a fighter like Oosthuizen.

    If Gonzales was a prospect like Gary Russell Jr., who wowed in his six- and eight-rounders, it would be a different matter. I remember watching Gonzales' eight-round unanimous decision over Don Mouton last January on Friday Night Fights, and I literally had trouble staying awake through it.

    His last fight before that was just over a year ago, in June of 2012, when he took a full eight rounds to beat 6-4 Elie Augustama.

    Oosthuizen has not exactly fought world-beaters yet, but it's been a few years since he was fighting the likes of Mouton and Augustama.

    Gonzales is coming up fast on 30, so I can see the strategy behind throwing him in against somebody like Oosthuizen. Of all the highly ranked super middleweights, he might be the most beatable. A win here puts Gonzales firmly on the map.

    No doubt his handlers feel he's ready for this.

    But there's a big difference between sparring some rounds in the gym against world-class competition, and trying to beat hungry, highly rated contenders over 12 rounds. I expect Oosthuizen to take control of the fight in the second half and win comfortably.

    Thomas Oosthuizen by decision, 117-111.  

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