After three failed attempts to win the WBA Super-Middleweight Championship Puerto Rican powerhouse Manny Siaca proved that perseverance pays off as he out-hustled former world champion Anthony Mundine to annex the Australian’s world title by split decision at the Sydney Entertainment Centre on Wednesday night.
Siaca, who has lost once to Bruno Girard and twice to Byron Mitchell in world title tilts for the same belt, staked his claim to cener ring early on and stalked Mundine while the Australian circled and tried to pot-shot the tourist from a distance. With neither man prepared to open up for fear of getting countered, Siaca eventually broke the stalemate by unleashing a right uppercut, left hook combination that dropped an off-balance Mundine for an eight count just before the bell in the second round.
The technical battle continued for the next three rounds and featured few notable exchanges. In the fifth Mundine suffered a cut high behind his left ear from a stray Siaca elbow that appeared to bother the 28 year-old reigning champion. In the sixth round Mundine was on the canvas again, but this time it was ruled a slip.
Sensing the fight was slipping away from him, Mundine upped his work rate in the eighth round, landing some crisp combinations on a tiring Siaca whose punches were becoming noticeably slower and sloppier. For a short time it looked like Mundine was turning the tide.
But Siaca came out hard in the tenth, landing some good punches on the inside and wearing Mundine down in the clinches. The parochial crowd of close to 7000 voiced their concern when their homegrown hero took a knee after twisting his troublesome right ankle near the end of the round. Despite the apparent aggravation of this pre-existing injury, Mundine rallied in the eleventh and landed perhaps the cleanest punch of the fight, a sharp uppercut that sliced through Siaca’s guard and snapped his head back. But it wasn’t enough for Mundine as Siaca finished over the top of him in the decisive twelfth round.
Before the scorecards were read out both men embraced and Mundine could be heard saying to Siaca: “Too strong,” with genuine respect and admiration. Two of the judge’s final tallies favored Siaca 115-113, while the third judge gave Mundine the edge 114-113.
Although he felt he did enough to earn the decision, Mundine was gracious in defeat.
“I thought I outboxed him and showed better ring generalship,” said an obviously disappointed Mundine in the ring after the fight. “But what can you do man? You know, good luck to him, he won. I became a champion and I’ll take a loss like a champion.”
Where Mundine goes from here is unclear. But for 28 year-old Siaca, who had vowed to retire if he lost to Mundine, there are bound to be some lucrative offers waiting in the wings for the personable Puerto Rican before he calls it a day.
With the win Siaca raises his record to 18-4 (16 KO’s), while Mundine’s ledger drops to 20-2 (15 KO’s).
In the main support bout of an epic undercard that would’ve made Don King proud, former WBC #2 Nader Hamden overcame almost a six inch height advantage to score a wide unanimous decision victory over former New South Wales heavyweight champion John Wyborn in a light heavyweight contest.
The lanky and awkward Wyborn, whose last fight was contested at heavyweight, tried to use his natural size advantage to lean on former junior middleweight Hamden during the clinches, but it was Hamden who consistently did the better work on the inside. All three judges scored the bout in favor of Hamden by margins of 79-73, 79-73 and 80-73.
Australian junior welterweight champion Michael Katsidis, 11-0 (9 KO’s), continued on his winning ways with a second round stoppage of Singsamut Eausampan. The Thai fighter tasted the canvas four times before the referee waved it off at the 0:50 mark.
Lightweight Ben Cruz elevated his unbeaten record to 8-0 (7 KO’s) by breaking down Indonesian Alferets Alvian and stopping him in at 1:02 of the fifth.
Junior welterweight Jason Arena upped his record to 11-0-1 (8 KO’s) by launching a vicious body assault on Jamie Waru that saw the Kiwi hit the canvas three times in the first round before the action was halted at 2:44 of the round.
In a scheduled six round bout contested at a catch weight, highly-touted super-middleweight Ercument Aslan, 6-1 (5 KO’s), was surprisingly upset by rugged Melbournian Dale Westerman, 10-4 (5 KO’s). A right cross from Westerman in the third round appeared to break Aslan’s jaw and the Turkish fighter failed to answer the bell to continue into the fourth round.
Middleweight Peter Mitrevski Jr earned a six round unanimous decision victory over durable battler Anthony Courtney by scores of 60-54, 58-55 and 59-55. John Knight, 127kg, KO’d Toa Naketoetama, 97kg, at 2:42 of the second round of their scheduled four round bout. In a four round junior lightweight bout Ahmed Elomar stopped Binnu Singh of Fiji at 2:43 of round three.
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