Monday, March 21, 2011

Pacific Boxers out in Force for Tua's Backyard Brawl

Original can be found here

A strong Pacific influence was everywhere to be found at boxing legend David Tua's Backyard Brawl, as the vibrant colours and sounds of the region filled the TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre. The card ahead had a particular Island flavour, and the Usos had clearly come out in force to back not only David Tua, but all the Samoan fighters on display. Floral shirts and lavalava's were the norm and "cha-hoo" echoed enormous as the crowd swelled to over a thousand hungry fight fans.

Almost consciously removed from the magnitude of Tua's homecoming, the undercard provided a steady and entertaining ramp to the main event that featured a high calibre of fighter, including Samoan national champions and a former world titlist.

New Zealand boxing and kickboxing institution, John Conway, took his second step back on the comeback trail with a tough, although unanimous, decision win over human anvil Fale Saialoa. The early rounds were spent with Conway displaying the versatility and nous in his hands as he was able to control most of the exchanges. Saialoa became more aggressive in the third round, a strategy which culminated in the fourth and final round when he was able to floor an off balance Conway with a counter hook.

In certainly the most dramatic fight of the night, Afa Tatupu battered Junior Iakopo until the referee called a halt to the action in the second round. King Afa asserted his strength early, as he was able to drop his foe with the first hard combination he threw. Iakopo wasn't about to take this sitting down (literally and figuratively) as he came back to hurt Tatupu with looping shots. The rest of the opening round played out like a group of kids with fireworks: many explosions and a high chance of someone being seriously hurt. This would prove to be the case in the second, as Tatupu punched in sustained combination while Iakopo threw hard singles. With Tatupu still pressing, and Iakopo not offering any resistance, the man in the middle wisely called a halt to the entertainment.

Samoan Commonwealth Games representative, Leti Leti, made short work of journeyman Paz Viejo. Action was heavy early, with Leti's right hand being the most dominant force. Viejo attempted to rally, but was wobbled by a Leti right. Viejo then attempted to clown off the ropes one time too often and walked straight into an uppercut which stretched him out violently. The referee had no need to count, and the bout was called off in the opening stanza.

In the main undercard bout, former WBA world titlist Masalino Masoe returned to the ring, after an almost two-year absence, to fight Kashif Mumtaz. Despite inactivity and increased age, Masoe's class was immediately evident as he scored a hard knockdown with his first right hand. Mumtaz took heavy fire throughout the first, and was also forced to take a knee before the round finished. As hard as he tried, Masoe was clearly too many levels above Mumtaz, and his head was repeatedly snapped back by right hands and lead hooks. Still, Mumtaz's gameness could not be questioned, until midway through the fourth round when a cracking combination dropped him for the count.

Contact Crispin Anderlini to order images from specific fights


John Conway beat Fale Saialoa by unanimous decision

Afa Tatupu beat Junior Iakopo by TKO in round 2

Super Middleweight
The bout between Pele Faumuina and Gunner Jackson was declared a majority draw

Leti Leti beat Paz Viejo by KO in round 1

Light Heavyweight
Niusila Sieuli beat Warren Fuiava by split decision

Vaitele Soi beat Oscar Siale by split decision

Super Middleweight
Maselino Masoe beat Kasif Mumtaz by KO in round 4

TUA-LITY at David Tua's Backyard Boxing Brawl

Original can be found here

The moon is undoubtedly a powerful force. Whether its hitting your eye like a big pizza pie or turning people into werewolves, its by-and-large used as an excuse for polarizing behaviour. Enter David Tua, whose 18-year professional boxing career has seen him fight under two distinct guises: the aggressive power-punching Jekyl, or the lackluster Hyde. As the perigree moon hung enormous in the Manukau sky, one wondered exactly just what David Tua we would see.

Although he would come away with a wide decision win over American journeyman Demetrice King, we would see a mix of personalities as, after ten rounds of actions, all three judges gave South Auckland's favourite son the nod; and Tua his 52nd win in 57 professional boxing contests.

Fighting in his home of South Auckland for the first time as a professional, Tua jabbed and looked for openings, while Demetrice King provided a mostly stationary target and failed to capitalise on his considerable advantage in size. Instead of keeping Tua on the end of a stiff jab, he simply walked into Tua's strike zone with his hands held high. Tua bounced shots off of King all evening, and dished out more hooks than a Def Leppard concert, but seemed unable to hurt his foe who implored Tua to give him more. You got the feeling that, given the openings he was presented, the Tua of old would have been able to close the show on his rugged but limited opponent.

In many respects, it seemed clear that the Tua of old is gone. His much vaunted left hook has failed to dent anyone since 2007, his head movement has degraded and he seems unbalanced when taking punches. Don't get me wrong, there were flashes of these traits, however, they were only flashes. At times he looked driven and hungry, punched in fast combination and seemed intent on trying to make it an early night. Quite paradoxically, his left hand seems to be an old dog that has learned new tricks. Tua often doubled and sometimes tripled up on the jab, which was stiff and King's main deterrent.

Although Tua weighed in at 254 pounds, this seems to be about the right weight. He has looked too drained in his last couple of outings. His improvement in stamina has been evident nonetheless, and the whirlwind of pressure he asserted in the final seconds of the fight was a tactic that could have been employed more often. Offensively, the addition of a hard jab, and the use of more right hands upstairs, show that he is certainly able to adapt and learn as a fighter. When throwing in combination, Tua looked crisp and far less reliant on landing his infamous left hook.

Talks of potential bouts with either Evander Holyfield or a rematch with Monte Barrett will do little to help his cause. There are many fighters ranked in the top 15 by the four major sanctioning bodies who are better strategic choices. A third fight with Hasim Rahman seems the most obvious as he is ranked 15th by the WBC, is a ‘name' opponent who would only add to the money aspect and Tua already owns a stoppage win over the former world champion (as well as a draw). Since their 2004 draw, Rahman has actively called Tua out. Even offering to fight in New Zealand.

If Tua is serious about contending at a high level again, then acceptable efforts against fighters with losing records are not going to get him there. He needs to be impressive. He needs to be explosive. He needs to be David Tua.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mixed Judgement

Original can be found here

I am instantly impressed with the setup inside the ASB Stadium. ‘Judgement Day' looks remarkably like a ball and, like the balls I encountered in high school, I once again find myself dateless. However, this evening would provide 13 corporate and professional bouts, which is significantly more than my high school ball provided (although I hadn't been power chugging cheap alcohol in the car park tonight). Ahead of me was a regional world title fight, a four man tournament and the return to the ring of New Zealand kickboxing and boxing legend John "The Rebel" Conway. People were slow to file in but the stadium was all but full by the time the card began and the room brimmed with anticipation.

Patrons got to view a great stylistic match up between power-boxer Filipo Fonoti and defensive counterpuncher Atalili Fai. Fonoti came out looking very sharp in the opening round, rocking his opponent with solid right hands. Early in the second round, Fai is dropped to one knee by a Fonoti right hand before he is able to create countering opportunities and capitalize on his opponent's mistakes. Fonoti's muscular frame provide his fists with more than enough gunpowder and, although Fai is able to slip most his punches, those that do land hurt. The intensity hasn't waned in the third round and, every time he seems hurt, Fai manages to move and counter which is keeping Fonoti honest. The bout ends with all three judges giving it to Filipo Fonoti.

After an eight year absence, John "The Rebel" Conway returned to the ring to match his skills against Nuisila Seiuli. Conway comes out superbly confident and his pedigree immediately shows as he is able to land with his nifty hands. Although Seiuli his some sting in his punches, he is unable to worry Conway who is generally a couple of skillsets above. The veteran of 150+ fights in both boxing and kickboxing, is putting on a show for the crowd however you would think that he would be better served focusing his efforts on stopping Seiuli as he is clearly overmatched. The education in his hands and the granite in his chin have Conway winning every round on his way to a decision that was never going to be anything but unanimous.

The four man tournament final pitted dual southpaws Roger Adlam against Ryan Atkins. Adlam boxes clever early but, as he tires, Atkins is able to walk through his punches. The second round sees Atkins able to start open up with his hands and stringing together punches. The final stanza is heavily contested as both gladiators fight fiercely. An Atkins left wobbles Adlam, which is the most definitive punch in the fight, and swings the round in Atkins' favour. Ryan Atkins walks away the winner of the Judgement Day Four Man Tournament with a hard fought majority decision.

In the headlining fight, Serge Yannick defended his interim PABA supper middleweight title against Prince Hamid. Yannick sets the tone early, walking Hamid down, landing hard combinations and cracking his opponent with hard lead hooks. Yannick is winning every exchange from the get go and Hamid seems frustrated. He is not establishing any kind of jab as Yannick is able to close the distance untouched. Hamid's frustration is ever more evident after taking a shot that was slightly south of the border as he complains vigorously to the referee and to his opponent. It is more of the same until the middle of the fourth round as Hamid's anger towards his imminent defeat boils over and he unleashes a knee to Yannick's torso. The referee is merciless and immediately disqualifies Hamid to a chorus of boos from the crowd.

Glozier/Raffaeli and Ring Side promotions fared ok in their latest card. They were seriously hampered by a lot of withdrawals and, due to the mismatches that were a result of this, weren't quite able to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Full credit to both Filipo Finto and Atalili Fai, who provided the most interesting match up of the night. Ryan Atkins seems to thrive in any type of tournament format given his Judgement Day win and success in taking out the Last Man Standing tournament. He is a veritable warrior, like something out of a Jean Claude Van Damme movie, and his style of fighting is always entertaining to watch. Lastly, Serge Yannick looked strong and sharp in able to press all night and force Prince Hamid to disqualify himself. He seemed to simply break Hamid's will and, although the conclusion to the bout was disappointing, his display of skill was impressive.

Contact Stacey Simpkin to order images from specific fights


Denis Suka beat Charley Takanui by knockout in the first round

Jordan Roberts beat David Close by technical knockout in the third round

Barvi Colati beat Danny Ugapo by majority decision

James Anthony beat Tookes Teariki by unanimous decision

Judgement Day Four Man Tournament Preliminary 1
Ryan Atkins beat Ricardo Collado by unanimous decision

Judgement Day Four Man Tournament Preliminary 2
Roger Adlam beat Brendon Lochner by knockout in the first round

Isaac Peach beat Edwin Samy by unanimous decision

Filipo Finot beat Atalili Fai by unanimous decision

Lee Oti beat Fale Saialoa by unanimous decision

John Conway beat Nuisila Seiuli by unanimous decision

Afa Tatapu beat Ronnie Vaasa by knockout in the second round

Judgement Day Four Man Tournament Final
Ryan Atkins beat Roger Adlam by majority decision

PABA Super Middleweight Title Bout

Serge Yannick beat Prince Hamid by disqualification

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Butcher Beats The Meat On The Way To A Happy Ending

Original can be found here

It always felt like this evening meant more to everyone than just a showcase of amateur, corporate and professional boxing talent. With the Christchurch earthquake still tugging at our hearts, this night was a display of unity on the national fight scene. Christchurch would again rise and our nation would solidify and stand as one as the proceeds from the evening would all go to our brother from the south. Even if it would only be enough to buy him a round.

The A.B.A, once again, delivered a top notch card complete with 10 amateur bouts, 2 Corporate fights and professional action featuring maturing Monte Filimaea and top notch Robbie "The Butcher" Berridge. But first off, the amateur's would prove why the New Zealand boxing public NEED to keep them in their periphery.

Young prospect Bravely Matau eked out a disputed majority decision win over the talented Andrew Leuii early in the card. The rangy Leuii looked to use his reach in an attempt to offset Matau's aggression in the first round and landed a thudding lead hook. Matau had more success in the second round as he was able to close the distance on his tiring opponent however Leuii rallied late in the round with his long straight shots. Leuii was back on the offensive in the third, looking very Thomas Hearns-esque and snapping Matau's head back with another lead hook. With Matau backed on the ropes, Leuii flurries which forces to the referee to step in and administer a standing 8 count however his efforts are just not enough in the eyes of the judges.

Caleb Lloyd continued to impress in decisioning friend Mose Auimatagi. Auimatagi comes out hard early but Lloyd is cool under fire and is able to prevent anything of note from landing before connecting with a left hand from his southpaw stance. Lloyd is rocked by a right hand early in the second but again shows great poise in able to dance work his way out of trouble and cause problems with his volume punching, cute combinations and accuracy. Auimatagi is by far the harder puncher but just does not throw in sustain combinations nor is able to pin down the slick Lloyd. He comes out fast at the beginning of the third, landing a couple of powerful punches however Lloyd shows maturity beyond his years and is not discouraged by the leather he is eating. The bout ends with Lloyd's ring generalship being the most dominant factor.

In professional action, Monte Filimaea displayed a greatly improved offence, and looked superbly conditioned, in his stoppage over late replacement James Ouka. After an early ‘feeling out' period Filimaea appears to hurt Ouka with an overhand right. Soon after, a leaping left hook drops Ouka hard on his back. He is able to rise, but hasn't seemed to shake off the cobwebs. At the end of the first round, Filimaea again plants another dynamite left hook on Ouka and lands a right hand as his opponent is falling. Ouka is saved by the bell but cedes defeat between rounds giving Filimaea his first win. This was a great performance by Filimaea, who has been in tough bouts with some of the best fighters in the country (Robbie Berridge, Jake Revill, Shane Chapman). The change in trainers seems to have done wonders as he punched with purpose, showed improved discipline and looked conditioned.

Robbie Berridge showed great poise in earning a wide decision win over human anvil Fale Saialoa. Berridge starts the bout well, landing upstairs and down, hurting Saialoa with a straight left hand then dropping him with a three-punch combination. Saialoa spends much of the bout in the corner, covering and taking more shots than a guy on his stag do. Berridge, known for relishing a dust up, is resisting the urge to trade wildly and spends the mid rounds wearing Saialoa down with landing cracking shots and sharp combinations. Saialoa's chin is one of the best in the business, however, he offers little offensively and seems intent on just surviving. "The Butcher" ups the ante in the sixth and final round, rattling Saialoa before another three-punch combination forces the referee to step in an administer a standing 8 count. Saialoa appears to be just beat up at this point but is still on his feet at the final bell after weathering a sustained barrage. Although he was unable to stop Saialoa, it needs to be noted that it would be difficult with anything less than a sledgehammer. Berridge exhibited composure and discipline in executing his game plan and looked to be only a round or two from turning out the lights (maybe).

There were plenty of other highlights during the night; Ethan Kuletea's threw a left hand that near beheaded Mike Pirini, prompting a collective "ooooohhhh" from the crowd, heavyweight Max Ta'asi's wide powerpunching thrilled and Delter Ingles showed versatility in being tight at a distance and strong on the inside however this night truly belonged to Berridge. "The Butcher" showed he could box as well as brawl, displayed poise against an opponent he couldn't simply overwhelm. If he and Jake Revill both follow on the same trajectory, then a match between them both would set the Kiwi boxing scene alight.


Amateur Bouts

John Francis (CityGym) beat Rangi Rakena (Kaeo Boxing Club) by unanimous decision

Bravely Matau (Revill's Boxing Gym) beat Andrew Leuii (Juiceman's Way) by majority decision

Joel Smith (Kaeo Boxing Club) beat James Walker (Tappy's Boxing Gym) by unanimous decision

Anvil Pillay (Papatoetoe Boxing Club) beat Raetihi May (Whangarei Boxing) by majority decision

Caleb Lloyd
(A.B.A) beat Mose Auimatagi (Papatoetoe Boxing Club) by majority decision

Ethan Kulatea (Revill's Boxing Gym) beat Mike Pirini (Kaeo Boxing Club) by unanimous decision

Jonah Sulau (Papatoetoe Boxing Club) beat Johnny Gose (Whangarei Boxing) by majority decision

Super Heavyweight
Dempsey Wilkins (Tappy's Boxing Gym) beat Patrick Mailata (Tappy's Boxing Gym) by majority decision

Max Ta'asi (A.B.A) beat Nick Luke (Kings Boxing Gym) by majority decision

Delter Ingles (Revill's Boxing Gym beat Hale Faiumu (Tappy's Boxing Gym) by unanimous decision

Corporate Bouts

Light Middleweight
The bout between Rima Pittman and Junior Birbal ended in a split draw

Rashaad Isaac beat Scooby Kalolo by majority decision


Monte Filimaea beat James Ouka by TKO when Ouka quit on his stool after the 1st round

Light Heavyweight
Robbie Berridge beat Fale Saialoa by unanimous decision