Saturday, June 19, 2010

Steel-ing The Show: A Night At ‘Fists of Steel’

*Note: The original can be found at

At the Auckland Boxing Association

The Auckland Boxing Association was near packed, the “Vegas” lights were rigged up and a couple of New Zealand’s finest ring girls were brought in for the AKOS Boxing promoted Fists of Steel. We were to be treated to fourteen quality 3*2 minute bouts. As the stadium filled, DJ Cue kept the crowd feeling nice with his blend of mixes.

Before the festivities were due to begin, R’n’B heavyweights Adeaze provided their own brand of sweet, soulful flavour and the crowd were now adequately prepared for the night of pugilistic brilliance before them.

Bout One:
Super Middleweight
Steven Walsh v. Keiran Stongman

The bout begins with Strongman utilizing his reach by employing the jab and he manages to catch Walsh with a lead hook. Steven comes back with a left hand of his own but gets tagged with a couple of overhand rights that bloodies his nose. Walsh has some success late in the first round with his body attack but his punches are a little wild. The second round begins and Strongman ducks a Walsh blow and lands a left hand, Kerian’s movement and sharper punching is allowing him to take control of the bout. Walsh manages to get a right hand through but Strongman is generally winning the exchanges by getting off first. Walsh’s face is fairly bloodied at the end of the round. The start of the third sees Strongman landing with far more authority and he manages to slip blows and counter effectively with both hands. He traps Walsh on the ropes, flurries and the referee issues a standing 8 count. They both exchange hard right hands to end the fight. Strongman comes away with a split decision win.

Bout Two:
James Anthony v. Craig Thomson

Anthony starts the bout fast and lands a left hook. He is hurriedly pushing the pace while Thomson seems calm and willing to weather the early storm. Thomson begins stalking and manages to get Anthony on the ropes but he is able to dance away. James traps him on the ropes and unloads several punches but most of them are being blocked. He lands an overhand right before the round ends. Anthony again comes out fast in the second but his efforts are caught on Thomson’s guard. Craig rips him to the body and uses his jab to corner Anthony. Anthony seems to be tiring and Thomson lands a counter right hand. This drop in work rate allows Thomson to find his distance and rhythm. Thomson lands a counter left at the start of the third that hurts Anthony. Seeing this, Craig comes on hard and he is able to land at will, including a great right hand rip to the body. Everything Thomson is throwing is meaningful and effective and Anthony looks gassed as the bout ends. Thomson wins with a majority decision.

Bout Three:
Stefan Paladin v. PJ Leuii

Leuii’s starts the bout bouncing on his feet and he moves very well, even better when you consider the significant height and weight advantage he has on Paladin. He lands a great 1-2 and it appears that he also has the better hands, particularly his lead. Paladin lands a right hand near the end of the round. Paladin starts the second with a big right hook and Leuii returns the favour with his left. Stefan is gritty in attempting to come forward but he has to eat shots on the way inside where he lands a right hand. He manages to back Leuii up and unload but to little effect. Leuii is able to hold his hands low, and jab effectively, but Paladin lands a right hand and he reverts to using his reach and distance. The third round begins and PJ lands a hard jab, Paladin is able to duck the next but Leuii is using it to great effect. Leuii finds himself on the ropes where Paladin attacks and gets Leuii’s attention but PJ engages and backs him up. The bout finishes and Leuii comes away with a hard fought unanimous decision.

Bout Four:
Light Heavyweight
Shance Duff v. Joe Bryant

Southpaw Duff lands two jabs to start the bout. Bryant seems composed as he works out the switch-hitting style in front of him and gets a right hand through. Duff is backed on the ropes and eats a left hand. Bryant starts the second stalking and trying to set up Duff with his jab. Shance is getting a little wild with his shots and his chin is in the air. Joe sees this and drops a huge right hand that sits Duff down. He is able to continue after the 8 count however the round ending saves him from a follow up assault. Joe lands another big right hand at the start of the third as well as a left. Duff is breathing very hard and, with Bryant coming on, he is issued with another 8 count. Bryant lands a left hook but Shance scores with a right to end the bout. Bryant’s dominant display earns him a unanimous decision.

Bout Five:
Super Middleweight
Josh White v. Telu Gafa

Gafa lands an early left hook and he has the faster hands, even with White firing first. He lands a big right as White uses his movement to give him angles. Gafa’s parries well and is able to counter. The second round begins with Gafa parrying and countering anything White throws. As game as White is, it must be frustrating to have to your aggression turned against you like that. Gafa once again parries, flurries, and a right hand gets through. Gafa lands another right after parrying and he is landing effective blows at every exchange. The third round once again sees Gafa’s defensive parrying and he lands right hands and 1-2’s. Josh just can’t work him out but get points for being proactive in engaging. He lands a right hand near the end of the round but it is not enough as Gafa gets the unanimous nod.

Bout Six:
Light Heavyweight
Andrew Holland v. Vinnie Pavlovich

Southpaw Pavlovich starts aggressively, landing left hand leads. His awkward style puzzles Holland, which allows him more time to land straight left hands. Pavlovich does a great job of controlling the distance with straight shots and he lands another hard left on the back of a combination. Holland eats another huge left hand as the round ends. Pavlovich clearly knows a good thing when he is onto it and continues to drop left hands. He lands a 1-2 and then a 2-1 but the tough Holland isn’t discouraged even though he is being overwhelmed. A 2-1-2 has Holland in trouble and he receives a standing 8 from the referee. The start of round three once again sees Pavolovich having major success with left-hand leads. Holland hooks to the body but Vinnie is still landing hard shots. Pavlovich continues to land at will and the ref step in the save a bloodied Holland from further punishment. Pavlovich gets the TKO victory.

There is a break in the action and two spectators are brought to the ring. Both seem merry from the festivities and they are fitted with oversized gloves. We are told that they will engage in a one-minute bout with the winner receiving a pair of boxing gloves signed by New Zealand boxing legend Sean Sullivan. The action begins and our nameless combatants waste no time. The blue corner manages to land a right hand straight off the bat but the red corner is coming forward firing a salvo of straight punches. The size of the gloves make both dodging and co-ordination impossible. The red corner is far busier and they start to tire as the “courage” starts to wear off. The bout ends and the crowd’s applause makes the red corner the goodwill victor.

Adeaze provides us with a jazzy interlude before the action is ready to resume.

Bout Seven:
Light Bantamweight (Youth)
Vanvan Cagney v. Jonny Curle

The much larger Cagney comes forward at the beginning of the bout however Curle uses good movement and angles to offset the size differential. Vanvan is throwing punches but not using his reach effectively as Curle lands a 1-2-1 combo. Jonny is able evade punches and Cagney reverts to using his jab and utilizing his height advantage. Vanvan is clearly the stronger fighter and his punches are getting through. Curle starts the second using his movement and he does a great job of closing the distance as he ducks a punch and lands a four punch combo. He again gets inside and lands a left hook. Cagney starts the third throwing the jab, backs Jonny up and lands a couple but Curle dances his way out of danger. Cagney is using distance well and he is able to back Curle onto the ropes and unload and Curle ties him up to end the bout. In a greatly entertaining bout, Vanvan Cagney comes away with a close decision.

Bout Eight:
Light Middleweight
Te Rau Cagney v. Ian Stead

Stead walks into an early right hand but manages to back Cagney up and rip two right hooks to the body. Stead continues to punish Cagney’s mid and has the harder punches, as he is able to hurt Cagney. Ian starts the second with a 1-2 and Cagney is just getting beaten to the punch. Cagney lands a combination that starts low and ends high and covers up when Stead punches. Stead lands a right hand then goes back to the body and Cagney gets home with a left. The action is all Stead however but Cagney is gutsy in wanting to exchange. Te Rau lands a double jab and cross but Stead replies with a right hand. Cagney is aggressive at the beginning of the third and lands a pair of right hands but he is backed up and takes more punishment to the body that forces the referee to step in with an 8 count. Sensing victory, Stead comes on strong and Cagney lands a right hand but he is simply being overwhelmed. The bout ends and Stead gets the unanimous decision.

Bout Nine:
Light Heavyweight
Ropata Awheto v. Darrell Suasua

Both start cautiously until Suasua fires to the body and head. He ducks the reply and lands a right hook. Awheto looks to establish the jab but eats a right. He lands a hard jab and right hand with Suasua coming forward. Suasua gets right down to business in the second, landing a right lead. This spurs on Awheto, who is only happy to engage and drops a right of his own. Suasua lands four solid hooks, the first of which buckles Awheto and he has to move away from danger. Darrell keeps bringing the hooks as two lefts get through. Awheto, although taking hard hooks, manages to return fire even through Suasua is the stronger puncher. The third begins and a left-then-right hook floors the off balance Awheto. Suasua brings an unstoppable barrage of deadly hooks and implores Ropata to engage, Awheto obliges and, several hooks later, he is forced to take a standing 8 count. The crowd is amazed at Awheto’s resiliency, even when he is outgunned he just doesn’t know how to give up. Suasua goes home with a unanimous decision.

Bout Ten:
Light Middleweight
Sam O’Loughlin v. Adrian Bentley

The first round begins and both measure with their jab. O’Loughlin lands a lead hook and appears the sharper puncher. Bentley flurries to the body but O’Loughlin backs away and lands a leaping left hook. Adrian comes back with a right hand but O’Loughlin’s schooled left hook is finding its mark. O’Loughlin starts the second fast and lands a right hand a triple jab. He lands another right but Bentley backs drives him across the ring and returns the favour. O’Loughlin with a 1-2 and his left hand, in general, is impressive. Adrian is throwing but his opponent covers well. O’Loughlin’s touches him with the left hook again as the round closes. Both come out fast for the final stanza and O’Loughlin gets home an overhand right. Bentley brings hooks to the head and body, which are diffused by another lead hook. Adrian goes back to the body but is forced to eat another couple lead hooks and a hard right. Still game, Bentley continues his assault to the body but he can’t do enough. O’Loughlin wins a unanimous decision.

Bout Eleven:
Darragh “The Bulldog” Burke v. Sene Leaitua

The bell rings and both combatants collide like runaway locomotives. Burke is throwing the kitchen sink at Leaitua however a left hook catches him. He calms and begins moving around the ring but takes another left hook. “The Bulldog” throws a wild right but he still can’t dodge the hook. Leaitua continues his hook assault on the retreating Burke to close the round. Burke opens the second with a 1-2-1, then moves around and jabs to set the distance. Leaitua is like a dog with a bone and continues, and lands, with the hook. Burke’s jabs just can’t disrupt Leaitua’s offense and they exchange right hands. Wild action has the crowd on their feet, as this is exactly the type of spectacle they came to see. A huge Leaitua right hook puts Burke on the deck but he gets up before the round finishes. Wild action continues in the third as both resort to wide shots. Leaitua is exerting his will, in the form of hooks, on Burke who responds with a jab and a clubbing right. In an instant, Burke lands a hook of his own, then another, which has Leaitua stumbling. The bout ends before Burke can capitalize and Leaitua comes away with a wildly entertaining unanimous decision.

Bout Twelve:
Light Heavyweight
Alex Rawiri v. William Pui

Rawiri opens the bout with an overhand right and Pui digs to the body. This display shows their intentions early as Rawiri looks for more overhands whilst Pui wants to bang his mid. A Pui right hand closes the opening stanza. Pui starts the second with a right and then a hook to the body, Rawiri is looking a little weary and he wears a Pui right hand then a lead hook. Another Pui right hand is followed soon after by a left hook however Rawiri responds with a right of his own. Alex lands another overhand right but Pui flurries and hurts him with a right. The third begins and Rawiri gets home with a left hook. Pui comes back with a right and then digs to the body. Rawiri goes with another overhand and eats a right. Pui ups the aggression, corners Rawiri and fires to the body. He finishes the fight by unloading hooks onto a covering Rawiri. Pui wins by unanimous decision.

Bout Thirteen:
Light Middleweight
Michael Tuasaga v. Hayden Bentley

Tuasaga begins by showing off his hands in landing jabs, crosses and parrying Bentley’s shots. He loads up a hook but Bentley covers as Tuasaga puts everything behind every shot. Bentley lands a right hand in the second and Tuasaga throws wild hooks. Both slug and Tuasaga lands a pair of powerful right hands. Bentley lands his own right as Tuasaga appears to tire, he is still wild but his punches have lost most of their steam. He lands an overhand right to no effect. Bentley lands another right and both swing until the bell. Tuasaga hasn’t recovered in the third and continues to unleash untamed punches. He lands a few looping shots, but his energy is completely spent. Seeing his opponent breathing heavily, Bentley ups his work-rate which forces Tuasaga to take an 8 count. Bentley continues to pour it on, wobbles Tuasaga and the referee steps in for another standing count before the round ends. The two knockdowns give Bentley a unanimous decision.

Bout Fourteen:
Middleweight Exhibition
Ryan Tauaika v. Jamie Waru

Tauaika opens with a right to the body and left to the head and Waru tries to flurry but is caught by a right hand. Waru reverts to the jab as Tauaika seems physically stronger is winning the exchanges in close. Both combatants go after each other at the start of the second and Waru’s punches are starting to get Tauaika’s attention. Waru is wobbled slightly by a right hook, but it is only temporary. Waru is upping the ante with his aggression and it is being met by Tauaika. Tauaika is off balance and takes a punch as he slips but it is ruled a knockdown. Waru gets home another right hand and starts to stick and moves. Tauaika lands a right hand near the end of the round but it is not enough as Waru earns a split decision.

AKOS Boxing and their sponsors, Russell Bricklayers Ltd & Aotea Paving, should be congratulated for putting on a great event. All the bouts were competitive, eventful affairs and the crowd was not left wanting. One on One Pro Ring Lighting also did a fantastic job of adding a “Las Vegas” atmosphere and I had not seen a better-lit event at any similar sized promotions. The flow of the event and segues between bouts were all fluid and none of the patrons were left to their own devices. Also a big shout out to DJ Cue and Adeaze as the music was handled marvelously and it all fit in perfectly in the scope of the event.

Although all the combatants deserve respect for the sacrifices and training they went through in order to give the patrons a show, I was particularly impressed with Telu Gafa. His defensive nous and parrying is far beyond his years and I only hope to see him on future promotions. Vinnie Pavlovich’s style, also, would prove to be a nightmare for anybody and he carries genuine power in his left mitt. Although young, Jonny Curle showed great movement and heart, even though in a losing effort. Keep at it pal.

The fight of the night had to go to Darragh “The Bulldog” Burke and Sene Leaitua. Both just went at it from the opening bell and never let up. Even after he was in serious trouble, Burke’s rugged determination allowed him to come back land serious punches of his own. I think most of the crowd would have liked to see one more round!

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