By Anthony Cocks
While WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn was playing host to Gary Corcoran at a press conference in Brisbane on Monday afternoon to announce their world title fight on 13 December, Toowoomba native Kris George was reflecting on his successful Commonwealth welterweight title defence the previous day against Jack Brubaker and plotting his own challenge to Horn in what would be a mouth-watering all-Queensland world title clash.
“Definitely a fight I would love to make,” said George, 13-1 (7). “Jeff is now a big name and it would be my dream to fight for the world title. This is boxing and anything can happen, [you] can make no prediction but once we are in that ring and it’s just me and him then I’m a 50% chance of becoming the new world champion.”
George admits that the real challenge is putting himself in the right place at the right time to make the fight.
“The real battle is getting myself in that position, but I feel I’m heading in the right direction and I’m becoming stronger and more confident every day. If the opportunity comes I’ll be ready and I honestly believe I will surprise a lot of people once again.”
On Sunday afternoon George made the first defence of the Commonwealth title he won from his highly-touted countryman and 2012 London Olympian Cameron Hammond last November when he took on talented Cronulla boxer “Gelignite” Jack Brubaker 13-2-1 (7) at Sydney’s Star City Casino on Paul Nasari’s inaugural Johnny Lewis Ultimate Fight Night.
Brubaker is no mug. His sole loss before this bout was on points to talented Melbournian Qamil Balla for the vacant Australian junior welterweight title four years ago. Last year Brubaker travelled to Tokyo, Japan to successfully defend his OPBF welterweight title against Suyon Takayama, who was 24-1 (8) going in to the fight, by split decision at the famous Korakuen Hall.
Brubaker was competitive with George but it was the Toowoomba bait and tackle shop owner who controlled much of the action.
“Fight went to plan mate,” said George. “I was landing the jab at will and it was landing hard. Maybe it didn’t come across so much on TV but it was working along with the left hook. Round four I injured it and round five it was proper broken which made me move into southpaw a lot more to try keep him off. The only surprise was Jack’s chin. When I hit him with the right hand that cut him I couldn’t believe he stood!”
The severity of the cut forced the stoppage of the bout at the 2:20 mark in the sixth round of the twelve round bout.
When George fought Hammond for the vacant Commonwealth title last year he was a sizeable underdog against the Ricky Hatton-promoted Olympian. That didn’t bother George, who was happy to prove the pundits wrong by dropping Hammond in the sixth and running away with a comfortable unanimous decision victory.
“Yeah mate, that was a great confidence building fight for me, knowing I can box with the best,” said George. “Every fight is different and each fighter has their strengths and weaknesses. I do believe I had beaten Cameron before the fight started. Boxing is a big mental game and I was too mentally strong for him.”
As for the likelihood of a world title shot, George is eternally optimistic.
“One thing I have learnt over the years from boxing is that anything is possible,” said the 28-year-old George. “Had you asked me a couple years back, I wouldn’t think I’d be Commonwealth champion, so who knows where I could be in another couple of years?”
SAKIO BIKA KEEPS THE DREAM ALIVE WITH A SOLID 12 ROUNDER AGAINST GEARD AJETOVIC
The comeback of former WBC super middleweight champion Sakio “The Scorpion” Bika 34-7-3 (22) continued with a 12 round unanimous decision win over Serb Geard Ajetovic 31-17-1 (16).
The aggressive and rugged Bika lived up to his reputation, outworking Ajetovic in most rounds but being docked two points for body shots that strayed below the beltline.
At 38 years old Bika returned to the ring in July with a TKO7 of Luke Sharp after more than two years on the sidelines after a losing bid for the WBC light heavyweight world championship against Adonis Stevenson in Quebec City, Canada back in April 2015.
DARRAGH FOLEY CONTINUES HIS WINNING WAYS
On the undercard of the Johnny Lewis Ultimate Fight Night at the Star City Casino in Sydney world ranked 140-pounder Darragh Foley 13-2 (8) had a solid hit-out against Ryuji Hachimitsu Ikeda winning by technical decision in the eighth round of a scheduled ten to claim the vacant WBO Oriental title and interim WBC Asian Boxing Council title to go with his WBA Oceania strap on Sunday afternoon.
The lanky southpaw, who hails from Dublin, Ireland but has fought his entire pro career out of Australia, didn’t know much about his Japanese opponent before the opening bell.
“I had watched one fight of his that was sent to me versus a southpaw, but didn’t take much from it as he had a completely different style,” said Foley, who is trained by Tony Del Vecchio at the Bondi Boxing Club.
Despite being comfortably ahead 70-63 on all three judges’ scorecards when the fight was stopped due to a severe cut Ikeda had sustained, Foley admits there was one thing that did surprise him about his opponent.
“He surprised me with his chin and durability, he ate some tasty left hands!” laughed Foley.
With three fights under his belt for 2017, the WBA #13 junior welterweight is on a roll stringing together five wins for four stoppages since dropping a competitive points decision to talented countryman Brandon Ogilvie at lightweight in March last year.
“I would fight any of the other 14 blokes in them rankings tomorrow,” said Foley of the WBA’s top 15. “Well, I have a few stitches in my eye at the minute so once they’re out…
“The higher calibre of opponent will bring the very super best out of me.”
TIM TSZYU HAS TO OVERCOME EARLY SCARE TO GET WIN AGAINST WADE RYAN
In a fight that featured a lot of firsts, Tim Tszyu 7-0 (5) had to overcome a first round knockdown to win a 10 round unanimous decision against the dangerous Wade Ryan 14-6 (3) to claim the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental junior middleweight title over ten rounds.
Two of the firsts were expected. It was Tszyu’s first title fight as a pro and his first scheduled ten rounder. What wasn’t expected was that it would also become the first fight that Tszyu found himself on the canvas.
Tszyu showed great composure to overcome the early scare and box his way back into the fight, winning on all three judges’ scorecards by 97-92, 95-94 and 97-93.
UNDERCARD RESULTS: OLYMPIAN LUKE BOYD, BEN SAVVA & TROY O’MELEY VICTORIOUS
Sydney super bantamweight Luke Boyd 4-0 (4) kept his impeccable record intact with a sixth round TKO of Robert Trigg 2-1-1 to claim the vacant Australian 122-pound championship when he stopped the gutsy South Australian from Mount Gambier at 2:34. 30-year-old Boyd represented Australia at the 2008 Beijing Olympics as a bantamweight.
Ben Savva 8-1 (3) claimed the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council welterweight title with a fifth round TKO of Natthawut Arunsuk 11-8-1 (7) of Thailand in a scheduled ten round bout.
Talented Troy O’Meley 3-0 (1) scored his third win as a pro with a four round unanimous decision victory over Queensland-based Thai journeyman Pramool Boonpok 1-38-1.
JASON MOLONEY DECIMATES JULIAS KISARAWE IN BANTAMWEIGHT DEBUT
At the Melbourne Park Function Centre on Saturday night Jason “The Smooth One” Moloney 15-0 (12) made a successful bantamweight debut with a first round knockout of experienced Tanzanian Julias Kisarawe 27-5-1 (14) to claim the vacant WBA Oceania title on the Hosking Promotions card in Melbourne, Australia.
Jason caught Kisarawe with a couple of grazing right hands early in the round on the ropes. The visitor was struggling to figure out his aggressive opponent when the fight ending right cross landed just as the ten-second clapper sounded. The next sound was Kisarawe hitting the canvas.
“To be honest, I was just sticking to the game plan and working my way into the fight,” said Jason of the sudden ending at the 2:58 mark of the opening stanza. “The big right hand came as a bit of a surprise. As soon as I felt that punch connect, I knew he wasn’t getting up.
“As I said post-fight, me and [trainer] Angelo [Hyder] have worked on that punch for hours and hours in the gym and I feel I have made some big improvements on my power over the past few months. Having power is something which gives me a lot of confidence. Angelo has been able to teach me how to bring out my power.
“I feel I’m naturally punching much harder but I also think I’m now much better at setting up those big shots and throwing them at the right time to make sure that they do land.”
After his twin brother Andrew made the move down from bantamweight to super flyweight in August, Jason has been keen to test the waters in a new weight class himself.
“I felt awesome at the new weight,” said Jason, who is ranked WBA #8, WBO #10 and IBF #13 at super bantamweight. “It obviously took a lot of discipline to get down to bantamweight but we made the weight to perfection. On fight night I felt better than ever! I’m really excited about the future as I see myself having a lot of success in the division.”
While Jason was celebrating his victory, halfway around the world in Belfast IBF bantamweight champion Ryan Burnett 18-0 (9) was getting ready to unify his championship with WBA titleholder Zhanat Zhakiyanov 27-2 (18) of Kazakhstan at the SSE Arena.
“Obviously Ryan Burnett unifying the division at 25 years old is a massive achievement, but to be honest I thought it was a very scrappy fight,” said Jason.
“When I watch both Burnett and Zhakiyanov I really believe that we have what it takes to beat these guys. Over the last six months I feel I’ve made some big improvements and it really excites me to think how much better I’ll be in another six months.
“I’m really motivated to continue to work hard, listen to my coach and make sure that I’m continuing to improve everyday so that when my time comes, I’ll grab the opportunity with both hands and turn my dreams into reality.”
Surveying the talent in the traditional 118-pound weight class, Jason is confident that he can fight his way to the top of the pack in the very near future.
“In eight-to-twelve months times I really believe that I can have a world title around my waist!” he said.
IBRAHIM BALLA OVERCOMES CUTS TO DECISION SALIM MTANGO AND CLAIM WBA OCEANIA TITLE
In the semi-main event Ibrahim “La Bala” Balla 13-1 (7) claimed the WBA Oceania featherweight title with a ten round unanimous decision win over previously undefeated Tanzanian Salim Mtango 9-1 (3).
The 27-year-old from Rockbank in Melbourne’s western suburbs had to overcome a number of cuts caused by headclashes throughout the bout that left him needing 15 stitches and some glue to put his face back together after the fight.
“We had a few headclashes,” said Balla, who ended the contest with an inch long cut over his left eye. “Mtango was an awkward customer. But my team did a great job stopping the bleeding so it didn’t worry me too much.
Balla had to overcome an awkward opponent to get the win but says that it is all part of the job of being a prizefighter.
“I think that’s part of being a professional, to stay focused on your job. I knew I was putting the rounds in the bank,” said Balla.
Balla was coming off a career-best win over former world title challenger Silvester Lopez of the Philippines, who he defeated by ten round decision at the same venue in August.
“It was good to get another ten rounds under my belt. Come away with more confidence in my game knowing that what I’m learning in the gym is paying off. I will be back in the ring on the next Hosking’s promotion early in the new year.”
ANDREW MOLONEY CLAIMS COMMONWEALTH DOUBLE WITH 4TH ROUND TKO OF HASHIMU ZUBERI
A long-held dream came to fruition on Saturday night when 2014 Commonwealth Games flyweight gold medallist Andrew “The Monster” Moloney 15-0 (10) claimed the Commonwealth professional boxing title at super flyweight against Tanzanian Hashimu Zuberi 13-2 (3) by TKO4 at Punches at the Park 6 at the Melbourne Park Function Centre in Melbourne, Australia.
“Both of these belts mean a lot to me,” said Andrew, who also defended the WBA Oceania super flyweight title he won against Filipino Raymond Tabugon in his previous bout. “I believe I’m the first Australian to win Commonwealth titles in the amateurs and pros.”
Andrew is ranked number six by the WBA at 115-pounds. The Panamanian sanctioning body’s champion Khalid Yafai 22-0 (14) of the UK will be making the second defence of his world title against Japan’s Sho Ishida 24-0 (13) at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales this Saturday night.
The 26-year-old twin knows that his level of opposition is critical at this stage of his career as he readies himself for a shot at the bigtime.
“He was a tough opponent and that’s exactly what we wanted,” said Andrew. “Tougher and tougher opponents so that I’m ready when I get a shot at that world title.”
UNDERCARD RESULTS: JAI OPETAIA, SUGAR NEEKZ, PLUGGER NICHOLS & VICTOR ODINDO COME UP TRUMPS
Powerful cruiserweight prospect Jai Opetaia 13-0 (10) walked down and then through previously unbeaten American Frankie Lopez 9-1 (7) in just one round to claim the vacant IBF Youth title.
The 22-year-old Sydney southpaw cut the ring off on Lopez and caught him on the ropes with a big right hand that sent him to the canvas. Although the Virgil Hill-trained beat the count, he was battered from pillar to post until his corner threw in the towel forcing the stoppage at 2:55 of the opening round.
"A lot of work went into this," said Opetaia. "I’m ready, I’ve got an awesome management crew, they work hard for me and hopefully you’ll see me back in the ring soon."
Bantamweight Cherneka “Sugar Neekz” Johnson 7-0 (3) defeated debutant Febriyanti Lubis 0-1 by second round stoppage at 0:22.
Cruiserweight Jayden “Plugger” Nichols moved to 5-0-1 (1) with a four round majority decision overCliff Chamberlain Jr 1-3 (1 KOs) by scores of 40-36, 38-38 and 40-36.
Junior middleweight Victor Odindo 4-0 (4) scored a dominant third round TKO of Gregory Bell 3-3 (1) in a scheduled four round bout.
BILAL AKKAWY BOWLS OVER CARLOS JEREZ IN THREE
Homerun hitter Bilal Akkawy 15-0-1 (13) once again had his power on display when he took just three rounds to force the corner of Argentine journeyman Carlos Adan Jerez 45-21-3 (18) to throw in the towel in a 10 round super middleweight contest for the WBA Oceania title at Club Punchbowl in Sydney on Saturday night.
It was Akkawy’s first fight in a year. The last time he was in action the 24-year-old from Peakhurst forced veteran Kerry Hope to retire after seven rounds with a broken jaw and several dislodged teeth.
Team Akkawy have been angling for a fight with local rival Jayde “J-Mitch” Mitchell 15-1 (8) from the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. Mitchell was forced to push back the fight until 2018 after undergoing surgery to fix a nagging neck injury after his last bout against China’s Ainiwaer Yilixiati in August that he won by unanimous decision.