Why does Australian Boxing keep doing this?

First of all, I didn’t watch last nights card. The reasons were simple; the main event was a farce, there were numerous mismatches on the undercard and even in the better bouts of the undercard, the winners were all obvious before the bouts even took place. There was nothing I was going to miss by staying up to watch that card last night except for sleep.

The reason boxing will not grow out of being a niche sport in Australia is because it is marketed for the lowest common denominator rather than showcasing what’s good about our sport. By that I mean we don’t get to see the good, even match-ups on television that you can see on non-televised cards in Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney throughout the year. That’s because everyone is so afraid to take a loss on their record that the TV slots on the big shows like this are wasted with safe matches. This leaves the casual fan bored because they aren’t getting what they came to see; a fight!
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The promoters and matchmakers make up for this by appealing to something these casual fans know; footy players. Instead of seeing a great domestic matchup like George Kambosos vs Brandon Ogilvie, Zac Dunn vs Les Sherrington, Wes Capper vs Wade Ryan or Dennis Hogan vs Samuel Colomban (all fights that headlined shows that were not shown live on nationwide TV in the last 12 months), we get safe match-ups with only one possible outcome (and no punter enjoys watching a contest they already know the outcome of) or we get the worst our country has to offer in the pro ranks, lower level professionals who box for some extra money as well as working full-time and they’re matched up against an in shape, athletic man who has the financial backing to hire the best coaches and the luxury of training full time. These men don’t stay in our sport, they just take the TV slots (and the money that could go to one of our prospects) and go back to playing footy, where they make more money than nearly all boxers in Australia do.

Another issue is that young professional fighters don’t get the chance to learn their trade because there’s a drought of smaller professional shows around Australia. There used to be fight clubs where guys could get even matchups anywhere throughout the country on a weekly basis and some of the profits would be split among the fighters for their purses. The boxers wouldn’t make much but they would stay active, they would learn their trade and work towards big money fights. But now every promoter needs to make thousands of dollars on every show and a fighter can’t get matched unless they sell five times their pay worth of tickets. If they can sell that much, they get matched against opponents who won’t beat them so they end up building a career out of not fighting anyone tough and again, don’t learn their trade and eventually they get exposed. The Catch 22 for the less popular fighters is that a fighter can’t sell that many tickets every time they fight if they can’t get the experience to become good at their craft. There are exceptions to this rule but it seems that the nice looking record and the potential for a huge fight down the track are more important than putting on good fights NOW.

The other problem is the boxing media won’t tell it like it is and call a spade a spade. Tonight’s card was shit. It’s good that the Moloney brothers and Trent Broadhurst got some TV time but not many are going to remember them or want to see them again because they weren’t tested in 50-50 match-ups. If this sort of thing was going on in the NRL, AFL or A-League there would be a riot but it’s boxing and no one cares about boxing.

If you’re disappointed with last nights fights then go to bed early tonight and wake up early tomorrow morning to catch Renold Quinlan’s IBO title fight with Chris Eubank jnr. Quinlan has been fighting the best guys throughout his 12 fight career (11-1, 7 KOs) and has appeared on a couple of Mundine’s undercards. He knocked Daniel Geale out in his last fight and isn’t the 12-1 underdog that he is being made out to be. Renold Quinlan won’t disappoint.

If you’re a casual fan and you were let down by tonight’s show, get to one of your local professional shows (there’s usually at least one a month in every major city) and check out some real boxing. The fights are much more evenly matched which makes for better boxing. It’s not as convenient as watching it on TV or at the local pub but watching a fight live in person beats watching it on TV. If you consider yourself more than a casual fan then get out and support your local shows and even bring some mates along. The more shows on out there the better our product will be when it’s on the big stage and the more likely it will be when it’s on the big stage.

Our sport is better than this.

Boxing Preview; De-Gale-Jack, Nasio-Fujimoto

This weekends boxing action is headlined by the huge super middleweight unification fight out of New York with IBF titlist James DeGale unifying with WBC titlist Beau Jack with an IBF junior lightweight title fight on the undercard. Also featuring this weekend is Cuban star Erislandy Lara defending his WBA junior middlweight title against former Miguel Cotto victim Yuri Foreman. There is no action domestically but Australian heavyweight champion travels to Japan to take on former K-1 star and now full-time boxer Kyotaro Fujimoto for the vacant OPBF heavyweight title.

James DeGale vs Badou Jack
Vacant Ring Magazine world championship, WBC/IBF world titles
New York, USA
Television- Fox Sports 5, 1.30pm Sunday 15 Jan
Australian fight fans are being treated to a lot of Showtime fights free to air on Fox Sports. It’s expected to continue with the huge welterweight showdown between Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia later this year as well as the Carl Frampton vs Leo degalejackposterSanta Cruz rematch but first up is the entirely under-hyped super middleweight unification bout between WBC titlist Badou Jack and IBF titlist James DeGale.

DeGale (23-1, 14 KO) took the vacant IBF title by defeating Andre Dirrell in 2015 following Carl Froch’s retirement. He has since defended it twice with a clear cut decision wins over former champion Lucian Bute and Italy’s Rogelio Medina. DeGale’s sole career loss was via razor thin decision to George Groves back in May 2011. Groves and DeGale were amateur rivals with Groves defeating DeGale in the unpaid ranks before DeGale went on to win the gold medal at the 2008 Olympics. Groves win over DeGale for the Commonwealth title in 2011 was a huge upset and a huge fight for British boxing but DeGale has bounced back well while Groves’ career has slid following his losses to Carl Froch in 2014.

Badou Jack (20-1-2, 13 KO) took the WBC title from Anthony Dirrell, who defeated Sakio Bika for the WBC title and was making his first defence of the title. Jack showed he was one of the top super middleweight’s in the world in his next fight with a majority decision win over George Groves on the Mayweather-Berto undercard and was unlucky not to get the decision over Lucian Bute in a fight that he clearly won (Bute later tested positive for banned substances). Jack’s only loss was in 2014, a surprise first round knockout against Derek Edwards, who has since lost his last three bouts.

DeGale should be the favourite but Jack has surprised people in his last three fights and a lot of people were expecting him to lose all three. This is a fight between two of the top three super middleweights in the world and Ring Magazine has put their vacant title on the line for the winner. WBO champ Gilberto Ramirez, in my opinion, is the top super middleweight in the world following his domination over Arthur Abraham, who had established himself as the best super middleweight behind Carl Froch with wins over Robedrt Stieglitz and Martin Murray. DeGale has the edge in speed for me and I think this will be the difference. I expect this one to go 12 rounds and Jack will likely make it close but DeGale should be able to control the fight with his hand and foot speed and take a close decision.

The undercard sees an IBF junior lightweight title fight between Jose Pedraza and Gervonta Davis. The title has gone to Pedraza after Rances Barthelemy moved up to lightweight and Pedraza is making his third defence. Davis, a 2012 national golden gloves champion, is taking a significant step up in class, competing in his first 12 round fight but has a thirsd round knockout over former title holder Cristobal Cruz on his record. A women’s world title fight between one of the best women’s boxers in the world Amanda Serrano and former WBC bantamweight champion Yazmin Rivas for the WBO junior featherweight title and a middleweight contest featuring Ukraine’s former world amateur champion Ievgen Khytrov make up the rest of the card.

Erislandy Lara vs Yuri Foreman
WBA junior middleweight title
A non televised fight on Australian TV, Lara is making a rather routine defence against Foreman, who hasn’t really done a whole lot since losing back to back fights against Miguel Cotto and Pawel Wolak in 2010 and 2011. Lara won’t pressure Foreman as much, which might give Foreman a chance as his losses were both against pressure fighters, but Lara is too slick and technical and should win a wide decision.

Kyotaro Fujimoto vs Wille Nasio
Vacant OPBF heavyweight title
Kyotaro Fujimoto (15-1, 8 KO) is a former K-1 fighter who was being built up as the next Japanese star after wins over Peter Aerts and Jerome Le Banner but after losses to Semmy Schilt and Gegard Mousasi in 2010 he switched to boxing. His one loss was to Solomon Haumono by knockout the last time he went for the OPBF title. He has since won the Japanese national title and has defeated middleweight boxer Nobuhiro Ishida on points (Ishida is a notoriously tough middleweight who was only stopped by Gennady Golovkin and has a first round knockout win over James Kirkland) and scored wins over Peter Okhello and Australia’s Nathan McKay.

Nasio (10-1, 9 KO) is coming off a fourth round stoppage over Hunter Sam and his only loss was to Tai Tuivasa in a one night tournament in the fourth fight of his pro career. He’s also defeated Nathan McKay, although his win was via first round knockout and Kyotaro went 8 rounds with McKay. Nasio should be the favourite in this fight, Kyotaro has trouble keeping strong guys at a distance and he doesn’t have huge power for a heavyweight. If Nasio takes his time and puts on steady pressure he should be able to break down Kyotaro the same way Haumono did and force a mid round stoppage.

Horn vs Pacquiao and Australia’s Rich Boxing History

News broke yesterday that Jeff Horn will challenge Manny Pacquiao for his WBO welterweight title at a venue to be determined on April 23 (April 22 US time). Suncorp Stadium is favoured to host the bout but Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium and an offer from the UAE to host the bout abroad are also possible.

pacquiao-hornIf this fight comes off on Australian soil it will be one of the bigger boxing matches ever held in Australian boxing history but despite certain news sites reporting that this fight will be the biggest in Australian history, there  have been bigger fights on Australian soil before. The Jack Johnson vs Tommy Burns heavyweight title fight
drew a crowd of 15,000 with 25,000 unable to get tickets to the bout. Now I know that Suncorp Stadium holds 50,000 spectators but in 1908 when this fight took place, Australia’s population was just over 4 million compared to today’s population of 23 million and 50,000 isn’t such a big number.

Lionel Rose, one of Australia’s most popular world champions, made a defense of his world bantamweight title against British and Commonwealth champion Alan Rudkin at the Kooyong Tennis Stadium in Victoria. The fight was broadcast on free to air television across the country. Now Rudkin is definitely no Pacquiao, but Horn is definitely no Lionel Rose either. Lionel Rose fought in an era when boxing was televised for free and covered in the press. When Rose won his world title it was televised on free to air television. Jeff Horn has spent a large part of his professional career fighting in New Zealand. Horn, like all of our boxers, deserves to be better known than he is but in the Mundine/Green era of boxing our contenders for world titles are talked about less than the NRL players who do the sport to keep fit in the off season.

Pacquiao also isn’t the greatest boxer an Australian has ever challenged. Hector Thompson travelled to Panama to challenge Roberto Duran, considered by many one the greatest lightweights of all-time, in 1973. Tony Mundine challenged Carlos Monzon, considered by many one of the greatest middleweights of all-time, in 1974. Paul Ferreri challenged Carloz Zarate, considered by many one of the greatest bantamweights of all-time, in 1976.

Now you may say that Pacquiao is considered by many one of the greatest pound for pound fighters of all-time because of the amount of weight classes he has won titles in. Not many boxing historians hold that opinion. It is notoriously easier to win a world title in the current era of boxing and there are many more weight classes to win titles in. Pacquiao is never talked about like the previous three men are when it comes to discussing who is the greatest of all-time in their weight class. He was a terror at featherweight and junior lightweight and his wins over larger opponents like Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto and Oscar De la Hoya have made his legend but he never cleaned out a division like Duran, Monzon or Zarate did.

I’m not having a dig at this fight at all either, in fact I’ve been researching accommodation and flights in case it happens here, I just think it’s a little insulting to disrespect our rich boxing history and I think it’s disrespectful for the media, after years of only reporting the latest mismatch involving Anthony Mundine or Danny Green or whichever NRL player has last taken up our sport as the only boxing worthy news, now coming back to the sport and calling this fight something that it isn’t. Considering all we have to go on is that this fight is Manny Pacquiao vs Jeff Horn, calling this fight the greatest boxing match in Australian boxing history is insulting!

What if the fight flops? The initial Anthony Mundine vs Danny Green fight didn’t sell nearly as many tickets as projected. What if Horn gets knocked out in the first few rounds? This could happen; Horn has been down before and Pacquiao is a huge step up in class and while he might not have Randall Bailey power, he has way more speed than anyone Horn has faced before. If either of these situations happens or a combination of the two, will people still be calling this the greatest boxing match in Australian boxing history?

On the other hand, if Horn does defeat Pacquiao in front of a sell-out crowd, then we have something to discuss.

Australian Boxing Preview (December 9-10, 2016)

It’s a big weekend of boxing action this weekend with the Joseph Parker-Andy Ruiz jnr WBO heavyweight title bout taking place in New Zealand and Anthony Joshua defending his IBF title against Eric Molina (previews to come) but there are also a number of shows on the domestic scene.

On Friday night there are two cards in New South Wales with former IBO junior lightweight title challenger Kye MacKenzie taking on Dylan Emery for the vacant Australian junior welterweight title at the Hordern Pavilion. In the other card on Friday night at North Sydney Leagues Club former NSW Welterweight champion Ben Savva fights for the OPBF welterweight title against Filipino Dennis Padua.

On Saturday night alongside the Parker-Ruiz card, which co-features Jeff Horn vs Ali Funeka, 2014 Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist Andrew Moloney takes on Carlos Ruben Dario Ruiz for a regional WBA title. On the undercard features Moloneys brother, Jason Moloney, a fellow undefeated bantamweight contender as well as the Balla brothers (Ibrahim and Qamil) and middleweight Michael Zerafa.

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Hordern Pavilion (Friday December 9)
Television- Fox Sports
While the poster above shows Paul Gallen vs Junior Paulo (which will likely be the televised main event) and the card also features other NRL stars, this is a boxing blog and will concentrate on the better matchups.

Kye MacKenzie vs Dylan Emery
(Vacant Australian junior welterweight title)
MacKenzie (15-1 , 13 KO) returns after a year long layoff and jumps right back into a tough fight, taking on Dylan Emery (17-0, 10 KO) for the vacant national title. While MacKenzie has spent the better part of his career fighting at junior lightweight, Emery has spent the majority of his career campaigning as a welterweight. Despite his wins over world rated Clive Atwell and local stars Matt Gartlett and Waylon Law, as well as his IBO world title fight loss to Jack Asis taking place at lower weight divisions, MacKenzie has had a number of fights at higher weights. Emery, on the other hand, hasn’t made junior welterweight since a 2014 stoppage over Ray Thompson.

This is quite a jump in class for Emery, who hasn’t been past six rounds in any of his 17 contests and has taken only slow steps up in competition during his career. Despite this, Emery is an effective body puncher who possesses a solid left hook and with his size matches up evenly with the ring rusty MacKenzie. MacKenzie should be the favourite due to his level of opposition and the fact that he has fought bigger guys before should somewhat negate Emery’s size advantage. If MacKenzie can overcome the ring rust he should prove too skillful for Emery.

Tommy Browne vs Samuel Colomban
(Six Rounds, junior middleweight)
Former WBA and WBC featherweight title challenger Tommy Browne (32-1-1 10 KO) continues his comeback in the higher weight divisions, taking on Cameroon’s 2006 Commonwealth Games representative, Melbourne-based Samuel Colomban (24-9, 11 KO) over six rounds. Both men have been in form with Browne winning the vacant NSW middleweight title with a decision over Irish veteran Joe Rea earlier this year and scoring a sixth round stoppage over Tasmanian Steve Maxwell on the Renold Quinlan vs Daniel Geale undercard. Colomban is coming off a loss to world rated Dennis Hogan but prior to that defeated Melbourne’s Ben Capps and dropped a close decision to undefeated Anthony Buttigieg.

This is an excellent piece of matchmaking. Both men are experienced, both men have fought a lot of the best fighters in their country and for once there isn’t some meaningless title on the line. Colomban will be the naturally bigger man however Browne is more experienced on the world scene, having gone 12 rounds with Injin Chi and 10 rounds with Chris John. I’m picking Browne to win a close decision but this is a good piece of matchmaking and should be an entertaining fight.

Also on the card outside of the NRL bouts, 2012 Olympian Jai Opetaia takes on Peter Brennan, a 40 fight veteran who has been in with some of the best cruiserweights in the country and  Irish-born Geroid Clancy takes on Thailabnd’s  Akrapong Nakthaem over six. The other bout in NSW on Friday night, headlining the North Sydney Leagues Club show, is Ben Savva (4-1, 0 KO) vs Dennis Padua (10-11-2, 5 KO) for the OPBF welterweight title. Savva is a skillful boxer who won the vacant NSW title in his last bout over Alex Ah Tong. Padua has never fought in Australia, but is coming off a 7th round KO win in his most recent fight for the Filipino title. This card is not being televised.

Melbourne Park Function Centre (Saturday December 10)3533
Television- Stream

Andrew Moloney vs Carlos Ruben Dario Ruiz
(10 rounds, WBA regional title)
Having won the state and national titles, 2014 Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist Andrew Moloney (10-0, 6 KO)continues his rise through the regional ranks, taking on the Argentine Ruiz (21-8, 10 KO). Ruiz is a former minor world title challenger, having lasted until the 10th round with current WBA junior bantamweight champion Luis Concepcion in 2013 for the WBC Silver Flyweight title. This is a good step-up for Moloney, who has steadily increased his competition since turning pro.

The undercard sees Andrew’s brother Jason (10-0, 9 KO) taking on Mexican Enrique Bernache (22-9 11 KO), also over ten rounds for a WBA regional title. On the undercard Michael Zerafa (20-2, 11 KO) continues his comeback after his stoppage loss to Peter Quillin last year, fighting Western Australia’s Renato Oliveria (9-0, 2 KO) over ten rounds for an IBF regional title. Ibrahim Balla (9-1, 6 KO) returns from his first professional loss over ten rounds with Indonesian Agus Kustiawan (17-5-1, 7 KO) and his brother Qamil Balla (9-0-1, 3 KO) battles another Indonesian Musa Letding (11-5-4, 6 KO), also over ten rounds.