By Anthony Cocks
Former WBA “regular” champion Lucas “Big Daddy” Browne 25-0 (22) is suddenly hot property in the heavyweight division after being elevated to the WBC’s #12 contender position last month.
Last month Browne’s team agreed to terms with Duco Events to challenge WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker 24-0 (18) of New Zealand for his world title. The future of that fight is largely contingent on whether a unification fight between Parker and WBA and IBF champion Anthony Joshua 20-0 (20) of Great Britain can be made early in the new year.
“We’ve agreed to basic terms with Parker and his promoter, Duco,” said Matt Clark, manager of Browne. “There’s nothing signed per se. We are waiting on a contract back from them which we have been told will be here in the next day or so. So I guess we are waiting in the wings somewhat while we see what eventuates with Parker and Joshua.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, who handles Joshua’s career, has approached Team Browne about facing his heavyweight contender Dillian Whyte 22-1 (16) on 3 February at the O2 Arena in London. Whyte is ranked in the top ten by all four of the major sanctioning bodies and is the mandatory contender for WBC titleholder Deontay Wilder’s belt.
“We have a few options available and we aren’t limited to facing Whyte,” said Clark.
Clark sees the Parker fight as the best available option even while offers continue to come in from around the globe.
“We are getting contacted all the time about fights. Our goal is 100% focused on Parker. It’ll be the biggest fight this region has ever seen. Aussie versus Kiwi for the heavyweight title.”
Browne, 38, has only fought once since the Chagaev fight, a two round blowout of American Midwestern journeyman Matthew Greer in June.
“Ideally we’d like to shake off some rust. That said, Lucas’s strength is his heart, aggression and punching power. He hasn’t lost any of that,” said Clark.
SWINGS AND ROUNDABOUTS FOR TJ DOHENY
IBF #3 super bantamweight TJ Doheny 17-0 (13) had some bad news on the weekend when his opponent IBF #6 Evgeny Gradovich 23-2-1 (9) withdrew from their world title eliminator scheduled for 15 December in Yekaterinburg, Russia citing eye issues that are likely to end his successful career. The fight was to take place on the undercard of the clash between world-rated heavyweights Alexander Povetkin and Christian Hammer.
With the number one and two positions vacant in the IBF 122-pound rankings the Australian-based Irishman, who is promoted by Murphys Boxing, would have become the mandatory challenger to Japanese world champion Ryosuke Iwasa 24-2 (16) with victory over the former featherweight world champion they call "The Russian Mexican".
“Unfortunately Gradovich suddenly had vision issues while in training camp, so he had no option but to withdraw,” Doheny’s manager Mike Altamura of MJA Entertainment told Maxboxing. “He’s a great ring warrior and health issues as such are very concerning, so we wish him a full recovery and bright future away from the sport.”
Fortunately for Doheny when one door closes another one opens.
The 31-year-old southpaw will now take on IBF #7 Mike Tawatchai 44-10-1 (27) – who also goes by the name of Pipat Chaiporn – on 20 December in Bangkok, Thailand for the right to face Iwasa after his team presented a proposal to the IBF about facing the next available contender. As luck would have it, Tawatchai already had a fight scheduled so it was just a case of making the logistics work.
“On paper [it is] easier,” said Altamura. “In reality it’s a trickier fight. Tawachai is unbeaten in Thailand. But I have full confidence in TJ’s ability to venture there and definitively outbox him.”
Tawatchai will be no walk in the park. He has lost just four times in the past eight years, with three of these losses coming to future or former world champions and the only other loss was to a world title contender. All of his losses have taken place in Japan.
If Doheny can get the win on the road he will be in the box seat to face IBF super bantamweight champion Iwasa, a hard-hitting 27-year-old southpaw who won the title with a sixth round TKO of countryman Yukinori Oguni, 19-1-1 (7) at the time, in his last fight in September. Iwasa lost his previous bid for a world title when Lee Haskins stopped him in six for the interim IBF world bantamweight championship in Britain two-and-a-half years ago.
Altamura sees Tawachai as something of a litmus test for Doheny, with a dominant victory set to put the division on notice.
“I think TJ stacks up well against the best in the division,” said Altamura. “He’s a clever southpaw with deceiving pop. Iwasa would be a real tough challenge, and he’s grown into this weight class and become a better fighter, but I think if TJ vanquishes Tawatchai how we assume, then he would have a real shot against the champion.”
LUKE JACKSON THROWS HIS HAT IN THE RING FOR OPPORTUNITY TO FACE WBO FEATHERWEIGHT CHAMP OSCAR VALDEZ
Tasmania’s WBO #8 featherweight Luke "Action" Jackson 15-0 (6) has declared he is ready and able to fight reigning WBO champion Oscar Valdez 23-0 (19) at the StubHub Centre in Carson, California on 10 March when he headlines the ESPN-televised Top Rank card.
"We have put it out there that we want the fight, now we just have to wait to hear back and see what they say," Jackson told Hobart’s The Mercury this week.
"It has always been a goal to go to America and fight. We are close, we are very close."
Jackson is no mystery man to Valdez. The 26-year-old Mexican champion competed alongside 32-year-old Jackson at the 2012 London Olympics and various other international tournaments as they both represented their respective countries at the highest level.
With four of the WBO’s top seven featherweights already tied up with other fighting commitments, Jackson suddenly finds himself with a ticket in the world championship lottery.
"If they send me a contract I will sign it, it is not a problem."
JAMIE WEETCH DOMINATES YAO YI MA IN CAREER-BEST WIN AT THUNDERDOME 23
Over in Perth junior middleweight Jamie Weetch 11-2 (4) was too classy for Yao Yi Ma 15-3-1 (10) outboxing him over 10 rounds to claim the IBF Pan Pacific title by unanimous decision by scores of 97-92, 100-90 and 98-91 at Thunderdome 23 on Friday night.
Up against arguably his toughest opponent to date, the Welsh-born Perth-based 28-year-old controlled the distance early and when they both launched left hooks in the closing stages of the opening round it was Weetch’s punch that found the target first.
“We had a little trade off at the end of the first round and we caught each other at the same time,” said Weetch. “But mine had more venom on it and I dropped him.
“It would’ve definitely been a stoppage if I had another 20 seconds at the end of that round. The timekeeper there wasn’t tapping the canvas to let us know there was 10 seconds left, so my only indication we had was the bell at the end of the round.
“I like to work the last 10 seconds a bit more normally. I was a bit gutted, a bit shocked the round ended and I hadn’t ended him.”
Despite Ma’s record suggesting he was the bigger puncher going in to the fight, it was Weetch who consistently landed the harder, more damaging shots to both the body and head of the 33-year-old Taiwan-born Sydneysider. It was a skillful performance from the 5-foot-7 Weetch, who looked to be giving away six inches to the much taller Ma.
“I was digging into him and he was turning away, he didn’t like the power at all,” said Weetch. “I was digging in to the body sometimes and he was slowing down at the end of every round.
“But in all fairness to him, he was tough. I snapped his nose in the seventh round there, I remember doing it and you could see the pain in his face. I think he was shocked by it himself, he didn’t know what the hell happened. I should’ve just put him away then but the end of the round saved him.”
The shorter Weetch slipped under punches superbly, countering with left hooks to the body and head and chopping right hands to the jaw. Ma struggled to adjust to Weetch’s speed and movement, unable to shorten up his punches effectively to land with any regularity.
“‘I was enjoying it but it was a very hard night at the office,” said Weetch. “I was making him miss and making him pay with a straight right or overhand right over his jab. The left hook was catching him clean, rattling the head clean off him, you know. I don’t think he was enjoying his night in there either.”
Prior to the fight Weetch nominated undefeated Commonwealth junior middleweight champion Anthony Buttigieg 13-0 (3) from Melbourne and Sydney’s Tim Tszyu 7-0 (5) as potential targets for 2018, but says that he is happy to face anyone who thinks they are better than him in the new year.
“I’m happy to take anyone on if they have something to offer,” said Weetch. “I want to fight the best now. I proved I can box last night even when I’m stuck in second gear. If I dropped a cog it would’ve been some display, I’ll tell you that.
“But I’ll fight anyone. Anyone in the country. I am the best at junior middleweight in the country and I’m happy to prove that to anyone who thinks different.”
In the other main bout on the card junior middleweight Fano “El Ramla” Kori moved to 4-0 (2) with a clear-cut points decision win over Luke Jones. Kori controlled the action throughout the bout and in the final minute of the fight the referee gave Jones a mandatory eight count after he was pummelled into the neutral corner with the ropes the only thing holding him up.
The former two-time national amateur champion represented Australia at the Olympic qualifiers in Baku, Azerbaijan last year where he progressed through to the quarter finals in the 69kg class. After losing to Ukrainian Yaroslav Samofalov and missing out on his chance to go to the Rio Olympics Kori decided to turn pro. During his time in the singlets he claimed the 2015 and 2016 national championship, four state titles and is a two-time Golden Gloves champion. His amateur record stands at 70 wins against 22 losses.
The 28-year-old Sudanese-born, Egyptian-raised former construction worker moved to Australia with his parents and six siblings in 2005. Originally a soccer player, he didn’t begin boxing until 2010 but found that the nimble footwork he had developed laying “the world game” translated well to his new sport.
Despite his late start in the sport there are those who believe he is the best prospect in the country in the deep 154-pound weight class.
HOSKING PROMOTIONS BRING BOXING BACK TO THE ‘BOOL
Boxing promoter Lynden Hosking has never forgotten his roots.
The 44-year-old Atlanta Olympian, who represented his country at welterweight alongside future professional standouts Robbie Peden and Hussein Hussein, hails from the blink-and-you-will-miss-it town of Birchip in the Mallee region of Victoria but now resides in Bendigo. Situated halfway between Kerang to the east and Rainbow to the west – or Sea Lake and Donald if you’re travelling on a north-south axis – Birchip is a two-pub town that recorded a population of just 702 people at the last census.
It’s no surprise then that Hosking began his promotor’s career in regional Victoria.
“Country shows are great,” said Hosking a few days out from his second promotion in the coastal town of Warrnambool, aptly titled “War at the ‘Bool 2”. “The local community really get behind the shows and support them.
“The media are also very receptive and give them lots of coverage, unlike the city shows where it’s tough to get any [media] interest.”
It’s easy to forget that Hosking’s first promotion was just over two years ago in November 2015. The eight-fight card at the Bendigo Stadium was headlined by Brisbane’s Shannon O’Connell battling it out with Panama-based Colombian Dayana Cordero for the vacant WBC Silver female featherweight title, while local heavyweight Justin Whitehead took on 7-foot-1 Julius Long in the main support bout. It’s not the type of entertainment country folk can expect to see every day.
Hosking followed this up with a show in Warrnambool, the whale-watching town on Victoria’s far west coast. This time a female double topped the bill, with O’Connell again in action and former world champion Susie Ramadan boxing the support. On the undercard of the eight-fight show another female boxer Cherneka “Sugar Neekz” Johnson made her debut in front of her hometown crowd. Johnson is now 7-0 (3) and will be headlining “War at the ‘Bool 2” in her first title fight against Gretel de Paz 4-2 (2) for the vacant WBA Oceania female bantamweight strap.
After a return to Bendigo for his third show, Hosking began promoting in Melbourne. The Melbourne Park Function Centre amongst the tennis courts in the sporting precinct became home for the next seven shows, many of them headlined by the popular Moloney twins, Jason and Andrew.
Following an 18-month hiatus Hosking returns to regional Victoria this weekend with “War at the ‘Bool 2” set to take place on Saturday night at the Warrnambool Stadium. Preceding this will be an amateur show in the afternoon, offering locals a full day of fistic action.
“There is no ‘outsider’ mentality, the country people love the fact that you are bringing something to their town and are very appreciative,” Hosking said. “It is usually rare that something like our events come to their neck of the woods so they welcome us with open arms.”
In the cities of Australia most shows rely on fully-catered corporate tables to turn a profit. In the country, a different approach is required.
“The lessons learned from the country shows is don’t get too extravagant, just keep it simple and have the tickets at an affordable price and they will come,” said Hosking. “A lot of the country attendees aren’t too stressed about corporate tables or VIP treatment, they would rather a good seat with a pie and a beer and they are happy.”
After seven straight shows in Melbourne since August last year, Hosking says regional boxing fans can expect more shows closer to home during the next calendar year.
“Yes, we will be back in country Victoria in 2018,” Hosking said. “We already have planned a big show in Bendigo early in the year and, who knows, we could spread our wings around the rest of the state in the future!”
BILLY “THE KID” DIB AND BROCK JARVIS DOMINATE IN DIFFERENT WAYS
Former IBF featherweight champion Billy “The Kid” Dib 43-4 (24) cruised to an eight round victory over Thai journeyman Phum Kunmat 24-23-2 (16) at the Mediterranean House in Five Dock, Sydney, NSW on Saturday night. Dib, who is ranked number three by the IBF behind two vacant spots, easily outboxed Kunmat to win by scores of 80-72 across the board.
Also on the Rob Fogarty-promoted show Brock Jarvis 12-0 (11) needed little more than a minute to claim the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council bantamweight title with a clean one-punch knockout of previously unbeaten Wichet Sengprakhon 8-1 (3).
Jarvis was on the attack from the opening bell, stalking the Thai visitor around the ring as he looked for openings to land his left hook to the body and right cross to the head. With Sengprakhon on the ropes, Jarvis threw a short right uppercut that caused his head to snap back. His body slumped to the canvas as he looked for a quiet place to sleep.
The official time was 1:01 of the first round.
OTHER WEEKEND RESULTS
On Friday night super middleweight Mark Kassab 9-0 (5) kept his unbeaten record intact with an eight round unanimous decision win over Chase Haley 5-2-1 (2) at the Springvale Town Hall in Springvale, Melbourne in the headline fight on a Shamrock Promotions show. Haley had to climb off the canvas in the fifth to survive the distance.
Also on the card Emmanuel Carlos 6-0 (4) took the win by TKO4 over Ehsan Shakeri 0-7 in a bout fought at a catchweight of 163 pounds. A left rip, right cross, followed by a barrage of shots in the neutral corner forced the referee to wave off the contest early in the fourth and final round.
At the Mansfield Tavern in Mansfield, Brisbane on Saturday night cruiserweight Benjamin Kelleher 7-0-2 (4) was forced to go the distance in his first 10 round bout by Kiwi Nikolas “The Greek” Charalampous 16-2 (7) winning by scores of 96-94 and 97-93 twice. Kelleher claims the vacant ANBF Australasian cruiserweight title with the victory.
Also on the Ace Boxing Promotions show April Adams 8-1-1 (3) outboxed Kori Farr 2-4-2 for the Australian female super bantamweight title over 8 two-minute rounds. Scores were 79-73 twice and 78-74.
Light heavyweight Reagan Dessaix 12-1 (8) was extended the full five round distance by Jae Bryce 3-8 (2) pitching a shutout on all three judge’s scorecards. Five other bouts filled out the rest of card.
EAST COAST ACTION THIS WEEKEND
This weekend is a big one for Aussie boxing with seven cards scheduled to take place up and down the east coast of Australia.
On Friday night he Melbourne Pavilion in Flemington, Victoria hosts Team Ellis’s latest card headlined by “The Fighting Cowboy” Dwight Ritchie 15-1 (2) contesting the vacant IBF Youth junior middleweight title against New Zealand’s Shay Brock 12-0-1 (6) over 10 rounds.
The 25-year-old Ritchie from Shepparton in central Victoria hasn’t made 154-pounds since 2012, although in his last fight in April he came in at 155¾-pounds. The only loss on Ritchie’s ledger came on the road when he went to Japan to defend his OPBF middleweight title against Koki Tyson, losing a close decision over 12 rounds.
The 12-fight card will also feature super flyweight Sylvia Scharper 7-1-2 (1) battling it out with Rungnapha Kaewkrachang 13-10-1 (1) of Thailand for the Women’s International Boxing Association world title at 115-pounds over 10 two-minute rounds.
At Club Punchbowl in Punchbowl, Sydney on Friday night Paul Nasari has matched WBA #11 junior welterweight Darragh Foley 13-2 (8) with Filipino Ernie Sanchez 17-10-1 (8) over eight rounds in what will be the 29-year-old southpaw’s fourth fight for the year.
On the same card super middleweight heavy-hitter Bilal Akkawy 15-0-1 (13) has eight rounds to put away Brazilian journeyman Rogerio Damasco 16-7-1 (15). Talented junior middleweight Troy O’Meley 3-0 (1) is looking to close out his first year as a pro with a victory over tricky Kiwi Daniel Maxwell 6-51-2 in his first scheduled six rounder. Four other fights fill out the card.
Not to be outdone, the Hellenic Club in Woden, ACT will showcase light heavyweight Steve Lovett 16-2 (13) against Steve Moxon 5-4 (4) over eight rounds in a fight unlikely to go the distance on Friday night. Also on the card lightweight Haithem Laamouz 11-0 (4) clashes with Egy Rozten 5-17-2 (3). Promoter Nick Boutzos has a further six bouts planned for the night.
Back at the Melbourne Pavilion on Saturday night super middleweight Zac Dunn 24-1 (18) returns to action against Cedric Spera 13-6 (3) of Belgium over 10 rounds. It will be Dunn’s first fight back at the Pavilion since his surprise loss to the United Kingdom’s David Brophy 19-2-1 (3) in the first defence of his Commonwealth title back in March.
The Big Time Boxing show will feature a further 10 fights including super middleweight Jake Carr 15-1 (5) up against Argentinean Juan Adrian Monzon 8-0-3 (7) over eight rounds.
At the Raymond Laurie Sports Centre in Yamba, NSW on Saturday night Nick Midgley 3-0 (2) and Nick Xipolitas 4-7-1 (1) will battle it out for the vacant New South Wales state cruiserweight title over eight rounds in the headline fight of an Ian Stapleton card. Dillon Bargero 2-3 (2), the son of former six-time Australian champion Marc Bargero, will fight Matthew Hartmann 1-0 in a six rounder. There will be four other four round bouts on the card.
Meanwhile in coastal town of Warrnambool in country Victoria, Hosking Promotions are putting on their second show in their “War at the ‘Bool” franchise at the Warrnambool Stadium. Popular local female boxer Cherneka “Sugar Neekz” Johnson 7-0 (3) will face Gretel de Paz 4-2 (2) from the Philippines over eight rounds for the vacant WBA Oceania female bantamweight title.
Also on the show middleweights Damien Lock 2-2-1 of Bendigo and Joe Corner 4-2-1 (3) of Hobart, Tasmania battle it out over six rounds, while talented cruiserweight Jayden Nichols 4-0-1 (1), also of Hobart, will square up against Nathan MacLean 1-1 over four. Three more four rounders fill out the rest of the card, while an amateur show will precede the professional bouts during the day.
On the afternoon of Sunday 10 December the Hamilton Hotel in the Brisbane suburb of Hamilton will host super middleweight Jason Leuken 6-1 (2) against Bentley Shefford 1-9-1 in a six round fight. Jason McDonald 8-2-1 (4) meets Kyle Teer 3-16-1 at junior welterweight over six. Gates open at 1pm to the Sean Reynolds promoted show.