Friday, September 2, 2022

Women’s Boxing Shines Bright At Thunderdome 39


Credit: Dragon Fire Boxing
In a battle for the vacant WBA Women’s Oceania Light-Flyweight championship, Sarah Higginson outworked Charimae Salvador over six rounds to earn a unanimous decision victory in the main event of Dragon Fire Boxing’s Thunderdome 39 card on Friday night at Metro City Nightclub in Northbridge, Australia. A fight that was fought at an extremely high pace from the opening bell and saw several heated exchanges of punches, it was Higginson’s greater work rate that was ultimately the difference in a very competitive contest. Sarah Higginson advances to 4-2-1, with 1 Knockout. Charimae Salvador falls to 5-5, with 2 Knockouts. 

Also on this card:


Former Australian youth Amateur national champion Ben Innes made his professional debut in the Featherweight division by scoring a workmanlike four round unanimous decision over Zainul Hasan. The main story of this fight was Innes’ lateral movement, combination punching, and a systematic body attack that only increased with each round. Innes would ultimately be credited with a knockdown in the closing seconds of the fight when a combination to the body caused Hasan to drop his mouthpiece for the fourth time in the fight, but this time the ring ropes prevented him from going down. Ben Innes advances to 1-0, with 0 Knockouts. Zainul Hasan falls to 1-7, with 0 Knockouts.


In a Heavyweight bout, undefeated Alick Williams survived a knockdown in the third round to score a four round unanimous decision over a debuting Makoni Mafi. A fight that was fought at a measured pace saw Williams generally dictating the combat and landing the cleaner shots. In round three however, Mafi sent him to the canvas with a short left hook to the jaw. Although Williams did not appear hurt, in a four round bout, a knockdown can very well lead to a victory. Any advantage Mafi had was negated in round four when he was deducted a point for holding. Alick Williams advances to 2-0, with 0 Knockouts. Makoni Mafi falls to 0-1, with 0 Knockouts.


Undefeated Middleweight Jordan La Ruccia scored a first round knockout of veteran Rin Kobar. Kobar, who was a late substitute for original opponent Liam O’Connor was dropped by a left hook to the liver that sent him down in excruciating pain and unable to continue. Official time of the stoppage was :46 of round one. Jordan La Ruccia advances to 4-0, with 2 Knockouts. Rin Kobar falls to 3-4, with 0 Knockouts.


Also in the Middleweight division, unbeaten Jude Grant scored a dominant four round unanimous decision over Habib Kheirkhah. Grant, who made his pro debut earlier this year with a first round knockout at Thunderdome 38 back in May, appeared as though he was on his way to making it 2 for 2 as he quickly dropped Kheirkhah with a left hook to the liver that forced Kheirkhah to take a knee. Under most circumstances, a body shot like that normally brings an end to the fight, but to his credit, Kheirkhah was able to beat the count and continued the fight. Grant however, continued his consistent body attack and remained in control the rest of the way to earn the unanimous decision victory. Jude Grant advances to 2-0, with 1 Knockout.  Habib Kheirkhah falls to 0-2, with 0 Knockouts.


Women’s Jr. Middleweight Courtney Martin began her professional career with a second round stoppage of Tianna McKee. Martin was simply too much for McKee who took some significant punishment throughout. In round two McKee was getting hit cleanly that the referee opted for a rare standing eight count in professional Boxing likely to evaluate whether McKee could continue. The referee tried to give her the benefit of doubt, but moments later, a barrage of flush hooks to the head forced the referee to stop the fight. Official time of the stoppage was 1:30 of round two. Courtney Martin advances to 1-0, with 1 Knockout. Tianna McKee falls to 0-1, with 0 Knockouts.


Middleweight Ryan Daye, an ex-Cricket star successfully made his professional debut by scoring a first round knockout of Bahtiyar Sonyol, who was also making his pro debut. Daye connected with several hard shots during the round and put  Sonyol on his back and out with a right hook to the head. The bout was immediately stopped midway through the count Official time of the stoppage was 1:34 of round one. Ryan Daye advances to 1-0, with 1 Knockout. Bahtiyar Sonyol falls to 0-1, with 0 Knockouts.  


In the women’s Jr. Middleweight division between fighters making their respective professional debuts, Sophia Davies-Morgan and Natalie Moeahu Pehi engaged in a four round slugfest. For four rounds, both women went toe to toe in a bout that frankly became impossible to score as they met each other punch for punch. After four physically exhausting round Moeahu Pehi earned a hard fought majority decision to begin her career. Natalie Moeahu Pehi advances to 1-0, with 0 Knockouts. Sophia Davies Morgan falls to 0-1, with 0 Knockouts.


Featherweight Simon Geberat successfully made his professional debut by scoring a four round unanimous decision over Amit Thapa. This fight saw several heated exchanges of punches between the two fighters, but the main difference was the lateral movement, defense, and cleaner offense of Geberat. Geberat was credited with a knockdown of Thapa in the closing seconds of the final round, from what initially appeared to be a slip, but in fact Geberat did land a short punch to the head. Simon Geberat advances to 1-0, with 0 Knockouts. Amit Thapa falls to 0-4, with 0 Knockouts.


The evening began with three exhibition bouts. First in the Light-Heavyweight division Marcus Di Lisa scored a three round unanimous decision over Max Criddle. Di Lisa forced the fight from the opening bell and displayed a full arsenal to the body and head of his opponent. Criddle was able to have moments periodically, but simply had no way to keep Di Lisa off of him. This was followed by Welterweight Lukas Vanecek who scored a one punch first round knockout of Zac Johnson. A straight right hand to the head sent Johnson down hard in the closing seconds of the first round. The bout was immediately stopped. Official time of the stoppage was 1:50 of round one.  Finally, Jr. Middleweights Liam Clayton and Dominic Kennedy engaged in a three round toe to toe battle. The dynamic of the fight was Clayton coming forward with constant punches and try to suffocate Kennedy with pressure, but Kennedy countering effectively with flush hooks and uppercuts to the head throughout.  In the end, Clayton’s constant pressure were enough for him to earn the nod of two of the three judges giving him a hard fought split decision victory.


In previewing this card earlier this week, this observer stated having covered several previous Thunderdome events that the Thunderdome series has a little something for every Boxing fan and through its history, the series has proven to be unpredictable and must see. Simply put, you never know what you are going to see. Thunderdome 39 certainly did not disappoint as there was no shortage of knockouts, competitive bouts, and a few surprises as well. Moreover, this edition in the series shined a bright spotlight on the women competing in the sport and it is a testament to not only the continuing evolution of Women’s Boxing in terms of growth, but also in terms of entertainment value that three women’s bouts were featured on this card including the main event. For Sarah Higginson, the WBA Oceania regional championship in the Light-Flyweight division will likely springboard her into a potential world championship fight in the near future. Whether or not that fight headlines a future Thunderdome event remains to be seen, but if it can be materialized, based on the action this card produced, it may not be a bad idea for promoter Tony Tolj and Dragon Fire Boxing to think of staging a world title fight as part of the series. If it also continues to focus the spotlight on Women’s Boxing, all the better.


“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

Promotional poster Courtesy of: Dragon Fire Boxing Used with permission.

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