Photos by Sumio Yamada
DANIEL GEALE vs GEARD AJETOVIC
Australian boxing fans are excited about the unbeaten middleweight Daniel Geale, who has won 18 fights in a row after a sparkling amateur career that included winning a Commonwealth Games gold medal and boxing in the Olympics.
Geale outclassed fellow-Aussie Daniel Dawson in his last bout in what was apparently a superb display of boxing. He won every round on two judges cards and had Dawson on the verge of being stopped in the 12th. His camp believes that Geale has the beating of Anthony Mundine, a huge all-Australian showdown that they are eager to see happen.
First, however. Geale has what looks like being a tough task on Friday when he defends his IBO middleweight title against Geard Ajetovic, a Serb who lives in Liverpool, England.
Ajetovic is not too well known outside of the hard-core fight fraternity, but I have heard good things about him. He was a world-class amateur, boxing for Serbia and the old Yugoslavia in a number of major tournaments. Ajetovic was a world junior silver medallist in Argentina, won a European junior title and boxed in the Olympics, world championships and European championships.
I havent see him but he is known to be strong and heavy-handed, with a dangerous left hook. His style seems to be on the lines of Arthur Abraham gloves up, patient, firing off his shots in spurts.
The criticism I have heard is that Ajetovic tends to be far too sparing with his punches. In his only loss he was simply outworked and outhustled by the energetic Frenchman, Christophe Canclaux, in Monte Carlo.
Geale, meanwhile, seems to be the sort of boxer who keeps up a fast pace from one round to the next, an intelligent, skilled boxer-puncher with impressive combinations. His record indicates a rapid and steady improvement. He is on home ground and heading for the top, and his handlers must have a lot of confidence in him to have made this match, which I consider a risky one.
How risky? Well, last November I had an email from one of the doyens of British boxing, Charles Atkinson, who has been around the game for a very long time, amateur and professional, and he expressed a very high opinion of Ajetovic.
Atkinson is acting as a consultant for a longtime manager and businessman Gus Robinson, who manages Ajetovic, and he told me that he drove 100 miles from his home in north Wales to watch Ajetovic sparring. I am not easily impressed these days, but Ajetovic impressed me, he wrote.
Why havent we heard more of Ajetovic? Atkinson explained: If you can fight it is hard to get opponents. Ajetovic, 325 amateur fights, 310 wins, World junior silver, European junior gold medal, is in that category. We have been reduced to having to think about giving weight to super middle-cum-light-heavies. I have asked Gus to match him with any middle in the world as he is tough, slick and a heavy counter puncher. He will and can fight anybody.
To give you a guide, Peter Manfredo and fighters of that character, would make Ajetovic look great, as would the latest Contender winner [Sakio Bika].
On Friday, Ajetovic gets his big chance, and he is of course the underdog. Geale, 27, is coming into the fight after giving his best-ever performance in dominating Dawson.
When I started writing this preview I thought it would end with a pick for Geale to win on points. This could well happen. He could pick up a lot of points by getting in punches and moving around the ring, in and away, while the strong Serb moves forward with gloves up but without unloading enough punches to win rounds.
This, though, is absolutely a must-win fight for Ajetovic. He is 27 and he has found it difficult to get fights. If he loses this one, another big opportunity might be a long time in coming.
I just have a feeling that Ajetovic might be one of those well-kept secrets that come along every so often. I am going to go for Ajetovic to pull off the big upset, either on points or by late stoppage. He is going to have to let his hands go, of course, but I believe that he will do so its now or never, and I think he realises it. I give Geale and his camp a great deal of credit for making this fight, though. The Australians are showing that they believe their man does not need to be protected. The fight is a gamble for Geale, and if he wins he will have well-earned the Aussie accolade of Good on you, mate.