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The Oz Report: Jackson overcomes late replacement, "Plugger" Nichols claims Aussie crown, Dib gunning for Farmer, Singh wins Kiwi knockout tournament, George to defnd Commonwealth title, Kambosos Jr. set for USA debut, Leapai returns, Dunn victorious

By Anthony Cocks

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WBO number eight ranked featherweight Juke “Action” Jackson 16-0 (7) had to overcome a late change of opponent to keep his chances of a world title shot alive.


The 33-year-old Hobartian was scheduled to face once-beaten Javier Herrera 15-1 (8) at Wrest Point Casino in the Tasmanian capital of Hobart on Friday night but visa issues forced the Argentinean’s late withdrawal.


Thai journeyman Surachet Thongmala 7-9 (4) stepped in to fill the void and was promptly stopped in two one-sided rounds.


It’s not the first time Jackson has been forced to deal with a late replacement, but it doesn’t get any easier he says.


“[There was] no adjustment physically, just mentally,” said Jackson after the fight. “I had to get my head space in place after hearing the news. It was a massive letdown.


“It’s very, very hard. I go away for five weeks to train with [coach] Billy Hussein and prepare for tough fights and then to have it change a few days before is heartbreaking. But the show must go on.”


The fight against Herrera was supposed to be a defence of his WBO Oriental title over 10 rounds, but with the change of opponent it was reduced to an eight rounder with no title on the line. As it turned out, the number of scheduled rounds was purely academic.


While Jackson was soaking up his win, interim WBO featherweight champion Carl “The Jackal” Frampton 25-1 (14) received news from his promoter Frank Warren that his next fight will take place at the Belfast football stadium Windsor Park on August 18. The venue has a seating capacity of over 18,000.


“This is the one, a dream come true,” the 31-year-old Frampton told BT Sport. “I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my career.


“I’ve still got a few good years left in me and I’m looking forward to kicking it off at Windsor.”


Frampton picked up the interim title with a classy display against former four-division champion Nonito Donaire just over a week ago to win a comfortable points decision. The interim title became available when regular champ Oscar Valdez had his jaw broken by Scott Quigg in a title defence two months ago.


While Valdez is convalescing, London Olympian Jackson wants to be the man standing in the opposite corner with Frampton at Windsor in the late English summer.

“I think I match up well with Frampton,” said Jackson. “He is a good boxer and is technically sound. Nothing flashy and is small for featherweight so I would love that fight. If not [Oscar] Valdez, bring on Frampton.”




Hobart’s Jayden “Plugger” Nichols 7-0-1 (1) added the Australian cruiserweight title to his Tasmanian championship when he outpointed fellow Hobartian Uria Afamasaga 2-2 (2) by split decision on the undercard of the Jackson versus Thongmala FightCard Promotion show at Wrest Point Casino in Hobart, Tasmania on Friday night.


In what was a competitive contest Nichols had to overcome a first round knockdown before closing strong to win by scores of 96-93, 92-98 and 95-94.


“It was only a flash knockdown and I got straight up and kept coming forward,” said Nichols after the fight. “The game plan was the same [after the knockdown]. Just had to be a little tighter [in defence] and keep boxing and chipping away.


“I kept pushing as I knew I was the fitter fighter. As the fight got on I got better and stronger.”


The fight was Nichol’s first bout over ten rounds with six of his seven previous fights scheduled for the four round distance. Only his eight round points win over local rival Johnny Brown for the state title last September was scheduled for longer.


“Ten rounds was hard, but I feel better for it,” he said. “I learnt a lot about myself after getting dropped and pushing to keep going forward. I have a mandatory defence against Ben Kelleher in Queensland.”




Australian super featherweight Billy “The Kid” Dib 43-4 (24) is hoping that the IBF-mandated world title fight between himself and American southpaw Tevin Farmer 25-4-1 (5) takes place in his hometown of Sydney in late July.


The 32-year-old Dib, who held the IBF featherweight championship in 2011-12, became eligible for the title shot when Japan’s Kenichi Ogawa was stripped of the championship and suspended from boxing for six months after failing a doping test conducted last December – the same month Ogawa bested 27-year-old Farmer by split decision to win the vacant title.


“It’s definitely going to be in July – on either the 26th, 27th or 28th – and it’ll be here in Sydney hopefully,” Dib told Brendan Bradford of the Sporting News.


“We want to bring the best fights to Australia. I feel like I’m in the twilight of my career and I want to close out my career by giving Australia some amazing performances and something to remember me by.


“This is the biggest fight in Sydney over the last couple of years. We had Jeff Horn last year versus Manny Pacquiao (in Brisbane), but now I get my chance to do it in my home state.”


Dib knows that Farmer is a very tricky fighter with a strong defence and that he will need to be on the top of his game to get the win.


“Tevin Farmer’s a very elusive kind of guy. He’s a great mover, and he’s got quick hands, so it’s going to be a challenge,” he said.


The real question for Dib will be how the high-volume style taught to him by new trainer Jeff Fenech will hold up under pressure.


“I need Jeff because he’s a great motivator,” said Dib. “He definitely pushes you very hard and I honestly feel like I’m going to put in a great performance in late July.


“He’s worked on one aspect, and that’s my fitness and my punch output. I’ve had two fights under Jeff and in the first fight I had with him, I was throwing on average between 70 and 80 punches (per round). That’s not really my go. Usually I’m somebody who throws between 40 and 50, and he’s already taken that up by a great percentage.


“I’m hoping to be able to pick that up to 80 to 90 punches a round.”




Middleweight Tej Pratap Singh 13-4-2 (7) won the Super 8 New Zealand Championship with two knockouts and a points decision at the Ellerslie Event Centre in Auckland, New Zealand on Saturday night.


The Melbourne southpaw won his first bout against Kerry Davies 2-2 by KO in the second round, followed by a shutout points victory over Harley Love 1-3 and scored another second round stoppage against Jerome Pascua 5-2 (1) the final.


Singh was coming off a career-best win over Jake Carr 16-2 (6) in March, stopping him in six rounds to win the vacant WBA Oceania middleweight title after the favourite suffered a ruptured ear drum. Singh was in control of the action and leading by scores of 59-55 across the board at the time of the stoppage.


Singh also holds a victory over Wes Capper, who held former IBF middleweight champion Sam Soliman to a draw in March, and drew with former Contender Australia contestant Kariz Kariuki over six rounds in 2016.


The Gerry Murphy-trained Singh continues to improve and remains the sleeper of the Australian middleweight division. A fight with the winner of the upcoming Renold Quinlan versus Mark Lucas bout would be an interesting and entertaining contest.




Toowoomba’s Commonwealth welterweight champion Kris George 14-1 (8) isn’t afraid of a challenge and that’s exactly what he’ll get when he meets one of England’s hottest young prospects in the form of Sunderland’s Josh “Pretty Boy” Kelly 6-0 (4) at Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle, England on June 16.


"I’m under no illusions this is a significant challenge, but again the way I look at it – it’s a significant opportunity," said George in a media release this week. "I’m well aware of the wraps on Josh Kelly and I say keep talking him up – that suits me fine.


“I love being the underdog, the bigger underdog the better. I’m confident I will rise to the occasion, every fight at this level is make or break. I’m chasing a world title, Josh Kelly is a significant step in that direction."


Kelly is coming a 10-round points win over former IBF 154-pound titleholder Carlos Molina in March on the undercard of the big heavyweight unification clash between Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker. Molina, who holds wins over Cory Spinks, Ishe Smith and Kermit Cintron, and a draw with Erislandy Lara, couldn’t claim more than two rounds against the Rio Olympian, who is part of powerhouse promoter Eddie Hearn’s stable at Matchroom Boxing.


"Josh Kelly is a great young fighter, he’s doing amazing things in the sport and he has all of Britain behind him – all the pressure is on him,” said George.


"People say this is my greatest challenge and the biggest fight of my career and I don’t dispute that but what I would also say is – you can make the same statement about Josh Kelly. I truly believe I am the biggest fight of his career as well and the toughest opponent he has faced."


George has made a career out of upsetting the oddsmakers. Hot Kiwi prospect Bowyn Morgan was supposed to be too much for him in 2016. The New Zealander got stopped in three in his own backyard of Christchurch.


London Olympian Cameron Hammond was supposed to be too classy for him. The classy boxer lasted the distance but not before getting dropped and comprehensively outboxed in their battle for the vacant Commonwealth title.


Sydney’s Jack Brubaker put up a good challenge at the Star Casino in Sydney last October but was eventually stopped on cuts in the sixth. Chalk up another victory for the underdog.


The odds, the travel, the crowds – none of it matters to George once that bell rings.


"When we walk across the ring and meet eye ball to eye ball I’ll be ready,” said George, 28. “He can have the crowd behind him, the country behind him he can have every expert tipping him to win but none of that is going to matter when the bell rings.


"Cometh the hour cometh the man – the best man will win."




World-ranked Sydney lightweight George Kambosos Jr 13-0 (7) will make his Stateside debut this Saturday night when he takes on Jose Forero 13-6-1 (11) of Panama at Foxwoods Resort in Mashantucket, Connecticut on a DiBella Entertainment promotion.

World-ranked Sydney lightweight George Kambosos Jr 13-0 (7) will make his Stateside debut this Saturday night when he takes on Jose Forero 13-6-1 (11) of Panama at Foxwoods Resort in Mashantucket, Connecticut on a DiBella Entertainment promotion. The 10-round fight will be the main event on the 10-bout card.


The 24-year-old Kambosos, ranked WBA number five and WBO number eleven at 135-pounds, recently relocated to Los Angeles recently where he is trained by fellow Aussie expat and former Lennox Lewis opponent Justin Fortune at the Fortune Gym in Hollywood.


“I am excited for the American fight fans to finally see the long-awaited American debut of Australia’s best fighter, George Kambosos Jr,” said Kambosos on Tuesday, four days out from his fight.


“In Australia I’m a big fish in a small pond. I have cleaned out my division, so my new challenge is to do the same in America and on the world stage and become world champion in the very near future with my new powerhouse promoter Lou DiBella behind me.


“The American fight fans can expect exactly what I bring to all my fights. Excitement, entertainment and the boxing skills of a future world champion.


“I know the Australian fight fans are behind me, I know they are supporting me, they know they have an Aussie fighting risking it all, not taking any shortcuts, not building records or fooling fans there. I will do them proud and bring the world title with honour back to the people.”


Forero, a former WBC Latino super featherweight titleholder, is a largely unknown quantity. But a quick glance at the video of his most recent fight, a 12-round decision loss to Ibrahim Class in Germany last July, indicates that Kambosos shouldn’t have too much difficulty getting the win.


Look for the flamboyant Aussie to use his brilliant handspeed to befuddle his opponent while landing flashy combinations and showing off his defence prowess while picking off his Forero from the pocket.


The fight will be streamed live through CBS Digital Sports.


Former heavyweight world title challenger Alex “The Lionheart” Leapai 31-7-4 (25) from Logan, Queensland will continue his comeback when he takes on Melbournian Ben Sosoli 3-3 (1) over 10 three-minute rounds at the historic Williamstown Town Hall in Melbourne, Victoria on May 26.


The venue holds fond memories for the promoter, former IBF junior lightweight champion Barry Michael, who successfully defended his Australian 135-pound title there against Blakeney Kid Matthews and Jimmy Brown there in the late 1970s.


“I want to put on a quality show with great well-matched fights,” said Michael, who retired with a career record of 48-9-3 (15) in 1987. “Only a few years ago Alex was paid approximately $1.6 million to fight for the world heavyweight championship against the great Wladimir Klitschko. Alex wants another shot but Ben Sosoli has other ideas. He is a big puncher and comes to fight. It will be a war.”


In a quality support bout Australian bantamweight champion Robert Trigg 3-1-1 (1) will meet undefeated Mornington puncher Jai Alexander 7-0 (5) in an intriguing match-up over eight rounds.




Former Commonwealth super middleweight champion Zac Dunn 25-1 (20) scored his third straight knockout win on the weekend since his lone career loss when he stopped Francisco Rios 12-8-3 (9) by TKO in six rounds at the Domo del Parque San Rafael in Guadalajara, Mexico to claim the vacant WBC FECARBOX title on Friday night.


“A poised performance and a good win last night in the city where I was 11 years ago for the world games,” Dunn posted on Facebook. “I’ll travel anywhere and fight at any venue to become the world champion. Thanks everyone that tuned in to watch, and the people of Guadalajara Mexico who were cheering for me in the fight.”


The 27-year-old from Melbourne continues to rebuild his career since losing his Commonwealth title to Scotland’s David Brophy last year when his corner threw in the towel after Dunn was dropped from a left hook to the body in the seventh and was under fire with the follow-up attack. The fight was even on two of the judges’ scorecards at the time of the stoppage.


The WBO #13 and WBC #22 ranked super middleweight returned to the ring in October, seven months after the Brophy loss, to knockout Argentinean Luis Eduardo Paz in four rounds in Mexico before returning to Australia to TKO Cedric Spera of Belgium, also in the fourth.


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