In a massive upset that would easily be a contender for upset of the year, Jai Opetaia (22-0, 17 KOs) has defeated now former…
With 2022 not even at the halfway mark, has there ever been a more significant year in Australian boxing? I think not and we still have another half to play.
So far this year Australian boxing has seen two new world champions crowned in Ebanie Bridges (IBF Bantamweight) and Cherneka Johnson (IBF Super-Bantamweight) and the most significant fight in Australian history, with the undisputed lightweight championship between George Kambosos and Devin Haney held in Melbourne on June 5, which I personally attended.
Three major world title fights have been contested (two of them on home soil) and there are more on the way.
To kick of the second half of the year right, cruiserweight contender Jai Opetaia (21-0, 17 knockouts) will complete against Mairis Briedis (28-1, 20 knockouts) for Briedis’ IBF cruiserweight title on July 2 at the Gold Coast Convention Centre.
Opetaia is the first cruiserweight fighter to compete for a world title since Danny Green versus Krzysztof Wlodarczyk for Wlodarczyk’s WBC title in 2011.
To add irony into the mix, it’s the five-year anniversary of Jeff Horn’s win over Manny Pacquiao for the WBO welterweight title in 2017.
July 20 brings the most interesting fight with Tszyu versus Horn 2. Nikita Tszyu (Tim’s brother) and Ben Horn (Jeff’s brother) will compete in an Australian and possibly world first as two sets of brothers compete against each other, keeping the Tszyu versus Horn family rivalry alive.
Speaking of Tszyu, Tim (WBO number one) is expected to fight undisputed super-welterweight champion Jermell Charlo (35-1-1, 19 knockouts) for all the belts at the end of the year, pending how a dispute with another one of Charlo’s mandatories – IBF number Bakhram Murtazaliev – is sorted out by the governing bodies (IBF and the WBO).
One of Tszyu’s former rivals Michael Zerafa is also in title contention possibly before year’s end, with Canelo Alvarez versus Gennadiy Golovkin 3 confirmed for September 17 for the undisputed super-middleweight championship.
Golovkin has to vacate his IBF middleweight title in order to be eligible for the Canelo 3 fight. This will lead number one contender, Brazilian Esquiva Falcao, and Zerafa (who became the number two contender after his second-round knockout victory over Issac Hardman in March) to contend for the vacant IBF middleweight title.
This is expected to be around the same time as Canelo versus Golovkin 3 and could even serve as an undercard fight to the event.
Liam Paro (WBO number one super-lightweight contender) is having a fight against Brock Jarvis on what is to be Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom and DAZN debut event on Australian shores in September.
The event was announced last week. Demsey Mckean and Skye Nicolson (both Aussie Eddie Hearn fighters) will appear on the undercard.
The winner of Paro versus Jarvis is expected to fight undisputed super-lightweight champion Josh Taylor before year’s end for Taylor to fulfill his mandatory obligation.
Eddie Hearn has also expressed interest in promoting the most anticipated fight between retired NRL stars Sonny Bill Williams and Paul Gallen.
Ebanie Bridges is also expected to defend her IBF bantamweight title later in the year (this most likely in England) and make moves for unification bouts in 2023.
If that wasn’t enough to end the year, the rematch between undisputed lightweight champion Devin Haney and former unified champion George Kambosos Jr will occur in Australian around November or December.
It’s a chance for redemption. It is a chance for Kambosos to win his belts back after being bested by the jab and skill set of Haney.
Certain years like 1985 and 2009 spring to mind in comparison, as in 1985 both Jeff Fenech and Lester Ellis both became world champions with the IBF in their respective weight divisions, then the best domestic fight ever between Ellis and Barry Michael happened in July 1985 for Ellis’ super-featherweight title.
2009 saw the epic IBO middleweight title fight between champion Daniel Geale and Anthony Mundine then in December, Danny Green had his incredible one-round knockout victory over former undisputed light-heavyweight champion Roy Jones Jr for Green’s IBO cruiserweight title.
That fight had the highest pay-per-view buys of all time for Mainevent at the time. But 2022 beats them all.
This has already been a massive year for Australian boxing and it’s only going to get better. I can’t wait.
Let me know in the comments what’s your favourite year in Australian boxing history.