It always felt like this evening meant more to everyone than just a showcase of amateur, corporate and professional boxing talent. With the Christchurch earthquake still tugging at our hearts, this night was a display of unity on the national fight scene. Christchurch would again rise and our nation would solidify and stand as one as the proceeds from the evening would all go to our brother from the south. Even if it would only be enough to buy him a round.
The A.B.A, once again, delivered a top notch card complete with 10 amateur bouts, 2 Corporate fights and professional action featuring maturing Monte Filimaea and top notch Robbie "The Butcher" Berridge. But first off, the amateur's would prove why the New Zealand boxing public NEED to keep them in their periphery.
Young prospect Bravely Matau eked out a disputed majority decision win over the talented Andrew Leuii early in the card. The rangy Leuii looked to use his reach in an attempt to offset Matau's aggression in the first round and landed a thudding lead hook. Matau had more success in the second round as he was able to close the distance on his tiring opponent however Leuii rallied late in the round with his long straight shots. Leuii was back on the offensive in the third, looking very Thomas Hearns-esque and snapping Matau's head back with another lead hook. With Matau backed on the ropes, Leuii flurries which forces to the referee to step in and administer a standing 8 count however his efforts are just not enough in the eyes of the judges.
Caleb Lloyd continued to impress in decisioning friend Mose Auimatagi. Auimatagi comes out hard early but Lloyd is cool under fire and is able to prevent anything of note from landing before connecting with a left hand from his southpaw stance. Lloyd is rocked by a right hand early in the second but again shows great poise in able to dance work his way out of trouble and cause problems with his volume punching, cute combinations and accuracy. Auimatagi is by far the harder puncher but just does not throw in sustain combinations nor is able to pin down the slick Lloyd. He comes out fast at the beginning of the third, landing a couple of powerful punches however Lloyd shows maturity beyond his years and is not discouraged by the leather he is eating. The bout ends with Lloyd's ring generalship being the most dominant factor.
In professional action, Monte Filimaea displayed a greatly improved offence, and looked superbly conditioned, in his stoppage over late replacement James Ouka. After an early ‘feeling out' period Filimaea appears to hurt Ouka with an overhand right. Soon after, a leaping left hook drops Ouka hard on his back. He is able to rise, but hasn't seemed to shake off the cobwebs. At the end of the first round, Filimaea again plants another dynamite left hook on Ouka and lands a right hand as his opponent is falling. Ouka is saved by the bell but cedes defeat between rounds giving Filimaea his first win. This was a great performance by Filimaea, who has been in tough bouts with some of the best fighters in the country (Robbie Berridge, Jake Revill, Shane Chapman). The change in trainers seems to have done wonders as he punched with purpose, showed improved discipline and looked conditioned.
Robbie Berridge showed great poise in earning a wide decision win over human anvil Fale Saialoa. Berridge starts the bout well, landing upstairs and down, hurting Saialoa with a straight left hand then dropping him with a three-punch combination. Saialoa spends much of the bout in the corner, covering and taking more shots than a guy on his stag do. Berridge, known for relishing a dust up, is resisting the urge to trade wildly and spends the mid rounds wearing Saialoa down with landing cracking shots and sharp combinations. Saialoa's chin is one of the best in the business, however, he offers little offensively and seems intent on just surviving. "The Butcher" ups the ante in the sixth and final round, rattling Saialoa before another three-punch combination forces the referee to step in an administer a standing 8 count. Saialoa appears to be just beat up at this point but is still on his feet at the final bell after weathering a sustained barrage. Although he was unable to stop Saialoa, it needs to be noted that it would be difficult with anything less than a sledgehammer. Berridge exhibited composure and discipline in executing his game plan and looked to be only a round or two from turning out the lights (maybe).
There were plenty of other highlights during the night; Ethan Kuletea's threw a left hand that near beheaded Mike Pirini, prompting a collective "ooooohhhh" from the crowd, heavyweight Max Ta'asi's wide powerpunching thrilled and Delter Ingles showed versatility in being tight at a distance and strong on the inside however this night truly belonged to Berridge. "The Butcher" showed he could box as well as brawl, displayed poise against an opponent he couldn't simply overwhelm. If he and Jake Revill both follow on the same trajectory, then a match between them both would set the Kiwi boxing scene alight.