|John Hopoate stuns Bob Mirovic to annex the Australian heavyweight title
By Anthony Cocks, DoghouseBoxing.com (Sept 11, 2008) Doghouse Boxing
Former rugby league bad boy John Hopoate 10-2 (10) showed stunning improvement to lift the Australian heavyweight title from veteran ‘Big’ Bob Mirovic 29-20-2 (20) with a ninth round stoppage at the Gold Coast Convention Centre in Queensland, Australia on Wednesday night.
After a see-sawing eight rounds Hopoate unleashed a savage salvo to drop the 42-year-old Mirovic late in the ninth. Mirovic found his feet but his trainer Jeff Fenech had seen enough and threw in the towel
to end the fights at the 2:53 mark.
The highly anticipated matchup heated up in the weeks leading up to the fight as Mirovic and Hopoate traded barbs in the media with both big men promising victory via knockout.
"The fight won't go the distance because I'm too big, dangerous and experienced," boasted Mirovic during the week.
"I'm not worried about Bob,” said Hopoate. “I'm going to knock him out. My plan is to send him into an early retirement. He's been around too long now, it's time to put his feet up."
The entertaining slugfest played to the script from the opening bell with the tank-like Hopoate taking the fight up to Mirovic and roughing him up on the inside. A clean right hook found its mark early in the round, but Hopoate was subsequently warned for using his head and throwing Mirovic to the canvas. Referee Brad Vocale wasn’t prepared to let either man get away with infringements and warned Mirovic for hitting on the break.
The second round developed into a good old fashioned slugfest. Mirovic stunned Hopoate early, but the challenger rallied back to land his fair share of right hand bombs on Mirovic to close out the round.
Hopoate’s roughhousing earned him a point deduction in the third for reckless use of his head, but his right hand continued to find a home on Mirovic’s chin. By the fourth Hopoate’s workrate was beginning to catch up with him and Mirovic chipped away with solid body shots and used his substantial weight to lean on Hopoate in the clinches.
The fight became sloppy in the fifth round, with both men wrestling and clinching on the inside, but Mirovic appeared to turn the tide in the sixth and went on with it in the seventh, landing some stiff jabs and decent shots to the body of the tiring Hopoate.
The eighth round saw Hopoate discover his second wind as he worked his way inside behind a long jab to land his concussive right hand. It was in this round that the injury to Mirovic’s right became apparent later revealed to be a broken wrist as he struggled to defend himself against the forward charging Hopoate. Hopoate’s sustained attack paid dividends late in the stanza with Mirovic tasting the canvas for the first time in the fight.
With blood in the water Hopoate went on a rampage in the ninth, walking down the bigger Mirovic and launching punches in bunches against the retreating champion. Late in the round a sixth punch salvo floored Mirovic, prompting his corner to throw in the towel to prevent their charge from copping any further punishment.
With the win the 33-year-old Hopoate injects himself into the increasingly interesting heavyweight division. Nathan Briggs, who outpointed Colin Wilson over twelves rounds on Friday night to win the OPBF heavyweight title, indicated his interest in fighting Hopoate, and many more intriguing matchups beg to be made against the like of Alex Lepai and Mark De Mori.
For Mirovic, the future looks a lot less certain. At 42 years of age, with a broken wrist and over 50 professional bouts under his belt, it might just be time for the ‘Big Bear’ to put a close to his storied career.
In a bizarre footnote to the night and possibly a world first a streaker entered the ring during the post fight wrap-up and paraded in front of the camera as naked as the day he was born. There’s not a lot to say about the incident, other than that the footage can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTrpoTbenbo
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