Boxing 'Never Better', by Grantlee Kieza - 15th January
boxing has never had it so good.
though Anthony Mundine is making the first defence
of his world title against a man so old it's suspected
he was last in Sydney in a midget submarine, The Man
has helped push the fight game in this country to
staggering new heights.
proliferation of world titles and global sanctioning
bodies means that for the first time in Australian
boxing history we have three men claiming world championships
at the same time.
Kostya Tszyu, Australia boasts the unified world junior-welterweight
champion and one of the greatest fighters ever in
his weight division.
Mundine and Danny Green we have two world champs at
super-middleweight and the prospect of a superfight
that could possibly top the 37,000 crowd for the Jeff
Fenech-Azumah Nelson rematch in Melbourne.
Monday night Mundine stakes the WBA super-middleweight
title against Japanese fighter Yoshinori Nishizawa,
38, and hopeless.
bout has such underwhelming public support that cobwebs
are apparently growing over the ticket box at the
Wollongong Entertainment Centre.
regardless of the fight's merits, Mundine will star
on Japanese television as Australian boxing once again
gains global exposure.
success of Tszyu, Green and Mundine has paved the
way for a plethora of pugilists from these shores
to push their claims for world titles.
preparing for his February 7 fight in Moscow with
Sharmba Mitchell, said he was delighted to help lift
the profile of Aussie boxing.
think in 2004 we will see even more Australian world
champions," he said. "We've already got
Danny Green and Anthony Mundine, but both Husseins
can win a world title and Vic Darchinyan too.
Briggs also has a good chance. There are many other
good young prospects."
Wheatley, Australia's IBF vice-president, has helped
set up world title fights for Mundine, Ricky Thornberry
and Glen Kelly, and is now pushing the cause for many
young Australian contenders through the IBF ratings.
fight game has never been so healthy at the top end
in this country," Wheatley said. "Who knows
- with a bit of luck we could realistically have five
or six world champs by the middle of next year.
Fenech, alone, has Vic Darchinyan, Nedal Hussein and
Hussein Hussein - all capable of winning world titles."
the record Australia's leading contenders are:
contender WBC super-bantamweight title. Age: 26. Record:
32 fights, 31 wins, 18 KOs
feared body puncher, Hussein's only loss was a disputed
10th-round cut eye stoppage against the world's top
featherweight Manny Pacquiao, a three-time world champion
from the Philippines who had to climb from the canvas
to win. Hussein has also held the Commonwealth title
and has beaten world-class fighters Joe Morales, Jackson
Asiku, Brian Carr and Nathan Sting.
contender IBF flyweight title. Age: 28. Record: 20
fights, 20 wins, 15 KOs
Australia's hardest puncher pound for pound, the rugged
southpaw represented Armenia at the Sydney Olympics
and has two knockout wins over former world champ
Wande Chor Charoen of Thailand. He mauled Mexican
Alejandro Montiel who had given IBF flyweight champ
Irene Pacheco of Colombia a solid battle for 12 rounds
only a few months earlier.
contender WBC light-heavyweight title. Age: 28. Record:
22 fights, 21 wins, 17 KOs
over the last seven years, Briggs has crushed top
local fighters such as Tosca Petridis and Glen Kelly
and overwhelmed former world middleweight champ Jorge
contender WBA flyweight title. Age: 28. Record: 24
fights, 23 wins, 17 KOs
Olympian and Commonwealth Games representative, Hussein
was decked and outpointed by Thailand's regal WBC
flyweight champ Pongsaklek Wongjongkam in Bangkok
last November. But he gave a stirring performance
and finished all over the world champ in the final
round at Lumpini Stadium.
hopes to face new WBA champ Lorenzo Parra, of Venezuela,
contender IBF middle-weight title. Age 30. Record:
22 wins, 7 losses, 5 KOs
losing a hotly disputed 12-round decision to Anthony
Mundine in Wollongong in 2001, Soliman has gone unbeaten
in his last 10 fights, with impressive wins over the
Jeff Fenech-trained pair of Nader Hamdan and Sakio
contender IBF junior-lightweight title. Age 30. Record:
24 fights, 22 wins, 12 KOs
two-time Aussie Olympian, the California-based Peden
has been a leading contender in the pros for several
years but lost to John Brown and Juan Manuel Marquez,
now the unified world featherweight champion. Peden
stopped Lamont Pearson in his last fight to win the
contender IBF junior-middleweight title. Age: 31.
36 wins, 3 losses, 2 draws, 24 KOs
of the most turbulent careers ever in Australian boxing
saw Taylor stopped by three-division world champ Shane
Mosley in a quest for the WBC welterweight title three
years ago. Taylor was stopped in subsequent bouts
by Aussie Julian Holland and Englishman Richard Williams
amid a series of personal crises involving substance
abuse. But he has gone unbeaten in his last eight
contender IBF junior-welterweight title. Age: 32.
Record: 42 fights, 36 wins, 5 losses, 1 draw
long-time sparring partner for Kostya Tszyu, the smooth-boxing
South African-born fighter is trying to jag a bout
with his old boss.
his last fight Ndou outclassed three-time world title
challenger Carlos Rios.
also has at least half a dozen other fighters who,
on their night, are capable of upsetting title holders.
Kelly, once the world's No.1 light-heavyweight contender,
was stopped by Roy Jones Jr in Miami two years ago
but is a much better fighter than he showed on the
night and is rated No.12 WBC cruiserweight contender.
Hamdan once the No.2 contender for Oscar De La Hoya's
WBC junior-middleweight title, has recovered from
his loss to Sam Soliman and has enlisted Ray Wheatley's
help in trying to get an IBF super-middleweight title
fight with Sven Ottke.
Coast bantamweight Nathan Sting was knocked out in
a round by Skinny Hussein four years ago but has shocked
the British establishment with upsets over their stars
Johnny Armour and Nicky Booth.
Jason De Lisle was stopped by Danny Green at Penrith
Panthers last year, but along with New Zealand-based
Melbourne fighter Paul Murdoch, is now a fringe contender
for the world light-heavyweight title, holding down
the No.15 spot in the IBF. Murdoch is No.15 in the
Gairy St Clair, whose only defeats have been to world
champs, has won his last 13 fights and should feature
in the world junior-lightweight ratings again after
his recent close win over Jackson Asiku.
Rowsell rose to be the No.8 contender for the WBA
cruiserweight title but his title aspirations were
derailed in one round by Russian Valery Brudov in
Michael Katsidis, a Toowomba junior welterweight whose
brother is a star Queensland jockey, could be the
hottest new talent in the game following a crushing
victory over Kenyan Olympian Fred Kinuthia at Penrith
The Daily Telegraph & FOX Sports
- Jeff Fenech - 8th January 2004