Elite boxing championship Week 9

Darren McCosker Roar Rookie

By , Darren McCosker is a Roar Rookie

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    Elite Boxing Championships Week 7 is about to begin (Photo credit: Terry Long)

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    Well, it’s the penultimate week. A round of applause to all the people who worked behind and in front of the scenes to bring this to life.

    Ten primetime episodes of any show is a victory – to deliver it for a sport that is often maligned, and to provide the levels of action and excitement delivered tonight is a great outcome for all involved.

    To the action, which involved the semi-finals of the men’s 70kg and 78kg kg divisions and the grand final of the 56kg ladies.

    Steve Filitoga (MBA Fitness – Browns plains Queensland) versus Winston Hill (Suva Boxing – Fiji)
    Billed as the ‘Battle of the Fijian Warriors’ this provided an interesting twist. Filitoga, from Fijian heritage and training in the working-class Browns Plains suburb of Brisbane, lost a war in the first round with Marcus Nelson. He then came back to put on a display that was all class to move past the pride of Orange, the rugged and powerful Jack Littlefield.

    Hill, 2016 Olympian, face of Mana Protein and Fijian Boxings star, turned down an invite to appear in the world titles in order to take care of business in this finals series. As he explained – the world titles are filmed with an iPhone and put on Facebook. This is broadcast on the world’s largest sports network.

    As the came out for the first both looked relaxed but cautious. They appeared to respect each other’s power enough to keep their guard up while delivering some straight jabs and ‘feeling out’ overhands rights and hooks.

    They seemed to be settling in well when Filitoga was suddenly sitting on the floor. A perfectly delivered punch on the chin and his legs were on strike before he knew what was happening.He is made of tough material though, beating the count and advising the referee that he was right to continue.

    Hill, is experienced. You don’t get to the Olympics in this sport on luck alone, and you could see he sensed an early close and went looking for it. About 20 seconds later was a knockdown that will be on Hills highlight reel until about 40 years after he retires.

    Winston Hill

    (Image: Terry Long photography)

    Another fantastically timed and delivered punch sent Filitoga crashing to the canvas, his bright green mouthguard traversing in a fantastic arc until landing on the other side of the ring.

    Filitoga protested the Referees calling this to a close but the corners body language showed disappointment but not dispute.

    So, Hill goes into the grand final with a great KO on the cv. Filitoga returns to hone his craft. He is good enough to still go a long way and is well worth checking out if you see his name on a fight poster nearby.

    Marcus Nelson (Bethania Boxing – Queensland) versus Jacob Bobir (All Star Boxing – Queensland)
    Two undefeated fighters in the series fighting for a spot in the grand final. Nelson is a stylish puncher with a one shot knockout courtesy of a wicked body punch, and the aforementioned fight of the night win over Filitoga.

    Bobir, the tradie who does a full day’s work before weighing in, had claimed the high prized scalps of Gladstone’s Sean Evans and Olympian Hill. This repechage system has thrown up some very interesting plot twists and has provided great drama.

    On the bell the tone was set, Bobir charging forward trying to drag Nelson into the phone booth where his somewhat wild and loose style can flourish. Nelson, moving off and delivering some slashing hooks and regularly connecting with wicked rips to the body.

    The moved all around the ring, like a flowing tornado of punches, the odd forearm and head coming together in what with the benefit of the doubt was a very regular accidental occurrence. Bobir at times appeared to be channelling Connor MacGregor with a fine display of rabbit punching, though Nelson was no shrinking violet, with his own forearm and elbow combination an accepted part of his arsenal.

    The three rounds were a good old-fashioned dust up that would have made Jimmy Sharman well up with nostalgia. The two willing young bulls laid it on, neither ceding an inch. Old school boxers refer to body punching in early rounds as ‘doing your homework’ going with the theory that it is often not flashy but pays off later.

    On this score, Nelson is a potential pugilistic Rhodes Scholar, and so is was to be that his consistent and effective body punches would pay off in the final round. Bobirs intent stayed with him to the final second, but the feet and punches slowed, enabling the man they call Hollywood to place his name up in lights by way of a grand final berth with a close decision victory.

    78kg Jack Bowen (the Boxing Shop – Queensland ) versus Louis d’Anglebermes (Boxing Club of Mont-Dore, New Caledonia)
    Jack Bowen entered this bout undefeated in the tournament and the favourite. D’Anglebermes had made the most of a return due to Hone Huni breaking his finger, moving past Cairns product Thomas Van Dijk in a very impressive performance. As an added twist the New Caledonian trains at Bowens gym when in Brisbane so there was extra bit pride on the line.

    It was also a nice touch of the commentators to acknowledge Bowen’s coaches 47th birthday, they had obviously done their research.

    (Photo Credit: Terry Long)

    d’Anglebermes connected with a bowling action overhand right about two seconds into the bout, neatly dismissing any thought this could be a glorified sparring session.

    Bowen responded by backing him into the corner and unleashing. Within the opening minute a standing eight count was issued against the New Caledonian, which in this viewers opinion was delivered too early. Anyway, the tone was set. A battle of d’Anglebermes awkward style and heavy punching power trading off against Bowens fast feet, slick hands, and excellent evasion skills.

    It became apparent that on this night it was Bowens to lose. He had an edge in terms of speed and technique, though the fact d’Anglebermes will ultimately campaign at least two divisions lower in weight might help explain this. The Caledonian for his part never gave up trying and such is his power was always one clear connect from turning out his opponent’s lights and progressing.

    It wasn’t to be however, and by the final Bell Bowen, the ‘Pretty Boy’ in both looks and demeanour, was comfortable enough to be raining his arm before the announcement was made. He moves onto the grand final with a claim to favouritism such was the composure, skill, and capacity he has demonstrated through the tournament to date.

    78kg Tim Hannan (All Sorts Fitness and Wellbeing – Alexandria NSW) versus Amaeze Enyi (Stockade Training Centre – Canberra ACT)
    Enyi had climbed off the canvas in his Quarter final with Liam Nicolson to edge a very tight win. He was now intending on proving his position in the Semi Final was no fluke. Hannan for his part, was coming off a strong TKO victory against the game and talented Billy Hatton.

    They say you must work with the chin that god gives you. Fortunately for these two young men, their parents must have spent many days reading the good book as both were blessed with chins many a boxer would trade their family for. In the first both placed heavy, clean punches to their opponents’ whiskers only to have to deal with an immediate return being fired in their direction.

    Stylistically, Enyi lows with an easy grace involving lots of bobbing and weaving. Hannan is much more rigid, with broad shoulders adding a heft to his punches, especially his signature left hook. This punch has more than a passing resemblance to Popeye after devouring a big pile of Spinach, and one only need to see it thrown to know how damaging it may be. An early flash knockdown gave Hannan the lead, though Enyi returned to his feet to come back all guns blazing.

    This fight makes an excellent advertisement with cracking punches, good defence and two people desperate to stamp their name on the tournament. They hadn’t travelled a thousand kilometres each to go home with regret.

    As the rounds moved on Hannan seemed to be edging ahead with stronger punches connecting more often. With the final round Enyi sensed this and stepped up his attacks. Then it happened.

    A sharp combination sent Enyi to the floor and while his warrior spirit allowed him to explain to the referee he was fine, his legs had a touch of the Zab Judah dance going on. After careful consideration he was allowed to continue. However, a rapid-fire attack from Hannan include some of the best punches of the night saw the fight end.

    Whether the referee stopped it, the corner through the towel or the clock counted down was immaterial. It was a win to Hannan and he progresses with a series cv that includes some spectacular knockdowns and stoppage wins.

    56kg grand final – Skye Nicolson (Albert Boxing – Queensland ) versus Luci Hand (The Boxing Shop – Queensland)
    The big show for the night. A long Long Time ago (just prior to Episode 1) some questioned that the female division would be the equivalent to a TV induced coma. Such people obviously have missed the rise of women’s divisions in the UFC with them regularly headline the show. Similarly, this 56kg division has provided some excellent matches and outstanding stories.

    Perhaps the greatest of them involves the 24 hours leading up to this bout.

    Detailed in a separate story on TheRoar.com.au, this period of time was enough for Hand to win her semi-final, be treated in hospital, convince the fight doctor she could compete, teach a classroom of five-year-old’s all day and be ready again in time for this big one.

    Nicolson for her part put sportsmanship above competitive edge by happily acceding to Hand weighing in three hours early so she could get to school and teach for the day.

    Seeing them walk to the ring was a special moment for those in attendance, and seeing them given the opportunity to perform at a moment like this on TV was good as well. To the action….

    Skye Nicolson

    (Image: Terry Long photography)

    Hand, her eye black and swollen, started cautiously with her lead hand held high in protection. Nicolson, perhaps annoyed at some muted grumblings about her counter punching style lacking the trench warfare appeal of some of the other fighters (it must be said Floyd Mayweather receives the same criticism and he seems to have had some success in the sport), perhaps just excited by being on the big stage, was much more aggressive than we have seen. Her hook/straight combination was both outstanding in itself and a treat to watch.

    Maybe not so much for Hand who seemed to fight within herself as against her usual high-pressure style. A flurry towards the end of the round indicated more to come.

    The second-round saw Hand find her mark more regularly and start to work her way into the fight a little more. However, as commentator (and coach of recent world title challenger Trent Broadhurst), Chris McCullen pointed out, this was a step up in class. Nicolson threw regularly with hooks and straights to the head supported by strong hits to the body, before moving away. It was time for a change of plan for Hands corner as she was watching this title slip away.

    Round three started with Hand on the attack. She has shown through this series that she is fit, skilled and willing; with a heart the size of Phar Lap, so seeing her coming forward to chase the title was no surprise. She kept throwing at every opportunity, now desperate to not leave anything in the tank.

    Nicolson, facing more pressure than she has faced in the series, showed something that should warm the heart of Australian boxing fans. She managed the pressure with excellent combinations, finding the balance between fighting fire with fire to assert her dominance, and keeping herself out of harm’s way. If she can keep this up in the Commonwealth Games, she may have a nice medal to take out of the experience.

    At the close of the bell, both fighters were warmly greeted by the opposing corner. While Hand was denied her fairy-tale finish, the genuine smile suggests that she wasn’t broken hearted at making it this far.

    Nicolson, now attired in her customary Hannay Lawyers shirt, positively beamed through the presentation of her winners’ loot including prizes from Signature Creations, Lululemon, G-Shock, Barter Card, 360 Health and perhaps most special of all; a unique design ring that was commissioned specifically for the four divisional winners. Congratulations to her for managing expectations and delivering what was required to take the title.

    Skye Nicolson


    (Image: Terry Long photography)

    Next week is the final episode with three grand finals.

    63kg Rhys Evans (Gladstone) versus Michael Black (the Boxing Shop)
    A rematch of one of the best fights of the tournament, and a bout that has all boxing fans excited at the prospect. Can Black double up on his upset, or is Evans ready to fulfil his #1 seeding in the division.

    70kg Marcus Nelson (Bethania) versus Winston Hill (Suva Boxing)
    Between them they have more knockdowns and stoppages than the other 30 boxers in the series combined. So, get your drink, have your toilet break and take your seat. You don’t want to miss a second.

    78kg Jack Bowen (The Boxing Shop) versus Tim Hannan (All Sorts Fitness and Wellbeing)
    Hannan is coming off two stoppage wins. Bowen is the favourite. A contrast – Hannan’s undisputed KO power against Bowens angle changes lightning fast combinations and ability to wear out the best of opponents. This bout will have you on the edge of your seats.
    Tune in next week for the grand finale – ESPN1 (Foxtel 508) at 9pm Sydney, 8pm Brisbane