From the Archives, 1985: Slam, bam Fenech in the ninth

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald on April 27, 1985
Slam, bam Fenech in the ninth

Jeff Fenech, the new International Boxing Federation World Bantamweight Champion, was all aggression last night as he pursued a faster, rangier opponent all over the Hordern Pavilion ring.

It was Fenech from the first round, slam-bam, bappity-bap, yellow gloves pumping like pistons, belting into the midriff of Satoshi Shingaki.

It was Fenech, responding to the screams of support, who finally pummelled the former champion to a technical knock-out defeat at 2 min 43 sec of the ninth round.

There had not been a fight like it for years, such an electric atmosphere, such a crowd, as they watched the gloves.

Shingaki, a tall lad, but lacking the powerful torso of Fenech, was not disgraced but had no answer as the referee, Bruce McTavish, calculated when he would step in.

There was so much razzamatazz last night that the big crowd would have been bitterly disappointed by a poor showing.

A mass of yellow and green balloons tumbled from the ceiling and the crowd seemed to reach fever pitch. George Sawas, the Marrickville alderman, licensee of the Marrickville Hotel and sponsor of Fenech, could hardly contain his excitement.

There was a nervous shuffle at ringside by Bill Mordey, who’s had to push on without the $100,000 Benson and Hedges would have given in sponsorship. Then they fronted all the old stalwarts, former champions of one sort of another: Carruthers, Mundine, Gattelari, Charkey Ramon, Vic Patrick.

Japanese sporting officials and diplomats; the popular Korean boxing agent Henry O; the Federal Minister for Sport, Mr Brown, climbing into the ring diplomatically through Shingaki’s corner; a mention of the NSW Minister for Sport, Mr Cleary, at ringside.

Shingaki made one, and as it turned out his only, gesture of independence in not coming out of the dressing room till he was ready, then the two lined op and the fight was on.

Go get ‘im Rocky! Hiroshima ‘im! Banzai Rocky! Come on chicken, I mean Shingaki! Kamikazi ’im.

Rounds pass. It’s all Fenech for long periods. The Japanese fighter goes back on to the ropes, and into the comers. He fights back but when it comes to the crunch Fenech has the ringcraft.

Round nine comes up and they’re yelling for a knock-out. In Fenech’s corner they don’t call him Rocky. Just J. Jab J. Jab jab J.

Then Fenech scores to the head.

That’s it Jeff. Finish it. Fenech obliges. Referee steps in. Fenech embraces trainer Johnny Lewis. Sawas climbs into the ring.

Later, the champ arrives at the Marrickville Hotel, where he used to pick up glasses five years ago.

Admirers pour champagne over Fenech and carry him shoulder-high around the main bar.

The belt may look heavy, but it’s all right mate, he says. I’ll never forget anybody or where I come from. I’m from a Maltese background and from Marrickville, Australia. Gee, I wish the pub was like this all the time.

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