There were mixed emotions for Hatton Promotions’ fighters in Chandler, Brisbane on Saturday as Zhanat Zhakiyanov and Cameron Hammond continued to their journeys towards world title opportunities while Damien Hooper suffered a shock setback.
Kazakhstani terror Zhakiyanov remained on course for a possible clash with WBC bantamweight champion Shinsuke Yamanaka by laying out the experienced Filipino Roberto Lerio in the second round.
Zhakiyanov was made to eat a few punches in the opener, but recovered well after being read the riot act by trainer Ricky Hatton, and soon finished things with a hellacious left hook to the jaw.
The 31-year-old is currently ranked as the number two contender in the world at 118lbs by the Mexico City-based sanctioning body and should get a shot at global glory in 2015.
“He (Zhakiyanov) took a big uppercut in the first round and he had me worried for a second, but he’s got a good chin, he hits very hard and he’s as tough as he looks,” Hatton said.
“You can see why he’s world class. He’s very heavy handed, has devastating punching power and he’s getting better technically now.
“Zhanat didn’t get to defend his WBC Eurasia Pacific title tonight because of a late change of opponent. If he had he might have moved up to the number one spot in world. If he doesn’t get a shot next, we’ll get him another fight to get that mandatory position and when his chance comes he’ll be another world champion from Kazakhstani like Gennady Golovkin.”
WBA number 13 welterweight Cameron “The Hammer” Hammond once again showed his potential for the top as he outboxed Romeo Jakosalem before halting him in the ninth.
Hammond scrambled the Filipino’s senses with a big right hand to the temple before an 18 punch combination brought about the referee’s intervention.
The victory earned the Aussie Olympian the vacant WBC EPBC crown and marked a successful maiden defence of his WBA Oceania strap.
“Firstly I’d like to thank Ricky for all his time and effort. He gives me a lot of confidence,” Hammond, now 11-0 (5 KOs), said.
“I’m happy with the way I stopped Romeo. Once I hurt him I got him out of there. I’m 11 fights in and I have lots to learn but I have a great team around me and I’m excited for the future.”
Matt Clark, Hammond’s co-manager, said: “Cameron showed some lightning quick hands tonight. He needed to up his workfare a little. We asked him to get Romeo out of there and he did. With some adjustments, the kid is going to be special.”
Hammond’s trainer, Gareth Williams, added: “I think Cam has so much talent and is still learning. I thought the performance was great in bursts but in a lot of areas he rested too much when he probably could have stepped up the pace.
“He is still a little unsure of the pace he can fight at over ten. It’s all a learning curve and I’d like to take him back to some more eight rounder. I was happy with the stoppage when he stepped up the pace.”
Light-heavyweight Damien Hooper will hope to get a rematch with former Muay Thai world champion Rob Powdrill after suffering a surprise defeat to the Perth man.
Hooper, who was also a 2012 Olympian, tried to get his jab working early on but was caught cold by a looping overhand right and was sent crashing to the canvas.
Afterwards, Powdrill admitted that the shot was somewhat lucky, saying that he’d just thrown it “hoping for the best”.
“Obviously Damien’s results was disappointing to say the least. But it’s all up to him as to how he bounces back from here,” Matt Clark said.
“He got caught with the first punch of the fight and now he will have some time off before looking to make amends.”