By Anthony Cocks
New Zealand’s premier promoter Duco Events pulled off a major coup by securing a deal to host the vacant WBO heavyweight title fight between Kiwi Joseph Parker and Andy Ruiz Jr. in Auckland, New Zealand at the Vector Arena on December 10th.
The cost of the fight is rumored to be around NZD $4 million (US $3 million).
Speaking at a press conference in Auckland on Tuesday, Duco Events CEO Mark Sneddon said: “It’s been a pretty rocky, volatile last few weeks. For us today it’s about in some ways putting a line in the sand.
“We’ve reached a point today where we can say this title fight is happening in Auckland, and let’s use the next 32 days before the fight to really enjoy the build up to this. There’s a hell of a lot to do, but we have utter confidence we can do things right.”
Negotiations with Auckland council’s event arm ATEED (Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development) fell in a heap last week when they withdrew their support on Friday, leaving the event in jeopardy.
Brendan O’Riley, Chief Executive of ATEED, cited the short timeframe to promote the fight as the key reason for walking away from the event.
"While there is clear potential to generate international exposure if the fight is held in Auckland, we are unable to make a robust assessment of the potential of this event until the fight is confirmed to take place here and domestic and international television rights are secured," O’Riley said on Friday.
The 11th hour deal gives 24-year-old Parker the home ground advantage in what is the biggest fight featuring a Kiwi since David Tua challenged for the undisputed heavyweight championship against Lennox Lewis in Las Vegas in 2000.
Former WBO titleholder Tyson Fury relinquished his crown in October citing medical reasons.
In other homeless heavyweight news, Lucas “Big Daddy” Browne 24-0 (21) and Shannon “Let’s Go Champ” Briggs 60-6-1 (53) are still searching for a country and a venue for their WBA ‘regular’ heavyweight title fight that the Panamanian-based sanctioning body has ordered to take place before the end of the year.
As expected boxing’s favorite troll was on the front foot when the WBA handed down their ruling.
“We are getting ready for Lucas Clown – I mean Lucas Browne,” said the 44-year-old former lineal champion, circa 1997. “We are going to knock him out. I can see it now. The new WBA heavyweight champion of the world Shannon Briggs from Brownsville, New York. Let’s go champ!”
For his part the 37- year-old Browne has been ignoring the niggle and knuckling down in preparation for the biggest fight of his career.
“The second week done of my training camp. We had sparring this morning and it went quite well. I’m training hard every morning with (trainer) Rodney Williams and doing the pads and everything else four times a week. ”
The winner of the bout needs to back up against the rarely-sighted Fres Oquendo 37-8 (24) within 120 days. The 43-year-old was last seen in the ring in 2014 when he lost a disputed majority decision for the vacant WBA title against Uzbekistani Ruslan Chagaev.
If Briggs wins and the Oquendo fight takes place as scheduled, the combined age of the two combatants would be 88.
The Hornet Hones In On Funeka
This week it was announced that the Parker vs Ruiz undercard would feature a WBO eliminator between 28-year-old Brisbane schoolteacher Jeff “The Hornet” Horn 15-01 (10) and lanky South African bomber Ali “Rush Hour” Funeka 39-5-3 (31).
IBF and WBO #4 Horn has been steadily stepping up his opposition this year with wins over Randall Bailey (TKO 7) in April and Rico Mueller (TKO 9) in October.
Meanwhile veteran Funeka enjoys a world rating of #8 at welterweight according to the WBO. The 6’1” 38-year-old, who remarkably turned professional as a flyweight 21 years ago, may have seen better days but he still promises to present Horn with another look as he continue he run towards a world title.
Duco Events’ outstanding heavyweight prospect Izuagbe Ugonoh 17-0 (14) is expected to round out the card against an opponent to be named.
Katsidis Eyes Off Bam-Bam
One of the most exciting fighters of the modern era, former interim WBO lightweight titleholder Michael “Rocky” Katsidis 31-7 (24) revealed plans to return to the ring against fellow banger and former WBA junior welterweight titleholder Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios 33-3-1 (24).
Speaking to the Gold Coast Bulletin on the weekend, Katsidis revealed his plans for a swansong to close out his storied career.
“If I can go back over to the US and fight Brandon ‘Bam Bam’ Rios, a closing fight against him would be a mega fight,” Katsidis said. “He’s a guy who doesn’t back down, I’m a guy who doesn’t back down. Except I’ll take a knee if I get hurt. Why would I just keep on slogging it out if I’m getting hurt.
“Now I’m a bit older, I’m smart enough to do it. If it’s too much, it’s too much and I can accept that — but why wouldn’t you? It’s not how hard you can hit; it’s how hard you get hit and can keep going. I love boxing but I don’t want to be the guy who is washed up and done nothing with his life. End up brain dead. I’ve got kids.”
In early 2012, Katsidis was prematurely retired due to medical advice after being diagnosed with scarring on the brain. According to Katsidis, the misdiagnosis was due to a healed broken eye socket that distorted the results of the scan. A deeper scan revealed his brain to be as healthy as a non-boxer.
Katsidis subsequently returned to the ring in 2014 going 3-1 over the next twelve months. The last time Katsidis was in action was in March last year when he won a six-round decision over Filipino Rodynie Rafol.
Mundine Keeping Up with The Joneses
In an effort to turn back the clock, veteran boxer Anthony Mundine is heading to the United States to hook up with Roy Jones Jr. and Roy Sr. ahead of his February 3rd rematch with domestic rival Danny Green at the Adelaide Oval in North Adelaide, South Australia.
Mundine worked with the Joneses ahead of his 2006 victory over Green in Australia’s richest fight. 30,000 fans flocked to the Sydney Football Stadium that night to watch Mundine dismantle Green over 12 increasingly one-sided rounds at 168 pounds.
This time around Mundine, who most recently campaigned as a junior middleweight, will need to stack on 29 pounds to make the catchweight of 183lbs while still maintaining his speed. A victory over Green won’t exactly be Jones Jr. defeating John Ruiz for the WBA heavyweight title, but it would nevertheless be impressive given the natural weight differential.
Meanwhile Mundine’s main sparring partner in Australia, light heavyweight Trent Broadhurst 18-1 (11), will be back in action this Saturday when he squares up against Poland’s Michal Ludwiczak 14-4 (6) at Eatons Hill Hotel, Eatons Hill, Queensland.
Headlining the card is transplanted Irishman Dennis Hogan 24-1-1 (7) defending his WBO Oriental super welterweight title against Taiwan-born Australian resident Yao Yi Ma 15-1 (10) over 10 heats.
Hogan’s only loss came in December last year on points when he challenged German-based Ecuadorian Jack Culcay 22-1 (11) for his interim WBA super welterweight title in Hamburg, Germany. The 31-year-old Hogan forced the action throughout the 12 rounds but in the end the judges preferred the crafty Culcay’s counterpunching to Hogan’s relentless attack.
McMahon Makes Successful Return
Last Friday night Shannon “The Man” McMahon 17-6-1 (6) returned to the ring after a six-year layoff to win an eight round decision over Indonesian Marco Tuhumury 10-15-2 (3) at the Malvern Town Hall in Malvern, Victoria. McMahon was last in the ring in March 2010 when he lost by TKO to former IBF world middleweight champion Sam Soliman. In the main support bout on the Peter Maniatis-promoted card Tim Hunt 20-4-1 (7) made very short work of Indonesian Eddy Comaro 33-28-5 (13) destroying him at 1:12 of the opening round.
Breese vs Singh Tops Big Team Ellis Promotion
This Friday night Team Ellis Boxing is promoting a stacked 10-fight card of up-and-comers at the Melbourne Pavilion in Flemington, Victoria. The card is headlined by unbeaten southpaw Ryan Breese 9-0 (3) and Tej Pratap Singh 7-2-2 (3) battling it out for the vacant IBF Australasian super middleweight title.
Also on the card big punching light heavyweight Mitchell “Big Country” Middleton-Clarke 10-2-2 (10) squares off against Steven Kennedy 1-5 (1).
Neutral Corner Promotions has a four-fight card scheduled on Friday at Club Punchbowl in Punchbowl, NSW. Eddie Dos Santos 2-1-2 faces Rhyse Saliba 2-0 at super welterweight over six; Mitchell Hall 3-0 (3) and Jeong Jin Park 1-5 do battle over four, also at super welter; Nestor Bolum 9-1 (2) and debutant Apichet Saikane go at it over four at super feather; and at heavyweight Wade Hatch 0-1 and debutant Sam Wilson square off over four.
At the Hellenic club in Woden, ACT on Saturday night Junior Talipeau 20-3-1 (7) returns to the ring after a two-year layoff to face undefeated David Toussaint 9-0 (7) at middleweight. The four-fight card is promoted by John Ioannou of JNI Promotions.
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