The stacked card at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre had something for everyone.
Genuinely world class fighters in the main event, a series of fan-friendly fights, and an overall broadcast that delivered value.
We discuss the biggest takeaways from a memorable night that belonged to Tim Tszyu.
Introducing, The Soul Taker
In the lead-up to Wednesday night’s pay-per-view event, Tszyu (18-0, 14 KOs) promised a surgical display.
Throughout five competitive rounds, the 26-year-old did exactly that, folding Hogan (28-4-1, 7 KOs) with a violent series of body shots.
As commentator Ben Damon aptly described in the closing seconds of the bout, the unbeaten star swiftly transitioned to a new ring moniker, taking the competitive edge from the three-time world title challenger with a perfectly-timed left uppercut.
“It’s over,” declared Damon from ringside.
“He is The Soul Taker. Tszyu has done what he told us he would do.”
Having established himself as a mainstream sporting star without a traditional ring alias, the latest superlative attached to the Tszyu name, could become a formal pairing.
— Ben Damon (@ben_damon) April 1, 2021
An entrance to remember
At the last pay-per-view event headlined by Tszyu at Bankwest Stadium, super featherweight sensation Paul Fleming stole headlines with his ring entrance.
This time around, it was the star attraction that took centre stage, with an introduction that was part Anthony Joshua, and part Naseem Hamed.
As a sizeable banner hung from the roof of the Newcastle Entertainment Centre, Tszyu’s image and name was visibly printed across the signage. When the familiar Queen anthem hit the speakers, a silhouette of Tszyu emerged, greeted by a series of pyrotechnics.
It was a statement of intent from event promoter No Limit Boxing, which spared no expense in their maiden event in the Hunter Region.
Co-feature delivers big value
The sporting public enjoyed an entertaining undercard that delivered knockouts and several big moments.
Among them were almost ten completed rounds of non-stop action from gatekeeper Wade Ryan and prospect Koen Mazoudier.
The telegenic pair exchanged concussive blows from the opening bell, with Ryan (18-9, 6 KOs) proving too seasoned for a lively Mazoudier (8-2, 4 KOs), who showed glimpses of his fan-friendly reputation.
With more than triple the professional rounds of his younger opponent, the hard-nosed Ryan showed why he is one of the toughest assignments in a stacked light middleweight division.
The Gunnedah native added Mazoudier’s WBA affiliated regional bauble to his collection, which includes the IBO International belt.
— Sweet Punch Memories (@SweetPmemories) March 31, 2021
World class Fleming continues resurgence
Make no mistake, an in-form Paul Fleming is a world level operator.
This proved to be the case on Wednesday night, as an upset-minded Tyson Lantry fought bravely, before trainer Jamie Pittman withdrew his charge in the seventh round.
Perhaps the most improved active boxer on the domestic circuit, Lantry (8-4, 3 KOs) looked to better his career-best effort against Luke Jackson in December, with another Olympic alumni in his plans.
However, Fleming (27-0-1, 18 KOs) stormed out of the blocks, hammering Lantry for two rounds. As the storm slowed momentarily, the local attempted to wrestle back control, offering moments of promise, but not enough to halt the momentum of the 32-year-old southpaw.
Fleming, who also battled a hand injury, validated his presence as not only a world title hopeful, but a fan favourite as well, with his memorable post-fight interview.
— MAIN EVENT (@MainEventTV) March 31, 2021
Former world champions on big stage
Iconic figures in this sport are seldom farewelled on good terms.
A rare exception was granted as former WBC super middleweight champion and proud Novocastrian Sakio Bika won his trilogy bout with former IBF titleholder Sam Soliman.
Former participants in The Contender, Bika (35-7-3, 22 KOs) and Soliman (46-15-1, 19 KOs) weren’t originally scheduled to meet, but a change in circumstance allowed the pair to clash in a decider over eight rounds.
Bika, 41, showed flashes of his trademark style, dictating the pace and looking for the finish in a fight that gave two Australian legends a swansong on the biggest card of the year so far.
Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images