Boxing


2011: Australian Boxing Preview

By Srithar Visuasam: Australian boxing had quite an exciting 2010, predictably led by its international stars Michael Katsidis and Vic Darchinyan. With a number of Australia’s leading boxers in defining stages of their careers, let’s see what’s in store for this year:

Vic Darchinyan (35-3-1, 27KOs): After coming just short in a split decision loss with Abner Mares in the showtime bantamweight tournament last month, Vic Darchinyan missed out on his opportunity for revenge on his 2009 defeat to Joseph Agbeko. In the other matchup of the four man tournament, Agbeko defeated Yhonny Perez and will face Mares in the final. With this the case, the ideal option for Vic would be to take on the other of the three opponents to have previously defeated him - Nonito Donaire.
In their first bout in July 2007, Donaire emerged victorious by stunningly stopping Darchinyan in the fifth round of their flyweight title fight. With Donaire recently moving up to bantamweight ranks, the possibility of a rematch is once again possible. First though, Donaire will fight WBA/WBO champion Fernando Montiel in February. Should Donaire win, a mid year bout between Donaire and Darchinyan would set up one of the most eagerly anticipated rematches in Australian boxing history.
Should this fight not eventuate, Montiel and Perez are other worthwhile opponents for Australia’s best pound for pound fighter.
Michael Katsidis (27-3, 22KOs): After the biggest year in his career which coincided with one of the most unfortuntate events of his life, you wouldn’t excuse Michael Katsidis from taking a break from boxing this year. This however, is very unlikely to occur.

2010 saw Katsidis first head to England in May to take on undefeated hot prospect Kevin Mitchell for Katsidis’ interim WBO lightweight title. Going into the bout as the underdog, Katsidis absolutely punished the Briton, with the referee waving off the bout in the third round.

His second bout was his fight with Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez in November, which saw Marquez bounce up from the canvas in the third round, to outwork a hungry Katsidis in one of the fights of the year. After going toe to toe for every minute of their fight in an absolute war, the bout was waved off midway through the ninth round by referee Kenny Bayless. In the backdrop to the fight, it is incredible Katsidis still took on the bout with Marquez given the shock sudden death of his brother Stathi, a successful Australian jockey, halfway through his training camp in late October.

With Katsidis keen to return to the ring this year, a fight with Amir Khan around April-May in England is one that is being talked about. If this fight is made, we could well see Michael in another fight of the year candidate, given both fighters aggressive instincts. With Katsidis having a penchant for British fighters, a hatrick of title fight victories against British fighters may be a possibility, with Katsidis accounting for Graham Earl and Kevin Mitchell in previous trips.

Anthony Mundine (40-4, 24 KOs): 2010 saw another active year in the career of Anthony Mundine, with four fights. The main difference though was that the fourth of those fights resulted in a loss, his first in five years and 17 fights, more significantly a knockout loss (his first since 2001 to Sven Ottke), to fellow countryman and former rugby league player Garth Wood in December.

The fifth round knockout loss saw Mundine’s 2011 plans thrown awry, as this was the year he said he was finally to venture to America in a campaign to fight the biggest names in the sport, with Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito among those mentioned. The loss to Garth Wood, has stalled such plans and a rematch is likely to occur in either March or April. The rematch, will not do a great deal for fight fans, only relieve the humiliation of losing to a fighter whose credentials were widely laughed at prior to their bout.

Should Mundine fight and defeat Wood (no easy task given Mundine’s last performance against him), the question will be whether he does indeed venture to the States. With his last trip outside of Oceania being in 2001, the question of “when is Mundine going to fight in America?” has been a major topic of conversation in Australian boxing over the past decade. Prior to the Wood fight, a bout with WBA interim junior middleweight champion Rigoberto Alvarez of Mexico was a likely option.

With Mundine at 35 years old and over 10 years into his career, he can’t afford to wait any longer if he does want to cause waves across the global scene. Fans have grown quite impatient with the stalling of his transition to America, largely due to dubious choices of many of his opponents, resulting in a waning interest in his more recent fights.

To say a fight in America this year is a must, would be an understatement!!!

Danny Green (31-3, 27 KOs): After knocking out ring legend Roy Jones Jr. in less than one round in December 2009, Danny Green seemed to have the boxing world at his feet. 2010 presented a major opportunity for the Green Machine to translate his win over Jones Jr. into some fights against the major players on the current scene.

His first two opponents Manny Siaca and Paul Briggs caused more negative headlines than positive, particularly the latter opponent, which was widely regarded as the one of the lowest moments in Australian boxing history. He promised to make up the Briggs debacle to his fans and he did so by fighting undefeated American cruiserweight BJ Flores in Perth in November. The most impressive part of the victory to most critics of Green was his ability to defeat a bona fide cruiserweight in Flores given his previous fights at this division, were effectively ‘catch weight’ bouts.

With 2011 now here and no opponent yet decided, Green is now in an interesting position. With Anthony Mundine (his primary target upon his return to boxing in 2009) campaigning at light middleweight / middleweight ranks, a fight with him appears out of the question and would certainly not be worth the money it was back in 2006 when they first fought. Cruiserweight has some quality champions in Steve Cunningham and Marco Huck.

However such opponents don’t present the best value on a risk / reward basis. Similar to Mundine, Green has spent little of his career in the States and 2011 would ideally contain at least one fight in America. With Green considered a lighter cruiserweight than most, perhaps a trek down to light heavyweight would present some better opportunities, which has a number of bigger profile fighters such as Chad Dawson, Jean Pascal, Tavoris Cloud and Bernard Hopkins who reign at the top of this division.

Sakio Bika (28-5, 19KOs): After winning the third installment of the Contender series in December 2007, Sakio Bika had quite an inactive 2008 and 2009, the only opponent and victory of note was defeating Peter Manfredo Jr for the IBO super middleweight title in November 2008.

The middle of 2010 saw Bika finally return to boxing amongst top flight opposition. His bout with Frenchman Jean Paul Mendy, an eliminator for an IBF title bout with Lucian Bute, started excellently for Bika by knocking Mendy down in the first round. What followed the initial knockdown was unfortunate for all parties concerned, with Bika having a brain fade and not realising Mendy being down, hit him again to knock the Frenchman out cold and was subsequently disqualified by referee Joe Cortez.
Bika’s future was thrown into jeopardy, however, fortune finally came in his direction. Due to Andre Dirrell’s withdrawal from the Showtime Super Six Classic, Bika got a call to fight WBA super middleweight champion Andre Ward in November, in Oakland, California. The bout was fought outside the Super Six tournament.

Bika fought his usual style of fight and gave Ward a hard time, but was unable to outwork the polished American who recorded a wide points decision win. Though the margins of victory on the scorecards were not a fair reflection of the performance Bika delivered during the fight, which was well respected.

With Bika’s three major world title fights being at 2 losses and a draw to Markus Beyer, Bika is at a career crossroads. The scorecard on his world title fight record isn’t a fair reflection on his ability, as his two losses to Andre Ward and Joe Calzaghe were to the premier fighters in the division at the time he fought them.

It would be great to see ‘The Scorpion’ fight a big name down under. Contender Australia winner Garth Wood has been mentioned, which would provide fireworks. If Sakio can keep active in 2011 with at least 3 fights, a title shot later in the year should be possible and have him better equipped to win the belt should the opportunity arise.

Daniel Geale (24-1, 15 KOs): Daniel Geale’s 12th round stoppage victory over former world champion Roman Karmazin, was one of the best victories of 2010 by an Australian boxer. The victory on October 31 saw him win a shot at IBF middleweight champion Sebastian Sylvester’s middleweight title. A fight with Sebastian Sylvester will likely happen in mid 2011 as Sylvester is expected to fight another opponent before taking on Geale.

Daniel Geale has been one of Australia’s most promising boxers over the past few years since winning the vacant IBO middleweight title against countryman Daniel Dawson in November 2007. His narrow points decision loss in May 2009 to Anthony Mundine only enhanced his profile and 2011 may indeed be the year he solidifies his name amongst the elite boxers on the world scene.

Other fighters to look out for in 2011 include lightweight Lenny Zappavigna (25-0, 17KOs), who will likely get his fight with IBF champion Miguel Vazquez after winning a title eliminator bout over Korean Ji-Hoon Kim in October via first round knockout. Undefeated welterweight Oyewale Omotoso (18-0, 16 KOs), Billy Dib (30-1, 18 KOs), Alex Leapai (21-3-3, 16 KOs), Les Sherrington (27-5, 17 KOs), Will Tomlinson (15-0-1, 11 KOs), Kariz Kariuki (23-9-2, 18 KOs) and Garth Wood (10-1-1, 6 KOs) are all fighters to look out for after all having a very good past 12 months.

It is a big year in Australian boxing and will be arguably the biggest in the past decade should a number of the above mentioned proposed fights eventuate.

Article posted on 04.01.2011



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