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Alex Leapai exacts his revenge on Roger Izonritei with a first round KO in heavyweight grudge match

Anthony Cocks

Australian-based boxing journalist Anthony Cocks has been covering the sport for over 15 years for various print and online publications. He refuses to believe that Roberto Duran ever lost to Tommy Hearns and says that Jeff Fenech would destroy Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali on the same night.

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Former heavyweight title contender Alex “The Lionheart” Leapai 32-7-4 (26) continued his comeback with a first round knockout over local rival Roger Izonritei 12-7-1 (11) in their rematch at Rumours International in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia on Saturday night.

The 38-year-old former Logan truck driver has been desperate to get his revenge on the Perth-based Nigerian after their previous encounter on the Jeff Horn versus Gary Corcoran undercard last December ended in an unsatisfactory technical draw when the fight was stopped in the third round after an accidental clash of heads caused a large cut to Izonritei’s forehead that prevented him from continuing.

Leapai, who was leading 20-17 on all three judges’ scorecards at the time of the stoppage, insists Izonritei was looking for a way out.

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“Roger Izonritei quit, end of story,’’ Leapai told Brisbane’s Courier Mail last week. “The doctor didn’t rule that the cut was too bad, Roger just didn’t want to fight any more.’’

This time around he left no room for doubt. Leapai belted the 43-year-old with heavy shots to the body and head until he succumbed at 2:59 of the opening round.

Trainer Noel Thornberry was happy with the result and is already in talks to match Leapai, who lasted almost five rounds with Wladimir Klitschko in an unsuccessful world title challenge four years ago, with some of the leading heavyweights in Europe, Russia and the United States.

“We have received interest for fights against leading heavyweights, Cuban Luis Ortiz, and Britain’s Dereck Chisora and we’re pushing for another big fight in Germany or Russia,” Thornberry told the Courier Mail.

“Alex is very well known in Russia because he beat their world #1 Denis Boytsov to get the fight with Klitschko. But we don’t have time to waste. Alex will be 39 shortly so we have to make every chance count.”

After his loss to Klitschko for the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles in 2014 Leapai lost back-to-back 10-round decisions to Malik Scott and Manuel Charr, prompting a two-and-half year layoff that saw him blow up in weight to 350-pounds. When he returned to the ring against Thomas Peato last October he weighed 244-pounds – four pounds lighter than when he challenged for the world’s heavyweight championship.

For his last two fights against Izonritei he has scaled 239¼-pounds and 249¾-pounds respectively.

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