By Anthony Cocks at ringside
WBO number 10 ranked cruiserweight Jai Opetaia 16-0 (13) needed just a round-and-a-half to defeat Kurtis Pegoraro 11-4 (1) on the inaugural FUTR card promoted by DDP Sports at the Pullman & Mercure Hotel in Brisbane, Qld, Australia on Friday night.
"Another display of why I’m the best cruiserweight in Australia," said Opetaia, who successfully defended his WBO Asia Pacific title and claimed the vacant IBF Pan Pacific title with the victory. “I come here, I do what I do, handle business. I just want to represent my country and I want the country to get behind me.”
Southpaw Opetaia stalked Pegoraro from the opening bell, measuring his shots and working on his range against the awkward Queenslander. Late in the opening round he landed a fast lead left with a right hook sailing just over the top of Pegoraro’s head.
Halfway through the second frame a southpaw left to the body caught Pegoraro coming in and he went down heavily, clutching his right side where his liver would be if it hadn’t just been bounced off his ribcage. Pegoraro, 28, did his best to beat the count, but could only make it to his feet just as referee Phil Austin tolled 10. The time of the stoppage was 1:25 of round number two.
“I do a lot of that sort of punching in sparring and stuff,” said Opetaia. “It was just a matter of time, I could sort of see it all coming. He was an awkward boxer, coming in from different angles, but it was just a matter of time.”
Earlier in the night former cruiserweight world title challenger Mark "Bam Bam" Flanagan 24-5 (17) announced he would be challenging once-beaten IBO titleholder Kevin Lerena 21-1 (9) of South Africa later this year, putting a proposed Opetaia-Flanagan fight temporarily on ice.
After the fight Opetaia was asked about Flanagan and the fast-building rivalry between the two.
“He knows I’m the best. He knows,” smiled Opetaia, who turned 23 the day after the fight.
On the undercard heavyweight Joseph "The Gun" Goodall 3-0 (3) scored his third first-round stoppage in as many fights against late replacement Braxton Edmonds 0-2 of New Zealand.
Edmunds landed a nice one-two that caught Goodall off-guard in the opening seconds of the fight, but other than that it was all Goodall who stalked his smaller opponent and used his jab and body shots to set up power punches to the head.
Goodall, 26, who trains alongside former world titleholder Jeff Horn at the Stretton Boxing Club, appeared to hurt the Kiwi with a right cross, while a follow-up right hand caught Edmond high on the head and sent him crashing to the canvas for the count. The time of the stoppage was 2:27 of the opening frame.
Junior welterweight Matt Casboult 6-1 (1) overcame cuts over both eyes caused by headclashes to outbox Pino Geracitano 4-3-1 (2) over six entertaining rounds.
Returning from a year-and-a-half layoff, Casboult showed little signs of rust as he boxed beautifully from both the orthodox and southpaw stances. Casboult used a stiff and varied jab to control the distance, boxing effectively off the back foot and dictating when to engage.
In the second round a clash of heads opened up a cut over Casboult’s right eye and in the fifth another headclashes busted open his left brow, leaving his face a mask of blood for much of the rest of the fight.
The 24-year-old Casboult from Coomera, Queensland, landed the more precise punches from the outside through the middle rounds of the fight and even showed off his ability to fight on the inside in the final frame.
Geracitano lost his mouthguard no less than six times in the fight, costing him two points and making the scorecards wider than they otherwise would need to be.
All three judges awarded every round to Casboult with scores of 60-53 and 60-52 twice.
Lightweight Liam Wilson 1-0 (1) lived up to all expectations scoring a savage first round body shot KO of New Zealand’s Ricky Curline 0-3 at 1:32 of the opening frame.
The former amateur star was keen to show why his heavy-handed, aggressive style was touted as the perfect fit for the pro ranks and it didn’t take long for him to warm to the task. Boxing from the orthodox stance, Wilson got off first before seamlessly slipping into the southpaw stance about a minute into the first round.
Almost immediately a debilitating left rip dropped Curline to the canvas midway through the round. The brave Kiwi somehow managed to beat the count but was clearly in no condition to continue. Referee Phil Austin called off the bout and Curline needed assistance to get back to his corner. It was the first time he had been stopped.
Welterweight Alan "The Assassin" Nicolson 1-0 cruised to a four round points win over Chaiyan Sakkoed 1-8 by scores of 40-36 across the board.
The 20-year-old brother of Commonwealth Games gold medallist Skye Nicolson looked a little nervous under the bright lights but did enough to control all four rounds.
Welterweight Cameron “The Hammer” Hammond 17-1 (9) returned to the ring after 18 months on the sidelines to knock off the rust with a routine TKO2 over Brisbane-based Thai Aphichat Koedchatturat 2-26-2. The time was 1:50.
Hammond, who represented Australia at the London Olympics, was last in action in November 2016 when he dropped a twelve round unanimous decision to Kris George for the vacant Commonwealth 147-pound title.
Debuting heavyweight Jay Titasey 0-0-1 had his hands full with Robert Ferguson 1-5-1 and had to settle for a split draw after four rounds.
Titasey showed good variety in attack, making good use of his southpaw right hook and landing a flush left uppercut, right hook combination in the final round. But Ferguson, who scored his first career win against Joel Clifton in March, used his experience, iron chin and big right hand to match Titasey for much of the fight.
It was a tough fight on debut for Titasey against a savvy professional who knew how to survive and pick his spots to steal rounds. A rematch would be a natural.
In the opening fight of the night junior middleweight Adrian Rodriguez 10-1-1 (5) won a six round unanimous decision over Wanchaloem Chanajan 0-5.