Kristy Harris won her fifth national title with a unanimous decision over Viviana Ruiz in the opening bout of the card. The contest was a scrappy affair with a lot of holding. In the opening round, Harris had the edge with her hand speed and short hooks on the inside. Harris continued to score with long right hands at range and left hooks on the inside in the second round as Ruiz had trouble finding her range. The third round was marred by a lot of holding, but Ruiz took more chances and did better as a result. Her slow start, however, gave Harris the decision.
Skye Nicolson easily accounted for Carly Salmon to earn her spot at the Asian Qualifier next year. Salmon had no answer for Nicolson’s footwork and lead hand, and while she was never in trouble, Nicolson won every round with ease.
Anja Stridsman made short work of Angel Rushton, scoring a first-round stoppage after Rushton’s corner threw in the towel at the end of the round. Rushton was backed up repeatedly throughout by the taller Stridsman’s jab, and when she was trapped on the ropes, Stridsman unloaded with both hands. When a left rip hurt Rushton, an eight-count was applied, and when more body shots hurt the Queenslander, the corner threw in the towel after the second count. Stridsman won both of her bouts with stoppage wins to progress to the Asian Qualifiers.
Kaye Scott proved too big and strong for Jess Messina, winning every round on her way to a unanimous decision. Messina, who has won Australian championships at 64kg (a class that wasn’t included at Tokyo 2020) was game but had no answer for Scott’s jab and combinations from the outside. When the smaller boxer got on the inside, Scott was too physically strong for her.
Caitlin Parker won every round against tall southpaw Caitlin Torrington. Using fast feet and intelligent defence, Parker circled the taller girl until Torrington stepped into her range, where Parker beat her to the punch with clean right hands and left hooks. Torrington was game throughout, but Parker’s superior speed and skillset were too much to overcome.
In the first of the men’s fights, Alex Winwood took a split decision win over Yusuf Chothia. I thought Winwood did enough to take the victory, but it was the first bizarrely scored fight of the card. Winwood won all three rounds on two of the judge’s scorecards, lost all three rounds on another while the other two judges had it 29-28 either way. From my viewpoint, Winwood’s cleaner punching and superior defence gave him the edge.
Charlie Senior put in a dominating display to upset Orion Brown, taking a majority decision. Brown’s ability to cut off the ring and put pressure on the taller Senior won him the first round on all five judges scorecards. Senior used his reach advantage well in the second and third round; landing with his jab and scoring in combinations as Brown came forward. One of the five judges scored the bout a draw; somehow giving Brown the second round before evening his scorecard with a 10-8 round for Senior in the third.
Harry Garside was always a step in front of rival Billy Polkingham, scoring a unanimous decision victory to take out the lightweight division. Garside used his quicker hands to significant effect in the first two rounds, and while Polkingham was game, Garside took both rounds clearly. Polkingham came back strong in the final round, but it was too little, too late. Garside looks to be one of our better hopes of qualifying through the Asian Qualifier.
Jason Mallia appeared to have won comfortably in his bout with fellow Victorian Elias Awad, using angles and footwork to keep the southpaw Awad on the backfoot throughout the contest. Both men were cut in the final round from head clashes in an otherwise uneventful bout. Two of the judges, however, scored the fight to Awad, but Mallia advanced with the split decision victory. I scored the bout 30-27 in favour of the top seed Mallia.
The middleweight final was due next (according to the schedule), and I assumed there was an unannounced walkover as the next bout shown on the stream was at light heavyweight. The contest between Adrian Cammarano and Kirra Ruston, which Ruston won by split decision, did not occur until the end of the program and I had turned off my stream by this time as it appeared to just be the medal ceremonies.
The light heavyweight final was another controversial decision. I thought Clay Waterman did enough to earn the decision over Paulo Aokuso, but it was close. Waterman won the first round clearly, but the second and third could have gone either way. Two of the five judges gave Aokuso every round, two of them gave Clay every round, and the final judge had it 29-28 for Aokuso. It is the second time that the 2018 Commonwealth Games bronze medalist Waterman has been eliminated from an Olympic qualifying event by close decision in the final after he lost to Daniel Lewis in 2015 at 75kg. Waterman is one to watch out for if he turns professional.
In the final bout of the evening (that I saw), Brandon Rees scored a third-round stoppage over Austin Aokuso. I had it one round apiece going into the final round before Rees landed a pair of right hands that hurt Aokuso. The referee administered an eight-count and then waved off the contest. Aokuso appeared a little bit dazed, and the camera angle didn’t really show how hurt he was.