Kali Meehan: Almost Cinderella

06.09.04 - By Tony Nobbs: Australian fight fans woke up on Monday morning with the heart breaking feeling of again suffering a dud call in a world title bout. This time, Kali Meehan’s split point’s defeat to Lamon Brewster on Sunday afternoon for a slice of the biggest prize in sports. After battering and almost stopping the favoured champion from Los Angeles in the eighth round at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, and generally out boxing Lamon, classy Kali deserved better.

While the critics and keyboard sluggers will disregard the WBO bauble, the simple truth is that Brewster became champ by stopping Wlad Klitchko last April and Meehan wasn’t given much hope, having fought only once in 24 months, when he stopped Damon Reid on the same card as Brewster’s title winning effort. Entering the ring as number 15 contender he may not have pulled off a major upset and left with the belt but he done more than enough to do so.

After a very tentative opening by both, Meehan got his confidence and distance as the fight went on. By the seventh round he appeared to be in front and with Brewster not being so relentless a shock looked very possible as the underdogs jab and right hand got home cleaner and more often. Brewster had a bleeding nose from the second and apart from the odd combination (his best shots landing in the third) he never looked like unsettling the former garbo, bouncer and house painter who was announced as fighting out of Wyongah on the Central Coast in New South Wales. The pace picked up in heat six with Meehan forcing Brewster to the ropes where he let go with some nice shots before being caught himself in he final seconds. On occasions when he looked in bother or tired, the challenger did a smart job of tying Brewster up and walking him on his heels. At 1 min 10 seconds into the eighth a straight right backed Lamon up. For the rest of the round the American hung on the ropes absorbing several damaging shots including a massive uppercut from the latest Thunder from Down Under. A definite 10-8.

The ninth was a close round to Meehan, and his inactivity over the last couple of years really showed in the tenth and eleventh before he dug to take the twelveth. The decision (scores of 13-14, 14-13 and 15-13) which allowed Brewster to retain the title was meant with boos from many of those in attendance and homes, pubs and clubs throughout Australasia. This writer gave it to Kali by three points and wouldn’t argue with five.

Born in New Zealand on March 9 1970, Meehan, who is part Fijian, first based himself in Australia after he knocked out the country’s top contender James Grima on the Gold Coast in 1998. That was his fifth pro fight and he took the bout on a days notice. Grima at the time was calling out Joe Bugner who then ruled he division in Australia. The following year Kali became Australian champ by knocking out Bob Mirovic and he has also held the OBA, IBF Pan Pac and WBO Asia Pacific. Going in, his only loss was a 32 second blow out against Danny Williams in ’01 for the Commonwealth crown and most pundits didn’t look past that result. He has benefited in both confidence and skill from the sparring he has received in Don King’s stable for his last two fights and his strong showing is just another from the growing list of Aussie fighters at world level. Knowing Kali is not a full of himself type and the fact he gave himself a chance after preparing his friend for Klitchko should have been an indication of what kind of performance he would give. The sportsmanship and obvious respect displayed by both fighters when the decision was announced was very refreshing and the way it should be. A great job done by manager Ted Allen to snare the fight and trainer Mark Janssen to prepare his fighter to the level he did. Expect the gracious Kali to now get another big pay day, if not another shot.

Almost an Aussie Fairy Tale.

Article posted on 06.09.2004

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