By Anthony Cocks
BRISBANE (3 October 2017) – Logan City’s former boxing world title challenger Alex “The Lionheart” Leapai 30-7-3 (24 KOs) is already eying off future opponents ahead of his comeback fight against New Zealander Thomas Peato at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre on 14 October.
The Samoan-born heavyweight has undefeated former WBA “regular” champion Lucas “Big Daddy” Browne 25-0 (22 KOs) in his sights and says that a fight between the two of them is a natural.
“It’s a fight that needs to happen,” says Leapai, who went five rounds with longtime undisputed heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko when he challenged for the title in 2014.
“It’s a big heavyweight fight in Australia and it’s something that Australians want to see. For sure, one of us is going to get knocked out.”
With enough power between them to solve Australia’s energy crisis, a clash between Australia’s two leading heavyweights would produce the type of explosive entertainment that boxing fans yearn for.
“Forget about war on the Korean Peninsula,” says Paul Keegan of DDP Sports Management, who promote Leapai. “When these two fight they’ll be dropping more bombs than North Korea and the United States combined.”
Perth-based Browne won the WBA “regular” heavyweight title from reigning champ Ruslan Chagaev of Uzbekistan in March last year but was stripped of the title after testing positive to clenbuterol. The ruling was subsequently overturned, clearing him of any wrongdoing.
While preparing to fight American veteran Shannon Briggs for the vacant WBA “regular” title last November Browne failed another drug test, this time for ostarine, claiming that the positive test was the result of a tainted pre-workout supplement he ingested.
Leapai isn’t afraid of matching his power and notorious iron-chin with the might of Browne, who owns a remarkable 88% knockout ratio.
“I come to fight and I know he’ll come to fight,” says Leapai.
“It would be a good fight – for awhile.”
But before that can happen, Leapai has to get past Peato.
“He told us he is coming to fight and records will mean nothing on October 14th,” says Keegan.
“It is a huge opportunity for him and he recognises that. He says that just like Alex, he has the power to change everything with just one punch.
“Someone is going to hit the canvas.”
The Peato fight will be Leapai’s first bout back after a two-and-a-half year retirement.
ALEX LEAPAI QUOTES
On getting back into fighting shape: “I’ll be honest with you, it was really hard. I had to ask myself, ‘is this what I want to do?’. I was over 150kg, but when I went and saw my trainer Noel Thornberry I was down to 142kg. He was in a bit of shock, he didn’t know what to say. But I thank God for Noel because he didn’t think twice. We started training again and now I’ve lost thirty-something kilos. But it was really bad at one stage. I had to get my boys to come and tie my shoes. My waist used to be 97cm and I got up to 140cm. So that was bad. I didn’t want to show a picture of that.”
On the reason for his return to the ring: “When you’ve still got that fire burning inside you, it’s telling you you’ve got to get back. It’s also the passing on my dad too. It’s just put more determination in me. I had a dream that I had a talk to my dad that I would win a world title. And I got there and even though my dad has passed away, the dream still lives on and I want to fulfill it. I want to do it for myself. It was always about doing it for my dad, but I want to do it for myself, for my kids. I thank God, I’m just more determined to go out there and conquer that goal and that’s what it’s all about now.”
On the current crop of heavyweight world titleholders: “I believe I can beat a lot of the heavyweights out there. Because now Wladimir Klitschko is retired, we’ve got three or four world champions out there. It’s been spread around. There’s only one Klitschko and a lot of these guys who are world champions, they’re very lucky they haven’t fought him. I had to fight the best fighter of this era, and I believe I can beat all these champions. It’s just about getting back in there and getting back on top again. And it won’t take long.”
On his family: “My family is everything. My kids are everything. It’s all about them. They’ve been behind me since day one. My kids are the whole reason I’m doing this. Not just for the legacy but so that they know that their dad did something too. That’s the whole thing, I don’t want to be a dad that just did nothing. I want to be known as a dad who went and gave it his best. That’s what it’s all about. To inspire my kids to get up and give it a go. I think I’m doing the right thing. Now it’s just a matter of getting back in there and getting back into the business again.”
On the sudden death of his father: “It was hard. I spoke to my dead on the Thursday and I was telling him I might have to hang up the gloves because I had to have the operation on the eyes. Dad just said to me ‘son, I’m so proud of what you’ve achieved, it’s up to you but my suggestion is to hang them up’. He was looking after my own wellbeing, you know what I mean? I spoke to Dad on Thursday in the afternoon about lunchtime and he passed away at 3 o’clock in the morning on Friday. It’s something that really shocked me because Dad always wanted me to fight on, he knew I would make it to the top.”
On the benefits of boxing: “I’m proof that you can achieve anything if you put your mind and your heart into it. People pay a lot of money to go on weight loss programs. I didn’t lose weight because I had to take this and that supplement. I lost weight because I stuck to a clean diet and just trained hard and that’s it. That’s all I did. I believe boxing is the best way for people to lose weight.”
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About Alex “The Lionheart” Leapai
Alex Leapai was born in Laulii, Samoa, one of five sons to Faataui and Leitu. His family moved to New Zealand when he was 7 and continued on to Australia when he was 12, settling in Logan, Queensland. Leapai played junior rugby league in Logan for Logan Brothers alongside future Australian rugby league and rugby union national Lote Tuqiri. He was offered a scholarship with the National Rugby League side the North Queensland Cowboys while playing for Brothers. In 2005 Leapai spent six months in prison after assaulting two bouncers. The experience forced him to reassess his priorities in life. Upon leaving jail Leapai focused all his attention on boxing and never looked back. Leapai is trained by Noel Thornberry, who took him all the way to shot at undisputed heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko in 2014. In 2013 Leapai caused a major upset by defeating Denis Boystov on points in Germany to become the mandatory challenger to Klitschko. Leapai is married to his high school sweetheart Theresa, with whom he has six children.
About “It’s Time”
“It’s Time” is presented by DDP Sports Management at the Convention & Exhibition Centre in Brisbane, Queensland on Saturday 14 October starting at 7:00pm. The show will be headlined by Dennis “Hurricane” Hogan vs Yuki Nonaka in a 10-round international fight for the World Boxing Organisation (WBO) number two ranking in the junior middleweight division. Hogan, who will be making the second defence of his WBO Oriental title, is ranked number six in the world by the WBO while Nonaka is ranked number seven by the same organisation. The only blemish on Hogan’s record is a 12-round points decision loss to Jack Culcay in Germany for the interim WBA super welterweight world championship in 2015. The card will also feature the return of former world heavyweight title challenger Alex “The Lionheart” Leapai who went five rounds with Wladimir Klitschko for the greatest prize in sports in 2014. Also on the card will be Faris Chevalier making the second defence of his Australian super middleweight title against Sam Banney, who is a stablemate of Hogan and WBO world welterweight champion Jeff Horn trained by coach Glenn Rushton at the Stretton Boxing Club. Rohan Murdock will face Tanzanian Said Mbelwa in another of the main support bouts scheduled for 8 rounds at super middleweight. Rounding out the card will be an entertaining heavyweight slugfest between Herman Ene Purcell and John Szigeti over six rounds and Ronald Branford taking on Adam Copland at light heavyweight.
Tickets for “It’s Time” are available from Ticketek.com.au starting from $59.10 for general admission. Tickets are selling fast so get in early to secure your seats as reserved seating is expected to sell out. The card will be broadcast live by Epicentre.TV with the telecast beginning at 7:00pm Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST).
About DDP Sports Management
DDP Sports Management is the brainchild of Paul Keegan and Danny Dimas. Their mission is to bring arena-style boxing back to Australia where the boxers are the real stars of the sport.