After three days of high-quality boxing, the finals of the Australian Olympic Qualification Event are set. The bouts take place this afternoon from 5PM from the Whitehorse Club in Burwood East, Victoria. The winners of today’s fights will progress to the Asian Qualifying event next year where they will try and qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
The Live Stream is available here.
Women’s Flyweight (51kg)
Kristy Harris vs Viviana Ruiz
Kristy Harris was the star of the Australian women’s amateur boxing scene in the lower weight classes for many years. Harris won a bronze at the world championships in 2016, qualified for the 2014 Commonwealth Games and won Australian titles four years in a row from 2013-2016. In 2017, Harris was upset in the quarter-finals by Viviana Ruiz, who was eventually beaten by Taylah Robertson in the final.
Robertson had won the Australian title in the years since, but her decision to turn professional and not try out for the Olympics left Ruiz as the number one seed. Ruiz has defeated Sarah Watt and Lauren Camilleri, while Harris beat Ricki Beatson and Antonia Kostantopolous to reach today’s final.
Women’s Featherweight (57kg)
Skye Nicolson vs Carly Salmon
Skye Nicolson is the heavy favourite to win after her gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Since the 57kg weight class was introduced to Olympic and Commonwealth Games competition, Nicolson has dropped down to this class after controversially losing to 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Shelley Watts at the Rio Qualifier in 2015. Nicolson won a bronze medal in the 64kg weight division at the world championships the following year, before dropping to 57kg, where she won the Australian title in 2017 and earlier this year.
Carly Salmon won the 2018 titles, but without having to face Nicolson in that tournament. In the 2017 titles, Salmon gave Nicolson her toughest fight of the competition, and she defeated Ange Harries in yesterday’s semi-final to progress. Nicolson defeated Taylah Gentzen by unanimous decision in her only bout of the tournament so far.
Women’s Lightweight (60kg)
Anja Stridsman vs Angel Rushton
Anja Stridsman looks to add to her 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medal by progressing into the Asian Qualifying event with a win today. Stridsman overcame a stacked 60kg division in the 2017 Commonwealth Games trials after narrowly losing to Shelley Watts for Olympic Qualification in 2016 before dominating at the Commonwealth Games to win the gold medal. Her opponent in tonight’s final is Angel Rushton from Queensland, who received a bye to the final. Stridsman stopped Ellie Fry in two rounds to secure her place in this afternoon’s final.
Women’s Welterweight (69kg)
Kaye Scott vs Jess Messina
Kaye Scott and Jess Messina will face each other again in the final of an Australian qualifying event after Scott outpointed Messina at the Commonwealth Games trials in 2017. Scott was the longtime 75kg Australian champion, while Messina has international experience at 64kg. However, with the IOC not including a 64kg division in women’s boxing, Messina has been forced to fight up a weight division and will have her hands full with Scott, who has a natural size advantage. Scott accounted for Connie Chan by unanimous decision yesterday, while Messia won a split decision over Caity Beckett in the other semi-final.
Women’s Middleweight (75kg)
Caitlin Parker vs Caitlin Torrington
Caitlin Parker is the firm favourite at middleweight and has won the Australian title every year since a 2015 split decision loss to Kaye Scott. Parker came back and won the 2016 Olympic qualifying tournament, but missed out on Olympic selection. At the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Parker won silver and progressed to the quarter-finals at this year’s world championships. Parker’s opponent Caitlin Torrington received a bye to the final, while Parker accounted for Emma-Sue Greentree in yesterday’s semi-final.
Men’s Flyweight (52kg)
Alex Winwood vs Yusuf Chothia
Alex Winwood was the Australian champion at 52kg in 2016, and again at 49kg in 2017. The 49kg division, however, did not send an Australian representative to the Commonwealth Games in 2018. Winwood fought the 2018 gold medalist at this year’s world championships, losing on points to Galal Yafai. Winwood shut out Queensland’s Luke Martin in yesterday’s semi-final and will take on Western Australia’s Yusuf Chothia, who accounted for Tyler Harrington yesterday by unanimous decision.
Men’s Featherweight (57kg)
Orion Brown vs Charlie Senior
Number one seed Orion Brown outpointed Domenic Marciano yesterday to make his way to the final. It is the third time in a row Brown has made the final of the Australian titles, coming up short to Jack Dehany in the previous two years. His opponent this afternoon Charlie Senior scored a minor upset over 2018 Commonwealth Games representative Jack Bowen after coming through the quarter-finals on Thursday. Senior won by unanimous decision, with three of the five judges scoring every round in his favour.
Men’s Lightweight (63kg)
Harry Garside vs Billy Polkingham
2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Harry Garside meets Billy Polkingham from Western Australia for the third time in a row in a domestic amateur final. Garside and Polkingham have waged competitive battles in the final of the previous two national championships, with Garside winning both contests, but both by split decisions. Both men were too sharp for their semi-finals opponents yesterday afternoon, winning every round on every scorecard, and their fight tonight should be another great battle.
Men’s Welterweight (69kg)
Jason Mallia vs Elias Awad
Two-time defending national champion Jason Mallia has battled Terry Nickolas in the final of the nationals in the previous three years but will face fellow Victorian Elias Awad in the final this year after Awad accounted for Mark Borg yesterday. Borg upset Nickolas in the quarter-finals in probably the biggest upset of the tournament. Mallia was narrowly beaten by international veteran Lorenzo Sotomayar from Azerbaijan at the World Championships in September but dominated Connor Wilcox in last night’s semi-final.
Men’s Middleweight (75kg)
Adrian Cammarano vs Kirra Ruston
The top two seeds will meet in the men’s middleweight final after Cammarano won a tight split decision over 2018 Commonwealth Games, gold medalist, Campbell Sommerville and Ruston scored last night’s only stoppage, knocking Luca Fiori out in the first round. Cammarano and Ruston battled in the semi-finals of the nationals earlier in the year, with Cammarano taking a split decision. Ruston had a tight split decision win over Ben Hussain on Thursday, so it will be interesting to see how much both men have left after hard fights in the previous day’s competition.
Men’s Light Heavyweight (81kg)
Paulo Aokuso vs Clay Waterman
2018 Commonwealth Games bronze medalist Waterman came into this tournament unseeded after losing in the semi-finals of the previous two national championships. Aokuso was one of the men who defeated Waterman, scoring a split decision over him in this year’s nationals. Aokuso has had two hard fights to reach the final, scoring close decisions over Daniel Stuart and Donald Jones. Waterman scored a split decision over Eddie Coumi in Wednesday’s quarter-final and dominated Roger Grant last night to set up the rematch.
Men’s Heavyweight (91kg)
Austin Aokuso vs Brandon Rees
In another rematch, Austin Aokuso and Brandon Rees fight for heavyweight honours after a split decision went to Aokuso in the national championships earlier this year. Rees won the national championships last year after losing in the final of the 2018 Commonwealth Games trials to eventual silver medallist Jason Whateley. Both men are coming off tough split decision wins in the semi-finals last night.