Thomas Oosthuizen scored a win with an impressive, gritty performance tonight against Marcus Johnson in the main event of ShoBox, winning a 10-round unanimous decision on scores of 98-91 across the board.
Oosthuizen (19-01, 13 KO) was able to outfight Johnson (21-2 15 KO) over the course of the bout, after a hot start that saw the two about dead even through four rounds. Down the stretch, it was Oosthuizen who faded less down the stretch, and Oosthuizen's body punch driving Johnson into the famed deep waters.
For all that has been said about Johnson having a lack of commitment to boxing, though, one cannot really use that as a reason he lost tonight. The 26-year-old gave his absolute best effort tonight, looking to bang early, and showed somewhat surprising resilience after being knocked down on a body shot in round eight. Any thought that he might fold after that was quickly muted as he came charging forward, still pushing to win the fight.
Oosthuizen is in an interesting position. As a 6'4" southpaw, he didn't often use his range tonight, mixing it up in the phone booth with Johnson, who actually has a longer reach (78" to 75½" according to Showtime). But when he did use his range, he looked damn tough to get inside on, and even in close quarters, he was more than capable. He digs to the body pretty well, and never forgets how important it can be in a tough fight.
Defensively, he does have some issues. As you can usually expect from someone so abnormally tall for a division, his chin is there to be hit. But he took good shots from Johnson in this fight, and took them very well, showing what appeared to be quite a strong beard. He is a mixture of exactly what you'd expect from someone with his strange dimensions and exactly what you wouldn't expect from the same guy. He's not ready for the likes of Andre Ward, Lucian Bute, or Carl Froch, but may well have more than enough to beat just about anyone else in the division.
For Johnson, this loss was better than most of his wins, in my estimation. He showed a serious focus, some toughness, and the ability to fight hard even when he was tired. Hopefully he takes the good from this performance and keeps pushing forward, because there's still a lot to like about his talent.
Luis Orlando Del Valle UD-10 Christopher Martin
Martin is pretty much just a tricky opponent now as he slips to 0-2-1 in his last three, but I thought he did a bit better than two of the cards (98-91 and 97-92), and way better than judge Jerry Griffin's 100-89 shutout. Bad Left Hook had it 96-93 for Del Valle in a pretty darn good fight. Martin (23-2-3, 6 KO) took a hard knockdown in the seventh round, but survived it and stayed in the fight the rest of the way. Del Valle (16-0, 11 KO) may have some stamina questions, as he tired down the stretch. But this was a good win and a good fight.
Jose Pedraza UD-8 Gil Garcia
Pedraza (8-0, 6 KO) has some strong hype behind him, as he's getting "next Miguel Cotto" talk that may have been invented partially by his own team. This was a hell of a little fight, as the prospect got some damn hard work from the unbelievably tough Garcia, who ate just shy of 300 punches in eight rounds and was once called down by referee Vic Drakulich, but never actually went down. Garcia's defense was totally non-existent and he can't punch, but he threw hands and bulled forward like a lunatic. Pedraza clearly won without question, but he got good work in this one, and likely comes out all the better for it.
Overall, hats should be off to everyone who put this card together, as it was an excellent edition of ShoBox, by far the best of the year, and really might have been the best televised card of the year so far. There was nothing dull and each fight was well-matched and delivered for entertainment purposes.