Baying for blood
By TIM HOWARD
MORE than 600 yelling fight fans took the packed Grafton Regional Livestock Selling Centre back to its glory days as a boxing venue on Saturday night.
A boisterous 12-fight program, featuring a number of Clarence Valley fighters, brought only limited success for the local boxers, but provided more than enough blood and thunder to keep the gallery entertained.
One of the event organisers, and a winning fighter on the night, Kyle Hands, labelled the event an outstanding success.
"We needed 300 to break even, and were expecting between 300 to 400 on the night," he said.
"The saleyards was filled to capacity by 7pm. The fights began at around 7.20pm.
Hands said the only disappointment was a no-show from reigning NSW Super Heavyweight Champion Bobby Two Guns, who was scheduled to fight local footballer Xavier Sullivan in a title bout.
"Bobby contacted us on Friday to say he had torn a hamstring in training and wouldn't be able to make the fight," Hands said.
Fight night organisers rescheduled the evening to include an exhibition bout between Sullivan and South Grafton Rebels teammate Ray Mercy.
Sullivan said yesterday that he hoped to fight Bobby Two Guns for the title either in Newcastle in May or Coffs Harbour in June.
The monster crowd quickly found favourites on the card, and were vocal supporters of the underdogs.
"Local fighter Eddie Debono really had the crowd behind him, despite getting a bit of a hiding," Hands said.
"It was the classic match-up of the hard puncher against the boxer. And the boxer won.
"But the crowd really warmed to Eddie and were yelling for him right to the end."
Hands said another local product, Phil Gaddes, was the only fighter not to go the distance.
"Phil walked into a big punch 20 seconds into round one and his fight finished 20 seconds into round two. He was not in a good way," Hands said.
Yamba fighters Troy Harding and Daniel Austin also fought on the night.
Sullivan, who is new to the fight game, praised the saleyards as a boxing venue.
"The yelling of the crowd echoes in there. It's a real amphitheatre," said.
"It was a great night. All my family came along to watch and everyone had a great night."
The event, named the Men of Steel, was run under the banner of the Boxing League of Australia.