FOR those that didn’t know what to expect going into last night’s inaugural event for ‘Last Man Standing’, their unfamiliarity was understandable.
But when Perry Cale exhaled and let out ‘sudden victory round’ to a raucous and clearly entertained audience at The Melbourne Pavilion, it became instantly clear, we were on the cusp of something very big.
Michael Kirby aka. ‘The Iron Rhino’ won the inaugural eight-man tournament, defeating three opponents on one night to take the $20,000 grand prize at The Melbourne Pavilion last night.
A former Australian and OPBF titlist, Kirby, 38, came out of retirement for the tournament – citing the grand prize as his motivation. The Sydney-based slugger stopped rival Nathan Briggs in two rounds, then finished an exhausted Tafa Misipati in just under a round to earn his spot in the final.
In the final, Kirby (14-4-2, 8 KOs) showed his experience, recovering from a heavy knockdown in the second round to outscore the powerful but incredibly green Tai ‘Bam Bam’ Tuivasa (3-1, 2 KOs) – the darkhorse of the competition – who also had a point deducted. The fight finished via the sudden-victory round, a concept that both the crowd and viewing audience seemed to enjoy.
Tuivasa, 21, a mixed martial artist turned boxer entered the competition as a genuinely unknown quantity. After his two wins, a one-sided beatdown of Brett Smith and a highlight-reel finish of Willie Nasio, people were very familiar with the walk forward and sometimes reckless style of Tuivasa, who won a lot of new supporters in his brief foray into boxing.
“I came out of retirement for this competition,” said Kirby post-fight. “I retired and I came back, with the prize money on the line tonight, I can at least say I got something out of boxing.”
“I’ve been struggling to get money from my boss from my actual job, so I’m glad I’ve got this tonight. I’m going to put a deposit on a house.”
Photos: Louie Abigail/Photography by Rockfingrz