By Anthony Cocks
TOMMY BROWNE FINDS INSPIRATION IN LATE BROTHER FOR ANTHONY MUNDINE BOUT
A press conference was held at Sydney’s Star City Casino last Thursday to announce former WBA super middleweight champion Anthony Mundine’s return to the ring against two-time world title challenger Tommy Browne at the same venue on 17 January.
For Browne, the fight represents an opportunity that his younger brother Davey never had.
Just over two years ago Davey fought Filipino Carlo Magali for the vacant IBF Pan Pacific super featherweight title at the Ingleburn RSL in Sydney’s western suburbs. He lost, going down by KO in the 12th and final round. Shortly after the fight he slipped into unconsciousness and was transported to the nearby Liverpool Hospital. The doctors did what they could but eventually advised his family that would be no chance of the 28-year-old recovering from his injuries. Davey’s life support was switched off in the small hours of Tuesday 15 September 2015.
For Browne, who was in Davey’s corner that tragic night, the memory remains fresh.
"I had to take a long time away from the sport after Davey passed away, but I’m now hungrier than ever to succeed and make him proud," said Browne, 35-6-2 (13).
"Nothing will change what happened, nothing will bring Davey back, but every day I train, every drip of sweat and blood that comes out of me is for him, he is my motivation."
At 34 Browne is eight years Mundine’s junior. As a featherweight he twice fought for the world title in 2005, going the distance with WBC champ In-Jin Chi in Seoul, South Korea in January and lasting 10 rounds with WBA kingpin Chris John in Penrith, Sydney in August before the referee halted the bout.
After a 6th round stoppage loss to Leonardo Zappavigna for the IBF Pan Pacific junior welterweight title in 2008, Browne walked away from the sport. When he returned five years later the 30-year-old, 5-foot-11 Browne’s frame had filled out to junior middleweight. In the nine years since he is yet to lose a fight.
Browne has already has been training for the fight at the Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas, Nevada and says that Mundine is in for a rude shock if he thinks he can match it with the indomitable Floyd Mayweather Jr.
"Mundine has been saying for years that he wants to fight Mayweather and that he can beat Floyd," said Browne.
"I’ve spent months training at the Mayweather gym, I’ve seen Floyd training firsthand and Mundine isn’t anywhere near his league.
"Mundine is a poor imitation of Mayweather. He might come close in the talking department, but everyone knows there is no other comparison. You’ve just got to look at their records."
When they clash in January, Browne is convinced that he will be able to find Mundine’s chin early and often.
"Mundine is there to be hit where Floyd isn’t. He’s been knocked out cold by Sven Ottke and Garth Wood and I’ve lost count of how many times he’s been knocked down in his last few fights," Browne said.
"His chin is gone and I’ll expose that."
It will be the first time in Mundine’s 56-bout boxing career that one of his fights isn’t broadcast on pay-per-view domestically. Even the normally verbose Mundine seems to accept that his time at the top is nearing an end.
"This will be the resurrection of ’The Man’ or the demise of ’The Man’. We’ll soon find out," said Mundine, 47-8 (27).
The Mundine vs Browne fight will be for the vacant WBO Oriental middleweight title with reigning champion Billy Joe Saunders of the UK the target for both men.
"There’s a calculated plan to have a big year and make all of my dreams come true," Mundine said.
"Then sail off into the sunset."
Meanwhile, Jeff Horn hasn’t ruled out fighting Mundine is he gets through the Browne bout unscathed.
"It all depends on what the future holds and what fights are available to me," Horn told the Dead Set Legends program on radio station Triple M.
"I want big name fights over in the US and the UK."
Horn admitted that Mundine has seen better days and sees the fight as an easy payday with the 42-year-old former rugby league star still a popular drawcard in Australia.
"Mundine’s kind of passed it... I thought he was retiring after his fight with Danny Green.
"He is a big payday and that is the one thing that makes the fight interesting to me is if I do get paid for a fight that is going to be easier than the other fights I have.
"So that’s the only potential I have of fighting him, depending on who I’ve got and who’s up next."
In other words it’s possible, but don’t hold your breath.
BILAL AKKAWY AND DARRAGH FOLEY CLAIM VICTORIES AT CLUB PUNCHBOWL
Heavy-handed super middleweight Bilal Akkawy 16-0-1 (14) made short work of Brazilian journeyman Rogerio Damasco 16-8-1 (15) at Club Punchbowl in Punchbowl, Sydney, NSW on Friday night, stopping him in the second round of a scheduled eight.
The fight was never in danger of going the distance with the dangerous Akkawy landing power shots on the visitor almost at will.
After the fight it was announced that Akkawy’s next opponent will be former WBA super middleweight champion Giovanni De Carolis 24-8-1 (12) of Italy on 24 February at the same venue.
In the main support bout WBA #11 junior welterweight Darragh Foley 14-2 (8) had to overcome two knockdowns to get the win against tougher than expected Filipino Ernie Sanchez 17-11-1 (8) on points over eight rounds.
The rugged Sanchez, who has shared a ring with current world champions Rey Vargas, Oscar Valdez and Sergey Lipinets, landed a Hail Mary right hand in the first round that Foley didn’t see coming. Before he knew it, he was on the canvas.
“I came out orthodox in the first and was trying to work on a few different things when I got caught with an overhand right I didn’t even see coming that put me down,” the 29-year-old Foley said. “I was fine though and got up straight away.”
Foley regained control of the bout only to find himself back on the canvas in the fourth from what he says was a low blow.
“The second knockdown he hit me low and fumbled me over,” said Foley. “Ridiculous call.”
But southpaw Foley bit down on his mouthpiece and fought back hard, outhustling Sanchez to win the majority of the rounds and claim the victory on points. All three judges had him ahead 76-74, awarding him every round except the first and fourth.
“I felt like I controlled the whole fight and even in the rounds I was knocked down I was winning. I was breaking him down and the last two rounds he was in full survival mode. If it was a ten round fight he wouldn’t have lasted the pace,” said Foley, who was born in England to Irish parents, moved back to Ireland as a child but now resides in Sydney, Australia.
“He was very tough, to his credit. I caught him a lot especially in the last two rounds, but he hung in there.”
Next up for Foley, who trains out of the Bondi Boxing Club, is a headline fight on a special St Patricks Day card at Star City Casino on 17 March as part of the Johnny Lewis Fight Night series against a world ranked opponent to be named.
“SUGAR NEEKZ” WINS FIRST TITLE AGAISNT GRETEL DE PAZ IN FRONT OF HOMETOWN CROWD
New Zealand-born bantamweight Cherneka “Sugar Neekz” Johnson 8-0 (3) claimed the vacant WBA Oceania 118-pound title with an eight round points decision over tough Filipino Gretel de Paz 4-3 (2) at the Warrnambool Stadium in Warrnambool, Victoria on Saturday night in the headline fight of Hosking Promotions “War at the ‘Bool 2”.
Johnson, who recently relocated to Warrnambool on the south west coast of Victoria from the sunny climes of Queensland’s Gold Coast, had to rely on her boxing skill against the aggressive de Paz to eventually win by scores of 80-73 and 78-74 twice after eight two-minute rounds.
“We’re definitely working our way to the top. This journey is only just the beginning,” she said after the fight.
“My goal is to be number one in the division, I want to be number one. I want to be known as the world champ.”
The 22-year-old Johnson didn’t have it all her own way. In the fifth round de Paz launched an all-out attack but Johnson stood her ground and rallied back in the later rounds to close the fight strongly.
“I definitely didn’t want to rush into things – I just had to be patient and to wait for her to come forward,” said Johnson, who is trained Rodney Ryan in Warrnambool.
“Our game plan definitely paid off. I just used my boxing skills. I fought the fight that I needed to, I was there, I used my skills, and if I was in there long we would have had a scrap.
“I felt really fit, confident and sharp, and I scored some clean punches.”
KURTIS PEGORARO WINS BIG IN CHINA
Townsville-born heavyweight Kurtis Pegoraro 11-3 (1) fought Kazakh-born, German-based Eugen Buchmueller 9-1 (6) for the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental title and the vacant WBO China Zone title at the Asia Games Stadium in Guangzhou, China on Sunday night, coming away with a dominant points wins after 10 one-sided rounds.
It was a weekend of firsts for Pegoraro. His first 10 round fight. His first bout overseas. And the first time he had to rush from the maternity ward to the airport to ensure he could make his flight to China.
Pegoraro almost missed his flight as he was at the hospital with his wife who was in labour with their third child. Three hours after greeting his newborn daughter he was on a plane headed for China.
“The experience in China was amazing,” said Pegoraro. “The amount of people coming up to us for photos and to wish us luck was incredible. With the experience to fight in front of a massive stadium and live on Chinese TV is something that as a kid from a small country town in North Queensland I never thought I’d get the opportunity to do.”
In the biggest win of his career, the 28-year-old Queenslander dominated Buchmueller with his superior footwork and boxing skills to win by scores of 99-91 and 100-91 twice. Not a bad result for a North Queensland kid who dared to dream.
“The fight played out the way I wanted it to,” said Pegoraro. “We tried to control the distance and the ring by using my reach and footwork, damaging the left eye and forcing it to partially shut and eventually cutting in the later rounds.”
Buchmueller pressed forward but had no answer to Pegoraro’s lateral movement and educated jab that he used to set up his combinations to the body and head.
“I am happy to be able to perform the way I wanted and make the most of the amazing opportunity with one of the best teams possible in Australian boxing,” said Pegoraro.
DWIGHT RITCHIE OUTCLASSES SHAY BROCK, SYLVIA SCHARPER DESTROYS KAEWKRACHANG TO CLAIM WIBA WORLD TITLE
Shepparton’s Dwight "The Fighting Cowboy" Ritchie 16-1 (2) overcame a nasty cut over his right eye to dole out a boxing lesson over 10 rounds to Kiwi Shay Brock 12-1-1 (6) who simply had no answer for his workrate and hand-speed at the Melbourne Pavilion on Friday night.
Headlining the last Team Ellis show for the year, the 25-year-old Ritchie dictated the pace and never gave Brock a look in, running away with the victory by scores of 99-93, 100-91 and 99-91 and collecting the vacant IBF Youth junior middleweight title along the way.
“[It] was a good hard win to get the super welterweight IBF Youth world title on Friday night against a tough and determined Shay Brock,” Ritchie wrote on Facebook. “All credit to him and his team for taking the fight and giving their all.”
The only loss on Ritchie’s resume came in Japan last year when he travelled to Osaka to defend his OPBF middleweight title against Koki Tyson, who edged him in a close fight 111-116, 112-115 and 111-116. Ritchie has won the OPBF title in his previous trip to Japan against Hikaru Nishida by 12 round unanimous decision.
Ritchie’s record could easily read 20-1. His first four pro fights in 2009 occurred when he was still 17, a year younger than the legal age for pro boxing in Australia. As a result, two four rounders and a pair of six rounders were changed to no contests.
Ritchie will take a break over Christmas before returning to action in the New Year.
“I just want to play it by ear,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll have something by April.”
On the same card Heath Ellis-trained Sylvia Scharper 8-1-2 (2) defeated Thailand’s Rungnapha Kaewkrachang 13-11-1 (1) by KO5 to claim the vacant WIBA super flyweight championship of the world in her third crack at the title.
Scharper controlled the action for much of the bout before Kaewkrachang succumbed to left rips in the fifth round, twice finding the canvas. After beating the count the first time she was in no condition to continue after finding herself on the canvas again seconds later.
Referee Malcolm Bulner waved off the contest at 1:51 of the fifth.
“My name is Sylvia and I am the new super flyweight WIBA champion of the world,” she beamed in centre ring after the fight.
Back in May 2015 Scharper dropped a 10 round decision to Marnelle Verano of the Philippines for the same title in what was then her sixth pro fight. In March this year Scharper tried again, this time against Brisbane-based Papua New Guinean Kori Farr, a fight that ended in a majority draw. This time around there was no doubt about the result.
Third time’s a charm.
STEVE LOVETT BACK WITH A WIN IN CANBERRA, WANTS BIG NAMES AT 175 IN 2018
Canberra light heavyweight Steve Lovett 17-2 (13) was too classy for Steve Moxon 5-5 (4) in the main event at the Hellenic Club in Woden, ACT on Friday night, claiming victory by unanimous decision over eight rounds.
Lovett has based himself in Houston, Texas in the United States since 2013 to work with world renowned trainer Ronnie Shields. During his time in the States he had had mixed success, going 9-2 with the brace of losses coming by way of stoppage to Lionell Thompson and Craig Baker.
The Moxon fight, which he trained for with former IBF and WBA middleweight champion Daniel Geale, can be seen as something of a confidence builder before targeting the big names in the 175-pound division.
"I want the big fights and these guys are able to put me in the ring and get me rankings, and give me the big fights," the 32-year-old Lovett said of his US team.
"This may be the last or it may not be, but as far as I know we’re looking at getting the top fights, to get the top guys and the rankings."
On the same card Haithem Laamouz 12-0 (5) knocked out Indonesian Egy Rozten 5-17-2 (3) at 1:29 of the fourth round of a scheduled six to win the vacant NSW State middleweight title.
ZAC DUNN RETURNS TO THE SCENE OF THE CRIME
The Melbourne Pavilion hosted its second show in two days when super middleweight Zac “Dynamo” Dunn 25-1 (20) stopped Cedric Spera 13-7 (3) of Belgium in four rounds of a scheduled 10 on Saturday night.
Spera, 28, started well but as the rounds progressed it was apparent he had no answer for the explosive firepower of Dunn, who was having his first fight back at the venue where he lost his lone fight to Scotsman David Brophy back in March when he was stopped by body shots to lose his Commonwealth title.
There were no apparent signs of ghosts for the 26-year-old Dunn, who has fought once since the loss against Luis Eduardo Paz in Yucatan, Mexico in October, resulting in another fourth round KO. Dunn is now trained by Mick Hargraves.
On the same card super middleweight Jake Carr moved to 16-1 (6) with a sixth round knockout of Juan Adrian Monzon 8-1-3 (7) in a fight slated to go eight.