A returning fan favourite, a rising star on the verge of a world title, and a couple of trash-talking knockout artists headline arguably the biggest month ever for Australian boxing.
And that’s before Liam Wilson, Tim Tszyu and Michael Zerafa all fight in America within one day of each other.
Labelled ‘March Mayhem’, promoter No Limit will hold three fight nights across three consecutive weeks in March, leading into Tszyu’s Las Vegas debut.
This masthead can reveal that after making his long-awaited comeback in November, Bilal Akkawy will headline No Limit’s first show of the year against veteran Reynold Quinlan on March 6.
The card will be shown on Fox Sports, and sees Akkawy – a former training partner of Canelo Alvarez – returning to the big stage after a prolonged absence due to injury.
“I want a world title shot,” he told this masthead. “I want the big fights.
“It’s a dream to be in those fights on a huge platform, the big stage with the whole world watching.”
Akkawy was once one of Australian boxers brightest prospects, but after fighting in New York and Las Vegas on Canelo undercards, was sidelined by a debilitating back injury which nearly forced him to retire.
Fully fit again, Akkawy is eyeing up another run at a world title.
“I’m back to doing what I’ve done for most of my life,” he said. “After four years of inactivity, I want to continue my journey back to a world title.”
A week later on March 13, Sam Goodman headlines a pay-per-view against excitement machine Mark Schleibs.
Goodman is knocking on the door of a super-bantamweight world title bout, fighting four times in 2023 and earning rave reviews from none other than boxing royalty Johnny Lewis.
Goodman takes on the brash and flashy Schleibs, who scored one of the most impressive knockouts of 2023 when he stopped Shamal Anuj in November.
Schleibs has a cult following in Melbourne and went viral for his post-fight speech dedicated to the son he hasn’t seen in almost a year.
A venue hasn’t been confirmed for the domestic grudge match, but Wollongong is rumoured to be the frontrunner, with local boy Goodman expected to attract a huge crowd of his “Mad Bunch” supporters.
In the co-main event on March 13, fan favourite Issac Hardman is back in action against another international opponent in the 15-1 Endry Saavedra.
The Venezuelan Saavedra might not be a household name, but Hardman is expecting a tough fight.
“He’s a big puncher from South America with a good record, so I’ll be in the best nick ever,” Hardman told this masthead. “I’m just thinking of him as a South American Canelo Alvarez.
“He’s been sparring with Jaime Munguia – one of the best super-middleweights in the world – so he must be handy if Munguia’s asking for sparring.
“Munguia just put away John Ryder and Canelo couldn’t do that.”
In the final card of a three-week domestic run, slick West Australian Nathaniel ‘Cheeky’ May fights Tyson Lantry on March 20.
One of the smoothest fighters in Australia, May was on the wrong side of a razor thin decision against Jackson England on the Tszyu-Mendoza undercard in October.
A week and a half later is a huge 24 hours for Australian boxers in America. Liam Wilson kicks things off against former world champion Oscar Valdez in a super-featherweight showdown that has world title ramifications.
“It’s pretty surreal having three Australians fighting on the other side of the world,” Wilson told this masthead. “I’m excited, and I just feel so privileged to be part of it.
“I’ll be able to look back on this in years to come and say I was part of that huge weekend of boxing.”
One day later at T-Mobile Arena, Tszyu headlines his Vegas debut against Keith Thurman, while Zerafa takes on Erislandy Lara for the WBA middleweight world title.
There were fireworks this week when Tszyu and Thurman went face-to-face for the first time. The American took pot shots at Tszyu’s “Mexican” style, at Australia in general and at Tszyu’s family.
In arguably the busiest few months for Aussie boxing ever, Jai Opetaia fights Mairis Briedis in a rematch for the IBF title the Aussie won, then was forced to vacate late last year. The bout will be on the Oleksandr Usyk vs Tyson fury undercard in Saudi Arabia on February 17 and will feature the Gold Coast-based Kiwi Olympian David Nyika as well.
On March 8, heavyweight machine Justis Huni fights in Riyadh on the undercard to Anthony Joshua’s showdown with Francis Ngannou.
The blockbusters continue into April and May with Nikita Tszyu scheduled to be back in action, before George Kambosos fights the legendary Vasiliy Lomachenko in Perth.
The Lomachenko-Kambosos card will feature two more world title bouts, with the Moloney twins, Jason and Andrew rumoured to be in the mix.
Originally published as March shapes as biggest month in Australia boxing history with series of blockbuster fights