UFC 251 will take place on Sunday 12th July at UFC Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.
Tim Tszyu takes another step towards becoming Australia’s leading boxer on Friday night when he takes on fan-favourite Jack Brubaker at the ICC Exhibition Centre in Sydney.
The ten-round junior middleweight clash headlines a rather stellar card, with Western Australia’s Nathaniel May and Queensland’s former world title challenger Trent Broadhurst featured in well-matched fights.
The card will be televised on Main Event pay-per-view.
Luke Boyd vs Masing Warawara
Luke Boyd, a 2008 Olympian, is one of the lesser-known prospects in Australia. He was a standout amateur, scoring a 2011 win over Jason Moloney, who is currently ranked as the No. 8 bantamweight in the world by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board before he narrowly missed out on the London Olympics. Since turning professional, Boyd has scored eight wins from as many fights, with all eight coming inside the distance. In his most recent trip to the ring he scored a 37-second knockout over undefeated Jon Jon Jet.
His opponent, Masing Warawara, hails from Vanuatu. Warawara has won three of his four recorded professional bouts, with his lone loss coming to Victorian Jai Alexander by split decision in September. Boyd should start as a heavy favourite, especially with his knockout power and Olympic experience. Warawara, however, shouldn’t be completely ruled out. His bout with Alexander took place a full weight division above what Boyd usually competes at, and his competitiveness with one of Australia’s better featherweight prospects suggests that he is a game opponent.
Trent Broadhurst vs David Light
Former world title challenger Trent Broadhurst takes on his first real test in his new weight division, battling New Zealand’s top cruiserweight (90.7 kilograms) David Light. Broadhurst moved up from light heavyweight after back-to-back first-round stoppage losses. The first of those losses came against the current No. 1 independently ranked light heavyweight contender Dmitry Bivol before he lost to Australia’s top light heavyweight, Blake Caparello, in June of last year.
David Light is one of New Zealand’s hottest prospects. He narrowly missed out on an Olympic Games spot in 2012, losing to Australia’s Jai Opetaia in the final of the Oceania qualifier. Unlike Opetaia, Light reached the podium at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014, earning a silver medal. Since joining the paid ranks, he has won all 14 of his professional bouts, including a comprehensive points win over Australia’s Mark Flannagan.
While some have labelled this match-up a fight between Australia and New Zealand’s best cruiserweights, Broadhurst has not yet proved himself worthy of that claim. While Jai Opetaia has essentially cleaned out the domestic cruiserweight division over the last couple of years, Broadhurst has faced relatively weak opposition since he moved up from light heavyweight. With Light’s natural size advantage and better recent competition and Broadhurst’s recent knockout losses in the lower weight divisions, Light has to start as the favourite.
Nathaniel May vs Bruno Tarimo
Western Australian featherweight Nathaniel May looks to bounce back from his first loss in five years when he battles Tanzanian Bruno Tarimo. In July, May travelled to the United Kingdom to battle former world title challenger James Dickens. May put up a respectable effort, losing a competitive ten-round decision in Dickens’s hometown. Prior to that loss May had won 17 straight fights and was ranked behind only Luke Jackson at featherweight.
Bruno Tarimo is a familiar figure on the Australian boxing scene despite spending the first five years of his career in his native Tanzania. In March of last year Tarimo upset Billel Dib in Tweed Heads, scoring a ten-round majority decision. Dib avenged the loss five months later, but Tarimo has been back n Australian soil twice since, scoring back-to-back wins over amateur standout Josh English and former world-rated featherweight Joel Brunker.
This ten-round super featherweight clash could very well steal the show. While May’s slick boxing skills could give him the edge, Tarimo is a physically strong boxer who has solid counterpunching abilities and sound fundamentals. While Dickens is likely on a different level to Tarimo, his ability to draw leads from the Western Australian and land with his counterpunches could provide a glimpse into the Tanzanian’s strategy.
Tim Tszyu vs Jack Brubaker
Tim Tszyu continues to try and display his dominance from the competitive junior middleweight division after points wins over Joel Camilleri and the late Dwight Ritchie earlier this year. With the Jeff Horn-Michael Zerafa rematch on later this month, and both of those men having fought below the middleweight limit in the past, a huge domestic blockbuster is in the pipeline for Tszyu should he score a big win.
Brubaker has established himself as the action hero of Australian boxing in his recent fights, both of which took place on Tim Tszyu undercards. A ten-round draw with Ty Telford and an eighth-round stoppage over Danny Kennedy were both highly memorable wars. Brubaker has won three of his last four since a sixth-round stoppage loss to Kris George in what was a fight between Australia’s second and third best welterweights at the time.
After Tszyu’s wins over Camilleri and Ritchie, many were hoping to see him continue to step up the competition. While Brubaker is a fun match-up, this is a mismatch and a step backwards for Tim. Tszyu is the better technical boxer and the larger man, while Brubaker has struggled with lesser opposition in his previous two encounters. Brubaker’s all-action style will play right into the hands of the patient, more powerful Tszyu, and I can see Brubaker taking a beating before Tszyu finishes him off in the middle rounds.