By Anthony Cocks
Melbourne southpaw Tej Pratap Singh 13-4-2 (7) takes on the biggest test of his career when he crosses swords with crosstown rival Sam “King” Soliman 45-14-1 (19) at the Melbourne Pavilion in Flemington on July 27.
The sleeper of the Australian middleweight division, Singh turned heads at the same venue in March with his dominant win over the highly-regarded Jake Carr 16-2 (6) who retired after six one-sided rounds with a perforated eardrum. The following month Singh backed up by winning the Auckland 8 knockout tournament in New Zealand, stopping Jerome Pascua 5-3 (1) in two rounds in the final.
With the Gerry Murphy-trained Singh in career-best form, now would seem to be the perfect time to take on Soliman, who has never lost a fight on a Big Time Boxing promotion.
“Yeah, I’m feeling pretty good,” admitted Singh. “Regarding being confident, I guess it does help if you keep winning, but every fight’s different so yeah, everything changes.
“I do believe in my ability, but no-one knows what’s gonna be on the fight night.”
One of Melbourne’s most popular boxers of the past 15 years, Soliman briefly held the IBF middleweight title in 2014 when he travelled to Germany to wrest the world championship from long-time titleholder Felix Sturm by unanimous decision before losing it in his first defence to former undisputed middleweight champion Jermain Taylor four months later.
Soliman, a 21-year pro, has publically stated this will be his last year in the ring. The crafty veteran, although now 44, is a clear step up from Carr.
But Singh isn’t one to be cowed by reputations or records.
“I know he’s really awkward and really hard to catch. He’s shared the ring with some hall of famers and former world champions,” said Singh.
“So we are just studying him and will box accordingly, but like I said, every fight’s different so I might have to improvise as well coz most of the times you don’t get what you expect.”
In his last bout Soliman was held to a majority draw against IBF number 13 middleweight Wes Capper 19-2-1 (12) of Perth, a familiar opponent to Singh who face the well-travelled West Australian in December 2015 scoring a split decision victory over six in Capper’s hometown.
Singh rates that fight as one of the toughest of his career to date.
“It’s really hard to say about my best performance as you people will be the judge of that, but my hardest fight was against the Uzbeki, Azizbek [Abdugofurov],” said Singh. “He was my hardest fight and after that, Wes Capper.”
In the modern era where undefeated records are more highly valued that the level of competition faced, Singh remains something of a throwback to another time. Almost all of his four losses and two draws have been competitive and a quick look at his resume reveals three undefeated opponents and six more with just one loss on their winning records at the time that he faced them.
“I don’t really care what people think about me, I just come to the fight and do my job, irrespective of the outcome,” he said.
Singh has a strong bond with his coach Gerry Murphy, who has developed his style into a stalking southpaw who specialises in short punches from awkward angles. Speaking to Maxboxing ahead of the original fight date of July 8, Murphy was adamant he had seen holes in Soliman’s style that Singh could exploit in the ring.
“Tej has been highly underestimated by the whole boxing fraternity in Australia,” said Murphy in early June. “We will stop Soliman as we have spotted a huge weakness in him after watching Soliman’s fight against (Sergiy) Derevyanchenko, who knocked him out.”
If Murphy is the general drawing up the war plans, then Singh is his loyal lieutenant.
“I don’t study any of my opponents,” said Singh. “My coach does and then he makes me do stuff. I fully believe in his ability leading me to any fight. I’m very lucky to have him by my side.”
A stoppage of Soliman would seem unlikely, with only Derevyanchenko and Anthony Mundine achieving that feat in Soliman’s 61-pro bouts.
But if there’s one thing to know about Singh, it’s that he isn’t afraid of a challenge.
“It will be a great win, another hurdle crossed,” said Singh of victory over Soliman. “We’ll look for some more good fights in the future.”
ANDREW MOLONEY OUT TO MONSTER LUIS CONCEPCION IN WORLD TITLE ELIMINATOR
Super flyweight contender Andrew “The Monster” Moloney 17-0 (10) could be as close as one fight away from a world title shot after WBA #7 Luis “El Nica” Concepcion 37-6 (26) agreed to face the WBA #5 in a world title eliminator at the new Bendigo Stadium in Bendigo, Victoria on September 8.
The reigning Commonwealth and OPBF 115-pound champion will be making the fourth defence of the WBA Oceania title he won against Raymond Tabugon after moving down a weight division last August.
“Concepcion is an extremely tough and very experienced boxer, he always comes to fight and puts a lot of pressure on his opponents. I know that I will have to be in great condition for this fight,” said Moloney, who is also ranked IBF #3, WBC #4 and WBO #9 at 115-pounds.
“I am very familiar with how Concepcion fights, I have watched him many times over the years as he has always been one of the top guys in the super flyweight division.”
The 27-year-old Moloney has his sights firmly set on WBA champion Khalid Yafai 24-0 (15), who Concepcion faced at Manchester Arena in December 2016. In that fight the 32-year-old Panamanian failed to make weight and went down by wide unanimous decision, but he has since proven twice that he can still make the 115-pound divisional weight limit.
“Concepcion was the last man to hold the WBA super flyweight title before the current champion Kal Yafai. I want to show everyone what level I am at by beating Concepcion and then we will set our sights on Yafai next,” Moloney said.
“My dream is to become world champion. Every day I am doing absolutely everything I can to achieve this dream.”
The card will be the third instalment of “Battle on the Goldfields” promoted by Hosking Promotions.
The show will also feature undefeated junior middleweight Tim Tszyu 9-0 (7), who will first defend his WBC Asian Boxing Council title against Stevie Ongen Ferdinandus at Technology Park, Redfern in Sydney on August 3 on the undercard of the IBF super featherweight world title fight between Billy “The Kid” Dib 43-4 (24) and Tevin Farmer 25-4-1 (5).
Other boxers scheduled to fight on the “Battle on the Goldfields” card include popular welterweight Adam “The Golden Greek” Kaoullas, heavyweight Che St John and local boxers Damien Lock, Scott Tuddenham and Lorrinda Webb.
This will be the first time in over three-and-a-half years that Moloney has fought on a card without his twin brother Jason, who is scheduled to join the second season of the popular World Boxing Super Series when he takes on IBF bantamweight champion Emmanuel Rodriguez 18-0 (12) of Puerto Rico in the quarter-finals at a venue and date to be determined.
GEORGE KAMBOSOS JR SUCCESSFUL ON MATTHYSSE-PACQUIAO UNDERCARD, TERRY TZOURAMANIS COMES SECOND TO JAYAR INSON
Lightweight contender George Kambosos Jr 15-0 (9) needed less than two rounds to claim the scalp of JR Magboo 17-2-2 (8) on the undercard of the Lucas Matthysse versus Manny Pacquiao undercard at Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Sunday, local time.
Pacquiao’s lead sparring partner was too big, too quick and too slick for the naturally smaller Filipino, who was having just his second fight back after a three-and-a-half year layoff.
“We had an amazing camp for the past eight weeks and to finish it off with two knockout wins couldn’t be more satisfying,” said Kambosos, who sparred over 50 rounds with the eight-division, 12-time world champion in camp.
Magboo, a former IBF Pac Pacific and national champion at 122-pounds, was caught by a crushing left hook in the in the opening frame as he moved straight back with his right hand down by his waist. The punch had the dual effect of snapping his head back and folding his legs underneath him, but he managed to beat the count and continue.
Kambosos, who enjoyed a four-inch height advantage, wasted no time in continuing his demolition job in the second. Showing little regard for his opponent’s power, Kambosos walked Magboo down, mixing in body shots with the blows to the head.
Late in the round a right to the body followed by a left to the ribcage sat Magboo down in his own corner. This time the 28-year-old Filipino didn’t get up.
After more than six weeks in camp with Pacquiao, Kambosos was as happy about the Filipino superstar’s return to form as he was with his own result.
"So happy, not only for my victory, but to see this legend back on top at age 39 is truly inspiring," said Kambosos, the WBO number 11 and IBF number 14 ranked lightweight.
The 25-year-old Sydneysider was having his second bout since signing with New York-based promotional firm DiBella Entertainment earlier this year.
Kambosos is trained by Aussie expatriate and former heavyweight fringe contender Justin Fortune at his Fortune Gym in Los Angeles.
Meanwhile Melbourne junior welterweight Terry Tzouramanis 20-4-3 (3) had to settle for second prize against Filipino welterweight Jayar “Hitman” Inson 17-1 (11) in an eight-round contest fought at 148-pounds.
Tzouramanis put forth a solid effort but came up short on the judges’ cards, going down by scores of 74-77, 76-77 and 72-77.
“Terry Tzouramanis lost a close decision to Jayar Inson. Terry was unlucky to have an 8-count put on him by the referee early in the bout when clearly it was a trip. Regardless, congratulations to Jayar Inson on a great fight,” coach Ben Chua wrote on Facebook.
The fight was not only eight pounds over Tzouramanis’s natural weight class, it was also his first outside of his own state – and against a southpaw.
“I cannot overstate how proud I am of Terry. In his first international bout and on such a big stage, he took it all in his stride and performed brilliantly,” continued Chua.
“Finally, thanks to Peter Maniatis for this unforgettable experience that Terry and I have just had. And a big thank you to everyone back home in Australia for sending all your best wishes and support over the past few days. It really means a lot!”
WBO number 10 ranked junior welterweight Liam “The Prodigy” Paro 14-0 (10) has withdrawn from the main support bout to Soliman-Singh after a family tragedy. Paro was scheduled to take on
Thailand’s Krai Setthaphon 27-4 (17) in a 10-round bout. The 22-year-old Brisbane-based southpaw is a regular sparring partner of former WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn 18-1-1 (12) and is trained by Alfie Di Carlo. In his last bout Paro won the WBO Youth 140-pound title with a two-round demolition of Sebastian Bytyqi 11-1-1 (8) of the Czech Republic at Southport Sharks on the Gold Coast, Queensland in May. The 32-year-old Setthaphon is an experienced and durable campaigner who lasted seven rounds with former world-rated junior welterweight Czar Amonsot in November 2016 and went nine with current WBO #11 lightweight George Kambosos Jr last October. We here at Maxboxing wish Paro and his family all the best and hope to see the bout against Setthaphon rescheduled in the not-too-distant future… WBO number seven ranked super middleweight Rohan “No Mercy” Murdock 22-1 (16) makes his return to the ring when he headlines a co-promotion between DDP Sports and Steven Wijangco against an opponent to be named on September 15 at Cloudland in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane. The 26-year-old Murdock was last in action in February when he stopped Frankie Filippone 25-8-1 (9) in four rounds in his USA-debut on the Top Rank-promoted card headlined by the WBO super middleweight title defence of Mexico’s Gilberto Ramirez 38-0 (25) vs Habib Ahmed 25-1-1 (17) in Corpus Christi, Texas. The Chris Carden-trained Murdock won the vacant WBO Oriental title against hard-headed Russian Apti Ustarkhanov 15-3-3 (5) by 10-round unanimous decision last December on the undercard of Jeff Horn’s inaugural WBO welterweight title defence against England’s Gary Corcoran. The “Worlds Collide 8” card will also feature Adam “The Candy Man” Copland and the return of big-punching Samoan Leti Leti… Troy O’Meley 6-0 contests the vacant New South Wales junior middleweight title against Ray Ingram 1-9-1 at NEX, Newcastle West, NSW this Friday night on a Rob Fogarty promoted show. Welterweight Eddie Dos Santos 6-5-2 will face Alex Ah Tong 9-35-5 in a six rounder. Junior welterweight Blake Minto 11-1-1, Darkon Dryden 3-0, Kyron Dryden 10-2 and Gearoid Clancy 9-5 are also scheduled to see action in separate bouts… Former world heavyweight title challenger Alex “The Lionheart” Leapai 31-7-4 (25) will return to the ring to rematch Roger Izonritei 12-6-1 (11) at Rumours International in Toowoomba, Queensland on Saturday, August 4 on a Smithy’s TGW Promotions card. The fight will be a rematch of the three-round technical draw the two fought on the Horn-Corcoran undercard last December when the 42-year-old Izonritei of Perth by way of Nigeria was cut from an accidental headclash and unable to continue. Leapai was leading on all three cards 20-17 at the time of the stoppage.