Australian Boxing: Top 5 Fights for 2008

By Srithar Visuasam: 2008 saw some great boxing action from Australian fighters, both on a local and international level. It was not a year in which household names Anthony Mundine and Danny Green created the most exciting action, the latter announcing his retirement. Instead, there were a number of other talented boxers capturing the limelight and giving fight fans many a memorable night..

Vic DarchinyanThe following is this writer’s opinion of the best fights of 2008 from Australian boxers. The fights have been selected based on the following criteria: action, skills demonstrated, importance of bout within the weight division and impact on the Australian and international scene.

5. Ahmed Elomar KO1 Willie Kickett

7 November 2008

Gosford NSW, Australia

This bout will probably be more remembered for the scenes that occurred post-fight rather than what occurred during the less than two minutes of action. In what would be considered a ‘keep busy’ fight for Kickett, he took on the tough Sydneysider Ahmed Elomar in a defense of his two regional super featherweight titles. ‘Cool Willie’ was expected to outclass Elomar with his superior hand speed, footwork and technical prowess.

Upon the first bell, Kickett charged forward and began throwing fluent combinations at Elomar. A minute into the round and Kickett was having it all his own way. That was until about 10 seconds later when Elomar, for the first time of the night, got through Kickett’s defenses and dropped him with a heavy straight right. The right hand had Kickett down for the count and nearly motionless, with the referee waving the bout over at 1:27 of round 1. Elomar bounced in celebration and within seconds, dozens of his entourage joined him inside the ring.

What happened afterwards left a severely sour taste on the night, with a wild brawl ensuing between Elomar’s camp inside the ring and what appeared to be Kickett’s supporters who were ringside. Chairs were thrown both in and out of the ring and Kickett’s team had to make a swift exit to the dressing rooms still in danger of being hurt by the crowd. The brawl was considered too dangerous for broadcasters, Fox Sports, who had to stop their coverage to ensure their commentators and crew avoided injury.

4. Vic Darchinyan KO5 Dimitri Kirilov

2 August 2008

Tacoma WA, United States

Vic ‘Raging Bull’ Darchinyan entered this bout in a bid to win a major world title in a second division against reigning IBF Super Flyweight champ, Russian Dimtri ‘Baby’ Kirilov. Darchinyan had moved up to super flyweight in late 2007 after losing his flyweight crown to Filipino Nonito Donaire. Kirilov, who with a low knockout ratio (9 from 29 fights), presented an attractive opponent for the challenger, considering Darchinyan’s major weapon being his unrelenting power.

Upon the first bell, Darchinyan made his presence felt, cutting off the ring and landing a stiff jab which was followed by hooks and right hands. By the end of the first round, Kirilov appeared in all sorts of trouble and Darchinyan proceeded to continue his onslaught thereafter.

Entering the fifth, Darchinyan had every round covered. 30 seconds into the round, the ‘Raging Bull’ launched a stunning assault on Kirilov against the ropes which saw him down for the first time in the bout. Vic took full advantage of the weary champion and a hard left hand dropped Kirilov and this time he was out for the count. Darchinyan had secured the IBF Super Flyweight title and in doing so, re-established his name amongst the major players within the lower weights of the fight game.

3. Sakio Bika TKO3 Peter Manfredo Jr.

13 November 2008

Providence RI, United States

After winning series three of the television show The Contender in 2007, this year was looking to be quite a low-key affair for Sakio Bika, with just the one bout in April against an Argentine journeyman, ending in a first round knockout win. That was until November 13, when ‘The Scorpion’ had the chance to capture his first world title, the vacant IBO Super Middleweight Title against another former Contender star, American Peter Manfredo Jr.

This bout was to be a homecoming of sorts for the American, staging the event in his hometown of Providence, Rhode Island. However for Manfredo Jr., it did not have quite the ending that he had hoped for.

Upon commencement of the battle, Bika’s power became the focal point on how the bout would travel. Could Manfredo pick his shots and outpoint the heavy handed former Cameroon Olympian or would he go toe to toe and see if he could bang with one of the toughest fighters in the super middleweight division?

The answer: Manfredo Jr. tried to slug it out but after the first round Bika had clearly established the upper hand. Going into round 2, Bika continued to dominate proceedings until a minute to go, when he found himself on the floor and down for a standing eight count. However, it was hardly a knockdown, more a tangling of the legs between the fighters and push to the canvas. Bika was so incensed with the call of knockdown that he even shoved referee Ricky Gonzalez out of the way when he was asked to touch gloves.

The fight went into the third round and this is where it ended. It was a slow death for Manfredo, who for about 90 seconds was subject to an avalanche of blows from Bika. Jabs, crosses, hooks, uppercuts, you name it, Bika threw it in that period. After a continual barrage of blows, the referee waved off the fight with Manfredo unable to return fire and Bika being crowned IBO Super Middleweight champion.

2. Joel Casamayor TKO10 Michael Katsidis

22 March 2008

Cabazon CA, United States

After earning plaudits from fight fans all across the United States after his brawl with tough Filipino Czar Amonsot in July 2007, Michael ‘Rocky’ Katsidis headed to the States again for a second defense of his Interim WBO Lightweight Title. This time, it was against Cuban multiple world champion Joel Casamayor.

To many, this fight was to be the bout that would lift Katsidis to stardom and announce himself to the world against a great fighter, who was said to be on the way out of the sport. Katsidis was instilled as betting favourite in Australia for his youth coupled with his tremendous power against the wily veteran.

The fight started with a bang and not the bang expected, with Casamayor dropping Katsidis 25 seconds into round 1 with a straight left. It was a flash knockdown, though 25 seconds later Katsidis again tasted the canvas with a hard left hand on the chin, which threatened to signal a quick ending to the bout. Casamayor proceeded to dominate the first couple of rounds.

Not to be denied, Katsidis showed his true grit and steely resolve to earn his way back into the fight. In round 4, Casamayor was staggered with a two punch combo on the chin and was quickly losing control of the fight. By round 6, the situation became real dangerous for the Cuban, being knocked down through the ropes by a big right hand. Casamayor stepped back into the ring within the count as Katsidis pursued the opportunity for a knockout.

In round 9, the referee deducted a point from Casamayor for a low blow as the action continued at a frantic and brutal pace. After the bell sounded to begin round 10, Katsidis jumped at the Cuban and moments later, Casamayor countered with a perfectly timed left hook on the chin of Katsidis. This time the Australian was on shaky legs and soon after Casamayor threw a flurry of blows which saw the referee wave off the bout 30 seconds into the round.

The bout did not end in Katsidis’ favour but the Australian certainly earned another legion of fans in a non-stop entertaining rollercoaster of a fight.

1. Vic Darchinyan KO9 Cristian Mijares

Carson CA, United States

1 November 2008

Fresh off his victory against Dimitri Kirilov, the ‘Raging Bull’ Vic Darchinyan had the opportunity to unify his IBF Super Flyweight title against WBA & WBC champion Cristian Mijares. Mijares, the pretty boy from Mexico, was considered one of the leading lights pound for pound and went into the bout a strong favourite.

Enter round 1 and Darchinyan treats the occasion like any other of his previous fights. Mijares seems to struggle with Vic’s heavy hands and stalking presence and appears tentative in his approach. With 20 seconds remaining in the first round, Darchinyan delivers a crushing uppercut which drops the Mexican to the floor.

Mijares survived the round but clearly was unable to get into any rhythm for the next few rounds with Darchinyan controlling the pace and forcing Mijares to fight for survival. By round 5, Mijares appeared to claw his way back into the contest but by no stretch established any ascendancy. Darchinyan, the walk up fighter, kept his composure and tempered his aggressiveness with periods of patience as he continued to win each round.

With only moments remaining in round 9, Darchinyan forced Mijares on the retreat and with a vicious left hand, dropped him for the second time of the bout, which saw the referee wave an end to the fight.

Darchinyan defied the odds and in the process unified the WBC, WBA & IBF Super Flyweight titles becoming the first Australian since Kostya Tszyu in 2001 to hold three world title belts at the same time. For this achievement and in accomplishing it in such manner, this bout deserves the mantle of No 1 Australian boxing fight of the year.

Honourable Mentions

Lovemore N’Dou - Paul Malignaggi II (Malignaggi via SD)

Billy Dib - Zolani Marali (Dib via UD)

John Hopoate - Bob Mirovic (Hopoate TKO9)

Article posted on 25.12.2008

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