By Anthony Cocks
British heavyweight Dillian Whyte 22-1 (16) had a few choices words for Lucas “Big Daddy” Browne 25-0 (22) at the press conference in London last week to announce the signing of their highly anticipated clash for the WBC Silver heavyweight title at the O2 Arena in London on 24 March.
“This guy is a nasty bit of work, you just have to look at him to know he’s a nasty bit of work. He just looks nasty. He looks like chlamydia,” said Whyte of the bald-headed, heavily tattooed Aussie.
Whyte had earlier claimed that Browne was a racist after the Australian likened him to an orangutan on social media but the former bouncer and mixed martial artist insisted he was only referring to the Englishman’s long arms and fighting style.
“The Body Snatcher” was having none of it.
“The main reason I hate Lucas Browne is he called me an orangutan,” said Whyte. “I believe in equality among people. You don’t call a black man an orangutan. I don’t care whether it’s a joke or you’re with your mates.
“I don’t care about any of that. That’s very disrespectful and I take that personally. And for that Lucas Browne will pay. I will knock Lucas Browne out.”
Earlier, Whyte had labelled Browne a “racist junkie” in reference to his failed drug test in the lead up to his WBA-ordered fight against Brooklyn’s Shannon Briggs in 2016 after taking an over-the-counter supplement that contained the banned substance ostarine.
Ironically Whyte has had his own run-ins with the anti-doping authorities that resulted in a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
In 2012 Whyte served a two-year ban after the then-24-year-old tested positive for methylhexaneamine in a post-fight test after his victory over Hungary’s Sandor Balogh. Whyte’s legal team claimed the stimulant was contained in the controversial nutritional supplement called Jack3D, a product that is no longer available in the United Kingdom.
The bad blood between Whyte and Browne is more than just a marketing tool contrived to move more tickets.
“We generally just don’t like each other,” said Browne, 38. “There is nothing fake about anyone, but that’s all good.”
In March 2016 Browne became the first Australian boxer to claim a share of the heavyweight crown when he travelled to Grozny in Russia to despatch reigning WBA “regular” champion Ruslan Chagaev in a ten round shootout. Trailing on points after taking a trip to the canvas in the sixth, Browne rallied to force his way back into the fight in the seventh.
In the 10th round he delivered a crunching right cross that deposited the Uzbek southpaw on his backside and the follow-up beatdown left referee Stanley Christodoulou with no other option that to wave off the contest and crown Browne the new WBA heavyweight champion of the world.
If Browne can recapture some of that 2016 form then Whyte will be in for a long night at the office on 24 March.
This fight may be won or lost in the psychological stakes.
“I think during this process up until March I think I will really be able to get into his head,” Browne said.
Browne believes that Whyte’s fight against reigning WBA/IBF champion Anthony Joshua for the Commonwealth title in 2015 speaks volumes about the 29-year-old Londoner’s will to win.
“He rocked him (Joshua) with a left hand and then did nothing else after that and once AJ settled into the fight it was all over in seven rounds.
“The fact he doesn’t label that one loss on his social media sites says a lot about him.”
ROHAN MURDOCK PLANS TO SHOW “NO MERCY” TO FRANKIE FILIPPONE ON 3 FEBRUARY
Queensland super middleweight contender Rohan “No Mercy” Murdock 21-1 (15) is planning on making a statement when he squares up against Virginia-native Frankie “The Freight Train” Filippone 24-6-1 (8) on the undercard of the world title doubleheader featuring WBO 168-pound kingpin Gilberto Ramirez and IBF super flyweight boss Jerwin Ancajas at the Bank of America Center in Corpus Christi, Texas on Saturday 3 February to be broadcast by ESPN.
“I feel every fight for me is important to advance me to the next level,” said Murdock. “This being the biggest card I have fought on, with two world titles on the line, I am focused on getting the job done and showing the US what the Aussies are capable of.”
Murdock and his head trainer Chris Carden of the Platinum Boxing Club have been studying Filippone in the lead-up to the fight and are confident that they have the gameplan in place to conquer the left-handed “Freight Train”.
“Frankie is a veteran with 31 fights with a walk-forward, wide-punching style. I think my boxing skills will be far greater than Frankie’s and that will get me the win,” said Murdock.
“His weakness is those wide, rangy shots. We plan on boxing smart and throwing punches straight down the pipe.”
One of the challenges faced by Murdock in this preparation has been finding quality left-handed sparring partners to work with over the Christmas and New Year period.
“We have been really struggling with this, especially with my opponent being a southpaw,” revealed Murdock. “We have had to do some travelling to find rounds and are currently in Sydney finishing off what has been a good prep.”
The 25-year-old from Varsity Lakes on Queensland’s Gold Coast sat on the shelf for much of 2017 after a motorcycle accident in Indonesia left him knocked unconscious and nursing a broken jaw. An opportunity to fight on the Jeff Horn-Manny Pacquiao card last July was nixed when he suffered a hand injury in sparring that required two surgeries to fix.
Brand-new promotional outfit DDP Sports matched Murdock with 74-fight veteran Said Mbelwa of Tanzania on the undercard of their debut show headlined by Dennis Hogan versus Yuki Nonaka at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre last October. It was his first bout after a full year on the sidelines.
The six-foot tall Murdock took care of business in three rounds and was back in the ring two months later on the undercard of Jeff Horn’s WBO welterweight world title defence against Gary Corcoran at the same venue. This time Murdoch was up against tough Russian Apti Ustarkhanov 15-3-3 (5) in a battle for the vacant WBO Oriental super middleweight title.
“I was happy with my performance, however there is always room to make adjustments,” said Murdock, who dominated the fight to win a clear-cut decision over the 10 round distance. “We have been working on our strengths and weaknesses to put ourselves in real contention of winning the world title.”
The trickledown effect of Horn’s win over Pacquiao last year has had a tremendous impact on the popularity of what has always been a fringe sport in Australia. Murdock has been a recipient of this renewed mainstream interest in boxing, helped along by the ongoing investment in the sport by Duco Events.
“Duco Promotions have done a great job in promoting not only Jeff Horn but boxing as a whole,” said Murdock, the WBO #12 ranked super middleweight. “Personally, Duco have given me the opportunity to stay active, fight on a world title card, exposure and now along with Top TRank the opportunity to showcase my ability on the international scene in the US with a potential world title fight in sight.”
If Murdock gets past Filippone and Ramirez defeats his opponent Habib Ahmed on the Top Rank promoted show there is talk of matching the two at an open air pop-up stadium on the beach at the Gold Coast for the WBO super middleweight title currently held by the 36-0 (24) Mexican southpaw.
It would be a dream come true for Murdock.
“Top Rank and Duco have been in discussions about this. Provided my team and Ramirez’s team come out unblemished in our next fights, that’s the plan,” said Murdock.
“I see Gilberto Ramirez as the biggest competition in the division and the worthy champion, but as a fighter you must back yourself against anyone. I believe if you put any opposition on the other side of the ring, I will get the win.”
JOE GOODALL TO JOIN THE PRO RANKS ON DDP SPORTS CARD
One of Australia’s best credentialed amateurs "Big" Joe Goodall has announced he will be turning pro on the DDP Sports promotion "Revolution" headlined by Dennis Hogan vs Jimmy Kilrain Kelly at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre on 7 April.
"I have made the decision to turn pro because I want to be the best heavyweight in the world,” said Goodall this week. “It’s that simple."
The 25-year-old Queenslander comes to the pro ranks with a stack of amateur accolades. He is a three-time national champion, two-time Oceania champion, bronze medallist at the World Championships and silver medallist at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
Goodall is a product of the Stretton Boxing Club where he was taught to throw his first punch by the enigmatic Glenn Rushton. The 59-year-old investment manager made headlines last year when he guided Jeff Horn to world championship glory.
"This kid will be the next superstar in the heavyweight division, we have something very special here," said Rushton.
WBO welterweight champion Horn agrees with his trainer’s assessment.
"I believe Joe can shake up the heavyweight division,” said Horn, who shocked the world with his upset win over Manny Pacquiao to claim the world title last July. “Not only in Australia but the world. If Big Joe believes in himself he is not only going to make ripples, he will be a tsunami in the heavyweight division."
With the renewed interest in boxing in Australia the timing is perfect to introduce Goodall to the broader sporting public.
"We are very excited that Joe has decided to turn pro on our show. Everyone you talk to thinks that Joe is the next big thing in boxing and everyone will get to see his very first pro fight in Brisbane on April 7th. Our focus is to work with and help the next generation of boxing superstars and Joe fits that bill perfectly," said Paul Keegan of DDP Sports.
WBO number four ranked junior middleweight Hogan, who trains alongside Goodall at the Stretton gym, sees Goodall’s speed and power taking him to the top of the division in short order.
"I don’t say this lightly this but this guy will be the best heavyweight in the world in the next three to five years. He is as quick as a welterweight but hits like a train," said Hogan.
MOLONEY TWINS RAMP UP TRAINING AHEAD OF PUNCHES AT THE PARK 7
Undefeated twins Jason and Andrew Moloney have ramped up their training ahead of their appearance at Hosking Promotions “Punches at the Park 7” at the St Kilda Town Hall in Melbourne on 24 February.
The world-ranked 27-year-olds have drafted in Sydney super featherweight Billel “Baby Face” Dib 21-2 (10) as a sparring partner to assist with their preparation at their homebase of Kingscliff in northern New South Wales. Dib, a two-time Australian champion and former WBO Oriental titleholder, fights under the DiBella Entertainment banner.
Jason is looking to join his brother as Commonwealth champion when he takes on Namibia’s former world title challenger Immanuel Naidjala 23-4-1 (13) for the vacant bantamweight crown. Also on the line will be Jason’s WBA Oceania bantamweight strap.
“I’m really excited about this fight,” said Jason, 15-0 (12). “I know it’s going to be a tough test for me and we have been preparing ourselves very well. I feel like I’m making huge improvements in the gym and I believe I’m definitely ready to take my career to the next level.
“We are ready for the big fights and I think an impressive win against Naidjala will show that I belong among the best bantamweights in the world.”
Meanwhile Andrew will be putting his WBA Oceania super flyweight title on the line against IBF #5 and WBC #11 Rene “The Commander” Dacquel 20-6-1 (6) of the Philippines who will be staking his OPBF strap on the fight.
“Training is going extremely well for this fight,” said Andrew, 15-0 (10), who is the only Australian boxer to win Commonwealth titles in both the amateur and professional ranks. “I stayed in the gym and continued to train after my last fight so I came into this camp already in good condition.
“I feel I have made some huge improvements with my boxing since my last fight and I’m really looking forward to showing that on February 24.
“This is the biggest fight of my career so far and I plan to put on a great performance and show the world that I belong up there with the best fighters in the super flyweight division.”
The brothers both shifted down a weight class last year as they logged four wins against increasingly stiff opposition. If they keep up a similar schedule in 2018 they will both be banging on the door of a world title shot by the end of the calendar year.
Jason, who goes by the moniker “The Smooth One”, is currently ranked WBA #9, WBO #5 and IBF #12, while his brother “The Monster” is rated WBA #6 and IBF #10.
FAMMO HONOURED WITH STATUE UNVEILING AT LOCAL PARK
A star-studded line-up of former world champion boxers and contenders gathered at Frankston’s Ballam Park on Sunday to honour the remarkable career of former WBC featherweight champion Johnny Famechon as his 2.1 metre bronze statue was unveiled to the public for the first time.
Forty-nine years ago to the day the then-23-year-old Fammo travelled halfway around the globe to London, England to attempt what his uncle Ray was unable to achieve some 19 years earlier against all-time great Willie Pep at New York’s Madison Square Garden: to win the world’s featherweight championship.
After 15 fast-paced and hard-fought rounds Fammo was declared the victor over sprightly Cuban exile Jose Legra, a Spanish resident. When he returned to Australia with his world title belt in tow, an estimated quarter of million people turned up to help him celebrate in his home city of Melbourne.
The crowd was a little smaller than that in Frankston on Sunday, but what it lacked in quantity it more than made up for in quality. Amongst the luminaries in the 1,000-strong crowd were Ghana’s multi-weight world champion “The Professor” Azumah Nelson along with Australian former world champs Barry Michael, Sam Soliman and Robbie Peden.
The man who kick-started the plan for a statue was a notable absence. Lionel Rose, who passed away in 2011, commented at the unveiling of his own statue in Warragul that his little mate Fammo should be next. Gary Luscombe coordinated the project that was funded by the generosity of boxing fans and those in the industry until the Johnny Famechon Statue Project came to fruition after five years of hard work.
Fammo would go on to successfully defend the world title twice, logging a 15 round points decision win over Japanese legend and International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee Fighting Harada in Sydney in July 1969 with Willie Pep the referee and sole judge. In January the following year Fammo would travel to Japan to grant Harada a rematch, bowling him over in the 14th round of a fight he was leading at the Metropolitan Gym in Tokyo.
Fammo retired in 1970 at the age of 25 with a career record of 56-5-6 (20).
The statue will be permanent fixture in Frankston where it will remind people of the pride they should have in their suburb. It should also serve to inspire the younger generation to be better people both in and out of the ring and encourage them to believe that with a little hard work they can achieve anything they set their minds to.