Fenech be­lieves he can help Bam Bam

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - MICHAEL THOMP­SON michael. thomp­son@ news. com. au

AUS­TRALIAN boxing great Jeff Fenech says he is pre­pared to work with Mark Flana­gan af­ter the Townsville boxer lost his WBA cruis­er­weight world ti­tle fight against Rus­sia’s De­nis Lebe­dev.

The cham­pion re­tained his belt via a unan­i­mous points de­ci­sion, with the judges scor­ing it 119- 108, 120- 107 and 119- 108, af­ter me­thod­i­cally work­ing Flana­gan over through­out the 12- round bout in Yeka­ter­in­burg, Rus­sia.

The un­usu­ally cau­tious Flana­gan landed sev­eral heavy shots and looked com­fort­able in rounds one, two, six and 10, with the sixth ar­guably Flana­gan’s best af­ter throw­ing a num­ber of semi- wide punches to keep him in the fight.

But it was not enough as Lebe­dev dic­tated terms with slow pace and skilled coun­ter­at­tack­ing to keep Flana­gan boxed in.

“Didn’t get the job done tonight, just couldn’t seem to find my range in there,” Flana­gan told his fans on so­cial me­dia. “Lebe­dev is a great cham­pion and the bet­ter man won tonight, sorry to those I let down but I’ll be back bet­ter and stronger, u live and u learn.”

Fenech said there were lessons to be learned for Flana­gan, who was raised in a Ras­mussen hous­ing com­mis­sion and started boxing at 13 with the Up­per Ross Hawks.

“I think Mark might have had the wrong game plan,” Fenech said. “I was see­ing a lot of jabs, one- twos and yes it was dis­ap­point­ing to see.

“The ‘ Bam Bam’ I know is ag- gres­sive and he punches and punches. I didn’t see him out there.”

Flana­gan earned the nick­name Bam Bam for his dev­as­tat­ing punch­ing power, hav­ing gone into yes­ter­day’s fight with 15 knock­outs from 22 wins.

But Flana­gan was well out­side his com­fort zone, with the fight not just his first over­seas but his first trip abroad al­to­gether.

“I’d like to do a bit of work with him,” Fenech said.

“I be­lieve he’s much bet­ter than that and I would’ve loved to have been with him over there. I thought he had the abil­ity and power to win, but he had to throw more punches and take more risks.

“I mean he ob­vi­ously has the abil­ity, he went 12 rounds with the ti­tle­holder.

“But the thing is some­times with these op­por­tu­ni­ties you have to put ev­ery­thing on the line.”

Flana­gan will stay in Rus­sia un­til the end of the week be­fore re­turn­ing to Bris­bane, and an up­com­ing trip home to Townsville is on the cards.

Wait­ing for him will be his ded­i­cated lo­cal sup­port­ers, in­clud­ing Flana­gan’s for­mer Hawks trainer Den­nis Clancy.

“It’s a bit dis­ap­point­ing he didn’t get it, but the big thing is he’s now fought at this level,” Clancy said.

“He prob­a­bly needed to back him­self a few times, but Lebe­dev’s a great fighter and he had that ti­tle for a long time.

“Mark hasn’t let any­one down, we’re so proud of him, and when he gets an op­por­tu­nity like that again I’m sure he’ll re­ally back him­self.

“It might have been a dif­fer­ent story if the fight was held on Mark’s home soil, but that’s the way it goes.

“He can com­pete at this level, there’s no wor­ries there.”

HIT­TING OUT: Mark Flana­gan ( right) punches Rus­sian De­nis Lebe­dev dur­ing their cruis­er­weight WBA su­per world ti­tle bout. Pic­ture: AP

De­nis Lebe­dev af­ter be­ing named the win­ner. Pic­ture: AP

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