Boxing at Darwin, Saturday 27th February 2016

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There’s not much goes on in Darwin. It doesn’t tend to be included when bands are arranging their tour schedules and the sport is local rather than national level.

I was therefore quite pleased when I saw a night of boxing planned, particularly when I read that it featured a bout for the Heavyweight Championship of the World. Really? In Darwin? Well, yes and no. It was for a heavyweight title, but that of the WBF.

It’s hard to keep track of all the champions these days but as belts go the WBF strap is in Bank of Princess Susy territory. I think Audley Harrison had it for a while and maybe even ‘Aussie’ Joe Bugner. They were definitely high points for the organisation though and this promotion was matching boxers with world rankings of 104 and 211 respectively.

Still, it’s a night out and with our $125 dollar tickets Jen and I got seats on the front row of the banked seating, just behind the tables of people scoffing steak and prawns.

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If the headline fight promised little, the undercard delivered less. It was all heavyweights and the first bout appeared to be between two blokes who had just left the pub. The one with the bigger belly was nicknamed ‘The Knife’, something which I’m sure must have caused some trepidation for his opponent.

‘The Knife’ was less keen on fighting than he was on, say, chopping vegetables and he kept falling to the canvas whenever the other fella  aimed a punch in his direction. Eventually the ref could take no more and stopped proceedings on the three knockdown rule.

Fight two featured a baldy bouncer who had so many folds of fat on the back of his head that it looked like his brain was escaping. He also had little desire to stick around with someone trying to punch him in the chops and whilst he complained bitterly when the ref stepped in you could tell that his mind was already on a shower and a beer.

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Next up was an aboriginal bloke who seemed to be fighting in underwear boxer shorts rather than boxing boxer shorts. He also just wore normal trainers. Despite his lack of proper gear he seemed quite good. Unfortunately he looked to have been matched against someone twice his size and the other bloke just pushed down on him until he wore him out.

Fight four had an international flavour to it with Clarence Tillman from New Orleans fighting what might have been a Russian bloke.The skinny Russian didn’t have much of a punch on him but it was sufficient to cause Tillman, who had bigger tits than most of the ring girls,to quit in his corner.

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The penultimate bout was for the Australian Heavyweight Championship. It was won by Willie Nasio who looked a class above his determined but limited opponent. I reckon Nasio, despite his relative inexperience would have coped easily with either of the headlining heavyweights.

And so to the main event.  Peter ‘the Chief’ Graham from Australia against an American, Julius Long. Forty and thirty-eight years old respectively, it had probably been a while since either had dreamed of holding the Heavyweight Championship of the World.

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Long, at an inch over seven feet tall, had an obvious reach advantage and Graham found it hard to get through to him. One lunge caused a clash of heads opening up a cut on the Australian’s head which a few rounds later was deemed severe enough for the fight to be stopped. The cut was ruled accidental and so it went to the cards. Graham was declared the winner.

I had Graham a point ahead at that stage, as did one of the judges. The other two officials had him four and five rounds in front respectively.

Whilst the majority of the crowd got the result that they had been hoping for, the confusing finish and the scoring that didn’t reflect the closeness of the fight caused a bit of an uproar. Peter Graham calmed things down by offering a re-match but I’d be surprised if it happens. I’ll be especially surprised if it happens in Darwin.

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