Max Boxing

Aussie boxing wrap-up: Toussaint and Moloney discuss latest victories, J-Mitch-Akkawy clash postponed, Opetaia returns, Navagero's exceptional people

By Anthony Cocks

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In two weeks’ time undefeated Canberra middleweight ‘Diamond’ David Toussaint 11-0 (8) will get the opportunity to fight for his first 160-pound title when he battles Brisbane’s Liam Hutchinson 11-4-1 (5) for the vacant national title at the Hellenic Club in Woden, ACT on September 8.


“I’m expecting a pretty tough fight from Liam and I know he’s never been stopped before,” said southpaw Toussaint. “I know he’s not a bad guy, but his record is probably not an indicator of his ability. I’m expecting a good tough fight form him and I’ve been training the house down myself so I’m as focused and as ready as I have been for any fight. I’m really looking forward to getting an opportunity to fight for the Aussie title and hopefully get the win and move on from there.”


A victory over Hutchinson will opening the door for regional title fights that will likely lead to a world ranking if he can keep on winning.


“I always wanted to get the Aussie title so that’s priority one,” said Toussaint. “But looking past it I would love to start picking up some regionals and eventually fight for a world title. I know I’m still a little bit off that, so at the moment, get the Aussie title, start picking up some regional, international points and work my way up the ladder.”


The 25-year-old former electrician is coming off a breakthrough win against Shane Mosley Jr. on the undercard of Jeff Horn’s stunning points decision win over Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on July 2.


The Mosley fight was the opening bout of the ESPN ‘Battle of Brisbane’ telecast that peaked at 4.4 million viewers and held and average of 3.1 million viewers across the various ESPN platforms. It was the highest rated and most watched boxing telecast on cable television since 2006 and ESPN’s highest-rated boxing telecast since 1995.


“It was pretty unreal,” said Toussaint of his USA television debut. “I probably didn’t have the full 50,000 people [in the crowd] but it was pretty busy when I fought and there were millions of people watching it over the TV, so it was pretty cool to do that and a good milestone. The next one is 8th September and I’m looking forward to that just as much as the last one. Hopefully get a win and keep going.”


Former unified middleweight champion Daniel ‘The Real Deal’ Geale has praised Toussaint’s ability, but he isn’t getting ahead of himself just yet.


“It’s pretty humbling,” said Toussaint. “Daniel Geale is a legend of the sport, a multiple world champ and the way he conducts himself out side of the ring is really great too. To get those sort of rap from a guy like that is pretty humbling. It’s one thing that he says it, but it’s another thing to go out there and do it.


“Everyday I’m still putting my head down and working hard. Hopefully it comes true but one fight at a time and obviously I have to get myself prepared for every fight and keep winning like I am. Just because he said it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, I’ve still got to go out and do it.”




Last Saturday night Jason ‘The Bantam Menace’ Moloney 14-0 (11) was forced to go the long route for just the third time of his career when he took on once-defeated Filipino Lolito Sonsona 21-2-4 (9) at Hosking Promotions’ Punches at the Park 5 at the Melbourne Park Function Centre.


Sonsona proved to be as rugged as they come, soaking up a tremendous amount of punishment without showing any signs of pain or slowing down. Despite Moloney winning by shutout on two of the three official scorecards, Sonsona hung tough and landed his own power shots periodically throughout the fight.


Moloney’s accuracy and workrate was the difference in a fight that was a lot closer than the scorecards suggested.


“I honestly knew that this was going to be a tough fight and we were well prepared to go the full 10 rounds,” said Moloney, who successfully defended his WBA Oceania 118-pound title and claimed the vacant OPBF Silver title in the same division.


“Sonsona was a good fighter and certainly made me work for the W but that was exactly what we expected.”


The durable Sonsona was a good litmus test for Moloney at this stage of his career as he starts eyeing off other world rated contenders.


“Yes, I would agree that this was my toughest test yet,” said Moloney. “Each fight moving forward is only going to get harder and harder as we continue to climb the ranks. These are exactly the fights we need to make sure that we will be ready when our time comes to fight for the world title.”


Under the guidance of new trainer Angelo Hyder – who Moloney has been working with for two fights now – the 26-year-old super bantamweight has been focused on establishing his jab early on in contests to set the platform for his dangerous body work.


“The plan was firstly to establish my jab and to work off that,” said Moloney. “I was trying to hit the body as much as possible and hoping that I would be able to eventually break Sonsona down and get the late stoppage but to Sonsona’s credit he was extremely tough and managed to hang in there.”


Despite the pace of the bout Moloney appeared to make it through the ten rounds comfortably.


“Going the 10 rounds for the first time in my career was great and will definitely be a very valuable experience for me moving forward,” said Moloney. “I felt that I handled the 10 round distance very comfortably which is mentally a real positive.


“I’m my own harshest critic so for me there is still plenty of things I feel I can improve on. I’m really enjoying my boxing at the moment and I’m looking forward to getting back in the gym with Angelo and continuing to learn and develop into the best fighter I can be.”




The highly anticipated super middleweight clash between WBA Oceania champion Bilal Akkawy 14-0-1 (12) and interim WBA Oceania titleholder Jayde Mitchell 15-1 (8) has been postponed until 2018 after Mitchell aggravated a longstanding back injury in his last fight against China’s Ainiwaer Yilixiati earlier this month.


Mitchell had to overcome a first round scare against Yilixiati when the hammer-fisted 24-year-old landed a crunching right cross that wobbled the Mornington Peninsula boxer in his own corner just before the end of the bell. The 31-year-old, who is expertly trained by his father Len, boxed a smart, composed fight for the remaining nine rounds to win a wide decision by 100-90 on two of the judges’ scorecards and 99-91 on the third.


“Compressed vertebrae in my neck, slipped a few discs that now require surgery,” Mitchell told his fans on Facebook. “I’ve carried the injury for some time now and the last fight it got worse! Sounds like a pretty simple procedure and surgery will be the quickest road to recovery! [I’ll] be back better and injury free.”


Mitchell has already faced some big punchers in his career. Along with Yilixiati, Mitchell has been in with Shintaro Matsumoto 13-4 (9) for the OPBF title in Tokyo, Japan; big punching light heavyweight Mitchell Middleton Clark 6-0 (6) in just his third pro fight; and knockout specialist Aaron Lai 6-1 (5);


Team Akkawy are confident that if they catch Mitchell like Yilixiati did, it will be lights out for the popular J-Mitch.


The 24-year-old Akkawy from Peakhurst in Sydney hasn’t fought since stopping experienced campaigner Kerry Hope 23-9 (2) in seven rounds last October. In that fight Hope had his jaw broken and several of his teeth dislodged.




Undefeated cruiserweight Jai Opetaia 12-0 (9) is putting the finishing touches on his preparation for his fight against American puncher Frankie Lopez 9-0 (7) at next month’s ‘Showdown in Paradise’ card at the Faleeta Sports Complex in Apia, Samoa.


“Fighting back in Samoa is an awesome feeling for me,” said Opetaia. “My grandfather is one of my biggest idols (who is Samoan) and I have a very big Samoan family, so it’s not just going over and fighting for myself. I represent my last name with pride because of my family and grandparents, so being over in Samoa and making them proud is a feeling that I love.”


In his last outing Opetaia put on a complete boxing performance to outbox and stop experienced campaigner Daniel Ammann in nine rounds to claim the vacant Australian and OPBF cruiserweight crowns in Newcastle last month. Opetaia boxed a controlled fight in the early rounds before stepping on the gas in the middle rounds and increasing the heat with every stanza until referee Anthony Shipley stepped in to waved a halt to the contest in the penultimate round. It was the first time Opetaia had been past six rounds.

‘My last fight I thought I fought okay but still not my best, I could of done a lot better,” said Opetaia. “My first big ten rounder fight, I was overthinking it a bit and was trying to save energy for the later rounds when I should of just picked the pace up from the start.

“But like I said, my first ten round fight, I learned so much from it, and it’s all about learning and getting better… and winning!”

The 22-year-old southpaw of Samoan descent is one of Australia’s hottest young prospects and comes from a proud fighting family. Four generations on Opetaia’s father’s side have been prizefighters while on his mother’s side the fistic tradition goes back three generations.


He will be fighting for the vacant IBF Youth cruiserweight title in what will be the second pro fight in Samoa.


In his last outing Opetaia put on a complete boxing performance to outbox and stop experienced campaigner Daniel Ammann in nine rounds to claim the vacant Australian and OPBF cruiserweight crowns in Newcastle last month. Opetaia boxed a controlled fight in the early rounds before stepping on the gas in the middle rounds and increasing the heat with every stanza until referee Anthony Shipley stepped in to waved a halt to the contest in the penultimate round. It was the first time Opetaia had been past six rounds.


As an amateur Opetaia won the Junior World Championships in Kazakhstan as a light heavyweight in 2011. The following year he became the youngest ever Australian boxer to qualify for the Olympic Games at the age of sixteen. The same year he won bronze at the AIBA World Youth Championships in the heavyweight division.


Also on the Michael Francis promoted card will be the return of former heavyweight world title challenger Alex ‘Lionheart’ Leapai 30-7-3 (24), who has been out of action since losing a 10 round decision to Manuel Charr in 2015. The Samoan-born Aussie challenged long-reigning heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko for his WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO world titles in 2014, succumbing in five rounds. Leapai will be facing local fighter Alapati A’asa 8-2-1 (4) over eight rounds.


Brock Jarvis 11-0 (10) will be in action for the sixth time this year against Kichang Kim 8-4-1 (2) of Indonesia in a six round bantamweight contest. It will be the fourth different country Jarvis has fought in since turning professional less than two years ago. Jarvis is trained by International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee and three-time world champion Jeff Fenech.


23-year-old Kiwi cruiserweight John Parker 3-0 will take on Aussie Cliff Chamberlain Jr 1-2 (1) in a four rounder. Parker was a celebrated amateur boxer who won the national middleweight and light heavyweight titles in New Zealand. He is the younger brother of reigning WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker.


Australian-based Kiwi junior middleweight Alex Hanan 2-0 (1), who is based in Bunbury, Western Australia and trains under Peter Stokes, has been matched against Fijian Ronald Naidu 5-2-2 (2). The 18-year-old Hanan is a three-time New Zealand national champion in the amateurs and a two-time Australian Golden Gloves silver medallist.




Late last month I was contacted by ring announcer, MC and all round raconteur Sam Navagero about appearing as a guest on his popular podcast ‘Exceptional People’. My initial response was one of shock, not in the least because I am far from exceptional. Hell, I’m hardly even people. But Sam persisted and after a few weeks I headed over to his home studio to be the interviewee rather than the interviewer for the first time in my life.


I’m glad I did it. I had a blast discussing my 15 years in the business writing about boxing for various print and online publications and talking about the challenges that come with interviewing some of the sports’ most colourful personalities. We cover interviews that I have done with some of boxing’s biggest names, including Kostya Tszyu, ‘The Professor’ Azumah Nelson, Sam ‘King’ Soliman, Anthony ‘Choc’ Mundine and Robbie ‘Bomber’ Peden, what it means to be ‘off the record’, the importance of being factually correct at all times, and I also reveal the number one item on my boxing bucket list.


You can download episodes of Exceptional People from iTunes here – and best of all, it’s FREE!!


Other recent episodes include Jeff Fenech & Brock Jarvis, Tim Tszyu, K1 superstar Sam Greco, and a behind-the-scenes look at the recent Big Time Boxing card headlined by Jayde Mitchell vs Ainiwaer Yilixiati.


I’m certainly in good company.


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