By Anthony Cocks
Australia’s leading heavyweight Lucas “Big Daddy” Browne 25-0 (22) will get the chance to launch himself back into world title contention when he takes on Dillian “The Body Snatcher” Whyte 22-1 (16) for the WBC Silver title at the O2 Arena in London this Saturday night.
Up to 18,000 people are expected to turn up to watch the two big men with a combined weight of over 500-pounds battle it out for their chance at a shot at the heavyweight crown.
Whyte is already the WBC mandatory contender for American knockout artist Deontay Wilder’s belt. There’s a lot at stake for him, while across the aisle the 38-year-old Browne knows that a loss could spell the end for his own career. Regardless of the result, it will be a long road back for the loser.
So who wins this compelling contest?
Whyte’s best chance is to mug the Aussie, applying early pressure in the hope that Browne’s rhythm and timing is off after seeing just a round-and-a-half of action in the past two years. I see the Jamaican-born 29-year-old from Brixton doing exactly that, while Browne alternates between trading bombs and defending in spots. By the mid-rounds the pace will take its toll on both big units but it will be the away fighter who gets his second wind first to land the fight-changing shot.
Browne to win by KO8.
LIAM PARO CLAIMS NATIONAL TITLE, MARK FLANAGAN VICTORIOUS IN BRISBANE
Undefeated southpaw Liam “The Prodigy” Paro 13-0 (9) need just three rounds to claim the vacant Australian junior welterweight title with a dominant win over Melbourne-based Englishman Andrew Wallace 11-11-1 (7) in a 10 round bout at the Mansfield Tavern in Brisbane on Saturday night.
The 21-year-old Paro controlled the action for three rounds, opening a cut over Wallace’s eye. The 39-year-old veteran retired on his stool at the end of the third.
Paro, who was born in Mackay but moved to Townsville as a 16-year-old, is the chief sparring partner for WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn.
Also on the Ace Boxing promotion former cruiserweight world title challenger Mark “Bam Bam” Flanagan 24-5 (17) systematically broke down Mauricio Barragan 16-3 (9) to retain his WBA Oceania title by TKO6 in a scheduled 10 rounder.
The 27-year-old from Townsville showed good variety in attack, raking the body with rips and throwing hard shots to the head. Barragan, 29, put up a valiant effort but found himself on the canvas in the sixth.
Referee Derek Milham waved off the fight at 2:23 of round number six.
COMMONWEALTH CHAMP MICHAEL ZERAFA LOOKING TO EUROPE
It didn’t take long for newly-minted Commonwealth junior middleweight champion Michael “Pretty Boy” Zerafa to start fielding offers for fights.
Within hours of claiming the title with a dominant points victory over Britain’s Adam Harper at the Melbourne Pavilion on Friday night his phone was ringing off the hook.
“I had quite a few to be honest,” said the baby-faced Zerafa, 23-2 (13). “They went straight to the point of fighting me.”
The Craigieburn carpenter, who celebrated his win with a light 15 kilometre run on Saturday morning, is hoping the win will lead to opportunities in Europe.
“Hopefully now winning opens big doors for me overseas, particularly in England,” he said.
The 25-year-old was a late replacement for former Commonwealth champion Anthony Buttigieg who had to pull out of his scheduled title defence after sustaining an eye injury.
It was the first time that Zerafa had fought at 154-pounds in over five years.
REVOLUTION’ CARD RECEIVES ANOTHER BOOST
Junior middleweights Dennis Hogan 26-1-1 (7) and Jimmy Kilrain Kelly 23-1 (9) have been given a boost ahead of their world title eliminator in Brisbane on April 7 with both boxers moving up a place in the latest WBO rankings.
Brisbane-based Irishman Hogan is now WBO #2 while Kelly, from Manchester, England, occupies the WBO #3 position.
With current WBO #1 Liam "Beefy" Smith scheduled to face reigning champ Sadam "World Kid" Ali at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York on May 12, the winner of Hogan vs Kelly will be elevated to the number one contender spot.
Also on the DDP Sports card talented southpaw Jai Opetaia 14-0 (11) will face Lukas Paszkowsky 9-1 (3) of Germany for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific cruiserweight title.
In his last outing Opetaia, 22, despatched the capable Ben Kelleher on the undercard of Anthony Mundine vs Tommy Browne at the Star Casino in Sydney in January. Last year he needed less than a round to blast out the Virgil Hill-trained Frankie Lopez, who was 10-0 (8) going in to the fight.
WBO #14 Opetaia is the reigning Australian cruiserweight champion and as an amateur he was the youngest boxer to ever represent Australia at the Olympics.
Some tickets are still available to "Revolution" but get in quick as the card is set to sell out.
TJ DOHENY LOOKING FORWARD TO WORLD TITLE SHOT AFTER VICTORY IN BOSTON
Leading IBF super bantamweight contender TJ “The Power” Doheny 19-0 (14) returned to House of Blues in Boston, USA on St Paddy’s Day to despatch fellow lefthander Mike Oliver 26-8-1 (8) in the second round of a scheduled eight round bout on the weekend.
The Irish southpaw from Portlaoise – who splits his time between Perth, Australia and Boston – was simply too sharp and powerful for the former 122-pound contender from Hartford, Connecticut who was coming off a first round loss to Anthony Peterson at lightweight back in October 2015.
If everything goes to plan for Doheny he will get his shot at IBF champion Ryosuke Iwasa 25-2 (16) in Japan in June or July.
“I’ve got to be on my game on Saturday night,” the 31-year-old told The Ring magazine shortly before the fight. “I’ve got a world title fight coming up soon, so I can’t afford any slip-ups.”
Doheny, who holds an amateur win over two-division world champion Carl Frampton, is managed by MJA Entertainment and promoted by Ken Casey’s Murphys Boxing.
GEORGE KAMBOSOS VS TONY LUIS FIGHT IS OFF
The highly anticipated fight between WBA #5 lightweight George “Ferocious” Kambosos 13-0 (7) and WBA #11 Tony “The Lightning” Luis 25-3 (8) of Canada scheduled for the Quaycentre in Sydney on April 11 has been cancelled.
In a statement released on social media, Whack Promotions CEO Oliver Jonseski said: “Whack Promotions is making an official announcement about the bout. Unfortunately due to no fault of Whack Promotions or Ferocious Promotions it comes with great regret that the fight has been cancelled.
“Liveco and Team Luis could not come up with the right and current clearances to stage this fight. After numerous request it was never going to happen. Whack Promotions and Ferocious Promotions would like to apologies to all our fans for the disappointment and let down....To our massive undercard we are sorry and look forward to another show shortly.
“We hope to make another major announcement soon.”
“NIGHT OF THE DRAGONS” GOES AHEAD DESPITE LATE WITHDRAWALS
Neil John Tabanao 15-4 (11) continues to improve with his second win on Australian soil at “Night of the Dragons” on Saturday night.
The Filipino puncher needed just three rounds to knockout Thai opponent Rachan Yageow 25-5 (20) in a super bantamweight contest scheduled for 10.
"He was able to show everyone just how good he is and how ready he is to step up for a world title shot," co-trainer Gary Connolly from the Vinton Street Gym told the Bendigo Advertiser.
"He’s ready and is probably only two fights away from a world title."
In his last appearance at the regional Victorian town of Bendigo, Tabanao stopped rising prospect Ibrahim Balla, also in three, back in June 2016.
Also on the Patrick Connolly-promoted card junior welterweight Brad Morgan 6-0 (5) scored a second round stoppage of Worraphon Jesadajindawat 1-5 in a scheduled eight round bout while his stablemate middleweight Matthew Hall 5-0-1 (3) also needed just two rounds to stop his Thai opponent Sutee Noonkrathok 1-1 in another eight rounder.
Former WBO bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales was scheduled to headline the card against Rivo Rengkung before the bout fell through on fight week, pushing Tabanao versus Yageow into main event status.
The show at the Bendigo Exhibition Centre was also supposed to feature both former WBC minimumweight world title challenger Omari Kimweri and undefeated Bendigo-based Filipino flyweight Dino “Kid” Rafaeles in separate bouts before their opponents fell through in the week leading up to the fights.
Rafaeles ended up boxing a four-round exhibition against Daniel "The Hawk" Huculak.
BILLEL “BABYFACE” DIB BACK IN ACTION THIS WEEKEND
Super featherweight contender Billel “Babyface” Dib 21-2 (10) returns to the ring after almost a year on the sidelines when he takes on Bruno Vifuaviwili 20-1-1 (5) of Tanzania for the vacant WBA Oceania title in a 10 round bout at the Seagulls Rugby League Club in Tweed Heads, NSW on Saturday night.
Dib, the cousin of former IBF featherweight champion Billy “The Kid” Dib, was scheduled to make his return from injury against Matt Remillard in New York last month before his visa was cancelled 10 days out from the fight.
In his last fight Dib dropped a 10 round decision to Yuandale Evans 20-1 (14) in April last year at the Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, Oklahoma.
On the same Nick Midgley-promoted card at Tweed Heads this weekend Reagan Dessaix 12-1 (8) will face Japan’s Shintaro Matsumoto 14-5 (10) for the vacant IBF Pan Pacific light heavyweight title over 10 rounds.
CAPARELLO DISAPPOINTED WITH LOSS, PROMISES COMEBACK
Light heavyweight contender Blake “Il Capo” Caparello 26-3-1 (10) as opened up about the disappointment he felt after his loss to Isaac Chilemba at the Melbourne Pavilion on Friday night.
The 31-year-old former world title challenger banked the early rounds against the Roy Jones Jr-trained Chilemba but faded down the stretch to inexplicably give away in the championship rounds – and in the process, the fight. Chilemba claimed the vacant WBC International title by unanimous decision with scores of 117-111 and 115-113 twice.
“I’ve had a few days to reflect on Friday night’s loss,” Caparello told his followers on Facebook. “I’m not delusional at all and I know it was a terrible performance that I’m not shying away from. I didn’t bring my best and that’s on me but I will definitely learn once again from this loss.”
Caparello singled out his longtime trainer Sam Labruna for sticking with him through thick and thin.
“I firstly want to thank my trainer Sam Labruna. You have put so much time into me and at the end of my career I promise you that all these tough times will be worth it,” he said.
“Also like to thank my team, family, friends, sponsors and of course the supporters. You all have been great and I appreciate all the msgs [messages] that I have received or that have been passed on.
“Thank you all and I will be back bigger, better and stronger. I’ve made the mountain to climb even steeper but once I get to the top it’ll be even sweeter.”
ZAC DUNN RETURNS TO ACTION IN MEXICO
Melbourne super middleweight Zac “Dynamo” Dunn 25-1 (20) will return to the ring in Guadalajara, Mexico on April 21 against an opponent to be named.
The 27-year-old had mixed results in 2017. He lost the Commonwealth title he won against England’s Liam Cameron the previous year to Scotland’s David Brophy in March, but bounced back with KO4 win over Argentinean Luis Eduardo Paz in Mexico seven months later. In December he returned to the Melbourne Pavilion to despatch Cedric Spera of Belgium in four.
In 2015 Dunn claimed the IBO super middleweight title against Ukrainian Max Bursak in a career-best win.