By Anthony Cocks
UNBREAKABLE LIAM PARO IS HAPPY – AND DANGEROUS
Brisbane-based junior welterweight Liam ‘The Prodigy’ Paro 14-0 (10) is a happy fighter.
The 22-year-old has just finished off the best training camp of his career. He is about to headline a nationally televised card on Fox Sports this Saturday night. And the WBO Youth champion is sitting pretty as the number six ranked fighter in the world according to the WBO.
But his happiness will come at a cost – to Robert Tlatlik at least.
“A happy fighter is a dangerous fighter,” said a relaxed and confident Paro in an exclusive interview with Maxboxing three days ahead of his 10-round bout against German-based Pole Tlatlik 22-1 (16) at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre.
The Paro name shot to prominence 15 months ago when the slick southpaw was drafted into camp to help Brisbane grafter Jeff Horn prepare for his WBO welterweight title-winning effort against multi-division champion and future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao.
Team Horn were so impressed with Paro they invited him back twice more as the ‘Fighting Schoolteacher’ prepared to face pound-for-pound rated American switch-hitter Terence Crawford.
“Obviously sparring with a world champion is a big confidence booster,” said Paro. “That’s the main thing I’ve taken out of it. I’m in there mixing it with a world champion – at that time he was the best in the world – it gives you a lot of confidence.
“Jeff being a bigger boy too. It made me feel better coming in to my fights because no-one is going to be as big as him. He’s a big welterweight so no-one that I fight is going to be that big physically.
“So it was good for me, the conditioning and everything. The biggest thing I got out of it was the confidence that I could mix it with the best.
“Sparring eight rounds with Horn is like a 12-round fight with guys at my weight. He’s active and he’s big and he’s strong.”
While those camps boosted Paro’s confidence in his own abilities, they weren’t designed to prepare him for his own fights. This time around Paro has been able to focus on getting himself in the best possible condition for his upcoming bout.
“We’ve been getting the best sparring, world class sparring,” said Paro. “We had 10 rounds in the bank with fresh guys pushing a fast pace. We always come into a fight fit and ready to go the distance, we’re always ready to go.”
Paro’s trainer Alfie Di Carlo found a Tlatlik doppelgänger to mimic the moves and pressure they expect the German to apply.
“We brought a sparring partner in from Poland,” said Di Carlo. “He was Amir Khan’s sparring partner for the Samuel Vargas fight.
“He just very well mimicked the fight I see the German bringing to the table tomorrow night – the high pressure, the non-stop coming forward.
“The 50 rounds that Liam got with this guy were just non-stop, relentless rounds. And in terms of his conditioning, I think it’s the best we have ever see him.”
Paro says he doesn’t really study his opponents; that’s Di Carlo’s job. His job is to listen to Di Carlo in the corner and apply the game-plan they have come up with.
“My coach Alfie Di Carlo does most of the studying,” said Paro. “I don’t really watch too much. He’ll pick up on what their strengths are and I trust him to train me on beating their strengths.
“For example, Tlatlik throws a lot of left hook leads, so I’ve been working on a lot of defence to counter that left hook.”
Di Carlo, a lawyer and property developer, is a straight shooter.
“If I give him praise it’s not because I’m going to blow kisses up his arse,” said Di Carlo. “But when we’re in the gym, it’s fighter-trainer.”
The bond between Di Carlo and Paro is something of a rarity on the modern boxing world, where decisions are largely driven by the almighty dollar. Paro has the sort of belief in Di Carlo that Rocky Marciano had in Charley Goldman; that Mike Tyson had in Cus D’Amato; and that Jeff Fenech and Jeff Harding both had in Johnny Lewis.
“Alfie is the best, I reckon he’s the best trainer in the world,” Paro said. “We have a good bond too, it’s so much more than just coach-fighter. It’s like we’re brothers.
“If he says jump, I say how high. I’ve got all the trust in the world with Alfie. His boxing IQ is next level. I’m really blessed to have him as my coach leading the way.
“A happy fighter is a dangerous fighter.”
NATHANIEL MAY BLOWS OUT THE COBWEBS IN BELFAST
IBF number four and WBO number 11 ranked featherweight Nathaniel ‘Cheeky’ May 20-1 (11) knocked off the rust with a workman-like eight round points win over Ruslan Berchuk 12-9 (4) of Russia at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast, Northern Ireland on Friday October 5.
“It’s been a long twelve months out of the ring,” said May. “It was great tome come back and dust the cobwebs out. It was a tough fight, a lot harder than we thought it was, but it was good.
It was something of a homecoming for the 23-year-old from Bunbury in Western Australia, whose great-grandfather emigrated from the Emerald Isle at the turn of last century.
“My great-grandfather was from Belfast and in the early 1900s he moved from Belfast over to Australia and married my great-grandmother,” said May before the fight.
“I don’t really know a great deal about my Belfast roots yet but I’m looking forward to finding out more and fighting in front of the fans there, who I hear are some of the best in the world.”
May, who was awarded the win by a score of 79-73 by the referee and sole judge, was last in action in December when he stopped previously undefeated Brazilian Aelio Mesquita – now 17-2 (15) – in five rounds on the undercard of Jeff Horn’s inaugural WBO welterweight title defence against Gary Corcoran in Brisbane.
Since that fight May’s long-time trainer Peter Stokes passed away from cancer earlier in the year.
“It’s been a tough twelve months,” said May. “But we have to get back on the horse and kick it in the stomach and finish something that me and my old coach started. It’s time to finish it.
“There’s a lot more to come. It was my first fight back. I’ve got a lot more to give and to show off so I’m looking forward to getting back in the ring to show everyone what I can do.”
KYE ‘MR FRENZY’ MACKENZIE OUT-MUSCLES MARK ‘MACHETE’ BERNALDEZ
WBO number six ranked lightweight Kye ‘Mr Frenzy’ MacKenzie 20-1 (17) had to climb off the canvas to get the stoppage win over Filipino prospect Mark ‘Machete’ Bernaldez 17-2 (12) at Metro City in Northbridge, Perth last Friday night.
The 26-year-old from Tamworth struck first, sending Bernaldez to the deck in the fourth. The General Santos City fighter returned the favour in the following round. But the hard-hitting MacKenzie rallied to knock Bernaldez down twice in the seventh, forcing referee Gary Ingraham to step in and stop the fight at the time of 1:56.
“People talking like I was inactive and all that,” said MacKenzie said in a video posted to Facebook.
“What now, I’ve just had another fight. Probably have another one by the end of the year. Man, I’m a f@#king killer, man. I’m a killer.”
MacKenzie, who picked up the vacant WBO Asia Pacific 135-pound title with the win, won every round except the fourth and was leading by scores of 58-54, 58-55 and 58-54 at the time of the stoppage.
The lone loss on MacKenzie’s ledger came via TKO8 to Jack Asis in a fight for the vacant IBO super featherweight title in April 2015. MacKenzie was leading on two of the judges’ scorecards at the time.
In an exciting cruiserweight fight Glen Austin 7-0 (2) scored a surprise first round knockout of Rob Powdrill 6-4 (1) in a fight scheduled for six.
Powdrill – whose sole knockout victory was a KO1 over world-rated light heavyweight Damien Hooper in 2014 – decked Austin early but was penalised two-points for hitting the West Australian while he was down.
Austin was given a five-minute break to recover. When the fight recommenced Austin pounced on Powdrill, sending him to the canvas twice before referee Mark Simpson intervened to stop the fight.
Junior welterweight ‘Brilliant’ Brandon Ogilvie 21-2-1 (11) scored a routine fifth round TKO of Arief Blader 23-31-2 (8) in a scheduled six round bout.
The 24-year-old Ogilvie from Perth has now won four fights in a row since losing a 12-round decision to world-rated George Kambosos Jr in December 2016. Indonesian Blader, 32, has now lost nine fights on the trot.
‘MAGIC MAN’ MARK SCHLEIBS CLAIMS NATIONAL CROWN AGAINST ROBERT TRIGG
Melbourne’s Mark ‘Magic Man’ Schleibs 10-0 (6) delivered a classy performance to claim the Australian bantamweight title from Robert ‘Trigger’ Trigg 3-3-1 (1) by unanimous decision at the Melbourne Pavilion in Flemington on Friday October 5.
Trigg suffered a small cut over his left eye in the sixth round but it didn’t affect the outcome of the fight. The 25-year-old Schleibs, a former three-time Australian amateur champion, landed the sharper, more accurate shots to run away the victor by scores of 100-90, 97-93 and 98-91.
In his first fight scheduled for more than six rounds – and his first to last beyond the fourth – Schleibs showed great variety in attack as he held off the hard-charging 24-year-old South Australian in the second half of the fight.
Schleibs, who grew up in Reservoir and Heidelberg West in Melbourne’s tough northern suburbs, is trained by Sam and Ben Brizzi at their Kingsbury gym.
Trigg was making the second defence of the 118-pound national crown he won against Mark Quon two years ago.
On the undercard returning light heavyweight Mitchell ‘Big Country’ Middleton-Clark 13-2 (12) won his first fight on points with a six-round majority decision against tough Sydney boxer Steven Ma 7-12-1 (2).
The hammer-fisted 24-year-old southpaw, who was having his first fight in 18 months, won the fight by scores of 59-55, 58-56 and 57-57 on the Team Ellis ‘Bad Intentions’ card.
WADE RYAN STOPS LES SHERRINGTON IN NINE
In the biggest win of his career Gunnedah southpaw Wade Ryan 16-7 (5) stopped former world-rated Queenslander Les ‘Lock & Load’ Sherrington 37-12 (21) in the ninth round of a scheduled 10 round bout to claim the vacant OPBF Silver middleweight title at the Town Hall in Gunnedah, NSW on Saturday October 6.
The 36-year-old Townsville veteran was a late replacement for the talented Rocky Jerkic 16-1 (13) who was forced to withdraw suffering a medical complaint.
Ryan has shared the square circle with some of the best in Australia. The 28-year-old has been the distance in losing efforts to world-rated boxers Michael Zerafa, Jamie Weetch and Wes Capper. In October last year he lost a competitive decision to hot prospect Tim Tszyu, who he had on the deck in the opening round.