Elite Boxing Championship a breakthrough for the sweet science in Australia

Darren McCosker Roar Rookie

By , Darren McCosker is a Roar Rookie New author!

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    There was a big first for Australian boxing last week, with ESPN broadcasting a new entrant to the sporting market, the Elite Boxing Championship.

    With a ten-week season via a weekly show (Tuesday nights on ESPN1) this amounts to more local boxing content on Australian TV than has been seen in a generation.

    Focusing on elite category fighters, which are highly experienced amateurs aiming for representation at Commonwealth and Olympic games before turning pro, the series promoted itself as offering evenly matched, well-contested bouts.

    The series covers fours divisions – 56kg female, as well as 63, 70 and 78kg male.

    While the participants may not be household names, with multiple national title winners in their ranks, there is no shortage of talent.

    Commentated by local identity (and occasional Roarer) Adam Santarossa, ably supported by former Aussie champ Chris McCullen, the presentation was similar to ESPN’s long-running Friday night fights, with post-fight interviews involving two-time Olympian, who provided clear insights.

    Fought under amateur rules, the three-by-three-minute format provided action from bell to bell with some quirks such as far greater use of standing eight counts and headgear for the ladies.

    As for the fights…

    Fight 1: 63kg – Luke Martin (Queensland) versus Trent Williams (NSW)
    A contrast of styles, as the taller Williams used a long jab to keep the aggressive Martin at bay. It was to prove unsuccessful though, as Martin (who we were informed goes by the well-earned moniker ‘Mad Dog’) refused to be denied under the bright lights.

    His brawling style produced some wicked hooks and overhand rights. Credit to Williams who wore them well to keep coming back, but in the final round the referee decided he had seen enough and – despite Williams’ protests – the fight was closed.

    Fight 2: 56kg Luci Hand (Queensland) versus Lauren Kidd (Queensland)
    Kidd, wife of and trained by Australian Olympian Todd Kidd, showed a great counter punch to establish an early lead.

    Hand, possibly searching for sponsorship from Energiser, wouldn’t stop coming forward though, and the two traded serious leather, often standing toe-to-toe and firing away.

    Both deserved the large round of applause they received at the closing bell, and while the decision went the way of Kidd, it could have gone either way without much room for complaint. It was particularly comforting to see the loser of the first round fight her way back into contention.

    Fight 3: Jack Littlefield (NSW) versus Bailey Mannix (NSW)
    The long-limbed Mannix moved with a silky comfort around the ring, while Littlefield charged forward like a navy destroyer firing off the arsenal, trying to find a way past Mannix’s laser-like jab.

    After a clear first round to Mannix, Littlefield connected with a cracking right midway through Round 2 and they traded more often as the fight progressed.

    The commentators had it split after two and charging forward all Round 3 tipped the result to Littlefield, in what must have been a desperately close decision.

    The post-fight interview showed how much this opportunity means to these fighters, for rarely will you see someone so excited by a win in preliminary rounds of a tournament.

    Round 4: 78kg Hone Huni (Queensland) v Louis D’Anglebermes (New Caledonia)
    Huni, Australian 75kg titlist, moved up to the catchweight to be in this series and according to the commentators is one of the best credentialled in the field. It didn’t take long for the audience to see why. Lighting fast hands on a powerful body matched with some serious ring smarts make this young man a fighter to watch.

    What he wouldn’t have counted on was the durability, strength and spirit of the man from New Caledonia. Not only did D’Anglebermes absorb some wicked shots from Huni, but as the fight progressed he began firing back more and more of his own.

    This fight will be heavily featured in future highlights packages, as the two fired away at each other using every shot in the book.

    Ultimately, Huni walked away a clear points winner, placing multiple standing eight counts on D’Anglebermes, but again the cheer from the crowd at the completion was equally shared and deserved by the combatants.

    The first episode showed that the elite category is certainly broadcast worthy, with enough action to warrant further support as the emerging series develops.

    With ten weeks of coverage, seeing the fighters’ stories develop will be as enjoyable as watching the action unfold.