Light heavyweight (79kg) boxer John “Stoppa” Korake (4-1, 1KO) avenged his 2009 points loss to rival Victor Lani (3-1) by stopping the rugged Kairuku fighter in the third round of a scheduled four rounder.
It was the main bout of the Papua New Guinea Boxing Federation’s “Boxing Revival II” card on Saturday in Port Moresby.
The bout was the last one of six professional contests organized by the PNGBF at the Sports Inn in front of a lively crowd more than 200 fans and club patrons.
Lani, a workman-like customer with decent power, a pug with not particularly fast hands but a good grasp of boxing fundamentals, took the initiative in the first round outworking a tentative Korake and landing the significant blows, the best of which were a pair of rights.
The signs were there that Stoppa was in danger of offering a listless performance which cost him a unanimous decision loss three years earlier to Lani at the same venue.
To his credit, Korake came out in the second frame and let his hands go catching the advancing Lani with a straight right that immediately backed him up.
Lani recovered his poise sufficiently enough to throw punches in the last minute of the round finishing strongly to make it an even round.
The third round began well for Lani with the Bereina boxer ripping three consecutive power shots on Korake’s head and face.
But then the momentum swung dramatically the Bougainvillean’s way when a short right to the solar plexus dumped Lani to the canvas at the 1:50 mark.
Referee and former PNG boxing great from the 1970s Martin Beni ruled it a slip and allowed a visibly shaken Lani to continue.
Korake, sensing his chance at a quick ending rushed in on the retreating fighter and a grazing left followed by a right to the ribs did the trick buckling Lani at 2:08 of the round.
He was counted out despite regaining his feet.
In the evening’s other fights Jason Hayeu’s heavier punches proved the difference as the Manus native punched a game John Oscar into submission stopping the Port Moresby-based featherweight (57kg) in the third round.
In the second bout fellow Engans Dickson “Bad News” Dii (2-2, 1 KO) and a debuting Johnson Kapus clashed in a lightweight (61kg) contest pitting Dii’s experience against Kapus’ will.
The bout between the highlanders was highlighted by an incident in the third round that saw Dii fall through the ropes and out of the ring as a result of one of Kapus’ bull-like charges.
A more embarrassed than hurt Dii climbed back into the ring and continued the battle after a quick check by ringside medical personnel.
In the end the fight went to the score cards and it was bad news for Dii with Kapus awarded a unanimous decision.
The third bout saw Port Moresby’s Eguene “Compressor” Keto (3-1, 1 KO) rain punches on Manus boxer Jimmy Pius in a fight that was all one-way action untill referee Alex Rihatta sensibly halted the beating in the third round after Pius was dropped twice in the super flyweight (52kg) contest.
The fourth bout was a little comedic with super lightweight (63.5kg) slugger Kevin “Ironman” Baki (5-0, 2KOs) pounding out a technical knockout of brave but out-of-shape policeman Ali “The Mozzie” Ipai, stopping him inside two rounds.
In the penultimate bout Theo “The Saint” Torot (3-2) had more than he could handle in the form of young lion Joe “The Bullet” Kara (3-0) in their featherweight contest.
Torot, a businessman and former amateur representative, chose to brawl with the rock-chinned Kara with disasterous results.
Kara wobbled Torot with a series of three-punch combinations before flattening Torot with an overhand right at 2:10 of the second round providing show with its only clean knock-out.
It was not a fruitless night for these pugs as the winners pocketed K1,000 while the losers earned every toea of their K500 purses.
The show also served as a ranking exercise for the PNGBF to re-allocate rankings to boxers in the different weight classes after a lengthy period of inactivity.
The PNGBF is planning on holding regular shows with the next one tentatively set for next month.
However sponsorship and corporate support are very much the key in continuing the revival.