By Anthony Cocks
Tasmania’s leading boxer featherweight Luke “Action” Jackson 15-0 (6) believes that he can replicate his former Olympic teammate Jeff Horn’s success if the state government gets behind his bid for a world title shot.
The 33-year-old from the Tasmanian capital of Hobart had a long and storied amateur career, going 113-32 in the unpaid ranks after picking up the gloves at the relatively late age of 18. He won bronze at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in just his third year in the sport and was team captain at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi and again at the 2012 Olympics in London.
Jackson shared a room with reigning WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn at the London Olympics, who is currently preparing for the biggest fight of his life against former undisputed 140-pound champion Terence Crawford.
The former Queensland schoolteacher’s breakthrough win against modern day legend Manny Pacquiao was stuff dreams are made of. Fighting in front of more than 51,000 parochial fans in his hometown of Brisbane, Horn did the unthinkable: he outworked, out-thought and out-performed one of the best boxers of the modern era.
It was an inspirational performance.
“I was Jeff’s captain and roommate at the Olympic Games,” said Jackson, the WBO number nine ranked featherweight. “We trained side by side every day for two years. He is a credit to our sport and success couldn’t come to a better bloke.
“To see him where he is today gives all of us hope. Hard work pays off!”
Jackson can see himself accomplishing the same thing as his good friend Horn and the world champion he has in his sights is Mexico’s Oscar Valdez 24-0 (19).
WBO featherweight champion Valdez made the fourth defence of his title last month when he engaged in a pier six brawl with England’s Scott Quigg at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. Quigg, who came in heavy and was unable to win the title, suffered a broken nose and a cut to his left eye but not before landing a punch that broke Valdez’s jaw and knocked out a tooth.
The rough-and-tumble affair was scored in Valdez’s favour by all three judges by margins of six points twice and eight points on the third card. As a result Jackson believes Team Valdez may be looking for more of a boxer and less of a brawler when they lock in his next assignment.
“That was a great fight between two great warriors, but it also showed that Oscar is very beatable and he continues to have war after war,” Jackson said.
“These fights are taking it out of him and now with a broken jaw he has to have a long break before he can come back and fight again.
“My team and I think we can beat him and we want that fight next.”
That’s where the state government support comes into it.
Last year’s Pacquiao-Horn bout was largely made possible by the backing of the Queensland state government who staked a sizable chunk of change to bring the fight to Brisbane, Australia. Jackson’s team are hoping that the success of that fight as an event and the tourism dollars it brought into the state can be replicated on the Apple Isle.
“Anything is possible with the fans and the government of Tasmania behind us. If everyone bands together like Brisbane got behind Jeff Horn, we can make it happen,” he said.
“(Promoter) Adam Wilcock is working hard to make that happen.”
And if the fight doesn’t take place in Tasmania, Jackson said he would happily “fight Valdez in Mexico City tomorrow”.
“He is a great fighter but I honestly think I can beat him,” said Jackson. “His style suits me and like I said… he continues to have war after war and it’s going to catch up with him eventually.
“I’m ready to prove myself against him once I get past (Javier) Herrera.”
If Valdez can’t be tempted to take a trip to the southern hemisphere – and if he won’t extend an invitation for Jackson to come visit him in Mexico – then there is another option: the winner of this weekend’s Battle of Belfast between Carl Frampton and Nonito Donaire for the interim WBO featherweight title.
“I think it’s a tough fight for both fighters,” said Jackson. “I think Carl Frampton will win and I hope he does so that my manager Mike Altamura can get us the fight with Frampton for the WBO interim world title if we can’t get Valdez.”
Jackson says that the hand injury that forced the cancellation of his March 2 bout against South American featherweight champion Alan Castillo has fully healed and won’t be a problem when he takes on once-beaten Argentinian Javier Herrera 15-1 (8) at Hobart’s Wrest Point Casino on April 27.
Before the injury Jackson was sparring the world-rated Moloney twins, super flyweight Andrew and bantamweight Jason, as well as former world title challenger Leonardo Zappavigna, a strong 140-pound pressure fighter.
Jackson finished off this camp with some good work with local Tasmanian boxers Layton McFerran and Matt Triffett before putting the finishing touches on his preparation in Sydney at trainer Billy Hussein’s renowned Bodypunch Gym where he worked with everyone from the 15-year-old amateurs through to seasoned pros like undefeated super featherweight Paul “Showtime” Fleming.
As for Herrera, Jackson says he hasn’t seen his opponent fight.
“I don’t watch footage of anyone that I fight,” said Jackson. “If I do, I find that I focus too much on what they’re doing and not enough on what I’m doing.
“I let me team watch and choose who I fight and I have ultimate trust to follow their plan. Having over 100 amateur fights has given me the ability to adapt on the night.”
Jackson’s battles with the often debilitating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have been well-documented. And he says it is a tougher opponent than anyone he will ever face in the ring.
“My toughest opponent to date is myself,” said Jackson. “I deal with my mental struggles daily and some days it’s hard to get out of bed.
“I’ve been like this since a young age and for me to be here where I am now is crazy. Every day I just put one foot in front of the other and live my life hour by hour and I’m 33 now.
“The only person that can beat me is me.”
ANDREW MOLONEY GUNNING FOR WBA CHAMP KHALID YAFAI
World ranked 115-pound contender Jason "The Monster" Moloney 16-0 (10) has his sights firmly set on Khalid Yafai’s WBA super flyweight world title belt.
“This is the fight I want," said the WBA #6, WBC #5 and IBF #5 ranked 27-year-old via media release this week. "I have watched a lot of Yafai’s fights and I truly believe I can beat him and achieve my dream of becoming world champion.
"All I see is me winning the fight and having that world title belt around my waist.”
Yafai 23-0 (14) claimed the WBA world title with a unanimous decision win over reigning champion Luis Concepcion of the Panama in December 2016. The 28-year-old from Birmingham in the United Kingdom has since made two successful title defences against Suguru Muranaka and Sho Ishida, both of Japan, winning both bouts on points.
"Yafai is a good fighter, he is a world champion for a reason but I believe I have what it takes to beat him," said Moloney.
Before he focuses on the WBA world champion the undefeated Australian must first make the third defence of his WBA Oceania title a successful one when he takes on hard-hitting Filipino former world title challenger Richard Claveras 18-3-2 (15) at the Malvern Town Hall in Melbourne, Australia on May 19.
“I have watched a few of Claveras’ fights now. I can see that he is a strong fighter and know that he is going to come here to fight. He has a come forward style and lets his hands go, so I’m sure the fans will be in for a real treat on May 19," said Moloney.
Moloney will need to be on his game against the man who goes by the simple but accurate sobriquet “Explosive”.
"Claveras has 15 knockouts out of his 18 wins so I would say his power would be his biggest strength," said Moloney. "I am going to have to be switched on at all times during this fight and avoid getting hit as this guy obviously has knockout power.
Along with his twin brother Jason, Moloney moved from his home city of Melbourne in Australia’s south to the northern coast of New South Wales at the start of last year where he now makes his home in the regional town of Kingscliff.
The decision to move closer to their then-new trainer Angelo Hyder has paid dividends with Moloney saying he now has the mindset of a fulltime professional athlete.
"My preparation has been great so far," said Moloney. "Since moving to NSW to train with Angelo Hyder I really have lived the life of a professional athlete. I continued to train after my last fight and didn’t let myself get out of shape, so I started training camp already in good condition.
"We have two sparring partners coming over from the Philippines with similar styles to my opponent, so we will have some great sparring over the next three and a half weeks to finish off camp."
The Moloney versus Claveras 10-round bout will be part of a doubleheader that also features Jason Moloney defending his WBA Oceania bantamweight crown against dangerous former WBA super flyweight champion Kohei Kono 33-11-1 (14) of Japan over 12-rounds.
DWIGHT RITCHIE OUTCLASSES EMMANUEL CARLOS ON TEAM ELLIS CARD
WBC #31 junior middleweight Dwight “The Fighting Cowboy” Ritchie 17-1 (2) was a bit too experienced for late replacement Emmanuel Carlos 7-1 (5) winning a unanimous decision over eight rounds at the Melbourne Pavilion last Friday night.
The 26-year-old from regional Shepparton in central Victoria used his superior workrate and movement to score points against his taller opponent, who had some success at times with his heavier blows. In the end though all three judges favoured Ritchie’s work, awarding him the victory by scores of 78-74, 77-75 and 79-73.
Ritchie won the IBF Youth title in his previous bout with a 10-round unanimous decision over New Zealand’s Shay Brock 12-1-1 (6) last December.
Middleweight Carlos turned professional 13 months ago and will only improve from the experience.
Also on the Team Ellis-promoted show Geelong’s Kyle “Big Bad Wolf” Webb 5-0-2 (5) kept his knockout record intact with a first round body shot stoppage of Warrnambool’s Nathan MacLean 1-3 to claim the vacant Victorian cruiserweight title in a scheduled eight round bout. Time of the stoppage was 1:22.
All of southpaw Webb’s wins have come via stoppage within the first two rounds. This was the second consecutive first-round stoppage courtesy of a body shot.
Webb trains out of Sam’s Stable in central Melbourne, owned and run by former IBF middleweight champion Sam Soliman.
South Sudan-born Korobo Etto 6-1-2, now a resident of Epping, scored a split decision win over Chile-born Melbourne-based Franko Valenzuela 4-3-1 (1) in a six rounder fought just above the middleweight limit. Scores were 58-56, 58-56 and 56-58.
Junior middleweight Tommy “The Titan” Browne 36-7-2 (13) will have his first fight in Las Vegas when he takes on Carlos Garcia Hernandez 15-17-1 (12) of Puerto Rico at the Cox Pavilion in an eight round bout on a show promoted by the creatively-named Roy Jones Jr Boxing Promotion. After dropping three fights in a row in 2016 Hernandez bounced back last year stringing together five wins in a row. This will be two-time world title challenger Browne’s second fight in a row in the USA after relocating in the aftermath of his second round KO loss to Anthony Mundine in a middleweight bout at Sydney’s Star Casino in January. Headlining the USA beIN Sports-televised card will be the WBA-NABA bantamweight title fight between Max Ornelas 10-0-1 (4) and Juan Antonio Lopez 12-3 (4).
Expect fireworks when OPBF welterweight champion Ben Savva 8-1 (3) clashes with Kyron Dryden 10-1 (8) on the next instalment of the Johnny Lewis Boxing Series entitled British Beef at the Star Casino in Pyrmont, Sydney on May 24. The 12-round fight was originally scheduled to take place at the same venue on St Patrick Day but was eventually postponed, which has only added to the bad blood between the pair. British-born, Sydney-based Savva annexed the OPBF title with a fifth round TKO of Natthawut Arunsuk of Thailand at The Star last October while Dryden scored two stoppage wins last year after 18 months on the sidelines. Neutral Corner Promotions and their matchmaker Chris Carman have once again put together a top class show that will also feature welterweight Jack Brubaker 13-2-1 (7) versus Tyrone Nurse 35-3-2 (7) over 12-rounds in the main event supported by middleweight Mark Lucas 9-0 (3) versus Renold Quinlan 12-3 (8) in another 12-rounder in addition to Savva-Dryden dust-up. Tim Tszyu 8-0 (6) will defend his WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental junior middleweight title against Thai Atchariya Wirojanasunobol 9-0 (5) on the same show.
An exciting junior middleweight rematch between Joel “CamaKO” Camilleri 14-4-1 (7) and Yao Yi Ma 15-3-1 (10) has been added to the big June 1 card at the Melbourne Pavilion promoted by Big Time Boxing. Their first fight was an entertaining, fast-paced chess match that ended in a majority draw at the same venue last October and both boxers will keen to get a result this time around. Headlining the card will be Camilleri’s stablemate light heavyweight Blake Caparello 26-3-1 (10) in an important crossroads bout against domestic rival Trent Broadhurst 20-2 (12). With both boxers coming off losses – Caparello to Isaac Chilemba and Broadhurst to Dmitry Bivol – there will be a lot of pressure on men to get a positive result.