By Anthony Cocks
Queensland light heavyweight Trent Broadhurst wasn’t expecting things to move this quickly.
The 29-year-old from Slacks Creek in Brisbane had only signed with new manager Peter Kahn of the USA a few months earlier. A world title shot was always the plan for the WBA #10 and WBO #15 light heavyweight but he didn’t expect the opportunity to come around this quickly.
"My manager was sort of chipping away at a few things, and this fight popped up," Broadhurst 20-1 (12) recently told the Sydney Morning Herald of the fight that will see him challenge Dmitry Bivol for the WBA 175-pound world title this weekend. "We jumped at the opportunity. You’re never going to say no to a world title."
A unique set of circumstance conspired to put him in the frame for his shot at the bigtime.
As recently as August the venerable Panamanian sanctioning body had no less than three “world champions” doing the rounds. Pound-for-pound stalwart Andre Ward was their “super” champion, Floyd Mayweather protégé Badou Jack their “regular” champion and Russian novice pro Bivol their “interim” champion.
On 21 September, the 33-year-old Ward announced his retirement. It was somewhat unexpected, although the undefeated two division champion had spoken about hanging up the gloves ever since defeating pound-for-pound entrant Sergey Kovalev for the second time back in June.
Just two days later Badou Jack – who had only claimed the WBA “regular” title a month earlier in his light heavyweight debut with a TKO5 win over former titleholder Nathan Cleverly – advised the sanctioning body that he was relinquishing his title. The exact reasons for this move are unknown apart from a vague statement at the time about “other plans in the works”. What is known is that the WBA had ordered a purse bid to take place on for 25 September for a fight between Jack and Bivol.
The WBA had earlier announced it was planning on ridding the sport of its multiple champions in each division and has been actively pursuing “unification” bouts between its various titleholders.
The unexpected retirement of Ward followed by Jack’s decision to follow “other plans” allowed the WBA to elevate Bivol 11-0 (9) to full champion status.
And without a mandatory defence due, he was able to choose an opponent in the WBA’s top 15 to face in his first defence of the “full” title.
Enter Trent Broadhurst.
The Queenslander jumped at the opportunity to contest a world championship even with the short notice. The fight was scheduled to take place on 4 November at the Casino de Monte Carlo in Monte Carlo, Monaco and to be broadcast live on HBO in the USA.
Despite the fight being put together so quickly Broadhurst still managed an eight-week training camp to prepare himself for the biggest fight of his life.
"I’ve been hard at it for the past eight weeks, got one or two hard sessions left then we’ll rest up before the fight,” he said.
Broadhurst isn’t one to overthink what his opponents can do in the ring and leaves the gameplan up to his team, expertly headed up by former Aussie 140-pound champion Chris McCullen.
"I watch a little bit just to familiarise myself, but game plan-wise I leave it up to my team," said Broadhurst. "My coach, the other guys in my corner, they’ve watched him a lot and come with what we think is the way to beat him."
Bivol may have almost half the number of pro fights under his belt as Broadhurst, but the former amateur standout is part of the new breed of boxing prodigies being progressed quickly towards world titles.
The 26-year-old Russian came into the pro ranks three years ago sporting an impressive 268-15 record in the amateurs. The two-time world junior amateur champion won the interim WBA light heavyweight title in May last year against the undefeated Felix Valera, dropping him twice en route to a UD victory, and has successfully defended the title twice. He has won his last three bouts with fourth round TKOs.
The Broadhurst fight will be Bivol’s fourth outing this year.
The teak-tough Queensland scaffolder is unbeaten since 2011 when he lost in just his eighth pro fight to rugged Kiwi KO artist Robert “The Butcher” Berridge. Broadhurst was leading the fight on two of the three scorecards at the time.
Last time out Broadhurst had an easy TKO3 win over faded veteran Nadar Hamdan at the Adelaide Oval in Adelaide, South Australia in February on the undercard of the rematch between Anthony Mundine and Danny Green. He was scheduled to back this up with a March fight against American Travis Reeves, but that fight fell through after Broadhurst was sidelined by a freak sparring injury.
"Last sparring session before my last fight, I caught a body punch on my right elbow and my elbow actually dug into my ribs and broke my rib, which pushed into my liver and gave it a small laceration," Broadhurst said.
According to Broadhurst, the injury only kept him out of the gym for a few weeks and has now mended itself completely.
"It’s healed 100 per cent," he said. "The doctor actually said to me, ’I’ve never seen anything like it, there’s no evidence of injury or scar tissue.’ So that’s always good."
Broadhurst was infatuated with boxing from an early age. He begged his father to let him go to the Logan PCYC to learn the sport but his father held back until he hit double-figures.
“You weren’t allowed to start until you were 10 years old, so the day after my 10th birthday he took me up there to start boxing,” said Broadhurst.
"I remember watching the Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield pay-per-views and what-not. I didn’t even know what was going on but something just drew me to it."
As a 10-1 underdog with some bookmakers, Broadhurst will be hoping he can spring the surprise on Bivol.
Just like Holyfield did to Tyson.
MARK FLANAGAN GETS BACK IN THE SADDLE IN TOWNSVILLE AFTER LEBEDEV LOSS
Back in July this year Mark “Bam Bam” Flanagan accepted an offer to travel to Russia to face long-reigning WBA cruiserweight champion Denis Lebedev. It was a significant step up in class for the big banger from the Townsville suburb of Rasmussen but an opportunity too good to refuse.
After 12 bruising rounds, Flanagan was still standing to hear the final bell. To put that achievement in context, only future Hall of Famer James Toney and granite-chinned Youri Kayembre Kalenga from the Democratic Republic of the Congo have managed to do the same in losing efforts against the dangerous Russian puncher in the past decade.
While the fight didn’t go his way – the savvy veteran’s championship experience and methodical attack from the southpaw stance proved too much to overcome – the durable Flanagan showed himself to be a tough out for anyone competing in the 200-pound weight class.
Not a bad effort from someone who wasn’t just having his first fight overseas, but making his first trip abroad.
"I learnt a lot in my fight over in Russia," Flanagan told Maxboxing this week. "I’ve definitely learnt now to keep trying to fight your own fight instead of falling into their game plan, you’ve just gotta back yourself.
"If I had my time again there is a lot I would do differently, starting with applying more controlled pressure on him and letting my hands go a lot more."
This Saturday night Flanagan 22-5 (15) returns to the ring in his hometown of Townsville in Far North Queensland where he will headline an Ace Boxing Promotions card at the Entertainment and Convention Centre aptly titled “Homecoming” that will also feature other local talent including hot junior welterweight prospect Liam Paro and the return of Jordan Gee Hoy.
In the opposite corner to Flanagan will be Pablo Matias Magrini 19-2-1 (15). The 27-year-old bruiser is keen to show the heavy-handed Argentine what he learned from the Russian experience.
"My next opponent is a good fighter, but I’m already a better fighter and I want to show that in my fight with sustained pressure and complete control of the fight," said Flanagan, who will be making the first defence of his WBA Oceania title.
"Townsville is my hometown and it means a great deal to me to be fighting back there in front of my friends and family.”