Jamie Weetch knocked out in the first round against huge punching Issac Hardman

Jamie Weetch knocked out in the first round against huge punching Issac Hardman

This article first appeared in the Welsh Boxing Annual 2019-2020. Click here to buy on Amazon.

By Dewi Powell: Cwmcarn’s Jamie Weetch (12-4, 5KO) was eager to end 20 months of inactivity but his return was over far sooner than he expected.

The Welshman was last seen in a rousing points loss against Ireland’s Dennis Hogan in December 2018. The Celts, both relocated to Australia, went the full 12 rounds and it prepared Hogan to challenge Jaime Munguia for the WBO world title.

A comeback fight with Queenslander Issac Hardman (7-0, 6KO) was originally agreed for six rounds and then extended to eight rounds when it was moved up the running order. The contest was given the priority status of chief support to an Australian mega-fight. Super-welterweights Tim Tszyu, son of the legendary Kostya Tszyu, and former world champion Jeff Horn squared off in the main event.

More than 16,000 people attended Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville and none of them were required to socially distance or wear masks. A live audience was permitted because of the region’s low COVID-19 transmission rate, making it one of the world’s first major boxing events held since the start of the pandemic.

As it happened, less than one round was needed because Hardman, by name and nature, lived up to his ‘headsplitter’ moniker. Both were decked out in black boots, shorts and gloves, with the Australian native using the latter to dim Weetch’s lights inside 90 seconds.

Perth-based Weetch usually appears undersized for super-welterweight, so it was a surprise to see him competing as heavy as middleweight. The promoters announced the fight with just a month to go and that short notice may explain Weetch’s decision to operate at 160lbs.

The size difference exacerbated Hardman’s 10cm height advantage. It was used to tempt Weetch into lunging forward on to a numbing overhand right. The punch, laced with enough tranquiliser to send most middleweights to sleep, was both impressive and repulsive, depending on an individual’s perspective. Weetch fell flat on his face when it exploded square on his cheekbone.

The 31-year-old seemed finished after face planting the floor. Weetch, bewildered by what hit him, groggily returned to his feet as soon as the referee’s count reached two. It’s possible that Weetch was acting on autopilot as he held on to the top rope to steady himself. The instinctive courage extended the fight for another 50 seconds.

During the build-up, the duo traded trash talk and Weetch warned that he didn’t know how to go backwards. Hardman waded in and showed him how to reverse, bullying him to the ropes to land more heavy artillery. Weetch was wobbled and downed again, this time on his knees. It obligated referee Chris Condon to intervene just as the corner threw in the towel.

At 24, Hardman’s stock was rising fast. He talked well and his colourful personality should open doors in the future. The Brisbane-based brawler was also an undefeated mixed martial artist before embarking on boxing. Hardman amassed nine wins with seven knockouts in the octagon and his highlight reel featured knockouts with even more sedatives than the finish he inflicted on Weetch.

It was the first stoppage defeat of Weetch’s seven-year career but not the first time he’d been down in life. When living in Wales, he was shot and stabbed in a feud with a local family. Weetch’s recovery took him to a world ranking, proving he can overcome adversity and now he would have to do it again.

This article first appeared in the Welsh Boxing Annual 2019-2020. Click here to buy on Amazon.

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