FOR the bulk of his adult life, Steve Wijangco has been immersed in combat sports.
After a short career as a professional boxer, the Brisbane-based businessman has turned his passion into a career, after adopting a full-time venture as a licensed promoter.
Through perseverance, quick-thinking and some lessons learned the hard way, Wijangco now finds himself flanking two of the most recognised names in Australian combat sports history.
But as Wijangco reveals, creating the legacy fight between Anthony Mundine and John Wayne Parr was something that even took him by surprise.
“I saw Wayne had posted something on social media and I mentioned he should come back to boxing,” he told Aus-Boxing.
“A member of his team was chatting to me, and I flagged it with them. It was established early on that it needed to have ‘wow’ factor to bring him back.
“From there, I rang ‘Choc’ (Anthony Mundine), and his reaction was surprising. I don’t think he thought that there would be interest. It was almost phone tag at one point, as both guys were really surprised.
“It was like ‘Choc’ was surprised that Wayne would take it, and Wayne was surprised that the other side would even fathom the idea. Looking at the fight now, I think it’s perfect.
“They’re both the same age and it isn’t like we’ve got an inexperienced guy against a guy that’s had a lot of fights. They’ve both got really strong accolades.
“There’s a lot of pride in this. There’s plenty of talk about legacy.”
Despite their advanced age and respective experience, Parr, 43, and Mundine, 44, appear to have ample motivation to end their careers on a high note. Particular Parr, who will appear as a professional pugilist for the final time.
When probed on the legitimacy of his boxing credentials, Wijangco was quick to praise the pedigree of the Gold Coast-based Parr, who will bid farewell to a home crowd at Cbus Super Stadium.
“Parr is a former national titleholder who has fought the best, but lost on points to guys like Sakio Bika,” he explained.
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More than just a fight | Exclusive One on One 🎤 In one of his final interviews as a professional athlete, @johnwayneparr discusses what this show means to him. Who are you backing on November 30? 🤔 Ticket and PPV info www.ddpsports.com #mundineparr #legacy #boxing #ddpsports #ddpboxing #nov30th #goldcoast
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“It’s clear that he’s a credible guy in boxing as well. When I look at both guys, I think they’ve almost got too much respect for each other.
“The fight deserves to take place in a stadium, and I’m glad it’s heading to Cbus Super Stadium. Kristian Blundell, who manages the stadium, approached Wayne and it was passed on to me.
“They understand the magnitude of the event and getting the support of a big venue – one that understands the dynamic – is really important to us, it felt right.
“When you go to the venue, when you see the vision, there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Everyone who has had questions gets it once they see the venue and why it’s been chosen.
“They’re both legends, and they both deserve a big last hurrah. The focus is creating a strong event, not just a fight night.”
Wijangco, and his promotional partners at DDP Sports, have made a conscious effort to showcase some of Queensland’s finest talent on the big stage.
Former super middleweight titleholder Renold Quinlan will be joined by the likes of former national champion Miles Zalewski, Leti Leti, Andrew Hunt and fast-rising sensation Ben Mahoney.
The latter, who also converted to boxing after a successful career in Muay Thai, has raw potential which excites Wijangco, given his ability to excel in multiple forms of combat.
“Ben first fought for me on a nightclub show, and he took that fight with one week to prepare,” he added.
“It was a great fight and after that, with his attitude, I saw he was taking fights on short notice just to keep busy and gain experience.
“Ben doesn’t want to go down the easy route, they want tough fights and we make a good team. They’re really ambitious and he’s been putting guys away a lot earlier than I thought.
“He’s a real talent, and it’s a joy to see him on my cards. I know that he had offers to go elsewhere, and we have a plan that involves his future. Man, he’s a talent for someone with no boxing background.
“Wayne even said it himself, he sees this event as a passing of the torch. It’s a bittersweet moment because I’m a massive John Wayne Parr fan.
“I helped in his earlier shows and I looked up to him. Genuinely, I can’t believe I’m promoting his last fight against Mundine.”