28/05/2024

L to R: Jalen Tait, Peter Sa'lesui and Vegas Larfield all picked up wins on May 7 in Brisbane - Photos: Combat Analytics/Facebook

Despite starting in entertaining fashion, ACE Boxing Group's Kelleher vs Sa'lesui II event ended in rather unusual circumstances.

Brisbane’s Royal International Convention Centre was the site of a very unconventional night of fights, as ACE Boxing Group staged their Kelleher vs Sa’lesui II event.

Starting like a ‘house on fire,’ forces beyond the promotion’s control caused the most unusual ending to an otherwise entertaining card. As a result, the highly anticipated headlining bout between Ben Kelleher and Peter Sa’lesui did not form part of the television broadcast.

Understandably, this has caused a number of key topics to break down in detail. So, without further ado, here are the top five talking points from Kelleher vs Sa’lesui II.

Main event a near non-event

In their main event rematch, Peter Sa’lesui (10-0-1, 7 KOs) made it two from two against Ben Kelleher (15-5-2, 4 KOs), defeating the veteran via split decision (75-76, 76-75, 77-74) to capture the IBO Oceania-Orient Cruiserweight title.

Sadly, this is about as much as we know of the fight.

Prior to the headline act, ACE Boxing commentator Andy Raymond stated that a medical emergency inside the venue caused a halt to the broadcast. This meant that the highly anticipated show closing contest was not available to viewers watching on BeIN Sports or Kayo.

Immediately, and understandably, thoughts turned to the health of patrons. Disappointing for those wanting to watch the fight, but safety is definitely of paramount importance in a situation like this.

Those with access to Instagram however, were able to watch the action thanks to live streams provided on the platform by people in attendance.

From the vision available, it appeared that a tactical fight ensued. While Sa’lesui found success with his jab, Kelleher scored by slipping past the lead hand and fighting on the inside.

After eight gruelling rounds, the decision was awarded to Sa’lesui, who remains undefeated through 11 fights. At 28 years old, the Auckland born Melbournian will now have his eyes fixed on continuing to climb the ranks of the domestic scene.

As for Kelleher, the former Australian champion is set to hang up his gloves. The 34 year old will forever be remembered as a combatant who always fought the best available competition, battling the likes of Jai Opetaia (21-0, 17 KOs) and Mark Flanagan (26-9, 19 KOs) in his 22 fight career.

Contentious finish sees Tait take home first professional title

From the moment it was announced, the Australasian Lightweight title fight between Jalen Tait (8-0, 4 KOs) and Manuer Matet (4-3, 2 KOs) was predicted to create buzz.

The busy southpaw in Tait, matched with the pressure of the lanky Matet, promised to be a clash of styles worth paying attention to.

For the most part, the bout played out according to script. Unfortunately, it is not the quality of the contest that will dominate the fall out.

During the first six of eight scheduled rounds, the pair traded bruising shots. As the seventh approached, each man could have realistically laid claim to being ahead on the scorecards.

Fighting like he was behind still, Tait opened the round strong, landing a left hand that rocked his opponent into a corner. What followed was a big flurry of around 20 punches that seemed to be catching the gloves of Matet, who had by now covered up.

Despite not wearing the full force of the blows, no punches were fired in return. This was enough evidence for referee John Watson to step in and stop the fight.

The response elicited from Matet and his coach Rodney Williams was one of immediate anger. It was their belief that the stoppage was a premature one. Upon replay and reflection, a strong case for both letting the fight continue and halting proceedings can be made.

Regardless, the win is the biggest of the blossoming career of Tait, who walks away with his first professional title. Undefeated and still only 20 years old, ‘The Wolf’ appears ready to take a leap into the top tier of Australia’s Lightweight division.

Calculated Larfield remains undefeated

Ladies and gentlemen, be sure to remember the name, Vegas Larfield (6-0, 5 KOs).

The surging All Star Boxing gym prospect again showed why pundits have earmarked him for big things in the sport, scoring a second round stoppage over India’s Adil Singh (5-3).

Each time Larfield competes, a new wrinkle seemingly emerges in the 19 year old’s game. This time, he showed an ability to stay disciplined and patient. Although Singh was able to sneak a few right hands through the guard, the Queenslander did not get drawn into a firefight.

Moreover, Larfield read his opponent’s movements beautifully, capitalising on every opening presented. Of note, a snapping right hook found it’s mark in response to Singh’s jab.

Smelling blood in the water and seeing his foe was hurt, Larfield soon pounced and stalked. After a heavy contingent of punches wobbled the away fighter, the referee was forced to call a halt to the bout.

The performance of the teenager was a particularly telling one, providing a glimpse into a potentially great future. As such, we as a boxing public should temper our expectations accordingly. Larfield is very much a developing fighter.

The incremental growth shown each time he fights is enough to cause incredible excitement, though.

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Hussain and Pavlides provide six rounds of non-stop action

A current trend in domestic boxing seems to be a willingness to match up Australia’s impressive young prospects.

This, in part, has been aided by the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the sport over the past two years. The closure of shows and interruptions to travel has limited the potential for developing talent to gain time in the ring.

As a result, we are seeing more fighters put their hand up and accept tough challenges. Often, the bouts create even and entertaining spectacles for fans to enjoy.

At 23 and 19 years old respectively, Benny Hussain (5-1, 3 KOs) and Joel Pavlides (2-1-1) embody this very movement.

The pair of Middleweights did not take a backwards step in their six round contest, each giving their all in pursuit of victory. Though the more experienced Hussain won a unanimous decision (58-56 x 3), the two did not lose stock from the exceptional bout.

Both men started fast, trading ferociously on the inside with attacks to the body. While Hussain controlled the ring, Pavlides landed with his back to the ropes. As the rounds wore on, the pace of the fight somehow seemed to increase.

Entering the final two rounds, it was clear to both combatants that the close contest was there to be taken. Here, Hussain took over, switching stances and landing combinations to the head. Even in the face of a Pavlides that began to stalk in the final three minutes, Hussain scored with clean punches.

The victory makes it three wins in a row for ‘The Hype Beast,’ whose career is back on track after his sole loss to Ben Mahoney (12-0, 6 KOs) in 2020.

Exceptional Esilva returns with a bang

After suffering his first career loss to Austin Aokuso (2-0, 1 KO) in March, Cruiserweight Ricky Esilva (5-1, 4 KOs) returned to the winners column with a fourth round stoppage of Lui Masters (1-1, 1 KO).

Tasked with a heavy handed and hard swinging opponent, the 23 year old displayed incredible composure in the win. This was particularly evident in the opening round, where a straight right, followed by a left hook from Esilva dropped the game Masters.

From here, ‘The Punisher’ lived up to his moniker, following his crisp, straight punches to the head with damaging body rips. Ulitmately, a flush right hand to the mid section proved to be the fight ending blow in the fourth.

The near flawless performance turned in by Esilva is a nice reminder that the Queensland based Kiwi still intends on having a say in the future makeup of Australia’s stacked Cruiserweight division.

For all of the results from ACE Boxing’s Kelleher vs Sa’lesui II card, click here.

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