Aussie wrap-up for June

Anthony Cocks
04/07/2018 1:30pm

Jeff Horn's loss of his WBO welterweight title to Terence Crawford was the headline bout involving an Antipodean boxer in June. Anthony Cocks rounds up all the action...

June started out on a bum note for Aussie boxing with the only Antipodean world titleholder losing his belt in a high-profile bout in the United States.

Former WBO welterweight champion Jeff 'The Fighting Schoolteacher' Horn 18-1-1 (12) fought his heart out but came up short against three-division world champion Terence 'Bud' Crawford 33-0 (24), losing his world title by TKO9 in front of an energetic crowd of 8,112 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday 9 June.

“I’m disappointed but I’m not hurt at all. Things happen. First loss as a professional. I’ll keep going, I can rebuild,” Horn said after the fight. “He’s a tricky boxer, we thought we could get him, but good on him… Maybe I got a bit predictable and started getting clipped too much.”

Horn was his usual aggressive self, applying pressure from the opening bell against the switch-hitting Crawford who boxed most of the fight from the southpaw stance. But the feints and subtle shifts of angles that paid dividends for the Aussie in his title-winning effort against future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao 11 months earlier didn’t reap the same rewards against the crafty and well-drilled Crawford who, at 30, is in his physical prime.

The clever Nebraskan was at his counter-punching best, picking off the forward-charging Aussie with speed and accuracy, landing left rips, right hooks and left crosses with increasing regularity as the rounds progressed. In the sixth round Horn bulled Crawford to the ropes only to get cracked with a left uppercut for his troubles. The fight became more and more one-sided with each completed frame.

Midway through the eighth round Crawford switched to orthodox and opened up on Horn, blasting him with both barrels in a sustained attack on the Australian’s body and head. Switching back to southpaw Crawford continued his assault. The only thing that could stop him was the bell, but not before one last left hand landed flush on Horn’s jaw, buckling his legs and sending him wobbling back to his corner at the end of the round.

By the ninth Horn’s face was showing signs of wear and tear. The 30-year-old former Brisbane schoolteacher was cut around his swollen eyes and his gas tank was on empty. Crawford knew he had his man where he wanted him and went out to finish the job. A flurry of sharp, accurate punches in the last minute of the round put Horn down for the first time in the fight. Crawford swarmed his injured foe, determined to not let him off the hook. His follow-up two-fisted assault forced referee Robert Byrd to step in and save the brave Australian from further punishment at 2:33 of the ninth round.

Before the fight it was widely believed that Horn was the naturally bigger, stronger guy and that he would have an advantage in the clinches and on the inside. This didn’t prove to be the case.

“Like I said before, I was the stronger guy,” said Crawford, who had previously won a world title at lightweight and unified the junior welterweight division. "I'm stronger than him. I just had to get in the ring and prove it. You saw what I did in there. Now I want all the champions at welterweight."

A disappointed Horn praised Crawford after the fight.

“He was hard to tag and he just kept me guessing,” said Horn. “He’s a classy fighter who fought a great fight.”

Horn is expected to return to the ring in mid-November with one possible opponent being former WBA super middleweight titleholder Anthony Mundine in a big domestic fight that would take place either at junior middleweight or a catchweight of 156-pounds.

World ranked junior welterweight Leonardo Zappavigna 37-4 (27) went down swinging against Alex Saucedo 28-0 (18) in a fight for the vacant NABA and WBO International titles at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on Saturday 30 June.

The 30-year-old veteran was cut over the right eye in the second round and recovered from a thirdround knockdown to deliver a vicious beating to Saucedo in the fourth round that the local fighter was lucky to survive.

In another city, another state, another country, the fight would’ve been stopped.

Instead, Saucedo recovered between rounds and re-established control in the fifth behind a stiff jab and chopping right hand. As Saucedo came on, Zappavigna was cut above and below his left eye, which was rapidly swelling shut. By the seventh round his left eye was practically closed and his face a mask of blood.

The gutsy Australian’s corner heaved the towel at 2:31 of the seventh round.

The fight was immediately declared a contender for Fight of the Year and round four a clear frontrunner for Round of the Year such was the beautiful brutality of the contest.

With the winner of the fight guaranteed a shot at recently crowned WBO junior welterweight kingpin Maurice 'Mighty Mo' Hooker 24-0-3 (16), a lot was on the line in this fight. Unfortunately for Zappavigna, his fragile face let him down once again.

“It’s hard to say I’m retiring but I think I’ve got no choice,” Zappavigna told The Ring magazine’s Ryan Songalia after the fight. “My skin on my face is just getting worse as I go on in my career.”

After the fight manager Mike Altamura advised Zappavigna’s wife that it was time for 'Lenny Zappa' to hang ’em up.

“He was speaking to my wife and was like ‘that’s enough. I don’t want to be a part of it anymore. I want him to be able to talk to his kids when he’s 50. I want him to be healthy.’ I understand where he’s coming from,” said Zappavigna to The Ring.

In a crossroads bout to start the month former light heavyweight world title challengers Blake 'Il Capo' Caparello 27-3-1 (11) and Trent Broadhurst 20-3 (12) clashed in a ten-round bout to determine who would move forward with their career and who would be staring at retirement.

The 31-year-old Caparello was coming off a 12-round decision loss to the Roy Jones Jr-trained Isaac Chilemba in March, while Broadhurst, 29, hadn’t fought since being stopped in one by Dmitry Bivol 13-0 (11) in a fight for the WBA light heavyweight title last November.

Fight fans were split as to who they thought would win but it didn’t take long for southpaw Caparello to drill Broadhurst with a left uppercut that sent the Queenslander to the canvas and had the packed Melbourne Pavilion crowd on their feet.

Broadhurst threw himself back into the fray and the two traded bombs until a combination from Caparello floored the Brisbane boxer for the second time in the opening frame.

After the pre-fight jawing from both sides about ending the other’s career, Caparello was quick to capitalise on the opportunity, nailing Broadhurst with a left to the body and a right hook to the head that send him to the canvas for the third and final time.

“Credit to Trent for really having a go,” Caparello posted on social media. “He got up twice after being dropped with clean shots but I wasn’t going to let him off the hook.”

On the same Big Time Boxing card Michael 'Pretty Boy' Zerafa 24-2 (13) claimed the vacant WBA Oceania junior middleweight title with a ten-round unanimous decision over Wade Ryan 15-7 (4). Scores were 99-91, 100-90 and 98-92.

Zerafa won the Commonwealth 154lbs title in his last outing when he stepped in for the injured Anthony Buttigieg to face England’s Adam Harper in March, winning a wide points decision over 12.

Junior middleweight Joel Camilleri 15-4-1 (7) got his revenge against Taiwan-born Sydneysider Yao Yi Ma 15-4-1 (10) winning the Victorian state title by majority decision over eight rounds by scores of 79-73, 78-74 and 76-76. Camilleri and Ma met at the same venue for the same title last October where they had to settle for a majority draw.

The 27-year-old Camilleri will now meet Dwight 'The Fighting Cowboy' Ritchie 17-1 (2) for the vacant IBF Australasian title at the Melbourne Pavilion on 3 August.

Also on the show light heavyweight David Drapac moved to 4-0 (1) with a unanimous decision win over four against debutant Waiwit Nareeruk of Thailand, while middleweight Ryan Mitcham 1-2 (1) got his first win with a second-round knockout of Corey Crittenden on debut.

WBO number ten ranked cruiserweight Jai Opetaia 16-0 (13) notched another early win with a second-round stoppage of Ipswich gym owner Kurtis Pegoraro 11-4 (1) in the headline fight on the inaugural FUTR card promoted by DDP Sports at the Pullman & Mercure Hotel in Brisbane on Friday 29 June.

The 23-year-old southpaw stalked the awkward Pegoraro for the opening round, landing some clean left hands and narrowly missing with a right hook. In the second round Opetaia walked Pegoraro onto a left rip to solar plexus, sending him down for the count.

“Another display of why I’m the best cruiserweight in Australia,” said Opetaia, who retained his WBO Asia Pacific title and claims the vacant IBF Pan Pacific title with the win. “I come here and I do what I do, handle business. I just want to represent my country and I want the country to get behind me.

“He was an awkward boxer, coming in from different angles, but it was just a matter of time.”

The FUTR show is a new initiative from DDP Sports designed to develop new and emerging talent into household names.

Junior welterweight Matt Casboult 6-1 (1) returned from an 18-month layoff to score an impressive six-round unanimous decision win over Pino Geracitano 4-3-1 (2).

The switch-hitting Casboult was cut from a clash of heads in the second round and again in the fifth, but it didn’t affect his boxing as he showed a good variety of punches to outbox the game Geracitano.

The scores at the end of the fight were 60-53, 60-52 and 60-52 after Geracitano was docked two points for repeatedly losing his mouthguard.

Highly regarded junior welterweight Liam Wilson 1-0 (1) was impressive on debut, hammering home a left rip that broke the rib of New Zealand’s Ricky Curline 0-3 as he stopped him at 1:32 of the opening frame.

Heavyweight Joseph Goodall 3-0 (3) scored his third first-round knockout in as many fights against Braxton Edmonds 0-2 at 2:27 of the opening round.

Welterweight Cameron Hammond 16-1 (9) scored a routine second-round stoppage of Aphichat Koedchatturat 2-26-2. It was Hammond’s first fight since losing a challenge for the vacant Commonwealth 147lbs title to fellow Queenslander Kris George on points in November 2016.

Alan Nicholson won a four-round decision on debut against Chaiyan Sakkoed 1-8 (1) at welterweight by scores of 40-36 across the board. Nicholson is the brother of 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Skye Nicholson.

In an entertaining slugfest at heavyweight Jay Titasey 0-0-1 was held to a draw on debut against Robert Ferguson 1-5-1. Scores were 39-38, 38-38 and 38-39.

Junior middleweight Adrian Rodriguez 10-1-1 (5) won on points over six rounds against Wanchaloem Chanajan 0-5 by scores of 59-55, 59-55 and 60-54.

Light heavyweight Clint Alderton 8-2-1 (6) sent Alex Brunetta 2-4 (1) to the canvas in the second round before winning by fifth-round stoppage at the Belmont Civic Centre in Geelong, Victoria on Saturday 9 June in a scheduled ten-round bout on a show promoted by Tony Salta. Alderton was up by a single point on all three judges’ scorecards when the fight was stopped at 1:20 of the round.

Cruiserweight KO artist Kyle 'Big Bad Wolf' Webb 6-0-2 (6) claimed the vacant Victorian state title with a first-round TKO of Mathew Freshney 2-5. The big-punching southpaw had Freshney on the canvas three times in the opening round before the fight was called off at 2:39. All of Webb’s victories have come by stoppage in the first two rounds.

Also in action light heavyweight Benjamin Dimitrioski 3-3 (2) won a six-round unanimous decision over Michael Sacco 4-3 by scores of 58-56, 58-56 and 58-56. Junior welterweight Gregory Ball 4-3 (1) beat debutant Stefano Cosention by four round unanimous decision with scores of 39-37 across the board.

Featherweight Cain Brunton 4-0 (3) defeated Worakan Thaimongkol 0-3 by TKO3. Heavyweight Che St John 3-0 (1) won a four-round split decision over Lui Te’o 2-9-1 (2) by scores of 37-39, 40-36 and 40-36. Junior welterweight Jack Light 5-0 (3) won a four round decision over Jay Dalli on debut by scores of 39-35, 40-34 and 38-37. Dalli was down twice in the second round.

At the Famous Fortitude Gym in Newstead, Queensland on Saturday 30 June, welterweight Ben Kite 12-4-1 (5) won a competitive decision over Jamie Hilt 9-4-1 (1) by scores of 95-93, 98-90 and 97-92 on a Steve Deller promotion. Hilt was on the canvas once in the sixth round and again in the eighth.

Also on the card junior middleweight James Ryan 4-0 (2) won by six-round unanimous decision over Brice Roullo 2-6-3 (1) by scores of 60-52, 59-53 and 60-53. Roullo was down twice in the second round.

In a cruiserweight contest Daniel Russell 5-1-2 (3) had to settle for a technical draw against Joel Casey 16-16-4 at the Mantra on View Hotel in Surfers Paradise, Queensland on Friday 29 June on a Jamie Myer show. Casey, a southpaw, was cut from an accidental head clash in the second round and insufficient rounds were completed to render a result.

Also at cruiserweight Luke Baker 2-0 (1) needed just 1:29 to score a technical knockout over debutant Justin Crossman. Super middleweight Deece McDonald 2-0 won by split decision against Luke Travers 3-7-1 over four rounds 38-39, 40-37 and 39-37. Blake Travers 6-1-1 (1) gave away 19lbs in a cruiserweight contest to score a second round TKO over Dylan Smith 0-3 in a scheduled three-round bout.