By Craig Watt
After ten weeks on the Fox 8 channel every Monday evening The Australian Contender series now enters the final stages of the tournament with the semi-final line up now complete for a double-header feature episode on the 4th January. In an interesting variation on the series here in Australia the winner of the tournament will face off with former two time WBA super-middleweight and former IBO middleweight champion Anthony “The Man” Mundine in 2010 for a guaranteed purse of $250,000. The final of the tournament will be held as the chief supporting bout at the Sydney Entertainment Centre on January 11th when Mundine challenges for the IBO junior-middleweight title against fellow Australian Rob Medley. It will be a PPV event on Main Events throughout Australia.
The series has done well in the ratings in Australia at a high point for boxing with Danny Green’s win over Roy Jones Jr on December 2nd giving Australian boxing some major media coverage in the country.
In the top half of the draw Russian Victor Oganov (30-2, 28 KO’s), from Perth has impressed in beating previously unbeaten Australian middleweight champion Junior Talipeau and then outpointed Sonni Michael Angelo in a unanimous decision over five rounds last week.
He takes on relatively inexperienced Garth Wood 5-1 (3) in the first semi final who stopped Israel Kani in two rounds in impressive fashion in week seven when it appeared two bad cuts were going to force a stoppage against him. A heavy right stopped the fight at 2.14 of the second for the Sydney fighter just in time.
Both fighters received bad cuts over both eyes in the quarter finals which may prove a decisive factor in the short healing time before next week’s semi-final match up.
In the lower half of the draw last week veteran Josh Clenshaw (28-16,13 KO’s) upset highly regarded Kiwi Daniel Mckinnon (13-5, 8 KO’s) when he won over five rounds by scores of 50-45, 48-47 and the third judge scoring a draw 48-48.
In an entertaining fight both fighters worked well on the inside but Clenshaw landed the more hurtful punches and opened up a nasty cut over the Kiwi’s right eye in the fourth with a good left hook. He deserved his win and always seemed in command.
Clenshaw will face-off against Kenyan Kariz Kariuki (20-7, 18 KO’s) who this week won a unanimous decision over five rounds when he defeated experienced Nader Hamden (42-7, 18 KO’s) who was a previous challenger to Mundine for the WBA 168 pound title.
The series has seen many boxing personalities visit the specially prepared camp at the Sydney Olympic Village including Sugar Ray Leonard who came over from the US where the series originated.
The boxers have been helped by trainers Paul Briggs and Billy Hussein and mentored by the legendary trainer Johnny Lewis who trained both Jeff Fenech and Kostya Tszyu in his time.
The double header semi final will be shown in Australia on Monday 4th January at 8.30pm AEST on Fox 8