A card stacked with some of our brightest young boxing charges, No Limit Boxing’s Garside vs Matet event gave a glimpse into the depth’s of Australia’s talent pool.
From 2020 Olympians, to skilled debutants and returning prospects, a number of fighters took the opportunity to turn in eye catching performances.
As a result, fans were able to see what may lie in store for the sport beyond 2022.
Without further ado, here are the five biggest talking points from the action-packed card.
Garside proves class on way to Australian title
Entering his second professional fight, many questions surrounded Tokyo 2020 bronze medalist Harry Garside (2-0, 1 KO) following his December debut. Specifically, these centred around his transition from the amateur game.
Does his ‘stick and move’ style, predicated on precision over power, suit professional boxing? Can he stand up to the heavy blows from big punchers? Does he have the stamina needed to fight longer bouts? All of these queries arose ahead of Garside’s main event with Manuer Matet (4-2, 2 KOs).
This, in part, is due to the way his first contest ended. That night, a controversial first round TKO left many of these apprehensions unaddressed.
Moreover, some concerns arose over the nature of the fight. Also viewed as a fighter with a bright future, many believed Matet had the ability to not just give Garside a tough bout, but to hand him an early career loss.
The 24 year old responded in emphatic fashion on Wednesday night however, winning a wide unanimous decision (99-91, 98-92 x 2) to take home the Australian Lightweight title.
Throughout 10 hard fought rounds, Garside withstood the challenge of a game opponent. Each time Matet pressed forward to trap and unload heavy punches, his gloves would seemingly find air. Though some body rips did find their mark, it felt like the Olympian could not be touched at times, such was his elusiveness.
In attack, the unrelenting southpaw strung together sharp combinations, most notably landing his left hand as he exited range.
The impressive showcase of all-round skill almost saw the fight end early, as a punching barrage staggered Matet at the end of the ninth round.
Although the stoppage was not secured, the rising star proved that his boxing knowledge and craft is not to be taken lightly. With a decisive victory over a well regarded opponent under his belt, it is abundantly clear that Garside has the potential to be one of the future faces of the sport in Australia.
Sims and Dargan combine for eight amazing minutes
In most years, the fight of the year is awarded to long and gruelling bouts. The ‘wars of attrition,’ often fought by two competitors giving everything until the final bell, regularly take the honours. Rarely do we see four round contests stake a claim in this category.
Rules often have exceptions, though.
Both making their professional debuts, Ashleigh Sims (0-0-1) and Shanell Dargan (0-0-1) threw caution to the wind across eight incredibly action packed minutes.
The pair showed an incredible amount of toughness and vigour, throwing punches with fight ending intentions time and again. Of note, both Sims and Dargan landed power punches on the back of slips past their opponent’s jab.
As a result, each competitor had to bounce back from multiple instances of being on wobbly legs.
Having seemingly dropped the first two rounds to Dargan, Sims displayed an immense level of heart and determination in the second half of the fight to level the equation.
When the final bell rang, the scorecards could not separate the combatants. While one judge saw the fight in favour of Dargan, the other two scored the bout even, resulting in a majority draw (39-37, 38-38 x 2).
So moved by the contest, promoter George Rose took to the ring to praise Sims and Dargan, before awarding a $5000 bonus to the pair – a just reward for an amazing fight.
Immediately, calls were made by fans online and in attendence for a rematch. Should onlookers get their wish, all signs indicate that they will almost certainly be given their money’s worth again.
Golden debut for Aokuso
While Harry Garside garnered a lot of attention at the top of the bill, his Tokyo 2020 teammate Paulo Aokuso (1-0, 1 KO) also announced himself in style on the night.
Making his professional debut, the 24 year old southpaw captured the Australasian Light Heavyweight title with a dominant fifth round TKO of Michael Van Nimwegen (11-8, 5 KOs).
Straight away, Aokuso showed his class, landing a straight left hand that put Van Nimwegen down in the opening minute. From here, he fought with a high level of calculation, using his length to establish distance between he and his opponent.
Though the vastly more experienced Van Nimwegen had pockets of success, his attacks were no match for his opponent’s superior speed and head movement.
Sensing a finish was near, Aokuso picked up the pace in the third round, securing a flash knockdown in the closing stages. While Van Nimwegen returned gallantly in the fourth, he spent most of it trapped against the ropes, wearing heavy body blows.
A third knockdown just minutes later ultimately led to the towel being thrown on Van Nimwegen’s behalf in the fifth round.
In victory, Aokuso displayed a high level of skill, patience and maturity. He also captured a second professional title for his family, after brother Austin (2-0, 1 KO) won the Queensland Cruiserweight belt in March.
With all of the attributes required to become a stars in the sport, the boxing brothers appear to be on a trajectory towards fighting Australia’s best big men.
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Hamdan showcases serious talent
On the topic of boxing’s family ties, Hassan Hamdan (4-0, 1 KO) returned after a 10 month lay off to earn a commanding unanimous decision win (50-45 x 3) over a brave Ryan Cotten (5-9-2, 3 KOs).
The son of former World title challenger Nader Hamdan (44-14-1, 19 KOs), Hassan showcased the broad array of punches in his arsenal. Typical of Jeff Fenech trained fighters, the 24 year old targetted the body with sharp, heavy attacks throughout the fifteen minute affair.
Of note, a heavy left rip to follow his ‘one-two’ combinations scored on numerous occasions.
Regardless of the scorecards showing a wide margin, the surging Welterweight was made to seriously earn his victory. Dealing with a swarm of heavy punches in each of the five rounds, Cotten showed a high level of resilience in lasting to the final bell.
The battle-tested veteran had some successful moments, landing his right hand across the final two rounds, but these were few and far between. The sheer volume thrown in return proved to be the decisive factor in proceedings.
Now undefeated in his four contests to date, 2022 could turn out to be a big year for Hamdan. In fact, it would not fall outside of the realm of possibility for the second generation pugilist to see himself in an Australian title fight in the near future.
Blizzard far from cold in professional debut
A five year absence from boxing competition was not enough to halt the professional debut of Tyler Blizzard (1-0). The Tasmanian turned in an impressive performance across four rounds to defeat Daniel Hardwood (1-1, 1 KO).
Starting at an incredibly fast pace, Blizzard scored two knockdowns across the opening two rounds.
The second of these was jaw dropping, resulting from what could lay claim to being the ‘punch of the night.’
Though Blizzard had already landed a number of left hooks, none had the impact of the jarring punch that sat Harwood down in the final seconds of round two. So impactful was the blow, that former World champion Barry Michael was almost left speechless on commentary.
Surprisingly, Harwood returned for the third looking the fresher of the pair. Not content to take part, the Yorkshire born 28 year old made phenomenal adjustments in the remaining six minutes.
Taking the fight to the inside, Harwood peppered the body of Blizzard, who was unable to freely use his footwork and reach to land punches.
Despite such a spirited effort, the early knockdowns proved to be too much to overcome on the judges cards, with Blizzard taking a unanimous decision (38-37, 38-36 x 2).
For all of the results from No Limit Boxing’s Garside vs Matet card, click here.
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