By Anthony Cocks
Last year I came up with a list of Aussie boxers to watch out for in 2017. It’s that time of year and I’m at it again. My rules are quite simple. I’m looking to nominate the boxers who I think will make the biggest impact on their division in 2018. To keep it interesting I’ve decided not to nominate the same boxers two years running. I have also included a brief review of last year’s nominations to see how close – or far – I was from the mark. Here is Part 2, covering junior welterweight on down to flyweight.
JUNIOR WELTERWEIGHT: “Super” Darragh Foley 14-2 (8)
The English-born Irishman who now resides in Sydney, Australia kept a busy schedule in 2017 with four fights in the calendar year. The junior welterweight bomber, who is ranked number 11 by the WBA, claimed the scalps of Japan’s Ryuji Hachimitsu Ikeda and Filipinos Sonny Katiandagho, Jeffrey Arienza and Eric Sanchez in fights that took place at venues across Sydney.
Foley defended his WBA Oceania junior welterweight title three times and picked up the interim WBC Asian Boxing Council and WBO Oriental titles in his fight against Ikeda.
If there’s a knock against Foley it’s that he seems to make fights harder than they need to be. Against Katiandagho in April Foley was trailing on two of the scorecards and was even on the third when he switched from southpaw to orthodox and landed a big right cross to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in the 6th round of a 10 round bout. One thing is certain: any fight featuring Foley won’t lack for action and could end at any time.
Foley is expected back in the ring against an opponent to be determined on 17 March at Star City Hotel & Casino in Pyrmont, Sydney on a Paul Nasari-promoted card.
LAST YEAR: Czar “Czar of Bohol” Amonsot 34-4-3 (22)
I really thought this was close to a safe bet, but the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Amonsot was on a tear. He hadn’t lost a fight since coming off second-best in a close 12 round brawl with Queenslander Michael Katsidis a decade ago when he was still a relative novice. The 32-year-old southpaw, who moved to Australia from the Philippines 10 years ago to further his boxing career, was a sparring partner for Jeff Horn ahead of his breakthrough win over Manny Pacquiao back in July and looked to be in career-best form. After a TKO3 of Hungarian Zsigmond Vass in March and a no contest against Martin Enrique Escobar of Argentina in July after an accidental clash of heads, WBA #3 Amonsot moved on to face unheralded Paraguayan puncher Carlos Manuel Portillo, 20-0 (16) at the time, in October. The fight was closely contested in the opening two rounds before Amonsot walked into a huge counter right uppercut that sent him to the deck. Although he was up at six, referee Ignatius Missailidis took a long hard look into his eyes and waved off the contest at the 2:41 mark of the third round. With the loss Amonsot vanished from the WBA rankings, temporarily replaced by Portillo at number three before he was demolished in one round by Russian former champion Eduard Troyanovsky in November. Amonsot has indicated he intends to continue boxing in 2018.
LIGHTWEIGHT: Kye “Mr Frenzy” MacKenzie 18-1 (15)
Kye MacKenzie is one of Australia’s most exciting fighters. The 135-pound blaster makes no apology about being a knockout artist and carries his concussive power late into fights with a third of his stoppage wins coming in the second half of his bouts.
The 25-year-old Sydneysider came into 2017 hot off the heels of a 4th round TKO of previously unbeaten Auburn-based Kiwi Dylan Emery, now 19-1 (12), in what was a fun, fast-paced shootout. MacKenzie outboxed and stopped Filipino journeyman Jonel Alibio in September before facing 5-foot-1½ Nort Beauchamp 15-2 (3) for the interim WBO Oriental title in November. The crafty Kiwi extended MacKenzie the full 10 round distance but was lucky to win a round. For “Mr Frenzy”, it was the first time he had fought to the final bell since his second year as a pro.
The lone loss on MacKenzie’s ledger came two-and-a-half years ago against the deceptively talented Jack Asis, whose record is 17-2-1 in his past 20 fight despite an overall career record of 38-20-5. MacKenzie was leading on two of the three judges’ scorecards at the time of the stoppage in the 8th.
Perth’s Brandon Ogilvie 19-2-1 (10) would make a great opponent in 2018.
LAST YEAR: George “Ferocious” Kambosos Jr. 13-0 (7)
Hard to fault the “Ferocious” one’s performance in 2017. In May he out-boxed local rival Qamil Balla 11-1-1 (5) – who holds a win over Jeff Horn in the amateurs – on the undercard of Joseph Parker’s inaugural WBO world title defence against Razvan Cojanu in Manukau City, New Zealand. Kambosos was in control throughout, boxing efficiently from the pocket and punctuating his performance by dropping Balla in the 10th and final round to win by scores of 99-90, 98-91 and 98-93. The brash 24-year-old from Sydney made his Melbourne debut in October at the Melbourne Pavilion on a Big Time Boxing promotion where he was matched against Thailand’s Krai Setthaphon 25-3 (16). It was another impressive performance from Kambosos, who took his time to break down his opponent before dropping him once in the 8th and three times in the 9th to successfully defend his WBA Oceania and IBF Pan Pacific titles by TKO9. Setthaphon didn’t win a round. Although Kambosos has just 13 pro bouts under his belt he has effectively outgrown the domestic scene unless he can be convinced to take on MacKenzie in 2018. But from what I understand Team Kambosos are keen to look overseas for new challenges for the WBA #5 as he looks to establish himself on the world scene and stake a claim to a shot at one of the major world title straps.
SUPER FEATHERWEIGHT: Billy “The Kid” Dib 43-4 (24)
While Billy Dib has been active in 2017, he has also been in a bit of a holding pattern. A no contest against Yardley Armenta Cruz 22-9 (12) in Brooklyn, New York, on the Mikey Garcia-Adrien Broner undercard in July and an eight round shutout against Thai Phum Kunmat 24-24-2 (16) in Sydney in December have done nothing to further his career. But after recently hooking up with Hall of Fame boxer and renowned trainer and motivator Jeff Fenech I’m tipping we will see the skillful 32-year-old make one last big run at world championship glory in 2018.
Ranked WBC #9 and WBO #12, Dib is also the IBF’s number 3 contender for champion Kenichi Ogawa’s title behind two vacant ratings. The title was stripped from Gervonta “Tank” Davis after he failed to make weight for his voluntary defence against Victor Fonseca on the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor undercard back in August. An official world title eliminator is all it will take to put Dib in the box seat to become a two-time IBF world champion after claiming the sanctioning body’s featherweight title in 2011 with a wide points win over Mexico’s Jorge Lacierva at Sydney’s Olympic Park Sports Centre in Homebush. Japan’s Ogawa was stretched to the limit against American Tevin Farmer to claim the vacant title in December, winning by close split decision at the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. According to CompuBox, Farmer outlanded Ogawa in all categories, including 40 more connected power punches and 59 more punches overall. He also had the higher connect percentage in all categories, with over 44% of his power punches finding their mark.
A sharp-shooter like Dib will fancy his chances against Ogawa and with a little swift maneuvering, could find himself sharing the ring with the new-minted titleholder in the New Year.
LAST YEAR: Paul “Showtime” Fleming 25-0 (17)
“Showtime” fought twice this year, dominating both his opponents and scoring a highlight reel KO against one of them. With a glossy record and some solid wins over good names, the only thing holding him back from a world ranking would seem to be a regional title. Back in October Fleming iced Sadiki Momba in two rounds, throwing a peach of a left cross that puts the Tanzanian to sleep with brutal efficiency. Virgil Puton lasted a little longer in December on the Jeff Horn-Gary Corcoran undercard, going seven rounds of a scheduled eight before being stopped with a cut-up face and a closed right eye in a fight that the 29-year-old Sydneysider, originally from Tully in Queensland, had under control. With the win Fleming became the first person to stop the well-travelled Filipino.
FEATHERWEIGHT: Nathaniel “Cheeky” May 19-1 (11)
In April Bunbury, Western Australia featherweight Nathaniel “Cheeky” May claimed the IBF Pan Pacific title with a 12 round unanimous decision win over Filipino southpaw Randy Braga 20-3-1 (5) in a tough-fought battle that showed May has the skills to outbox his opponents when they don’t fold from his power shots. A third round TKO of Roman Canto of the Philippines in July was the precursor to his main support bout against Aelio Mesquita 16-1 (14) on the undercard of the WBO welterweight title fight between Jeff Horn and Gary Corcoran in Brisbane in December. The 26-year-old Brazilian power-puncher, undefeated going in to the fight, was no match for “Cheeky” who dropped the knockout artist twice in the fourth and again in the fifth to score an impressive TKO5 courtesy of a savage body attack. May won every round of the fight on all three judges’ scorecards. The 22-year-old, whose style have been favourably compared to Vic Darchinyan-conqueror Nonito Donaire, is ranked number seven by the IBF and will be aiming for a shot at that sanctioning body’s champion “Lightning” Lee Selby 26-1 (9) of Wales before the end of 2018. With May’s esteemed trainer Peter Stokes suffering from terminal cancer, it would be a fairytale come true if May can secure a world championship belt with Stokesy in his corner.
LAST YEAR: Luke “Action” Jackson 15-0 (6)
“Action” Jackson scored two wins in 2017, a sixth round stoppage of Mohammed Kambuluta of Tanzania and a ten round unanimous decision win over Mexican Humberto de Santiago to defend his WBIO Oriental featherweight title. The 32-year-old Tasmanian has his sights firmly set on WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez 23-0 (19) of Mexico in 2018, who is still without an opponent for his 10 March title defence at the StubHub Centre in Carson, California. With a little luck the WBO #9 will be in the other corner for that bout.
SUPER BANTAMWEIGHT: TJ “The Power” Doheny 18-0 (13)
Australian-based Irishman TJ “The Power” Doheny closed out the year with a bang, scoring a split decision win over Mike Tawatchai (AKA Pipat Chaiporan) in Bangkok, Thailand on 20 December in an IBF super bantamweight eliminator that will earn him a shot at newly minted Japanese IBF champion Ryosuke Iwasa in the New Year. Scores were 117-111, 116-112 and 113-115 in a fight that Doheny clearly won.
The 31-year-old southpaw from Bondi Junction in Sydney was extended the distance for the first time since May of 2015. He came into the fight with six successive stoppage wins, including a routine first round annihilation of Indonesian journeyman Espinos Sabu 16-13-2 (9) in June.
Doheny was originally scheduled to face former world champion and IBF number six Evgeny Gradovich in Russia, but the aptly named “Russian Mexican” was forced to withdraw after suffering a career-ending problem with his eyesight. With the win over IBF number seven Tawatchai, current number three Doheny is expected to be elevated to the mandatory contender position after being entrenched in the top five for the year. The number one and two rankings are currently vacant.
Iwasa 24-2 (16) claimed the title back in September from Yukinori Oguni 19-2-1 (7), who was himself making the first defence of the crown he claimed from big-hitting Dominican Jonathan Guzman 22-1 (22) in December last year. Guzman, too, managed only a single title defence.
You can expect the short tenure of champions to continue next year as TJ Doheny – who holds an amateur win over former two-division world champion Carl Frampton – looks set to claim the IBF 122-pound title from Iwasa even if he has to travel to Japan to do it.
LAST YEAR: Jason “The Smooth One” Moloney 15-0 (12)
Jason Moloney smashed out four wins in 2017 – including three under new trainer Angelo Hyder – two knockouts and an eight round and a 10 round unanimous decision. Filipino Macro Demecillo 22-7-1 (17) didn’t win a round against him on the Anthony Mundine-Danny Green II undercard in Adelaide over eight in February. Mexican Emanuel Armendariz 12-4-2 (5) fell in five at Punches at the Park IV at the Melbourne Park Function Centre in June. This was followed by a virtual shutout against Filipino Lolito Sonsona 21-2-4 (9) at the same venue in August. A move down in weight to 118-pounds in October only made him more deadly, with a first round destruction of Tanzanian Julias Kisarawe 27-5-1 (14) at Punches at the Park VI. Look for WBA #9 and WBO #8 Jason Moloney and his twin brother Andrew to continue making waves in 2018.
BANTAMWEIGHT: Cherneka “Sugar Neekz” Johnson 8-0 (3)
In just her second year as a pro Cherneka Johnson is building quite a following. In her first eight rounder in December “Sugar Neekz” claimed her first professional title when she picked up the vacant WBA Oceania female crown against Filipino Gretel de Paz 4-3 (2) in front of her hometown crowd at Warrnambool in the headline fight of “War in the ‘Bool 2” winning by scores of 80-73 twice and 78-74.
The de Paz victory closed out a busy year for Johnson, who also claimed wins over debutant Febriyanti Lubis in Melbourne in October, Saowaluk Nareepangsri 7-5-1 (1) of Thailand at Eatons Hill, Queensland in June and Kiwi Carol Earl 2-3-1 (2) in Melbourne in March. Lubis was stopped in the second round while the other three were lucky to win a round between them.
Johnson, who moved to Australia from Tauranga in New Zealand as a 12-year-old, fell in love with boxing after a chance meeting with former IBF lightweight champion and Jeff Fenech-conqueror Phillip Holiday at her local PCYC where she had enrolled in boxing classes as a teenager. She went on to have over 60 amateur bouts and represented Australia at four world championships and has boxed as far afield as China, Bulgaria and Turkey. Johnson also boxed at the Olympic trials as a flyweight after winning the Queensland trials.
The 22-year-old has barely dropped a round in her pro career. A clash with Queensland’s April Adams 8-1-1 (3) would be a natural.
LAST YEAR: Andrew “The Monster” Moloney 15-0 (10)
The only blip on WBA #6 and IBF #11 Andrew Moloney’s ledger for 2017 was a flash knockdown against Raymond Tabugon 20-8-1 (10) just before the bell to end the third round of their August fight. Not to worry though, Moloney came storming out the next round to put the Filipino to the sword and claim the vacant WBA Oceania and OPBF super flyweight titles with a 4th round TKO in his first fight at the weight. Earlier in the year Renoel Paul 21-8-1 (11) of the Philippines lasted the eight round distance against Moloney on the Mundine-Green II undercard in Adelaide in February, while Mexico’s Aramis Solis 16-6 (9) was KO’d in three in Melbourne in June. The Tabugon win was followed up with a 4th round TKO of Tanzanian Hashimu Zuberi 13-2 (3) in defence of his WBA Oceania super flyweight title in Melbourne, a victory that also saw him pick up the vacant Commonwealth crown at 115-pounds. With the win Moloney became the first Australian to win a Commonwealth Games gold medal and a Commonwealth title in the professional ranks.
SUPER FLYWEIGHT: Brock Jarvis 12-0 (11)
At the start of the year Brock Jarvis was 6-0 (5). The Jeff Fenech protégé continued that unbeaten run in 2017, adding six victories for six knockouts to his ledger, with the longest bout lasting less than three rounds.
It is still early days for the 20-year-old from Marrickville, who shares some of the same grit and determination that made his trainer such a force to be reckoned with in the lighter weight classes in the mid-to-late 80’s.
In a sense this wasn’t a difficult pick; Boxrec only lists two Aussie boxers in the 115-pound weight class with the other being last year’s bantamweight nominee Andrew “The Monster” Moloney. That said, I do believe this kid has the talent to go places in the sport.
At 5-foot-7 you could expect Jarvis to be the type of boxer that uses his reach and range to outbox his opponents from the outside. But like the original Marrickville Mauler, Jarvis prefers a tear-up and likes to force his way inside on his opponents where he can land his deadly short hooks and uppercuts to the body and head.
Don’t expect any huge steps up in class next year as Jarvis continues to learn the ropes in the pro game, but it would be nice to see him matched with someone durable enough to give him some rounds. He certainly has the talent.
LAST YEAR: Susie “Susie Q” Ramadan 27-2 (12)
My thinking last year was that at 37, Ramadan would make a run for a world title in 2017. That wasn’t the case. Two fights for two TKO wins against moderate opposition failed to impress. Thailand’s Rungnapha Kaewkrachang 13-11-1 (1) was down once in the second and twice in the third, losing by TKO3 in Melbourne in March. Another Thai, Sumalee Tongpootorn 8-8-1, was stopped in the second round in Melbourne in October after first taking a trip to the canvas. Dominant performances, sure. But it would be preferable to see Ramadan engaged in more challenging matchups.
This is where the list starts getting a bit thin. In fact, a quick look at BoxRec.com reveals zero male or female boxers in Australia competing in the flyweight division. Similarly, the junior flyweight division turns up zero results too. Last year’s 108-pound nominee Louisa “Bang Bang Lulu” Hawton, who won the vacant WBO junior flyweight championship against Kei Takenaka in Sanda, Japan in August 2016, hasn’t fought since. We hope to see her back in the ring in early 2018.
LAST YEAR: Omari “Lion Boy” Kimweri 16-4 (6)
Tanzanian-born Australian-based Omari Kimweri got his big chance in June when he faced longtime Thai world champion Chayaphon Moonsri (AKA Wanheng Menayothin) 49-0 (17) for the WBA strawweight title in Rayong, Thailand. Kimweri started well but the savvy champion, who was making the seventh defence of his crown, gradually began to figure out the game challenger and pick him apart as the rounds progressed. Kimweri was docked a point in the opening round for an accidental headclash that caused a cut over Moonsri’s left eye. When the final gong sounded Kimweri had come up short, going down by scores of 110-117 and 109-118 twice. It was WBC #13 Kimweri’s only fight for 2017.
Click here to read Part 1: Heavyweight to welterweight: www.maxboxing.com/news/sub-lead/2018-aussies-on-the-rise-heavyweight-to-welterweight
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