Championship fight night

Boxing enjoys its time in the spotlight this weekend when the region’s top fighters throw some punches at their cross-border rivals in the Dwyer’s Boxing Championships.

The Mount Gambier Showgrounds will host the second edition of the event, but the inaugural fight for the SA v Vic trophy with 23 bouts on the card.

Last year Dwyer’s Boxing Club unsuccessfully attempted to host the championships twice, but the longer wait means the community cannot wait for the 2021 bout.

Dwyer’s Boxing Club coach Sam Dwyer said he expects the competition to build from its promising debut in the ring two years ago. “2019 was a sell out and this year we are expecting the same,” he said. “In the last 18 months to two years we have put a real focus on building the sport in town and we have 15 boxers just from Mount Gambier which is crazy compared to what we had before.

“Ticket sales have been very strong because people know who we are now and our gym has grown expeditiously since 2019, so the local support has been amazing.”

Many of the Victorian opponents are arriving from Rudy’s Gym in Warrnambool, where Dwyer said his club has a “friendly rivalry” but said fighters will not hold back when the bell sounds in the ring.

“This year the big attraction is a lot of locals, which has been a bit stagnant for a number of years, but there is a high level of talent,” he said. “We have the super heavyweight state champion Brad Tiller, who is undefeated and a bout we are really excited about.

“The 60kg local state champion Tyson Brant is matched with Luke Slater from Melbourne who has had twice the amount of fights than him. “We have also got girls from our gym with Eva Kovaks and Chelsea Gabriel and combat sports has really grown in the female sector which is exciting.

“From Rudy’s Gym over in Victoria, Brian Agina fought for Kenya in the Commonwealth Games and no one wants to fight him. “From our gym we have a lot of first timers and novices which is exciting because they just go in there and things get crazy.”

Each fighter will enjoy one bout in the ring over the big night of fighting with the club scoring the most wins taking home the maiden SA v Vic trophy.

Dwyer has not only been busy setting up boxing tournaments, but he has also spent some time in the ring himself. The boxer known as “The Joker” made his professional debut in Geelong last month and landed more than just a couple of blows.

Although the judges declared the match as a draw, Dwyer said he gave it everything. “It went well and we had three pretty dominant rounds hitting the kid with everything I possibly could,” he said. “By the end of it he had a closed in eye and stitches, while the only issue I had was a sore hand, but to his credit I could not put him down.”

Despite the disappointment of missing out on the win, Dwyer said the experience of fighting in the big time was worth the eight-year journey from amateur to pro. “We thought we were comfortably through, but it was a draw which was an interesting call from the judges,” he said.

“Apparently the commentators including former world champion Barry Michael were very much in my corner and were very confused, but that is the sport. “It was awesome and a whole different vibe to go from the amateur ranks to the professional ranks.

“Amateurs is very processed and done a particular way, but at the pro level you just show up and fight without as many rules in the ring and can be yourself.”

Dwyer will not fight this Saturday night, but has around four bouts on the table including a rematch in the coming months. This Saturday night doors will open at 4.30pm before fighters enter the ring from 5pm with tickets available from the Dwyer’s Boxing Club website and Jens Hotel.

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