Aussie wrap-up for March
In the latest edition of our regular Aussie wrap-up, Anthony Cocks rounds up a busy month...
Former IBF middleweight champion Sam 'King' Soliman 45-14-1 (19) held off a fast-finishing Wes Capper 19-2-1 (12) to salvage a majority draw in a fight for the vacant IBF International title at the Melbourne Pavilion in Flemington on 17 March.
The 44-year-old Melbournian confused Capper with his movement, angles and unorthodox approach in the early going, but the 29-year-old from Perth got his jab going in the second half of the fight and landed some telling right hands.
A clash of heads opened up a cut over Capper’s left eye in the early rounds but his corner expertly staunched the flow of blood so that it wasn’t a factor for the rest of the fight.
In the end it was a flash knockdown in the second round that ended up costing Capper the fight, with two of the judges turning in scores of 114-114 while the third saw the fight for the 29-year-old from Perth by a single point, 114-113.
On the undercard WBC number 11 and WBA number 15 super middleweight Jayde Mitchell 16-1 (9) returned from neck surgery to score an easy third-round knockout of Argentinean Ariel Alejandro Zampedri 9-3 (7). Mitchell dominated the fight until the stoppage.
Also on the Big Time Boxing card Cherneka 'Sugar Neekz' Johnson 9-0 (4) won the vacant WIBA bantamweight title with a fourth-round TKO of Rungnapha Kaewkrachang 13-12-1 (1). Johnson had the Thai boxer on the canvas twice in the fourth round, with the referee waving the contest off after the second knockdown.
The previous night at the same venue world ranked Blake 'Il Capo' Caparello 26-3-1 (10) gave away an early lead to lose a 12-round unanimous decision to Roy Jones Jr-trained Isaac Chilemba 25-5-2 (10) by scores of 115-113 twice and 117-111.
In a bout that lacked sustained action, the local southpaw controlled the ring in the first half of the bout but Chilemba came into his own late, landing combination punches in the last four rounds that caught the judges’ eye and stole the bout from Caparello.
Chilemba broke a three-fight losing streak with the win while Caparello dropped his first fight since losing on points to Andre Dirrell two years ago.
On the undercard Michael Zerafa 23-2 (13) claimed the vacant Commonwealth junior middleweight title with a clear-cut 12-round decision win over Adam Harper 8-1. Scores were 118-110, 120-108 and 119-109.
The 29-year-old visitor from Bath, England ploughed forward all night but was consistently picked off by the smart counterpunches of Zerafa.
The 26-year-old from Craigieburn was a late replacement for Anthony Buttigieg who was a late withdrawal after suffering a training injury.
Underrated southpaw Tej Pratap Singh 10-4-2 (5) caused a boilover against the more fancied Jake Carr 16-2 (6) in a fight for the vacant WBA Oceania middleweight title.
Singh swarmed Carr from the opening bell and didn’t let up, forcing the 27-year-old to retire at the end of the sixth round. After the fight Carr said he was carrying a busted eardrum into the fight.
All three judges had the fight scored 59-55 at the time of the stoppage.
WBA number eight featherweight Joel Brunker 33-2 (19) had an easy stay-busy victory over Surachet Thongmala 7-8 (4) in a lightweight clash on the Big Time Boxing show. The 29-year-old Thai lasted a little over a round before succumbing to a body shot.
World-ranked 140-pounder Darragh Foley 15-2 (8) surprised a lot of people when he outboxed WBA number 14 Steven 'The Piranha' Wilcox 18-3-1 (5) to unify his WBA Oceania title with the 27-year-old Canadian’s NABA title at the Star Casino in Sydney on St Patrick’s Day.
The Sydney-based Irish southpaw has had to rely on his heavy punch to get him out of jail in a number of recent fights and conventional wisdom suggested a boxing match would go the way of the visitor.
Instead, Foley turned in a career-best performance to outpoint the slick Wilcox in what was billed as a WBA eliminator to win by scores of 117-111, 118-110 and 116-112.
The 29-year-old Foley boxed a smart, patient fight, taking over in the second half of the bout to score a decisive victory.
With the win Foley moves up from WBA number eight to number six. He is also ranked WBO number 14.
In a mild upset Melbourne’s Gaige Ireland 5-1-2 (3) claimed the Australian lightweight title from defending champion Haithem Laamouz 12-1 (5) by majority decision on the Neutral Corner Promotions show.
It was an important win for Ireland and his trainer Brian Butler, whose East End Boxing gym was targeted by arsonists in the lead up to the fight.
The 25-year-old Ireland won by scores of 96-94, 97-93 and 95-95.
The 'Buncrana Banger' John Hutchinson 12-2-3 (4) was held to a split draw by Craig Parke 10-2-1 (3) in a ten-round middleweight clash for the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental title.
Also on the show Galway’s Gearoid Clancy 9-5 (2) pitched an eight-round shutout at junior welterweight over Sam Williams 5-6-3.
North Queensland’s Liam 'The Prodigy' Paro 13-0 (9) claimed his first title as a pro when Melbourne-based Englishman Andrew Wallace 11-11-1 (7) stayed on his stool at the end of the third round after suffering a cut eye at the Mansfield Tavern in Brisbane on 17 March. With the victory Paro becomes the Australian junior welterweight champion.
Also on the Ace Boxing Promotion card former cruiserweight world title challenger Mark 'Bam Bam' Flanagan 24-5 (17) dominated Mauricio Barragan 16-3 (9), stopping him in the sixth round to retain his WBA Oceania title. Flanagan lost a 12-round decision to WBA cruiserweight champion Denis Lebedev in Russia last July.
Cruiserweight Aaron Russell 11-4 (4) had Tino Honey 4-2 (1) of New Zealand down in the first round but had to settle for a six-round decision win by scores of 59-54 and 58-55 twice. Bantamweight April Adams 9-1-1 (3) was too classy for Thailand’s Phannaluk Kongsang 3-4-1 (2) winning every round in their five-round bout.
Featherweight Ibrahim 'La Bala' Balla 13-2 (7) was shockingly stopped in two rounds by late replacement Jessie Cris Rosales 22-1-1 (10) of the Philippines at the Grand Star Reception Centre in Altona North, Melbourne on 11 March.
The 27-year-old former Olympian controlled the action in the opening round but got caught with a right hand during an exchange near the Filipino’s corner that saw him collapse backwards, out cold.
The fight was waved off without a count at the official time of 1:38 of the second round. With the win Rosales claims the WBA Oceania title and finds himself ranked number thirteen by the Panamanian sanctioning body.
Balla’s older brother Qamil Balla had better luck earlier in the night when he defeated Adam Diu Abdulhamid 11-5 (4) of the Philippines by eight-round unanimous decision.
Lightweight Balla, 12-1 (5), was having his first fight back since dropping a ten-round decision to world ranked George Kambosos Jr last May on the undercard of heavyweight Joseph Parker’s inaugural world title defence against Razvan Cojanu in Maukau City, New Zealand.
After shaking off the rust in the opening round Balla went on to control the action for the rest of the fight, running away the winner by scores of 79-73, 79-72 and 79-73. The show was promoted by Hosking Promotions.
Commonwealth welterweight champion Kris George 14-1 (8) made short work of Maximiliano Leonel Scalzone 16-2-1 (12) of Argentina, knocking him out in half a round at Rumours International in Toowoomba, Queensland on 10 March. The non-title fight was scheduled for five rounds and the official time of the stoppage was 1:26. Scalzone was counted out on the second knockdown of the contest.
Welterweight Rivan Cesaire 16-5-1 (3) scored a five-round majority decision over Jack Asis 38-21-5 (19). Scores were 49-46, 48-47 and 48-48. Cesaire is the reigning national champion at 147lbs.
Also on the Brendon Smith-promoted card lightweight Brent Rice 8-0 (2) pitched a five-round shutout over Brendan Saunders 5-4-2 (2) while welterweight Jamie Hilt 9-3-1 (1) scored his first career stoppage with a first-round TKO of Will Sands 5-8-4 (2).
In a career-best performance Reagan Dessaix 13-1 (9) outboxed Shintaro Matsumoto 14-6 (10) of Japan for three rounds before opening up a bad cut with a punch that immediately brought a halt to the contest at 0:39 of the fourth round at the Seagulls Rugby League Club in Tweed Heads, NSW on 24 March. With the win Dessaix claims the vacant IBF Pan Pacific light heavyweight title.
Super featherweight fringe contender Billel 'Babyface' Dib 21-3 (10) was another victim of the late replacement curse, losing by majority decision to Tanzania’s unheralded Bruno Vifuaviwili 21-1-1 (5) by scores of 94-96, 94-96 and 95-95 in a fight for the vacant WBA Oceania 130lbs title.
Dib was originally scheduled to face Matt Remillard in the United States earlier in March but that fight was nixed when his visa was revoked at the last minute.
Also on the Nick Midgley-promoted show light heavyweight Kerry Foley 18-3-1 (15) scored a first-round knockout of Argentinean Francisco Ramon Benitez 16-7 (13).
Jeff Fenech’s bantamweight protégé Brock Jarvis 13-0 (12) scored another early stoppage with a third-round KO of Indonesian Hamson Lamandou 9-2-1 (6) at Mediterranean House in Five Dock, Sydney on 2 March.
The rangy 20-year-old from Marrickville had Lamandou was on the canvas in the second round. Scores were 20-18, 20-17 and 19-19 at the time of the stoppage. Richard Fogarty promoted the show.
Featherweight prospect Jai Alexander 7-0 (5) broke down and stopped Brazil’s Isaias Santos Sampaio 21-14 (21) in the fifth round of a scheduled ten-round bout at Chelsea Heights Hotel in Chelsea Heights, Melbourne, Victoria on 10 March. The promoter was Adam Wilcock of Fightcard Promotions.
Sampaio was down twice in the fourth round and retired on his stool at the end of the fifth.
Middleweight Emmanuel Carlos 7-0 (5) needed just 2:31 to beat up and stop Tasmanian Steven Maxwell 11-10 (6).
Hobart cruiserweight Jayden 'Plugger' Nichols 6-0-1 scored a four-round majority decision win over Thomas Russell 0-4 by scores of 40-36 twice and 38-38. The fight was contested just above the cruiserweight limit.
Middleweight Lachlan Higgins 4-1 (2) had Vittorio Agostino 2-3-1 on the canvas in the first and fourth rounds en route to a six-round decision win by scores of 59-53, 57-55 and 60-52.
Big-hitting Sydneysider Aaron Lai 10-4 (9) successfully defended his OPBF light heavyweight title with a sixth-round knockout of Panya Chomphoophuang 8-5-1 (5) of Thailand at the Paddington RSL Club in Sydney, NSW on 23 March. Michael Isgro was the promoter.
On the same card southpaw Michael Davoren 6-0 (4) won by TKO3 over normally durable Kiwi James Langton 11-7 (5) in a cruiserweight contest scheduled for ten rounds.
Super middleweight Mark Kassab moved to 10-0 (5) with an eight-round unanimous decision win over Mark Smith 5-3-2 at the Westend Market Hotel in Sunshine, Melbourne on a John Scida promoted show on 23 March. Kassab picked up the Victorian state title with the victory.
Super middleweight Hussein 'Skinny' Dehaini 7-0-1 (3) had to settle for a majority draw against debutant Simon Leafa with scores of 39-37 and 38-38 twice. Junior welterweight Kayne Clarke 5-0 (2) won a four-round decision over Tim Chang, who was on debut. Scores were 40-35 twice and 40-34.
Junior welterweight Blake Minto 11-1-1 (2) outboxed Sergio Eduardo Gonzalez 31-22-4 (15) for a 12-round split decision win by scores of 118-110, 117-110 and 112-115 at NEX, Newcastle, NSW on 24 March.
Junior middleweight Troy O’Meley 6-0 (2) scored a shutout victory over six rounds against Luke Howlett 0-3-1 while Dillon Bargero 4-4 (3) defeated Eddie Dos Santos 6-5-2 by unanimous decision over eight at welterweight on the Richard Fogarty-promoted show.
Welterweight 'Banging' Ben Kite 11-4-1 (5) knocked out Dong Young Kang 3-4-2 of South Korea in four rounds at Fortitude Stadium in Brisbane, Queensland on 30 March. The fight was scheduled for six rounds and the scores were 30-26, 30-26 and 30-27 and the time of the stoppage.
Also on the Eureka Promotions show middleweight Mark Gadaleta 3-3-2 (2) and Matthew Hartmann 1-1-1 were kept to a draw after an accidental headclash prematurely halted proceedings in the third round. At the time of the stoppage Hartmann was leading 30-27 on two of the judges’ scorecards and trailing on the third 28-29.
Filipino featherweight Neil John Tabanao 15-4 (11) returned to Australia for the first time since scoring an upset stoppage win over Ibrahim Balla in June 2016 to defeat Thailand’s Rachan Yageow 25-5 (20) at the Bendigo Exhibition Centre in Bendigo in regional Victoria on 17 March.
Tabanao had Yageow down in the second round and finished him off in the third. At the time of the stoppage Tabanao was leading 20-17, 20-17 and 20-16 on the judges’ scorecards for the ten-round fight.
Also on the Patrick Connolly-promoted show junior welterweight Brad Morgan 6-0 (5) won by TKO2 in a six rounder against Worraphon Jesadajindawat 1-5 when the corner threw in the towel and middleweight Matthew Hall 5-0-1 (3) stopped Sutee Noonkrathok 1-1 with a body shot in the third round of a scheduled eight.
At welterweight Krai Setthaphon 26-3 (16) bounced back from a stoppage loss to George Kambosos Jr five months earlier with a six-round unanimous decision win over Chaiyan Sakkoed 1-7 by scores of 60-54 and 59-55 twice.