By James Slater – Whether or not you feel Australian heavyweight contender Alex Leapai is, A: big enough at 6.0” and approx 235-pounds or, B: good enough to be able to live up to the claim he has made about being ready for the Klitschko brothers; it has to be agreed that the 32-year-old “Lionheart” is one darn exciting warrior to watch. Even if the slugger with the Rugby background fails to get as far as he believes in his (lion) heart he will get, it sure is going to be fun watching Leapai fight.
Speaking with Australia’s ABC Grandstand this week, ahead of his fast-approaching rumble with capable, never-stopped U.S big man Kevin “Kingpin” Johnson (April 1st), Leapai said he will “bring boxing back to life” in his homeland..
“I’m the one to bring boxing back to life,” he said. “Just like [Mike] Tyson, he was only five foot, eleven…..size didn’t matter to him, same thing for me. It doesn’t matter how tall you are, doesn’t matter how big you are, they all hit the canvas. I’m going the hard way. I just take on the best out there.
“That’s the only way, the old-school way. I’m ready for the Klitschkos now.”
First up, before he can even think about getting in their with either Wladimir or Vitali (and what ranked, or even unranked heavyweight today doesn’t want to fight the two brothers?), Leapai must take care of 32-year-old Johnson, 25-1-1(11). Leapai feels his blend of power, aggression and toughness will be too much for the man from Atlanta.
“Kevin Johnson hasn’t come across anyone like me,” he stated. “I just feel I’ve got the style to take him out. One of us is getting knocked out on Sunday – and it ain’t gonna be me.”
So far, as we know, no-one has been able to stop Johnson; the man with that superb left jab and a mouth almost as fast. Even the mighty “Dr. Iron Fist” was unable to live up to his nickname and get Johnson out of there in that dull December 2009 title fight. Of course, that had a lot to do with the fact that “Kingpin” fought in what was very much a safety-first manner (earning Johnson the new nickname of “Safety Pin” from some fans) – will Johnson do the same thing against Leapai?
If he does, and if he can also get his useful boxing tools working for him, Johnson – the taller man at 6’3” – might prove to be too well-schooled for the local hero. Leapai says Johnson has never fought anyone like him before, but the same thing could be said of Leapai never having fought as good or as classy a boxer as Johnson before.
Leapai’s biggest and also most thrilling wins have come against Travis Walker (an amazing fight that is well worth seeking out), Owen Beck, Darnell Wilson and the huge Evgeny Orlov. It’s fair to say that neither of these guys can box as well as Johnson can box. Johnson, however, has met sluggers/punchers before, in Timur Ibragimov (an early-career draw for Johnson), Bruce Seldon (and ageing version) and Matthew Greer. Of course, Leapai is tougher and way more hungry than either of those guys were when facing Johnson, but the question remains: can Leapai deal with the quick hands and the overall talent of Johnson?
Both men have promised a KO win ahead of this Sunday. I disagree and think Leapai, currently 25-3-3(20) will emerge as a points winner. This one is as close to 50-50 as you could get, though.