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Boxing in Oz

Boxing scene down under
Boxing scene down under

By Anthony Cocks


JEFF HORN CONSIDERING MOVE TO JUNIOR MIDDLEWEIGHT IF SUCCESSFUL AGAINST ANTHONY MUNDINE NEXT MONTH

 

Jeff Horn 18-1-1 (12) will consider a permanent move up to junior middleweight if he wins his 71kg (156.5lb) catchweight bout against Anthony Mundine 48-8 (28) at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on November 30.

 

The former WBO welterweight champion is returning to the stadium where he scored his breakthrough win against Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao in July last year.

 

“At the moment it’s just whatever opportunity comes up,” said Horn to the Sydney Morning Herald. “If moving up to super welter is a division where there are more opportunities, so be it. I can fight at welterweight and I can fight at super welterweight.”

 

The ‘Fighting Schoolteacher’ has struggled with the scales in recent times, most notably ahead of his TKO9 loss to pound-for-pound level fighter Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford 33-0 (24) in America last June that cost him his world championship belt.

 

“It is [harder],” admitted Horn. “Going over 30 [years of age], the body starts to put on the weight. I’ve been told it so many times before and now it’s starting to happen to me. I can easily put on weight and it’s harder to get it back off.

 

“Maybe staying at the higher weight, depending how I feel in this fight, may be the smartest move.”

 

Horn says he feels more powerful at the higher weight and expects the extra poundage to benefit his stamina going into the later rounds.

 

“Already, hitting the bag now at a relaxed weight, I feel like the power has gone up significantly,” he said. “Because I don’t have to cut as much weight, my fitness won’t be impacted for having had to cut weight the day before.”

 

LUCAS BROWNE EYES ALEX LEAPAI CLASH AFTER KNOCKOUT VICTORY OVER JULIUS LONG

 

Heavyweight contender Lucas ‘Big Daddy’ Browne 26-1 (23) is eyeing off a big domestic clash with former world title challenger Alex ‘Lionheart’ Leapai 32-7-4 (26) after dispatching Julius Long 18-21 (14) in three rounds at the Gold Coast Convention Centre in Broadbeach, Queensland on Friday night.

 

The 6-foot-6, 256-pound Perth behemoth was dwarfed by the 7-foot-1, 311-pound American but size had little effect on the result. Browne laid out Michigan-born, Auckland-based giant with a short right hand off the ropes at 1:04 of the third.

 

The punch left Long stretched out on the canvas, half his body out of the ring draped over the bottom strand of rope.

 

“Credit to Julius, he really came to fight. He’s such a big awkward guy and he uses his advantages really well,” said Browne, who was coming off sixth round knockout loss of top heavyweight contender Dillian Whyte at London’s O2 Arena in March.

 

“I knew once I caught him the fight was over and it’s always nice to get the stoppage.”

 

Long was docked a point in the second stanza for holding. The fight was a rematch of Browne’s TKO9 victory over Long at the Melbourne Pavilion in August 2015.

 

Before the fight Browne revealed he was ready to face local rival Leapai for a purse of $60,000. The Logan boxer’s trainer Noel Thornberry believes he can raise the money to get the fight made.

 

“I’m confident I can knock out Alex Leapai too, but it would be a great fight for Aussie boxing,” said Browne.

 

Negotiations are underway to match the pair on the undercard of the Jeff Horn versus Anthony Mundine bout at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on November 30.

 

If the fight can’t get made, Browne has indicated he is keen to face British prospect David Allen 14-4-2 (11) in the UK or undefeated Brooklyn-based Pole Adam Kownacki 18-0 (14).

 

JEFF FENECH WARNS JEFF HORN NOT TO TAKE ANTHONY MUNDINE LIGHTLY

 

Australia’s most successful boxer Jeff Fenech has warned Jeff Horn 18-1-1 (12) that he will need to be on his game if he hopes to defeat ageless veteran Anthony Mundine 48-8 (28) at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium on November 30.

 

“Anthony says that he is going to have the very best preparation ever,” said Fenech to the Courier Mail. “I know that Anthony will be really fired up for the fight.

 

“It’s his big chance to score a win over a huge name and leave boxing with a victory that fight fans will remember forever.”

 

The fight was finally signed this week after the Queensland state government tipped in $1.5 million dollars to support the event and Mundine agreed to stiff financial penalties believed to be in the vicinity of $1 million if he comes in 2kg (4.4lb) over the catchweight limit of 71kg (156.5lb).

 

Mundine began his career at super middleweight but has had seven fights at 71kg or below for five wins including a seventh round stoppage victory over American legend ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley in 2013. It remains the only time the fighting pride of Pomona, California has been stopped in his 61-fight pro career.

 

TJ DOHENY EYEING OFF JANUARY RETURN AFTER INJURING HIS HAND IN WORLD TITLE WIN AGAINST RYOSUKE IWASA IN AUGUST

 

IBF super bantamweight champion TJ Doheny 20-0 (14) will return to the gym this month after enjoying a well-deserved break following his world title winning effort over Ryosuke Iwasa 25-3 (16) at the historic Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan in August.

 

But the Sydney-based Irishman will need to nurse an injured left thumb sustained in the early rounds of his fight against 28-year-old Japanese southpaw.

 

“What made TJ’s performance so impressive was the he damaged his left thumb early in the fight yet was able to turn it around,” said manager Mike Altamura in an interview with Australian Boxing Central.

 

“He stayed very, very focused and gave a great boxing performance. I think he just overwhelmed Iwasa all night, in-and-out movement, a lot of physicality. So I thought it was a terrific outing on his side.

 

The 31-year-old southpaw is expected to be ready for his inaugural world title defence early in the new year.

 

“He’s looking at resuming training in the next few weeks,” continued Altamura. “He actually can’t make full contact until with the hand until mid-November, so right now we’re looking at possibly a defence in early-to-mid January, something like that.”

 

JASON MOLONEY FLIES OUT TO THE STATES TO ACCLIMATISE AHEAD OF IBF TITLE CLASH WITH EMMANUEL RODRIGUEZ IN WBSS

 

Bantamweight contender Jason Moloney 17-0 (14) flew out of Australia last Friday ahead of his world title challenge to IBF 118-pound champion Emmanuel Rodriguez 18-0 (12) of Puerto Rico in the quarterfinals of the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) at the CFE Arena in Orlando, Florida on October 20.

 

The Melbourne-born, Kingscliff-based 27-year-old is putting the finishing touches on his preparation at the Kissimmee Boxing Gym in Florida where he has been sparing heavy-handed former 122-pound world champion Jonathan Guzman 22-1 (22) and featherweight Derrick Murray 14-4-1 (5).

 

Moloney admits he is the underdog but is relishing the opportunity to prove his critics wrong.

 

“It will take me fighting to the best of my ability. I believe that me at my best, I’m capable of beating everyone in this tournament,” Moloney said to Fightful.com this week.

 

“At this top level, if you don’t perform on the night and you don’t implement the right game plan, then you’re going to fall short.

 

“I’m a very determined fighter and I have a phenomenal coach in my corner. I believe that if I’m at my best and I listen to my coach then we are a very hard team to beat.”

 

In his last outing Moloney dominated former world champion Kohei Kono of Japan, dropping him in the third before stopping him on cuts at the end of the sixth.

 

“Beating Kono was great but I have always had the confidence and belief that I am ready to fight and beat these guys at the top level, we just needed the opportunity to prove it,” continued Moloney.

 

“Now we have that opportunity and I’m ready to make the most of it.”

 

The 26-year-old Rodriguez will be making the first defence of the vacant IBF title he won from England’s Paul Butler 26-2 (14) by wide points decision at London’s O2 Arena in May.

 


JAI OPETAIA FIGHT AGAINST BILAL LAGGOUNE POSTPONED UNTIL DECEMBER

 

WBO number 11 cruiserweight Jai Opetaia 16-0 (13) has been forced to withdraw from his fight against IBF number 11 Bilal Laggoune 23-1-2 (12) in Belgium on October 20 after suffering a hand injury.

 

Opetaia broke the news on social media.

 

“Sad to announce that due to a hand injury my fight in Belgium scheduled for October 20th will be postponed to the 15th of December 2018,” Opetaia posted on Thursday. “I’m very disappointed but everything happens for a reason.”

 

It’s a double blow for the unbeaten 23-year-old southpaw who was expected to fight on the Jeff Horn versus Anthony Mundine undercard in Brisbane on November 30.

 

“I was hoping to get on Horn and Mundine undercard as well but due to contract agreements I’m not allowed to fight before the rescheduled fight date in December,” continued Opetaia.

 

“Sorry for any inconvenience and I will keep you all up to date with my recovery.”

 

NATHANIEL MAY SET FOR RING RETURN IN BELFAST THIS WEEKEND

 

Talented boxer-puncher Nathaniel ‘Cheeky’ May 19-1 (11) returns for his first fight of the year in an eight-round bout against Ruslan Berchuk 12-8 (4) of Russia at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast, Northern Ireland on Friday October 5.

 

The 23-year-old Bunbury featherweight was last in action on the undercard of Jeff Horn’s WBO welterweight title defence against Gary Corcoran in Brisbane last December when he stopped previously unbeaten Brazilian banger Aelio Mesquita 17-2 (15) in five dominant rounds.

 

“We have Nathaniel May finally back on October 5 in Belfast, so that’s one of my reasons being away,” said manager Mike Altamura to Australian Boxing Central. “So I’ll be over there, spend the last few days of preparation with Nathaniel. Just got an eight round fight there but these are the tricky kind of fights.

 

“Right now he’s ranked number four in the world with the IBF and he knows he’s just waiting for his opportunity, whether it’s an eliminator or a shot against the eventual winner of [IBF champion Josh] Warrington and [Carl] Frampton.”

 

The fight will be May’s first without long-time coach Peter Stokes in his corner, who passed away from cancer earlier this year. May has been working out with Freddie Roach at the famed Wild Card Boxing Gym in Hollywood, Los Angeles. 

 

“He’s got to keep impressing but he’s very excited to be boxing for the first time as a professional outside of Australia,” added Altamura. “He’s very excited about the opportunity so he’s one that’s closing in [on a world title shot].”

 

KYE MACKENZIE CLOSING IN ON SHOT AT WBO LIGHTWEIGHT TITLE

 

World-ranked lightweight Kye ‘Mr Frenzy’ MacKenzie 19-1 (16) has his sights set on the WBO world championship currently held by Jose ‘Sniper’ Pedraza 25-1 (12).

 

“He’s a pretty crafty fighter, that guy,” the 26-year-old told Maxboxing on Wednesday. “The way I saw [Gervonta] ‘Tank’ Davis get rid of him, that looked pretty interesting.

 

“I’m a big puncher as well and I’ve got the type of skill to do what Tank done. I can definitely mix it with the best anyways.”

 

But first the WBO number six ranked contender must get past once-beaten Filipino Mark Bernaldez 17-1 (12) at Metro City in Perth on Friday night in a 10 round fight for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific title.

 

“I haven’t seen much but I’ve seen a couple of little videos,” MacKenzie said of his upcoming opponent. “He looks pretty sharp and he looks like he’s going to be a tricky fighter, as most Filipino fighters are.”

 

While most boxers prefer to fight at home, MacKenzie sees this as an opportunity to expand his supporter base.

 

“It’s going to be good to get away. I’ve fought in Melbourne, I’ve fought in Brisbane, but I haven’t fought in Perth so it’ll be a good experience,” he said.

 

“I’m looking forward to it. I’m excited about going to Perth instead of fighting here at home."

 

At 5-foot-9 the rangy boxer-puncher has fought as heavy as welterweight and as light as super featherweight. But the Tamworth product says he’s got plenty of time left in the 135-pound weight class.

 

“I’m at lightweight at the moment and I can stay here for maybe another two years,” said MacKenzie. “I’m making the weight quite comfortable and I’m pretty big and strong for the weight.

 

“I just have to see what happens over the years but at the moment lightweight is no problem to make for me, it’s fine.”

 

There is no guarantee Pedraza will still be WBO champion when MacKenzie gets his title shot. The Puerto Rican is set to fight a unification bout with his WBA counterpart Vasyl Lomachenko 11-1 (9) at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York on December 8.

 

But that doesn’t bother MacKenzie.

 

“I adapt to all situations. I can come forward, I can hit and move. I’m underrated as a boxer,” he said.

 

“People just think I’m a come-forward brawler but I’m unpredictable in what I do. You never know how I’m going to throw the punches; I adapt as I go along.

 

“I’m a strong, come-forward fighter who can also box. It just depends how the cookie crumbles.”

 

MARK SCHLEIBS CONFIDENT OF CLAIMING NATIONAL 118-POUND CROWN AGAINST CHAMPION ROBERT TRIGG THIS FRIDAY

 

Undefeated bantamweight Mark ‘Magic Man’ Schleibs 9-0 (6) is bullish about his chances against Australian champion Robert Trigg 3-2-1 (1) at the Melbourne Pavilion this Friday night on a Team Ellis promotion.

 

“Trigg has poor defence with his come forward style I’m going to make him miss and make pay dearly,” Schleibs said to Maxboxing.

 

Trigg is coming off a 10-round points decision loss to unbeaten featherweight Jai Alexander 8-0 (5) at the same venue in July but has never lost a fight in his natural weight class. The 24-year-old national champion will be making the second defence of the title he won against Mark Quon in 2016.

 

The Australian bantamweight title has a long and storied history dating back to 1891. World champions Lionel Rose and Jimmy Carruthers both held the crown, while leading world title contenders Elley Bennett, Paul Ferreri and Nedal ‘Skinny’ Hussein have also worn the belt.

 

The importance of the title is not lost on Schleibs.

 

“I feel the Australian title will be my first of many,” said the Sam Brizzi-trained Schleibs. “I really want this title; it would mean to the world to me that my son can always say ‘my father was Australian champion’.”

 

The fight will be Schleibs’ first scheduled bout for more than six rounds but the 25-year-old Melbourne boxer says his training has put him in good stead to see out the rounds if the fight goes late.

 

“I’ve sparred top amateurs as big as lightweights and professional fighters for this fight to keep on and sharp,” said Schleibs, who has never been extended beyond the fourth round. “His style suits my style I feel I will outbox him and use my reach and height to my advantage.”

 

MITCHELL MIDDLETON CLARK SET TO RETURN AFTER 18 MONTHS IN THE WILDERNESS

 

Fighting farmer Mitchell Middleton Clark 12-2 (12) returns to action this Friday night in his first fight in 18 months in a six-rounder against Steven Ma 7-11-1 (2) at the Melbourne Pavilion on a Team Ellis show.

 

The hard-hitting light heavyweight, originally from Horsham in Victoria’s Mallee region, recently returned from Queensland where he has been working on sprawling cattle stations in the harsh Aussie outback.

 

“For the year-and-a-half of being in Queensland working on some big stations it was always in the back of my mind to come back into boxing, I was just waiting for the right time,” said the southpaw powerhouse in an exclusive interview with Maxboxing this week.

 

“Steve Ma is going to be a good starting point for me. I know in myself I have plenty more to show Australian boxing.”

 

The well-travelled Ma has never backed away from a challenge, going the distance with world-rated Wes Capper, Tej Pratap Singh and Serge Yannick. The 33-year-old Taiwan-born Sydneysider has never been stopped in a fight.

 

Meanwhile all 12 of Clark’s victims have succumbed within the distance, but he insists he is not worried about keeping his perfect knockout record intact.

 

“I’m not worrying about Steve’s record, that’s irrelevant to what we want out of this fight,” said Clark.

 

“He’s one tough bugger that keeps coming forward and is going to make sure I say on my toes and keep moving and boxing. We will have to see on the night how it all plays out.”

 

Clark admits he doesn’t know where his vaunted power comes from, but suggests it could have something to do with his outdoor lifestyle.

 

“It must be the fresh country air that helps me with my power,” laughed ‘Big Country’. “I couldn’t say for sure where my power came from.”

 

If victorious Clark is expected to squeeze in one more fight this year on the next Team Ellis promotion on December 15.

 



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