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Opinion

A review of 2021 in Australian boxing

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Roar Guru
9th December, 2021
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It’s been another big year for Aussie men’s boxing in 2021 despite the COVID-19 restrictions both here and abroad. Here’s my review of our best-performed local fighters over the past year. Keep an eye on them in 2022

George Kambosos Jnr
Lightweight ‘Ferocious’ George Kambosos Junior (20-0) produced one of the greatest performances in Australian boxing history when he outpointed American Teofimo Lopez (16-0) to win his world title belts in late November. He did it in the American’s backyard, too, at the famous Madison Square Garden in New York.

Kambosos was a massive underdog heading into the fight. He withstood an early first round onslaught from the cocky American before dropping him with a big overhand right just before the bell. The Aussie grew in confidence from there, outworking Lopez in the first half of the fight to rack up a handy points lead by the halfway mark.

Lopez rallied for the next few rounds and he even dropped Kambosos with a right hand of his own in Round 10. But just when it looked like the tide may be turning in this epic slugfest, Kambosos rallied. He took the next round on all three judges’ cards before holding on for a split decision victory.

His first world title defence is likely to be against unbeaten American Devin Haney (27-0). Haney holds the only lightweight world title belt that Kambosos didn’t win against Lopez (the WBC strap).

Kambosos has the WBA, IBF and WBO world title belts. Hopefully the unification bout will be held in Australia, but nothing has been confirmed yet.

George Kambosos celebrates his split decision win against Teofimo Lopez.

George Kambosos celebrates his split decision win against Teofimo Lopez after their championship bout (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Harry Garside
Amateur Victorian lightweight Harry Garside won Australia’s first Olympic boxing medal in 33 years, taking out the silver at the Tokyo Olympics back in August. Garside had wins against boxers from Papua New Guinea, Namibia and Kazakhstan at the Games before falling to eventual gold medallist Andy Cruz, a slick Cuban fighter.

Garside has since turned professional and will have his first pro fight later this month.

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Tim Tszyu
Super welterweight Tim Tszyu (20-0) had three fights in Australia in 2021. In March, he stopped the Irish-born, Australian-based former world title challenger Dennis Hogan (28-3-1) inside five rounds, before beating Steve Spark (12-1-0) inside three.

He ended the year with a unanimous decision victory against another former world title contender, Japan’s tough Takeshi Inoue (17-1-1) over twelve rounds.

Tszyu wants a world title shot in 2022, but he’ll likely have to travel overseas to get it. He’s the No.1 contender for the WBO belt held by Argentina’s Brian Castano (17-0-2).

But Castano at this stage is more interested in a world title unification rematch with American Jermell Charlo (34-1-1). Charlo has the WBA, WBC and IBF world title belts at super welterweight. Tszyu may have to wait in line.

Andrew Moloney
Super flyweight Andrew Moloney (21-2) lost his mandated WBA world title rematch with American champion Joshua Franco (17-1-2) by unanimous decision back in August in the US.

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It was the third time the pair had faced each other. Moloney was robbed of Franco’s world title belt in Las Vegas in 2020 when it was ruled that an accidental headbutt had caused a cut to Franco’s eye.

This was despite no video evidence of the butt, and plenty of evidence of 29-year-old Moloney landing punches in the opening two rounds before the bout was stopped. Franco had beaten Moloney via a contentious split decision five months earlier.

Jason Moloney
Andrew’s brother and former bantamweight world title challenger Jason Moloney (22-2) only had one fight in 2021, a ten-round unanimous decision against American Joshua Greer Junior (22-2-2) in the US in August. The win keeps him in the mix for another world title shot in 2022.

Other Aussie fighters on the rise
Cruiserweight Jai Opetaia (21-0) is now the No.1 contender for the IBF world cruiserweight title. He’s hoping to get a shot at Latvia’s Mairis Briedis (28-1) in 2022 for the belt.

Plenty of other promising Aussie boxers kept their unbeaten records in tact in 2021 and will be looking for bigger challenges in 2022, including super lightweight Liam Paro (21-0), the Jeff Fenech-trained featherweight Brock Jarvis (18-0), the always entertaining Issac ‘The Headsplitter’ Hardman (12-0), heavyweights Demsey McKean (20-0) and Justis Huni (5-0), and the ‘tough-as-teak’ cruiserweight Floyd Masson (11-0).

Masson won the Australian cruiserweight title last week in a toe-to-toe slugfest against Mark Flanagan that’s a serious contender for local fight of the year.

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