A four-day tournament is currently taking place in Melbourne to determine Australia’s representatives at next year’s Asian Qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Prior to 2016, Australian boxers would compete in the Oceania Qualifier, with their toughest competition coming usually from New Zealand. However, after Australia sent boxers in all weight divisions to the London Olympics in 2012 (and fielding the largest boxing team at that Olympics), the Oceania region has joined into the Asia region and qualification for Australian athletes became much tougher. At 2016, only Daniel Lewis, Jason Whateley and Shelley Watts managed to qualify.
Yesterday saw the first of the preliminary contests take place. In the Women’s featherweight division (57kg), Taylah Gentzen won a split decision over Ericka Creely while Ange Harris dominated Sophie Ingledew. Both winners have a tough ask in their semi-final bouts, with Gentzen facing 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medalist Skye Nicholson while Harris faces Victoria’s 2018 National Champ Carly Salmon.
The other Women’s bout on the card saw a split decision win for Queensland’s Connie Chan over Jenna Godkin, who will face Commonwealth Games medalist Kaye Scott in the semi-final in the welterweight division. The IOC decided not to include a 64kg division for women, meaning that the female competitors in between lightweight (60kg) and welterweight (69kg) had to either fight larger competitors or dangerously try and make a division they were too big for.
The first of the men’s fights took place at lightweight (63kg) where Baz Wallace scored a split decision over Shaun Thomas. Wallace faces 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medalist Harry Garside in the semi-finals. Garside is perhaps the strongest competitor pound for pound in Australian male amateur boxing, winning the Australian title in the last four years. The other semi-final at lightweight sees Billy Polkinghorn from Western Australia against Joshua Fitzpatrick from New South Wales.
At welterweight (69kg), Sydney’s Mark Borg scored a close decision over Callum Cassidy. It was a solid win for the young Borg, who represented Australia at the Youth Commonwealth Games in 2017, with Cassidy having over ten years experience in National titles including a 2010 win over Jeff Horn. Dylan Biggs prevailed over Jason Fawcett by close decision in the other contest. Both Biggs and Borg have tough asks in today’s quarter-finals, facing the number one and two seeds respectively in Jason Mallia and Terry Nickolas. Mallia and Nickolas have appeared against each other in the finals for the last three years, with Mallia winning the last two after Nickolas won the 2017 Commonwealth Games selection.
At middleweight (75kg), Douglas McDonnell made quick work of Luke Gersbeck, stopping him at 2:31 of the first round for the night’s only stoppage win. McDonnell faces number one seed Adrian Cammarano in a stacked division that also sees 2018 Commonwealth Games representative Campbell Sommerville and Kirra Ruston. The quarter-finals take place today.
The quarter-finals at light heavyweight (81kg) took place last night in perhaps the most stacked division of the competition. Paulo Aukoso, who upset 2018 Commonwealth Games bronze medalist Clay Waterman at the last nationals, won a close decision over Daniel Stuart. Aukoso meets Donald Jones, who won a split decision over Nathan Nicholas. Waterman won his quarter-final with a decision over 2018 national champion Eddie Coumi, and will face Roger Grant, who defeated Michael Lekkas by unanimous decision.
The final bout of the night saw Adrian Paoletti outpoint Canberra’s Benjamin Bradley to progress to tonight’s quarter-finals.
There are two sessions today, the first session starting at 1PM and the second session at 5PM. 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medalist Anja Stridsman is in action today at 1PM, with the men’s welterweight quarter-finals taking place after. This afternoon’s action sees the quarter-finals of the stacked Women’s flyweight (51kg), Men’s middleweight and heavyweight divisions. You can stream the action via the following link.